Falling Skies: "Space Oddity" and "Shoot to the Moon" (Season 4, Episodes 11 and 12)



What do you know? Every dog does indeed have his day, and Falling Skies closed out its fourth season with two more watchable hours of television (the second better than the first). They even made Lexi tolerable. Not bad for a show that's always skirting a rut.

"Space Oddity"

We open right after Lexi destroyed the attacking Beamers from last week. It's kind of funny because she's wearing this outrageously red cloak in the middle of a field of grey rubble about as drab as it gets, making "Red Riding Hood" the image that instantly comes to mind. Lexi says she's realized the Espheni are awful and that she is here to help. This becomes an excuse for literally everyone to spew about how she can't be trusted. Pope actually tries to shoot her, would have succeeded, too, except Lexi can now stop bullets with her mind. It's a useful trick.    

The "you can't be trusted" parade continues. Even Tom writes Lexi off. So does her mother, Anne. She tells Lexi the young star child has no place here. It's left to Colonel Weaver to talk some sense at them. As in (to paraphrase): "You know we're going on this crazy mission to the moon that has no chance of success, and now we've been handed a Jedi Knight that knows Espheni technology inside out. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but when said Jedi offers to be our weapon, I'd jump on it. Cuz in case you haven't noticed, we're kind of losers these days."

Tom: "We don't need her!" Weaver: "Are you on drugs? Didn't you watch Stars Wars? You don't look a gift Jedi in the mouth."  

Score one for Weaver. And scrub Ben. It's now Tom and Lexi to the moon.

There's a tedious walk to the Beamer were everyone dumps on Lexi again. I didn't like her, but I'm starting to feel a little sorry for the precocious hybrid. This is a case of too much compression being applied to a part of the story that matters. Lexi has been a blatant plot device up until now. We simply haven't been given enough context about Lexi to justify all these histrionics, not to mention that they seem kind of ridiculous when you're talking about someone who went from being a baby to 21 in a single year. Of course she's confused.

Also, they've just handed over the most critical mission of the entire war to her. Is it really necessary to make her feel like total crap on the eve of that? How does that help?

Oh, Hal also gives Tom an injector of fast-acting Volm poison to use on Lexi if needed. Remember that. It'll be a handy slice of deus ex machina next episode.

Once the Beamer is in space, Lexi discovers that life support is using too much energy due to a crack in the hull for which it's overcompensating. Their only chance is to go into stasis using Espheni cocoon technology. Tom is dubious about that until Lexi literally forces it down his throat (so he can breathe).    

We then get a forced dream sequence. Tom wakes up to discover that Lexi completed the mission without reviving him and everyone now loves her. It's easy to guess that they're both in the cocoon sharing a dream. The ending, however, is effective. The engine of the dream sequence is Lexi trying to figure out how to reach out to Tom. It shames him enough that he quits being a dick to her. After all, lots of people who've lived more than a single year make mistakes, too.

Call this episode a draw. Lexi actually became interesting as a person while Tom's skull thickens considerably. Still, it was more interesting than I expected for an episode intended primarily to expend an eleventh hour of film to meet contractual commitments. 

The Beamer is in final approach to the moon. Cue the finale...

"Shoot to the Moon"  

This is an action packed episode for TV. It clips along at a good gait. There are two crises, one in space and one on Earth, and they play reasonably well off of each other. The one on ground is a little more engaging, though.  

The opening shot is of Dingaan (the South African guy, remember?). He's staring at a low-lying fog field with people collapsed in it as they cry out. Cut to the 2nd Mass. No sooner does someone mention Dingaan's recon team than Dingaan shows up to say "They're all gone." Then a Beamer flies overhead to deposit a big, black egg on the ground. Fog rolls out from it. That and a bunch of slimy snail-slug things. It seems human mutation no longer requires a fixed factory. It's gone wireless, as it were.

On their way to the moon, Tom and Lexi get pulled off course by a tractor beam forcing them to dock with a large Espheni ship. On board is the Espheni Overlord Tom burned in the ghetto escape (let's call him Big Ugly). He's looking for vengeance and starts with Lexi; seems the triskelion necklace the Espheni gave her is a control device. It starts choking her.

On Earth, we follow three groups of humans trapped in the fog: (1) Dingaan and Pope lying down in the open; (2) Ben, Maggie and Hal in a garage; and (3) Colonel Weaver and Matt in a machine shop. Dingaan gets bit by a slug-snail, only to be saved by Pope biting through its umbilical tail. It's as disgusting a piece of heroism as you'll ever see. Sara returns from nowhere to buy them more time by shooting at the slug-snails approaching. Pope gets his girl back even if she remains a lame fictional construct.

Ben and Hal are stuck standing up in the fog while Maggie is on the roof of an RV. They're all shooting at slugs but running out of ammo. Through the magic of glowing spike action, Maggie pulls Ben up to the RV. Then the two of them lasso Hal and use their spike strength to yank him up as well. It's more exciting than it sounds.

Colonel Weaver and Matt are stuck and sing a song about not giving up. That's kind of pathetic.

Lexi distracts Big Ugly so Tom can inject him with the Volm poison Hal had intended for her. That was easy. Big Ugly goes into some death throes accelerated by Tom beating him on the head. It's a good thing large Espheni spaceships only contain one Espheni.      

Using a flare, Anne discovers that fire kills the slug-snails. There's a handy flame thrower just lying around that she uses to clear the camp. It's a nice visual, although she should have set the entire camp on fire the way she was using it. Anne saves Weaver last. Though bitten by a slug-snail, he slammed a window on its umbilical tail to slow it down until Anne arrived.  

Lexi sends Tom to the Beamer. She closes the airlock and tells him the only way to complete the mission is for her to ram the power source on the moon with the Espheni spaceship. Tom will survive in the Beamer. He tells her not to do it; she answers that it is the Earth's only chance. Tom touches the cocoon from last episode to receive a psychic goodbye from Lexi. It's touching enough.

The power source is destroyed. On Earth, the fog immediately lifts while the slug-snails die. It's suddenly time to start mopping up those lousy Espheni, who no longer have the power to run anything. They never did get the concept of redundancy down.

Tom's Beamer is blown off course. He's now Lost in Space. He wakes up in his original Boston bedroom from Earth, tries to touch a picture only to watch his hand go through it. A female voice says "we come in peace," and "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." A door opens as the voice says it is time they met. Tom says "You're beautiful."

That's it. We're done for this year.

Overall, a very uneven season. Even at its worst, however, this show never sinks to the depths of something like "Helix." It remains mediocre to the bone. There were some good action set pieces this season, most notably the ghetto escape and tonight's fog-slug sequence. The most frustrating aspect was ultimately the scattershot use of Lexi, who showed in these last two episodes that she did have some potential if anyone had bothered to coherently tap it. Of course, since she's a Jedi, I suppose it's remotely possible she could still be alive.

Yet another alien race appears to be in the offing as well. That's one more loose end thrown into a snarl of others for twelve episodes to close out next year. We'll see how that goes.