Falling Skies: "Pope Breaks Bad" (Season 5, Episode 4)


That's an awful title, isn't it? About as subtle as a meat cleaver. What's ironic is that this episode, one moronic story-telling artifice aside, isn't bad. It does, however, seem to waste time they may not have in this final season.

We open with Pope finishing off a grave for Sara. Tom comes up from behind to give him a pep talk. Probably not a good idea even though he finally manages to say that the 2nd Mass needs Pope. Meanwhile Anthony wants back off his post-traumatic stress induced suspension. When Anne says no, Anthony flips over to Pope's band of malcontents at ludicrous speed. If that isn't an attempt to spy on Pope, it's silly. If it is, that's lame.

Cochise the Volm is dying. It seems he was born with only one of the Volm equivalents to a kidney, and now it's on the fritz. His father the General has returned to Earth to say goodbye in the Volm Ceremony of Silence. This whole thing just pops out of the blue with zero buildup. It does, however, spotlight Anne, who's determined to convince Cochise's father to donate one of those Volm kidney things. That's not a bad character to spotlight since Anne has been the most consistently written person this season. The actress, Moon Bloodgood, is on a bit of a roll.

The Espehni are still doing something big and secret at Washington D.C. Sadly, we haven't hit the road to Fayetteville yet. Young Matt Mason, who is not in fact an astronaut Major, locates a pristine police supply depot because they need to have his character do something. But before team Mason can go raid this new find, Pope publicly berates Tom. He lists all the people that have died over the last three years, leading up to the point that not one of the three Mason boys is on that list. In fact, the three Mason boys have actually been rescued a lot. So what is this "shared sacrifice" Tom keeps talking about?

Pope has a point. We know the three Mason boys have survived because they're main characters on a TV show, but the character named Pope can't know that. Pope asks the crowd how many of them are tired of being bait. Tom does a saintly suffering expression.

The police supply depot is ridiculous. Trucks, cars, gas, walkie talkies, mace, a working radio--where have all the scavengers been for the last three years? For Pete's sake, it's even got a mint condition sports car. Alas, it's also got some of those bugs with the human eyes from previous episodes. They swarm in to eat a guy named Ryan, who isn't a main character on a TV show. One more for Pope's list.

Tom leads the bugs on a chase that ends with him remembering they have human eyes. So he maces them. It's a well done enough chase for me to overlook that. I actually burst out laughing when Colonel Weaver roars in on that sports car to rescue Tom. For a moment I thought I was watching an old episode of Starsky and Hutch. It's silly, but pleasant silly.

What's plain silly is the operation to save Cochise. The Volm go into stasis to heal, so this space-faring race doesn't have doctors. Not a single one. Not even some guy to monitor stasis in case something goes wrong (more on that later). That means the General asks Anne to operate on him and his son. That would be one of those primitive humans whose abilities he mocks, who also knows squat about Volm physiology. At least Dr. McCoy had a library, a bunch of computers, and those salt shakers that could fix anything.

It gets worse. Anne relies on the delirious Cochise to give her instructions during his own surgery. This is dumb as rocks, but Moon Bloodgood actually pulls it off, looking as sincere and desperate as a doctor can look. That's the kind of doctor I want if I have to choose a doctor who knows nothing about my physiology.

The operation works. Apparently Volm organs are like LEGO. You can just yank them out without worrying what they were connected to. Cochise is going to be fine. Unfortunately,  something has gone wrong with the General's stasis. See, I told you they needed doctors.

The General's equivalent of a heart has stopped. Anne's plan? So help me god, she decides to go find a car battery and try to zap him with it. If she weren't so appealing this episode, I'd call her an interstellar quack.

A car battery. Seriously. The Volm need to make a major investment in the medical profession. Maybe even, dare I say it, a little Obamacare.


Tom returns as Anne is unscrewing a car battery. Pope starts riding him again. Both lose their tempers. Pope has a chance to kill Tom and doesn't; Tom orders Pope to get the hell out. He's fired. And he wasn't even a celebrity apprentice.

The battery doesn't work. No kidding. So Cochise gruff dad sacrificed his life for his son, and Cochise never even got to say goodbye.

Hmm... Come to think of it, Tom Mason supported the General taking this risk for his son. And none of the Mason boys were involved.

Pope really is on to something about these sacrifices. Too bad the writers go all hackneyed and have him shave his head to become Colonel Kurtz. Anthony kidnaps Anne, after which Pope yells at her before letting her go for reasons that aren't altogether clear. He kidnaps Hal instead, promising to kill him if Mason doesn't come alone for a face off.

Too bad. Pope has been an engaging character off and on, but we may be writing him off next week.

The final payoff is silly, but again pleasant silly. Cochise does the Volm Ceremony of Silence with Anne. He sees his father. She sees Lexi. It makes no particular sense, but it is emotionally affecting.

How about Pope and Tom kill each other next week and we let Anne take over? As long as they keep her away from any more car batteries.