Falling Skies: "Reborn" (Season 5, Episode 10)


Some say the world will end in fire. Some say ice. Others say it will just be boring and dumb. We now know where "Falling Skies" placed its bet. But then, didn't we always?

That might be a little unfair. For all its faults, "Falling Skies" began as a show at least trying to explore an interesting idea, namely how would the world resist an alien invasion that actually won, and what does resistance do to you? The melding of biomech harnesses on to children even made explicit one of the fundamental tragedies of resistance. No matter how much you hate the enemy, you are changed forever by them.

Five years down the road? This is a dumb cartoon trying to remind audiences why science fiction was once considered silly.

Tonight's theme is that it's a good thing to have some alien ex machina give you a Lite Brite cucumber. That kind of thing comes in handy when fighting a monster with a stupid backstory. And yes, the Espheni are total losers to the end. Our heroes are handed a dramatically inert triumph over pretty much nothing. And just to make sure we realize that, the episode is rushed, blatantly derivative and tonally off from start to finish.

We open with the 2nd Mass fighting some Skitter hornets who flee for no particular reason after an indecisive battle. To try and make it seem dramatic, one of them kills Marty. Remember him? He's the guy whose experience in a brewery prepared him to make genetic recombination advances on an alien weapon. His ludicrous sendoff for that ludicrous bit of plotting: "I'll miss that guy." Okey dokey.

Veteran character actor Jeff Fahey shows up leading a motorcycle gang for no real reason. It feels like the writers intended for him to arrive a few episodes back, and he was just late. Everyone is psyched about Tom's plan to kill the Espheni Queen with a cucumber until they discover the enemy have an ingenious scheme to defend her. The spacefaring, super-strategic genius Espheni have built a wall of rubble around the Capitol Mall. Why in some places it's even twenty feet tall! How can humanity and their spacefaring allies, the Volm, possibly overcome that?

With a bunch of Federal tunnels that are known to everyone, even the Espheni. That's how. And that's just one more example of how little thought was put into this whole rush for the exits.  

There's a bad CGI shot of a damaged Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. The sky is dark to try and hide the bad CGI. We get a look at the Great Wall of the Espheni as well, and a crappier wall you cannot possibly imagine. It's short, irregular and literally collapsing in places. If the Espheni had only kept Donald Trump alive. He would have given them a first-class wall without tunnels, not to mention making the 2nd Mass pay for it.

"Alien" gets ripped off next. The tunnels are full of glowing orange Espheni eggs; that's supposed to be menacing, yet it simply makes the Espheni look like idiots. They put this hatchery down in the tunnels. That means they know there are tunnels under their crappy wall. Couldn't they at least pile some rubble at the tunnel entrances that are facing out?

Remind me how these idiots conquered us again?    

Cochise carries on about how dangerous the Espheni are when they first hatch, how much more violent they are. He regales us with the tale of how one Espheni hatchling alone once wiped out a whole Volm company. We spend the next ten minutes watching people creep around a cheap warehouse set while whispering to each other not to disturb the orange thingees. Must see television it ain't. One finally hatches. It kills one guy before the lowly humans kill it. So are the Volm losers, too? They kind of act like it.

The gang reaches what could be a bigger nest of eggs, or could just be a bad lava effect. Some guy blows it up. Tom gets trapped on the far side by debris. Luckily, he still has his magic cucumber and soldiers on. The others try to find another way round to him; Anne dies from a shrapnel wound on the way. I'll miss that gal. Maybe.

"Lord of the Rings" gets ripped off next. Tom finds the Espheni queen in the Lincoln Memorial. It looks like a big Shelob with a red hood. It also spits some webbing stuff at Tom that pins him to a wall beside Lincoln's head. The Queen then wastes time monologuing its ****ing backstory, because of course it does. You see, the Espheni came to Earth via spaceship 1500 ***ing years ago, to Peru I guess because they keep talking about the Nazca lines. And guess what? The ****ing spacefaring Espheni were defeated by Peruvian natives armed with ****ing spears 1500 years ago. We even get a sloppy cartoon montage of the big battle.

This is just embarrassing. The spacefaring Espheni can't build a wall, can't block a tunnel, can't win a battle against people armed with spears, and ultimately decided to bring the one and only Queen of their entire galactic empire to Earth only after losing all power and finding themselves besieged by the attacking humans. In fairness to them, however, maybe they only built a wall that was ten foot tall in places to keep out the ancient Peruvians. Maybe that's the lesson they learned. Surely a factor of two increase in maximum wall height would be enough.

WTF? For sheer stupidity, this is far worse than the ending of "Battlestar Galactcia."

To make matters worse, the Queen says the ancient Peruvians ate one of her daughters. That means she wants to eat Tom. Really? This is the best motivation a spacefaring race can come up with?

The final scene simply has to be seen to be believed. The Espheni Queen is slowly moving back and forth, taunting poor Tom with still more monologuing. As she does, he constantly strains with one arm to reach that glowing cucumber in a way no one could possibly miss. This goes on and on. "Why is that human trying so hard to reach that glowing cucumber? I don't know. I guess I'll talk about Nazca lines some more. That seems like a good response."

In case you're wondering, Tom reaches the cucumber. The Espheni Queen dies. Every last Espheni throughout the galaxy dies with her. I'm humiliated that anyone might think this kind of crap is what drew us all to science fiction.

Tom takes Anne's body to a body of water somewhere. He begs the surviving Dorian to save her. Tentacles appear out of the water and drag Anne's body down.

Pope shows up. He tells Tom to kill him. Tom won't. Pope sits down and dies. WTF? Doesn't anyone on this show know how to do a character arc. I'm beginning to wonder if they even know how to shoot a basic scene anymore.

Flash to the future. Anne is alive. Tom is giving a speech about America and the world and Lincoln's head, Lee Harvey Oswald and the Dallas Cowboys, and of course the virtues of whole grain wheat bread, unless you happen to have celiac disease, in which case he has some Gluten free inspiration that...

Okay, I made some of that up. But it was every bit as grating and awful as what I said.

Five years for this. It's a sad end to a mediocre show.

****ing Espheni.