Falling Skies: On Thin Ice

Tom: "Our real weapon, the weapon that will ultimately gain us victory, is the strength and tenacity of the human spirit!"
Pope: "I think I'm gonna be sick."

This review covers Part 1 of the two-part season premiere.

So its seven months later and an entire seasons worth of stuff has happened off screen. Why?

Okay, so I get not wanting to handle the politics of Tom becoming the President. I can grasp the reasoning behind wanting to push Anne's pregnancy out of the way. I can totally see that the whole process of integrating into Charleston might be not the most exciting thing in the world. And yet it feels like a big misstep to skip all that development.

Sure, all those things might not have made up the most compelling action season in the world, but there is a lot of story simply missing from the narrative now. Who are the Volm? How did Karen become the leader of the Espheni? Why is Anne the only one the Volm trust to use their medical technology? Sure we'll find out all that stuff going forward, but have they sacrificed a season of content for convenience?

Okay, moving on. I have to say this episode was just one eye-rolling cliché too many. From Hal dreaming about wandering in the woods with Karen, and Maggie finding muddy boots buried in the closet, which is supposedly impossible because Hal is now a paraplegic. To the totally telegraphed, "Hey I narrowed down the list of spies to twelve before I'm conveniently murdered horribly" line delivered by the underutilized Terry O'Quinn. I could keep going, listing at least another half dozen predictable plot devices and tropes, but that would be a bit dull.

So I'll continue with the stuff I did like. They brought back everyone, and I mean everyone (at least those who haven't died). It was nice to see they haven't forgotten any of the characters they've introduced, even if the episode felt a little cluttered because of it. I liked the fake-out skitter ambush at the beginning with the Rebel Skitters and Tom coming to the rescue. It was a nice parallel to last season's premiere where the 2nd Mass had to run to survive. It was a statement to the audience that the game has changed. Of course, this show has never really used subtle messages and themes.

I also liked Tom being the President. It puts him in charge, both of the civilian side of things and to a large extent the military side of things. It's a good writing move, he's the logical choice. Except, wasn't he still unsure of his own hold on reality because of what happened to him while in captivity? One little Espheni bug seems to have completely screwed over Hal. What did they do to Tom, and how has that affected his new daughter?

Bits:

I get it, it's been seven months, do they have to repeat it a dozen times?

Matt's looking older, and has a horrible new haircut.

Diego, I had totally forgotten about him. I think he might be stretching the whole 'teenage' rule for harnessed kids.

New Volm tech is pretty nasty, and the Mega Mechs are pretty cool.

What in the frilly heck is that machine the Volm are building in secret?

Alexis Denise Glass-Mason, two unfortunate words... creepy baby.

I loved the saloon and the poker game being played for chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, there was a cute Hershey's Kiss commercial that was a direct tie into the series. The chocolate being used in that game was also Kisses. So a bit of product placement, but that's the kind of product placement that works.

I liked that the Rebel Skitters had war paint. Not only did it differentiate them from the other Skitters, it was a nice nod to Red-eye.

The hero Volm that interacts with the group is named Cochise, who was a famous Chief of the Chiricahua Apache in the 1800's.

Lourdes is a full doctor now, that's a nice touch. Although seven months is a bit quick to jump from medical student to full doctor. I guess in wartime you can't be picky.

Hal and Maggie are living together in an empty shop with a crappy couch and exposed drywall. Tom and Anne are living together as well, but their room has paint and really nice furniture. It's nice to be president.

The Volm have troop ships on their way. That doesn't seem like a good thing, even if Charleston needs their help. More aliens coming to Earth just sounds like a massively bad idea.

Quotes:

Ben: "No, no, no you can't compare comic books and Manga."
Deni: "Says who?"

Pope: "C'mon Cap, the fat lady just sung, let's celebrate."
Weaver: "It's Colonel now, Pope, and besides it ain't over..." (Giant mech pops out of the ground)
Pope: "It's over."

Not a great episode, but not a horrible one, either. Kind of average, with a lot of set up, and a creepy baby. Seriously, did they have to plumb that well?

2 1/2 out of 4 Mega mechs.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

2 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Yeah, I had a pretty similar reaction to this one. It wasn't great, but it still managed to keep me fairly engaged. Although if one more person mentioned "seven months ago" I was going to start throwing things at the television. There are much more effective ways to fill in the blanks for folks if you have to do a time jump. It just doesn't sound natural for people to keep talking about the seven-month time gap.

I honestly think the real reason they did the time jump was for practical production reasons. Moon Bloodgood seems to have had a baby in real life, and Maxim Knight got older between seasons. So to account for her looking dramatically pregnant and him looking older, they had to jump forward in time. That's the trouble with those pesky child characters. The old 'Taller Ghost Walt' problem. At least poor Anne didn't have to get abducted so Moon could have some maternity leave. :)

I rather liked the creepy baby.

Cochise, huh? I keep thinking of him as Abe Sapien. Knowing he's played by Doug Jones doesn't help.

M said...

I must have been so excited that Falling Skies was back that I ignored all the flaws, cause I loved it!

I didn't even notice everyone saying "seven months".

I liked the time jump. I thought it was exciting to see all the new technology they have learned to use. Although, I did think it was ridiculous that Anne was the only one who could use the harness extractor. I mean, she can't train Lourdes?

I am glad they didn't show the election. I am burned out on elections. It was interesting how willingly Weaver accepted the shift in power between them. Not long ago, he would have bristled at being subordinate to Tom. Their relationship has come a long way.

Even though it is a cliche, and is never my favorite, the hybrid alien baby was really, really creepy. Poor Anne. I was so happy she had another baby after losing her son. Now she is raising an alien she is afraid to turn her back on.

I also liked the red war paint on the Skitters. I guess the characters on the show need a way to identify them as much as we do.

I missed that they were gambling for chocolate!

As for the mole, I would suspect Hal, except that if it were him, the VP would have acted surprised to see him standing in the doorway before he was shot. Unless the mole was not the murderer?