Falling Skies: Eight Hours

Weaver: "Good shot."

Well, this was an improvement. There wasn't really a sense of urgency, but there was tension. This felt like combat, where you wait endlessly to engage the enemy, only to be thrust into chaos when you least expect it, until there is a reprieve or you're dead. This entire episode was essentially one long evacuation/military action. So I'll split up my thoughts along the same lines.

The stuff at the school started much like every episode. We have some kind of drama involving Rick, Ben, Scott, or Dr. Glass. This time it was Rick. He finally went off the reservation, literally. He climbed on walls, stole a valuable piece of equipment, and betrayed the 2nd Mass to the Skitters. But we finally understand that it wasn't because he was altered by the Skitters, entirely. He's just a very traumatized and confused young man who has been forced into addiction by the harness.

Tom was obviously upset by his actions, but it was clear that he didn't blame Rick for his choices. Rick's flight to find the Skitters was fascinating, the way he twisted and leapt over the blockade. I loved how Margaret stopped that one fighter from firing on Ben who was chasing after Rick. She really has been invaluable since she joined the Militia. Poor Rick, though, was pinning his hopes so completely on the Skitters taking him back. When they rejected him, his facade of stony indifference fell away almost immediately.

This led up to the tense standoff with the Mechs. Ben's connection to the Skitters paid off with his hearing the frequency of the Mechs communication signal so that Scott could use the transmitter to do something. I wasn't too clear on exactly what they did that drove the Mechs away. Still, I liked how Margaret took Jimmy under her wing and helped build up his courage to fight. He really is just a kid, even if he is good fighter. It was nice that Tom thanked her again for her help. It's the little things that matter in the end.

Weaver sent Hal back, which was probably good because although we didn't get much of the mission against the Tower, we know it failed. Tom coming to Weaver's rescue was very much in character, and yet again proves that he's more soldier than civilian. Even though we didn't see the battle, we did get some really great character moments in the aftermath. Pope saved Anthony, and gave Tom a weapon that turned out to be pretty effective. Pope went through so much this season, it felt right that he wished Tom luck at the end.

A lot happened during those final minutes. The first significant moment was when Tom asked Anne to take care of his kids, and then we finally got smoochies. Their romance has been underplayed, but there was definitely a build-up to that moment. I'm not a shipper, but it was nice to see them come together. Then there's the lucky rocket. I thought it was a bit cheesy, but at least they acknowledged that it was cheesy. Plus it didn't bring down the entire structure, which would've been unbelievable.

Last, but definitely not least, we have Karen's unexpected reappearance. I kept thinking that Tom was going to take her and run. But instead he went with her and the Master Alien (my new name for the humanoid aliens). Not that he had much choice, since they threatened Ben. They must've learned from Rick that his kids were his Achilles heel, his defining weakness. Karen said that the harness is a process, and that Ben was still connected to them. If I were in the same position, I'm not sure if I could say no, either. But Weaver was obviously stunned, to the point that all he could do was whisper Tom's name. It was a wonderful, lingering cliffhanger. What are they going to do to Tom? What is he going to learn?

Bits:

Heartwarming Moments: There were several rousing speeches, and "I'm not leaving you" moments. But for a season finale, with the fate of the human resistance at stake, I'll forgive a little bit of hokey patriotism.

Deaths: It looks like all the fighters that went with Weaver died. Pope, Anthony, and Weaver made it though. So we didn't get any big character deaths in this episode.

Tom's final speech was pretty effective, and so was Weaver's. They fulfilled their requisite heroism.

Anne thanking Lourdes for her assistance, and praising her work was a nice moment.

The music was a little intrusive. They need to work on the score next season.

The 4th and 5th Mass. were no shows, so I guess they really are gone.

It was good continuity that Weaver had the shakes. At least his mood swings are over.

The close up of the Mech confirmed that they were designed by the Master Aliens, which calls back to the conversation Tom and Scott had in the second episode.

Using the flag pole as a transmitter antenna was a little too much symbolism. But poor Ben will be in constant pain if they continue to use that signal to keep the Skitters away.

The little harnessed girl from "Sanctuary Part 1" is back, and the effects of the harness were visible along her hairline. The skin was green and scaly, much like the skin around Ben's spines. Along with Rick being able to walk on walls, the theory of transformation looks pretty much confirmed.

Lt. Danner from the last episode was conspicuously missing. I guess he was a one-shot antagonist. That's disappointing.

Quotes:

Weaver: "You tell them the resistance drew blood, you give these people hope. And then you can lead the next fight, and the one after that."

Anne: "Don't laugh, but I'm actually gonna miss this place."

Karen: "They didn't expect... resistance on this level. They find that interesting, and want to talk."

This was just the right cap to the season. It finished up most the plot threads in a logical and satisfying way. It wrapped up some of the lingering character arcs, such as Tom and Anne's romance, and Pope's integration into the group. And it left me wanting to know what happens next.

4 out of 4 rocket launchers for the finale.

Season Wrap-Up:

I wish this season had been better as a whole. It did manage to chug along and give us some good character moments, even though they were inconsistent at times. We also got some good story moments even though there were some logic and continuity flaws. This is primarily a show about people, and how they react to an extreme situation. It isn't the best at that yet, but it has promise.

Tom really is the heart of the show, and when he's center stage, he brings everything together. Pope and Margaret are really strong and interesting characters. Hal, Ben, and Matt have succeeded where so many others have failed, in that they are kid characters that I actually like. Dr. Glass and Lourdes were okay, but I think they need some better writing, and plots that grow them as characters instead of just having them interact with the group. Weaver was an interesting commander. He wasn't one-dimensional, and all his questionable decisions made sense later on. He just needs to stay consistent from this point on, or he needs to step aside as commander.

The creators obviously thought out the aliens from the beginning, and it shows. The mythology built up is one of the strong points going for this series. I wonder if they have even more layers?

Overall, this season was an okay first step, especially when you consider that most first seasons are notoriously bad. Buffy, Star Trek TNG, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, so many shows that I love have had bumpy freshmen years. Looking forward, I think there is more than enough here to create something special. Let's just hope the writers figure it out before people give up on the show.

2 1/2 out of 4 alien invasions for the first season.

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

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

J.D., congratulations on finishing the first season in only a couple of weeks, and under the wire for the second season premiere. You're awesome. And I agree that this finale was excellent. It made me want to see season two, and that wasn't a sure thing until I saw it.

Jess Lynde said...

Yes, congrats and thank you, because you gave me a needed refresher on everything we saw and learned last season.

I agree that this finale was an improvement on the last episode, and it did manage to leave me wanting to know what happens next, which was kind of surprising, because I was about ready to throw in the towel. I definitely concur with your overall assessment of the season. The mythology was intriguing, several of the core characters were strong, and the kids weren't too annoying (certainly not Hal and Ben, but I could do with less of "cute" Matt). But they need to beef up the characters if they want to really make this show something special. Take a cue from a shows like Battlestar Galactica or Lost, which may not have always succeeded on a mythology level, but certainly delivered on a character level. For BSG, in particular, I was so attached to even the third tier characters, that when we'd lose crew members it would hurt like hell.

Here, they could take out almost anyone except for maybe Tom, Pope, Hal, and Margaret and I probably wouldn't give two figs because they haven't really made me care about these characters as people. Most of them are just plot devices or basic types. Throwing a bunch of unearned and overscored treacly sentiment at us at the end of an episode does not make me care about the characters. Developing them better would.

But, I am still intrigued and I'm hoping for better this season. We'll see soon. Thanks again, J.D.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I completely agree. I think Falling Skies needs to let go of the cheese. It's hard to take Weaver seriously as a tough commander with a hidden heart of gold when that heart of gold is on display every single episode. Then there are the stupid plot decisions they make.

Also, a baby shower during an invasion? Insane. And Lourdes annoys me.

Still, I'll stick with it. Could improve.