Falling Skies: Grace

Weaver (to Tom): "You know, your optimism is starting to get a little annoying."

From the creepy Skitter sitter mind control, to Maggie being ignored, this episode was about communication, or a lack thereof. We had yet another mission into the dangerous world, and this time it was Pope's suggestion. We also had Dr. Glass and Dr. Harris arguing over how to treat their Skitter prisoner. Finally, we had a sickeningly sweet Thanksgiving scene that felt woefully out of place in the episode.

Having a respite from the darkness of their situation is good, even when they have one in every episode. But something like this breaking bread scene takes away from the tension of the world. It should've come at the end of the season for it to work thematically. If they can have a nice, warm meal with family and friends with laughter and a large helping of hope, then the entire point of the series is lessened. They are fighting for that kind of moment, not having one every evening. Especially when Tom, who's been chomping at the bit to go and get his son, outright ignores Maggie who had potentially vital information about a drug storehouse, for some bread. This just pissed me off. Of course this could also be the calm before the storm. These characters might never have a chance to come together like this again.

On the positive side, the Skitters are starting to come into clarity. Up until this point they've been the big menace, but mostly an unseen one -- snippets of fights, a couple of close-up shots, but nothing that demonstrated their intelligence or true capabilities. This time we learned that not only do they have some kind of telepathic powers and can walk on walls, they also seem to really understand their enemies... us. They know our weaknesses, they know our strengths, and they seem to know our tactics. How do you fight something that knows you that well, especially when they have superior firepower?

The captured Skitter not only recognized Tom, but tried to retaliate for its injuries. It also took control of Rick, which was paralleled by the scene with the teenagers wielding machine guns. This demonstrated to me that they know we can't kill our own children no matter how much of a threat they are. What is really creepy about that is when the Skitter took over Rick, it said that the children were theirs. In the last episode, we saw what they would do to the kids if only one was taken away. This scene confirmed that it goes far deeper than that.

I love that they have a large cast. It makes it feel real and opens up the field for any number of stories, like last episode's tense surgery scene and the mystery of the static on the radio. But it felt like they were juggling too many stories in this episode. This juggling act kind of worked for character growth though, because I think the characters came into sharper focus this week. Maggie is adjusting but isn't fully trusted, Pope escaped, Tom really is more military than civilian, Dr. Glass isn't all niceness, Dr. Harris is a bastard, and Mike is absolutely lost. But the thing that surprised me was that it appears as though Weaver isn't as bad as I thought he was.

I also liked Dai in this episode. He finally had some good lines, and he has a sense of humor. Anthony was a cop in the Boston Police force, and hasn't forgotten about Pope killing Click. I found it telling that Pope suggested Matt not be shielded for his own sake, and Hal agreed with him. I also liked that Scott gave Matt a job as the 2nd Mass. Communications Officer. It was also nice to see that Hal is grieving over Karen, continuity-wise. But it was a really interesting character choice to find out that Tom doesn't know how to comfort him because that was what his wife was good at.

The mission to the bike shop was filled with choice character moments as well. I hope that Pope comes back at some point, but his escape had some instant ramifications. Killing the Skitter to release control of the gun-wielding children felt like a puzzle that needed to be solved, much like the communication attempts that Dr. Glass and Dr. Harris were attempting. But Mike seemed to crack the problem. (Well, sort of.) It all comes down to the harnessed kids. They have more importance than slave labor, and the group is finally realizing that.

Bits:

Dai is fun stoned.

I think Lourdes should just step up and take on the role of the community preacher.

Somehow I missed it last episode, but apparently Ben was the one that grabbed Karen.

The signals that the Skitters produce aren't very strong, so that's one plot hole averted early.

Tom read the Harry Potter books to Ben, even though he was getting a bit too old for his dad to be reading to him. I thought this was a nice touch, along with the fact that he was such a fan that Ben wanted to be nearsighted so he could get Harry glasses.

Scott's real job is to make explosives. Interesting.

When Maggie proposed a mission, it was good information. When Pope suggested one, it was also good information but he had no intention of playing along.

Quotes:

Weaver: "Never were much to look at."
Dr. Harris: "To us, maybe. For all we know, this one is a prime specimen, the Brad Pitt of the Skitter world."

Weaver (to Tom): "One objective leads to the next. First the bikes, then the drugs, then your son."

Weaver: "Those convicts trusted you with a gun. The whole time you were with them you never thought about using it before?"
Maggie: "Yeah, every second of every day. On myself at first, and then on them."
Weaver: "How about now?"
Maggie: "I'm just taking it a day at a time."

Tom: "Trust me, Hal with a set of car keys is just as frightening as a mech."
Dai: "Same worries, higher stakes."

Hal: "They fly across the universe, wipe out mankind, and they sleep like bats."
Pope: "At least they're sleeping and not having Skitter group sex."

Hal: "So that's it, we should move on?"
Tom: "I think your mom might've said to hold onto the memory and let the rest of it go."
Hal: "Actually, she would've said, suck it up."
Tom: "Really?"
Hal: "And I'm sorry, but if that was your attempt at parental advice, that was pretty lame."
Tom: "She was always better at that then me."
Hal: "Yeah, she was."

Dr. Glass (to Dr. Harris): "Look, they killed my family, I'd like nothing more than to take an axe and cut that thing's head off. But Porter's orders were clear. We need to attempt communication."

Tom: "I haven't tasted fresh baked bread in months."
Maggie: "Yeah, it's a farewell gift from Pope. He's a liar and a deserter, but the sonofabitch can cook."

I love that they are going whole hog with the serial format, but each episode needs to work on its own. There was a lot of good in this episode. It had some decent character growth, and that's always a good thing. But it never really meshed into a cohesive story.

2 1/2 out of 4 bat-like Skitters hanging from an overpass.

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

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