Falling Skies: Sanctuary, Part 1

Clayton: "He's a good kid."
Weaver: "Yeah, and he should be in junior high school with his arm around a cheerleader, not fighting a damn war, but there it is."

The very first scene of this episode informed us that not everything is the way it seems. It was a very well crafted story hook that pulled us in right away. That level of tension wasn't kept throughout, but it did pop up in a couple of really great moments. So the theme this time is logic versus emotion, or what is right on paper versus what we feel is right in our hearts. Tom had to make a choice between his instinct and what was supposedly right for the group. He should've listened to his gut.

Let's start with the couple that robbed Dr. Glass. This made me realize that up to this point Dr. Glass has been almost a nothing character. In the last episode she had that great scene where she killed the Skitter. This time she had several really nice scenes that informed us that we really don't know anything about her. She is broken, but hides it well. She was traumatized by the robbery, but stepped up to learn to fight back properly. She has to be the strength of the community, since they look to her as kind of a leader. But she also has no time to take care of herself. Which made Lourdes covering for her all the more poignant.

The same can be said for Tom. He leads the primary scouting, recovery, and retrieval squad, but Weaver also expects him to watch over and control the civilians as well. It makes me wonder what Weaver does. I think that's why they had him in the scene with Tom and Mike chasing the robbers. At the same time I feel that Weaver is finally coming into focus as a character. What really humanized him for me is his obvious affection for Jimmy. He let him come back into the fold, and then praised him while stating that he shouldn't even have to fight.

This broadening of characterization continued in little ways. Anthony spoke up about his thoughts on the whole plan to send off the kids. He took the side of logic, and it was obvious that Tom didn't really want his advice. In the next moment, the camera panned up to show us the motto for the school they've set up in. "Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army." It feels like a pretty clear message about the future of the show. The kids are the future. They've made this entire series with a focus on the treatment and protection of children.

Which made the twist at the end even worse. Terry Clayton has not only betrayed the 2nd Mass. but has potentially ruined the future of the human race. For what? I'm not sure it matters, because it was plain he wasn't working for the betterment of the whole. He has been twisted and warped into a monster. Which is something that was touched on with the introduction of Pope and Margaret in the second episode. It was even more telling when it was revealed that Pope was the source of information that lead Clayton to the 2nd. Mass. Except it was clear in those few seconds that Clayton had to torture that information out of him. So who is the greater monster? Pope owes absolutely no loyalty to the 2nd Mass., so why wouldn't he just give them up without hesitation? Could it be that within a group of human monsters, Pope isn't the worst devil among them? I suppose we'll find out all these answers in part 2.

Bits:

Heartwarming Moment of the Week: There was nothing overtly touching in this episode. But there were several small moments that felt much more in character and truer to the feel of the series.

Unexpected Brutal Death of the Week: Parker killed by the Mech would've normally been my choice for this. But I think I'll have to go with Weaver blowing off the head of a Skitter with a shotgun. It was a telegraphed moment, but a good one. Jimmy throwing the gun at the thing at the same time was nice timing. The result was all blood and gore and legs everywhere.

The 7th Mass was outside of Wilmington, but according to Clayton they're gone. Is this true, or was he just feeding Weaver and Tom false information to get them to panic?

The Skitters are stepping up production of the Tower in Boston. Is this more false information from Clayton? Or is this the bit of info that will inform what happens for the rest of the season?

The scenes with Margaret and Anne (Dr. Glass) were both really cool. Margaret praised her for fighting back, and expressed regret that she didn't do the same while she was a part of Pope's gang. During the gun training, I could swear there was some chemistry. If this were a different show, I'd say there was some serious sparkage between them.

Ben seems normal, almost too normal. But according to Hal he feels like a different kid, which Tom hasn't noticed yet.

Ben and Matt look alike, and Hal looks a lot like Tom. But Tom said Hal looks like his mother. In the picture we saw of Rebecca, she was wearing a hat and dark glasses so we didn't get a good impression of her. This must've been so that they were covered with any future casting.

Ben spoke about his time with the Skitters. He described a lack of emotions, and individuality. It sounded very much like a hive mind, and within that hive mind the Skitters seemed to genuinely care about the harnessed kids. He goes so far as say they weren't monsters, but family.

I liked that they were using the school as a staging ground to enable the escape of the civilians. Tom has good instincts, most of the time. This felt like a return to form for him.

The Mech approaching rattled the chess board like the glass of water in the awesome T-Rex scene in Jurassic Park. It made me finally connect the Mech wail sound effect to the roar of dinosaurs.

When Jimmy was escaping from the Mech, I yelled at the screen, Run Jimmy Run. That entire scene was really tense, and demonstrated how resourceful the kid is. I really liked his debrief, as he was coming down from adrenaline and talking a mile a minute. I didn't like the Skitter picking up the globe and crushing it, though. That felt cheesy.

Ben mentioning the Blitz of London during World War II was very appropriate, and I think it was part of the reason that Tom changed his mind and sent the kids away.

Poor Eli, he didn't deserve to be offered up to the Skitters. At least the Skitters used a stun setting. Did we know that their weapons could do that?

Quotes:

Margaret: "You'll feel better just knowing it's around. And if it conflicts with some Hippocratic oath, why don't you just stitch the bad guy up after you blast them?"

Anne: "Shouldn't I, I don't know, like, take a stance?"
Margaret: "You're not the Terminator, honey. Your just looking to protect yourself."
(This was a nice little reference to the fact that Moon Bloodgood was in Terminator Salvation.)

Anne: "I never liked guns."
Margaret: "Neither did I. And after a couple months, it's as comfortable as a credit card. Don't leave home without it."

Ben: "Remember that day?"
Hal: "Remember? You threw up on me. Then Matt threw up on me. It was one of the most memorable days of my life."
Ben: "At least Dad didn't throw up on you."

Overall, I think this was an improvement. The story had a level of cohesiveness to it that we haven't really seen before. The bookending scenes were really strong, and the two reveals at the end were more than enough to hook me into watching part 2. I really hope they keep up this trend.

3 out of 4 Dinosaur Skitter Mechs that can somehow sneak up on a forward watch post.

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

1 comment:

Paul Kelly said...

I stopped watching Falling Skies midway through the first season, and was under the impression it'd been cancelled. Evidently not. Good news, because I rather enjoyed it. And now I know it's got a second season, I can spend the summer catching up. So thanks for that, JD.