Falling Skies: What Hides Beneath

Weaver: "Bastards might be from outer space, but their engineering is strictly Architecture 101. Get close enough, we can kill' em."

Well, this was a game changer. We finally got answers about Weaver, we found out a little more about the mysterious tower in the middle of Boston, we were introduced to a new alien, and we found out an absolutely horrible secret about the Skitters that just launched the show from merely good to really interesting. Plus we got Pope showing the 2nd Mass. how to really fight back.

Deep breath. Okay. So the biggest thing first.

Dr. Glass's discovery that the Skitters were once harnessed kids slowly transformed into monsters. What a wonderfully horrible allegory to things like the Hitler Youth. It explains everything about the Skitters, and suddenly makes them sympathetic and in a very real way pitiable. It also explains Rick's demeanor quite a bit. He was obviously further along in the transition than Ben. What will happen next? Will he betray the 2nd Mass.?

This does bring up a question that I hope they answer. Where did the first Skitters come from? I mean the first wave. Are they all humans mutated into aliens? Or were the first wave of Skitters from another planet they invaded? Which brings me to the new alien that looks like something that Spielberg would dream up, complete with long bodies and arms and slightly metallic skin. (Funny that he's involved in the production. Coincidence? I think not.) Not that the new aliens aren't effective. They have that humanoid but not human creepiness to them.

The motivations and the actions of these new humanoid aliens and Skitters are becoming increasingly mysterious. Tom explained the Sonya (Blair Brown) character's presence so near the Skitter's power center pretty easily. But what about the technology recycling? Why use earth materials, unless that's part of the reason for their invasion?

The alien stuff was only part of why this was such a good episode. We finally got answers about Weaver's increasingly erratic behavior. Weaver was suffering from extreme guilt and built his entire existence around revenge. That can be a strong motivator, but it isn't solid enough to sustain someone forever. He reached his breaking point in this episode, and after learning about what happened to his family, I can absolutely understand.

His story was the first full example of the invasion except for the intro by the kids in the first episode. Apparently, there were bombs, and afterwards there was a lot of chaos. Which of course is to be expected. During this chaos Weaver went back to his ex-wife and children only to find everything gone. His eldest daughter and wife were in a building that was destroyed by the Mechs, and his youngest was taken by the Skitters. Probably driven to the point of desperation, he searched out Sophia, and once he found her, he cut off her harness. Since it was so soon after the invasion he had no idea what would happen. This explains every single action he's made during the course of the season, and finally makes me accept him as the good man that he seemed to be. It cool that he now has something to search for, and something greater to fight for, the possibility that his wife and eldest daughter are alive.

The other side of that story coin was the scouting mission Weaver joined with Tom and Hal. They learned more in one afternoon than in the entire seven months of running. But this wasn't the only forward movement in the resistance. Pope's discovery about the super bullets worked, but it did feel a tad convenient. Now they have a weapon that can take out the Skitter's most menacing weapon (the Mechs) in a single shot. But I'm beginning to wonder about how good a military organization they are. They made some big noise about Pope only being part of the design phase of the bombs, but he seemed to be fairly hands on without supervision. Also shouldn't they have moved from that location weeks ago, first when Karen was taken, then when Pope escaped, and now after the situation with Clayton? Their position could've been compromised a hundred times.

Bits:

Heartwarming Moment: None really to speak of. They seem to be keeping to the small moments of positive interactions that have layers of darkness underneath.

Unexpected Death: Again none, this is the first episode without a death of any kind.

Ben's physicality has increased and he doesn't want to admit it to Hal.

The resistance is coordinating an offensive in a few days. The objective is to blow up the towers in the major cities.

Tom forbidding Matt to interact with Pope was almost like pushing them to be friends.

So it turns out that the harnessed kids being used to gather supplies are helping to build that massive structure in the middle of Boston.

Rick ran off after seeing Pope shoot the Mech head at the end. That can't be good.

Anne making the logic leap from the hardened skin on Ben's back around the spines to total metamorphosis was either a really brilliant character moment or really sloppy writing.

Weaver had a construction business before the invasion. He started it after he got out of the service.

When Blair Brown showed up, I half expected to see Olivia and Peter pop out of a closet and wave their guns at Tom and Hal.

It must've been horrible for Hal to see Karen like that. Tom also looked pretty shaken seeing her as well. We also found out that it's been three weeks since she was taken.

I really liked that Tom had the presence of mind to feed Sonya false information.

Quotes:

Tom: "How's the patient?"
Dr. Glass: "Recovering, and reminding me every day why I specialized in pediatrics."

Pope: "What's with the Victrola?"
Scott: "It's a radio transmitter, scouts found it at a community college. These pre-transistor types last forever."
Pope: "Great. Maybe you can get NPR on that thing, and bore the aliens to death."

Tom: "Within any military hierarchy, you've got troops in the field, and then you've got command. And up until this point, we've assumed that the Skitters were command. Maybe we were wrong."

Matt: "Did you go to school?"
Pope: "Yeah. I did the four-year program at Cochran Correctional. You know, your old man finds out you're hanging with me, you're liable to discover the true meaning of the word 'corporal punishment', just after he shoots me."

This was another good step in the right direction, and didn't slip from the promise of the two-parter. In fact it actually raised the bar quite a bit by changing the rules so completely. Going forward, this will be a new war, and it should be an interesting one to watch.

3 1/2 super bullets that can cut through a Mech like butter.

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

3 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

I've been following all your reviews, J.D., and trying to remember where the show went off the rails for me. I'll think, "Oh, it must have been this episode," but then I'll read your review and go, "Oh right, I liked that part and that part, so it probably wasn't this one."

I think what happened is that I liked a lot of the elements threaded throughout the episodes --- particularly the bits relating to the aliens and the overall mythology --- but only a few characters were clicking for me. Everyone else felt like cardboard cutouts that only behaved as the plot of the week needed them to, and several of the actors weren't doing a good job bringing their characters to life. Plus, some of the actions of the 2nd Mass felt exceedingly stupid as I was watching it all play out, and the overly melodramatic scoring and excess of heartwarming moments left me walking away from episodes feeling let down, rather than intrigued and excited by the possibilities.

But your reviews are doing a good job of highlighting what worked for me, and I'm feeling fairly excited for the season premiere tonight! So thanks!

Patryk said...

My first conclusion would be that the Skitters are just a previously conquered and harnessed species. Not transformed kids. That leap into mutation is a plot hole for me. After all wehre did the initial invading force come from? All those supposed alien abductions that seem to happen in the world?

J.D. Balthazar said...

Thank you for that lovely comment Jess. In a lot of ways I totally agree, but I've been really trying to see the good stuff first. Although I'll admit my next review is a bit negative.

Patryk, I agree that the transformation idea is a bit of a plot hole, but one that could be plugged. It's just such creepy idea, and really shifts the consequences for finding and saving the harnessed kids all the more important.