Falling Skies: Young Bloods

Jamil: "It doesn't mean you stop hoping. Just means you gotta hope for something else. You know, for Charleston, for a new life, one day a new family. Hope's all we got."

This episode was pretty clearly about what family means. We had the Masons struggling with where they all fit into each other's lives, and where they belonged among the greater community. Then we also had Weaver's sudden reunion with his long lost daughter Jeanne. But even with all that family drama, there were some interesting developments in the ever-growing Skitter mythology.

So harnesses start off as wormlike things reminiscent of the face-huggers from Alien. The entire scene in the factory had all sorts of creepy tension and disturbing visuals. We finally saw what those poor kids go through right before being harnessed, and it is just as horrible as I thought it would be. No wonder Ben is so screwed up. I thought the scene with the poor kid getting harnessed was amazing and visceral. They do get the creepy right on this show more often than not.

The scene ended with that moment with Ben and the worm in the tank. It looked like they were almost communing, right before he lost it and started firing. Ben is definitely beginning to spiral downwards. He is so broken, and I'm not sure they can fix him. Well, except for the obvious, which is winning the fight and driving the Skitters off the planet. I just hope that happens before the Skitters reclaim him.

This episode focused on the kids for the most part, with Matt being fairly central. There were several scenes focused on him, and I thought he managed to not be annoying even though he was forced into the usual kid plot contrivances. Specifically, I thought his complaints were rooted in some real trauma and his inability to fully deal with it. His father disappeared for three months, his older brothers are both caught up in the war, and he desperately wants to fight. I think that grounding in some real issues made his actions a little easier to take, which thankfully didn't make him like just a dumb reckless kid.

That introduction scene with the two Skitters illustrated how messed up his situation is. When he was asked how he felt after watching their heads blown off, he replied, "That was awesome". I can see a young kid thinking violence is cool, but not when you are covered head to toe in blood. This world Matt has found himself in has twisted morality to such a degree that that kind of violence is not only acceptable, but somewhat necessary to deal with the very real threat of monsters lurking around every corner. He needed to figure out where he fits, and how to behave in that role. Unfortunately, he learned his lesson in the worst way possible.

This upside-down morality was mirrored rather well with Diego and Jeanne's group of kid survivors. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop with them. But they were genuinely good people, just trying to survive. They didn't fall into the usual plot device for this kind of group. Most of the time the gang of kids are doing something stupid or ritualistic, behaving in such a way that they have to be saved by the adults and taught how things really should work. It is something that shows up in sci-fi shows a lot. But this time they were relatively competent. They might have gone off half-cocked to the factory and gotten captured. But they accepted the help of the 2nd. Mass without argument, thanked them for their generosity, and then left for reasons that made logical sense. Although I don't think I would've made the same choice that Diego made, leaving the shelter of the 2nd Mass. for a hard winter in the mountains.

Jeanne's actions, although heartwrenching for Weaver, worked for the character. She wasn't just going off because her boyfriend was leaving. She left to help raise those kids, and use the skills that her father taught her to help them survive. Going up into the mountains, those skills would be vitally important. Weaver is alone again, and he keeps losing kids. First it was Sophia, then Jimmy, and now Jeanne is gone from his life, perhaps permanently. He also had to learn about his wife dying from a stroke because her blood pressure medicine ran out. That scene at the end when he read Jeanne's note really got to me, and made me realize that somewhere along the way I started to like him as a character.

Bits:

Boone called Tom "Mason Jar".

I thought the set dressings were really effective this time, with the little touches of life frozen at the moment of the invasion.

The final scene with the guitar music was effective, maybe it's because I like that tune quite a bit, but I thought there was something evocative about it. I thought it was telling that it showed a bunch of people connecting, and Ben was alone.

Hal and Margaret are not together after all.

I find the timing a little convenient, having Jimmy die the episode before Jeanne is found.

Lourdes had family in Northern Mexico, which was almost entirely wiped out.

The poster on the wall at the end of the alleyway where Matt lured those Skitters was just funky looking.

No Pope.

Weaver had a harness worm latch onto his leg, I wonder if there will be unforeseen consequences because of that injury.

With only one episode of any real dialogue, I'm officially starting to like Tector.

Weaver apologizing to Jeanne was kind of perfect, since she was trying to say goodbye. I loved the subtext in that scene.

Diego called the Skitters Chinches (which is a Spanish word for bed bugs). All the different names for the Skitters is a nice real world touch. The world no longer has any organization or communication for the most part. Of course, different groups would name things in their own way.

The kids going off to the factory was like a group of chickens attempting a hostage rescue from Colonel Sanders.

The romantic beats (like the long kiss between Tom and Anne) were nice, but felt a little out of place in this episode.

Quotes:

Tom: "I know you wanna be a fighter, but you've got a lot to learn. Following orders for starters."
Matt: "I did a good job, I killed two Skitters."
Tom: "You could've gotten yourself killed in the process. It wasn't smart."
Matt: "Neither was getting onto an alien spaceship, Dad."

"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it." - Robert E. Lee (this was on a mural featured in several scenes)

Tector: "Don't you worry, boss, he step outta line I'll put my foot so far up his butt he taste shoe leather."

Another strong episode, which gives me hope that they can continue this trend. I am surprised how they can continue to evolve the Skitters. I still think they might have a few too many central characters, because some that shouldn't are beginning to get sidelined (like Margaret).

3 1/2 out of 4 Skitter Worm Backhuggers.

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

5 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Great review, J.D. I, too, was somewhat surprised to discover this week that somewhere along the way I started to genuinely care about these characters. Perhaps something is wrong with me, but this is two episodes in a row that this show has reduced me to tears. I cried at the really unexpected reunion between Weaver and his daughter, and again when she came to say goodbye. I just knew she was going to leave and that her "I don't want to say goodbye" was about her dad, not Diego. And Weaver's reaction to the note was heartbreaking. I'm getting a bit teary thinking about it now.

You made some excellent points about Matt. His behavior was kind of annoying, but also completely understandable. Of course he wants to help fight, and of course he's struggling with all that has happened to him, especially Tom's disappearance. I rather enjoyed Matt calling Tom on getting onto the alien spaceship.

I really loved the romantic scenes this week, primarily because they allowed the moments to be somewhat subtle and didn't overplay the dialogue. I especially liked Tom telling Anne how he felt about her by merely echoing her "I never expected to have something like this again" (about the moon pie) with "Neither did I" and a meaningful look. Similarly, I liked the way Jamil's speech to Lourdes (which you quoted above) doubled as both a mission statement for humanity and a romantic declaration.

I also rather enjoyed the quiet, guitar version of Clair de lune over the end. The music choices have definitely been improving.

I'm glad Tector got to become more of a character this week. I think Ryan Robbins is great and I look forward to seeing more of him.

Billie Doux said...

What Jess said, exactly. Seeing that little boy Matt covered with blood, you think he's going to be traumatized and crying -- and then he started laughing, which was so disconcerting. Excellent set-up for the episode, considering the content.

I also like Ryan Robbins from Sanctuary and was pleased they added him to the cast. I hope his character doesn't die horribly by the end of the season.

And I agreed with Jeanne leaving her father. Who knows? The 2nd Mass could go down in flames and the Diego/Jeanne strategy could be the right one. I absolutely do not believe everything in Charleston will be cool. It just feels like it's going to be a concentration camp or something.

Great review, JD.

Anonymous said...

This was one of my favorite episodes so far, even though I have a couple of gripes about it. Mainly, that the rescue of the kids from the harnessing factory seemed a little too easy. Was is really just that one skitter there all by himself? Only one (apparently deaf)mech guarding whole the place?

Also, I was really hoping Matt would not be such a cliche when Miguel asked him to come along on the rescue. It would have been refreshing if he had obediently stayed behind. But, I guess if you want to show a kid being rebellious, he should probably rebel a little bit.

I also would have preferred if the Jeanne story hadn't begun and ended in a single episode. They spent a long time building up to this reunion, and then it was over as soon as it began.

That being said, nearly all of the best moments of this episode related to the Jeanne/Weaver relationship. The exception being the "moonpie" moment between Tom and Anne...how surprised they both were to find something so sweet and normal in their situation, Anne's grin when they got caught by Lourdes, and even that it *does* seem a little out of place, because how else would a budding romance feel in this world? I loved it.

The harness factory scene was also really effective. Forget the parasites and the screaming/crying/begging in the background...just being so helplessly restrained that way. Eesh.

I also loved when Matt climbed in bed with Tom at the end. That short, wordless scene said so much more than some trite father/son talk could have.

But, I digress. Father/Daughter reunion/goodbye:

I was actually angry that Jeanne didn't give Weaver a chance to say goodbye, especially since they had just found each other and he was so clearly (obliviously)expecting her to stay. It was just cruel. But, in the last conversation they had, they had a chance to reminisce, to hash out old hurts, apologize for the things they had done, and let each other know how much they loved each other. That is what people do when they have to say goodbye, really. It was telling that Weaver had to be under the influence of pain medication in order to have that conversation! I'm just glad he got to give her the compass.

The last scene is what ultimately sold me on this episode. Specifically, the choice to use Claire de Lune as the background music. I think the reason it was evocative (perfect word, JD), at least for me, is that it sounded like a little girl's music box, the kind of thing that might spring unbidden into a father's mind when he loses his daughter. Sad and sweet, and a little broken.

-M

J.D. Balthazar said...

Thank you for that lovely comment Anonymous-M. I think I agree with pretty much every point you brought up.

I think they left the door open to bring her back though at some point. I just hope Weaver survives until then.

Anonymous said...

Well, thanks, JD. So glad you are reviewing! No one I know watches the show, and (obviously) I have a lot of thoughts about it!

-m