Falling Skies: The Price of Greatness

Matt: "We were safer on the road, weren't we?"

Second chances are never what they should be, are they? That was the theme this time, what do you do when your slate is wiped clean. Except it never really is, there is always some emotional baggage left over. So the 2nd Mass finally made it to Charleston, didn't last long did it? Can't say I didn't see it coming. But at the same time, would it really have worked if it was all perfect and shiny?

Manchester might be a politically power hungry coward, but in his own way he was trying to save the world. Maybe sometimes it is easy to see only what's in front of you. Manchester could only see the building of his new civilization, and nothing else. But at the same time was he entirely wrong? Tom should've been the bridge between the war and the hope for a new society. Once upon a time he could've been the liaison between Weaver and Manchester, except Tom is more soldier than scholar now.

I think the only reason it's easy to define which side was in the right, and which was in the wrong, was how they played their hands. Manchester went the way of a dictator, confining our heroes instead of listening to them. It made the subsequent coup understandable. Even if that coup was against one of the last vestiges of the world they used to know. Is there a political message there?

Unfortunately I think the episode was a bit too condensed, not that it was poorly done, just not quite as satisfying as it could've been. Charleston should've been a multiple episode arc. Manchester could've then been built up as an understandable villain before things fell apart. Alas, with a ten episode season, there just isn't much time for that much story building. So I'll have to accept this episode for what it is.

Tom, Anne, and Matt were our primary eyes for the transition from the brand new happy shiny place, to a place of corruption and oppression. I think the most striking comparison is the difference between the two meals Anne and Tom shared. The first one was full of choice and relief, the second was opposite. These parallel scenes created just the right touch of subtle menace to drive home the idea that things were not quite right in Charleston. Then we had Matt's change in behavior, at first he was excited to go to school and hang out with the kids of Charleston. But after spending some time amongst them he ended up in a fight.

At least Weaver finally reunited with his daughter, which I didn't see coming (again). She made the wrong choice going with Diego, and now they have the opportunity to be a family again. Except it was clear she believed her beau was still alive, so I doubt she'll linger too long before going out to look for him. Although I bet Weaver would go with her this time, if she asked. It was nice to see Weaver happy again, even if it wasn't that long lived.

Bits:

I loved the old cameras set up along the stairwell, very 1984.

Like Dawn of the Dead, the idea of using a mall as a base for a new civilization is a clear metaphor for a commercially driven capitalist society. In this case the mall was both unfinished and underground. Which means perhaps that this new government is unfinished, and inferior to what was in place before. Or not, it's easy to read too much into details like this.

There were lots of flags all over the place, as well as inspirational quotes and phrases painted (and chiseled) on the walls.

Arthur Manchester, Majority Party Leader. Interesting that he felt it was presumptuous to call his title President. Maybe it was because he knew that it wasn't that kind of government. It's great to see Terry O'Quinn, he's always so good and here was no exception. He was just the right mix of sincere and evil.

Aloysius Murphy huh, no wonder he goes by Tector. Although Gunnery Sergeant Murphy doesn't sound so bad. I was happy that Tector tried to be a soldier again after the conversation he had with Weaver. But he went too far when he shot Lyle. At least he realized where his loyalties were at the end.

General Bresler seemed spineless on the surface, was that a ruse? Or was this all a plot to use the 2nd Mass to stage a military coup? All I can say is Matt Frewer, yay!

I loved Pope being all formal with the meal Manchester used as a bribe to get him to talk about Tom. But I loved it even more that Pope refused to rat Tom out. Just when I think I have his character sussed out, they add another layer to him.

I got the impression that there was a message that politics are about power instead of survival. In this kind of situation, politics seem to have no place.

Target practice in the parking garage was a nice touch, although no-one was wearing ear protection.

I loved Weaver explaining to Hal that he had to be a leader now, because he had the experience needed to help his fellow soldiers survive.

Is the deharnessed kid really from Red Eye? They were awfully quick to believe him. The actor playing that kid is also a Sanctuary alum like Ryan Robbins.

Poor Crazy Lee, they just left her there. Even Pope got out of that cage.

Quotes:

Tom: "There were some who advocated accommodation, who believed the enemy would only be enraged by outright rebellion. But they were outnumbered by those who understood that freedom would only come when the enemy had been driven from their land. That was written by Arthur Manchester about the American struggle against the British during our revolution. But he might as well have been writing about today."

Pope (to Lyle): "I pray to god that means showers, you passed your sell by date like 400 miles ago."

Pope: "I'm going to wish you into the cornfield."

Manchester: "General, put the boy in lockup, reinforce our defensive perimeter. We're gonna hunker down, play dead, and hope the aliens give us a pass."

Pope: "So the deal is, I give up Mason, Mason burns, and I walk free?"
Manchester: "I only want the truth."
Pope: "Truth is, Tom Mason is a pompous semi-araldite history buff with delusions of grandeur. And if anybody is going to knock him off his pedestal it's gonna be me, and not some two-bit tin pot dictator."

I really liked this episode, and it had a very different vibe from anything they've done before. I'm happy that the show continues to push and innovate, to use creative ideas instead of sidelining them. This has been step and above what we got last year. I can't wait for the finale because I have absolutely no idea what's coming.

3 1/2 out of 4 Security cameras from the 1980's.

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

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I certainly thought we would have more episodes dealing with Charleston also. Of course, now that the rebel forces know where Tom & the 2nd Mass are they might as well stay in Charleston. It is probably safer for them there as they will not be so exposed as above ground.
I didn't understand where Pope was at the end. Was he not returned to his cell after he refused to give Tom's secrets up to Manchester? He should have been in his cell by the time they brought Manchester down.
With the exception of the last 15 minutes or so I was not as thrilled with this episode. By I know that the information was important to the story.

neofish said...

Semi-araldite? Didn't Pope say 'semi-erudite'? Unless he thinks Mason is made out of epoxy resin.

This season is a vast improvement over the first, but agree Charleston should have been multi-episode.