Monday, August 8, 2011

Falling Skies: End of the First Season

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Viewers were treated to a double-whammy of Falling Skies last night. The final two episodes of the first season aired back-to-back. First I'll give some general impressions and critiques of the first season, then recaps & commentaries of the individual episodes.

I think that the biggest problem with Falling Skies is that they crammed a LOT into the first ten episodes. Yes, we needed to see some plotlines evolve in a single season. Yes, there was a lot of background to fill us in on, especially with very little flashback. But at the same time, things became a little unbelievable. Yes, harnessed kids could be retrieved. And they could have figured out how to remove the harnesses without killing the kids. Yes, rogue groups could be found and a bad guy could turn out to have redeeming qualities. But the idea that we see one guy trading kids to the skitters for immunity, meet a woman who trades information to the skitters for tea, find out there are at least three types of aliens, and see advances in radio transmitting and weaponry... it all seems a bit much. I mean, there were only TEN episodes in this season... and several of the episodes make it quite clear that their events are near-sequential.

That said, on the whole, Falling Skies really grabbed my attention. Especially when you consider I wasn't originally going to watch the show. As much as I love big-order series (remember how things like Beverly Hills, 90210 used to have 25-26 episodes each season??), sometimes shorter orders work out really well. I also think this show has a great cast, though I can see why its premise and storyline work out better as a summer series as opposed to trying to compete in a typical season structure. I look forward to next summer and more episodes, though I hope people don't get burned out on reruns airing from now til then (this definitely happens to me when there aren't enough different episodes to show all the time!). Oh, and about the running of the episodes... I liked the pilot and second episode being shown back-to-back because it gave the audience a greater understanding of everything that was going on in this futuristic/sci-fi drama, but I don't think that there was much ground for the final two episodes of the season being blocked together. I think that they would have stood on their own just fine, so maybe TNT just wanted to build suspense by hyping up the fact that the finale would be aired in a two-hour block? I guess we'll see if similar schedulings occur next season...

Falling Skies
"Mutiny" (S01E09):
  Glass tells Tom about the skitters being harnessed. Tom tells Glass a little about Weaver's issues. Weaver apparently asked Lourdes a few weeks ago for some medications - an addictive cycle of uppers and downers. Lourdes told Glass, and Glass has her tell Tom... so now there's concern that Weaver will freak out (paranoia, hallucinations, etc.) due to the drugs. Tom tells Hal, then instructs him to stay on the mission as planned, with Margaret taking Tom's place. [what? why can't we keep the gossip to a minimum? I know the characters live in a high school, but can't they act more mature?] Tom confronts Weaver and asks him to do the best thing for everyone, but Weaver accuses him of wanting to take over and being insubordinate, so he removes Tom from his post. [I think that everyone present knew Weaver was acting rather extremely, but those darn military folks with their ranks... one guy even says that he trusts Weaver even if the guy "is at half-mast."] Ben helps Scott while Matt helps Pope. [Matt's fascination with Pope's work is starting to creep me out.] Ben hears frequencies that others can't, but doesn't say anything to Scott. Weaver asks Pope for four bombs... Pope can do it but tells Weaver the fuses will be much shorter. Turns out, Rick heard the radio too, and asks Ben why he hasn't ratted him out yet. Rick keeps talking about hoping the skitters come for them soon. [I'm getting tired of Rick, honestly. I know that he's pretty much an orphan and very few people trust him because he was previously harnessed, but his character is boring, on the verge of annoying.] Jimmy tells Hal, Margaret, and Glass that Weaver's holding Tom in custody. [good. I was afraid that Jimmy was going to be Weaver's golden boy.] Jimmy and Hal get Tom out, tying up the guard. A scout came back injured and told Weaver that Colonel Porter is MIA  and the mission is aborted due to problems with the other Masses... but Weaver wants to continue. It's not long before Weaver finds the down guard and orders him to get four men and find Tom. [I think that "mutiny" isn't the best-fitting title for this episode. Although it's clear that Tom wants to make some major decisions for the 2nd Mass, he also isn't forcefully trying to take over...] Ben goes to Scott and asks him to try the radio frequencies again, then tells him the truth about what he hears. Tom holds a gun to Pope's head, telling him that the other regiments have backed off and asking him to take apart the bombs. Weaver confronts Glass, wanting to know where Tom is... but Tom and the others are there and disarm Weaver. Pope comes in to defend Weaver, as he cares about killing skitters more than he cares about anything else. Tom knew Pope warned Weaver though, and used that opportunity to remove the fuses himself. [smart man, that Tom... realizing that you can't really trust Pope.] After Jimmy shows up, Weaver concedes and tells everyone the truth about not knowing the status of the other units or the attack. Weaver asks for 50 volunteers to go forward with the plan. Hal volunteers and Tom tells him he doesn't have to... but Hal says he has to... for his mom, Ben, and Karen. [blah blah blah.] Scott and Ben tell Tom about the radio frequencies as Weaver and the troops roll out. [there's something hilarious about watching them go off to battle in convertibles and school buses...LoL.]

Falling Skies "Eight Hours" (S01E10):  Scott, Ben, Tom, and Glass are in the lab, working on the radio frequencies. Everyone leaves but Scott... and then Rick shows up in a corner [looking like NightCrawler, really] and pounces Scott, not thrilled that he's trying to harm the skitters.
Photo: Ken Woroner - TNT

Scott ends up in the clinic, and Ben knows it was Rick who hurt Scott and stole stuff. Ben goes for Rick, but Rick won't hand over what he took. Rick takes off and Ben runs after him, but Tom ends up being the one to track down Rick. Rick tells a harnessed kid (Megan) that he wants to come back - and he's told that if he spills everything he knows, he can return. Tom stumbles upon Rick, and it seems that he shared everything he knew but was still left behind. [And this is why I can't stand Rick. Though maybe now he'll learn that he can't trust the skitters to "love him" and "come back for him" like he's been claiming.] Rick confesses to Tom, and Tom takes him back. [of course. Because Tom's such a hero. dang Rick...] Meanwhile, Weaver and the volunteers reach the spot where they were supposed to rendezvous with the other units, and since they're not there, Weaver says each person needs to decide if they want to go on or retreat... the group decides to stay. The four squads each take a bomb and head for different legs. At 2100, the plan is to light the fuses and make a run for it - on foot, to the school. Weaver tells Hal to go back to the school and fight future battles. Tom tells Glass and some of the others that Rick told the skitters everything, and Tom has decided to evacuate to avoid a skitter attack, keeping a few volunteers with him to hold off the skitters as the civilians try to get away. Jimmy points out that all of the best fighters are with Weaver... and this causes Tom to go into a history lesson on how the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought nearby with small groups against the British empire. [It's about time his background as a history professor comes into play!! why haven't we gotten tiny tidbits along the way?] Lourdes is in charge of Rick and is going to be the medic for the civilians if necessary [a year of medical school is all of her formal training, remember...] as Glass stays behind to help with the attack. [you know, since she only learned to shoot a gun a few episodes ago...] Ben wants to stay behind to help with the changing frequencies, but Tom wants him to stay just long enough to find the current frequencies, then make a run for it. Mechs arrive and the battle begins, taking a lot of ammo to take down just one. [are they not using the new bullets Pope made?] Scott and Ben find the frequency, but the signal isn't strong enough, so they plan to move outside to a flagpole, hoping to cease the skitters' communication. Tom helps hook up the flag pole, and the Mechs retreat as Ben writhes in pain. [cool that it worked, but poor Ben!] Hal makes it back to tell Tom about the plan Weaver is enacting, and Tom packs up the radio transmitter and try to help the fight. Tom tells Glass that he's taking off to help in the field, and kisses her goodbye. Tom won't let Hal or Ben come to help, and heads out alone. Tom drives up to find Pope with a dying fighter. Pope leaves to take the fighter back to the school for medical treatment, and gives Tom an extra weapon. Tom then connects with Weaver, and the two soon find Karen, still harnessed. A spaceship comes in behind her, and one of the humanoid aliens comes out, with Karen saying that the skitters are interested in the fact that the resistance level is so strong on Earth. Karen tells Tom that Ben isn't free from the harness... if Tom doesn't go with them, they'll call Ben back. Weaver tries to talk Tom out of it, but he goes with Karen and the humaoid alien toward the ship... and that's all until Summer 2012!
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