I have been meaning to post about this show for sometime but after watching this week’s episode I knew that the time was ripe for a review. When this show aired I had little hope for it. Much like Terra Nova it is a Steven Spielberg production and I thought that his politics would show through the way they had in Terra Nova. They don’t and I am thankful for that. Falling Skies is probably the best science fiction on television currently and is one of the best new shows in many years. I think Spielberg and his writing team have captured lightning in a bottle this time out.
That is not to say the show is without flaws. The episodes have occasional problems with dialogue. There is also one major plot hole that has bothered me for the last two weeks. The mystery surrounding the Aliens ultimate objective on Earth has never been revealed. The point of view character Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) had a chance to learn the answer to this question and did not ask it. His son (Connor Jessup) who is linked to the aliens via a bio-mechanical harness had learned the objective and could have spilled the beans before he ran off to join an alien resistance movement but that did not happen. I don’t think the show would be harmed by revealing the answer, but Hollywood is enamored of secretive plot twists because of the success of shows like Lost. So we will, for a time, remain in the dark.
These problems aside, Monday’s episode “The Price of Greatness” was probably one of the best. No aliens, only one gun shot, and very little action, this was a completely character driven episode and it made me realize how powerful the story of the American revolution can be when juxtaposed with an alien invasion. The Second Mass. has arrived in Charleston S.C. and are quickly made welcome by the secret human government there. We discover Tom Mason’s mentor and history professor Arthur Manchester (Terry O’Quinn) has cobbled together this covert human government in an abandoned underground mall. Things go down hill from there and we begin to see that this new government may not be as much a safe haven as it is a trap.
The Second Mass. is asked to disarm and Tom realizes this is wrong. He is about to tell his mentor that disarming people this way will lead to mistrust between the two groups. He may have even been about to say it is UN-American, but before he can do this Captain Weaver (Will Patton) tells him to stand down and orders his men to lay down their arms.
The episode quickly becomes a political showdown between Mason who wants to ally with the skitter rebellion and throw the Aliens off the plant and Arthur Manchester who wants to hunker down and hide from the Aliens hoping they will go away. This conflict leads to some of the most interesting and thought provoking moments this season. Mason time and again articulates the position for a continued resistance against the invaders eloquently and persuasively. His speech to the people of Charleston may not have been the most rousing call to war I have ever heard but it was sincere and it was emotionally moving. For the first time viewer pay particular attention to the background in this show. Endeavor to read what is written on walls. There is more than one level of interaction going on with the audience. Try not to miss it.
The highlight of this episode beyond it’s intellectual underpinnings is the evolving story of Pope. When Pope (Colin Cunningham) is arrested for trying to take back his guns so that he and the Beserkers can go back into the fight the arresting soldier makes several snide comments about Pope. The comeback from Pope is classic, “I am wishing you into the cornfield” and all of a sudden I am on team Pope. This episode moves Pope from the second string right up to the big leagues. When Arthur Manchester is interrogating Pope and offers him his freedom in exchange for information about Mason again Pope shines. Throwing back the curtains and calling Manchester a tin pot dictator. Saying what the audience has been thinking from the second this guy seized the guns. Is Pope now the voice of the audience, or is he the Greek chorus providing information to the audience? He may be both and this may be what the writers intend.
Mason,Captain Weaver, and many of the other fighters from the Second Mass. decide to head out on their own to meet with the skitter resistance. Manchester arrests them along with everyone else that arrived with the Second Mass. and charges them with treason. General Bressler (Matt Frewer) leader of the army in Charleston turns on Manchester commanding his soldiers to arrest him and freeing the Second Mass so they can join with the rebel skitters. Pope states the obvious one last time congratulating Mason for landing them in the middle of a military coup.
If you have not seen the show please watch it. You will not be disappointed.