Be far the most hated and most loved characters of Falling Skies are Karen and Ben Mason. Over the course of 2 seasons so far, Karen and Ben have transfixed fans from all parts of the world many of which despise Karen and are heart broken over Bens suffering. Even more amazing are the talented people who portray those character Jessy Schram and Connor Jessup.
Jessy Schram – Karen
Jessy Schram has been a natural performer since early childhood. At the age of 10, her “intangible star quality” was recognized by the Stewart Talent Agency in Chicago, which signed her as both an actress and fashion model. She immediately established herself as one of Chicago’s most successful child models by booking numerous commercials, print campaigns, voice-overs, and television work. She has along history of credits on TV and in movies.
Season 1 showed us Karen as the young female soldier who could hold her own. Karen and Hal were an item and headed up an advance scout team that would check for food, fuel and anything else the 2nd mass needed. One of the overriding themes of the first season was Karens help to Hal and Tom in finding Ben and getting him back from the aliens. Ben was harnessed shortly after the invasion. By the middle of the first season Karen was taken by the aliens and Ben rescued. Towards the end of the season we found out Karen was harnessed like Ben was and was the mouth piece to the overlords. She was used to lure Tom on to the ship at the end of season 1 with the promise they would help him ‘cure’ Ben.
Now in season 2 Karen has become a malevolent voice for the overlords, acting of her own free will to attempt to re-capture Ben for intel and no longer cares about humanity. She is twisted and unyielding in her attempt to get what she wants, any way she wants it. The overall fan reaction to the new Karen is to shoot her on sight. That is a testament to the talent Jessy Schram gives with her character. In person she is the nicest person you would ever meet. On screen, she is the one harnessed person you want to kill without a second thought. She is able to bring out the cold and uncaring nature of the aliens and truly scare you in her emotionless reactions to death and pain. Her ‘quantum physics’ speech with Hal at the end of Molon Labe and her half hearted apology to Ben shows you the twisted phycological game the aliens are playing. The real question is, what will Ben do to her after what she attempted to do to him?
I for one am excited to see how they progress her character as we move into the final 3 episodes of season 2 and on into season 3. But how long before someone takes her out?
Connor Jessup – Ben Mason
Ben Mason is by far the fan favorite of the series and is our favorite as well. Played by a talented young up and comer Connor Jessup, Ben Mason is the poster child for what the 2nd mass is fighting for. The aliens have taken their children and humanity is fighting not only to survive but to save their children.
Connor may be new to the industry when compared to Jessy but he is far from ‘new’ on screen. Connor’s most famous role prior to Falling Skies was on the Saddle Club where he played a computer geek (not far off from real life). As Connor got older he delved into producing and directing several shorts, including a film that went to TIFF called Amy George. Connor also starred in an upcoming film called Blackbird.
For the first part of season 1, Ben was harnessed and we didn’t get to see much of him. After he rescue Ben began to change. He was not liked by the 2nd mass, his spikes didn’t go away like the other kids and he started noticing physical changes from increased strength to hearing the aliens signal. By season 2, Ben had grown into a full on soldier/skitter killer and was an unstoppable force. Connor had also grown up and had become a very diverse and experienced actor on screen. For someone who was just 17, Connor gave us a performance of a seasoned actor who had been doing this for many years. Ben was a complex character for season 2, brining in all the pain he had caused in the death of Jimmy and Rick. Ben was confused about his spikes and red-eye and wanted nothing more than someone to believe him.
Ben and Tom have had some great father/son exchanges this year, 2 of which are fan favorites. The first was when Ben tries to explain to Tom that his spikes have been glowing and that the skitter rebellion was real. Connor managed to pull off the emotional tone and physical mannerisms of a son who was hurt and afraid that his own father would think of him as damaged or broken. The second exchange was one that Connor and Noah ad-libbed. Ben and Tom were talking about Bens desire to leave the 2nd mass in Molon Labe and they began to yell at each other. It was never written into the script but they played it off so well, it was used for that scene.
Another great piece of acting work on Connors part is when the overlord speaks through Ben. If we havnt learned it already with Karen, the aliens are smug, arrogant and cold. When the skitters spoke through Rick or others, they just didn’t give off the same tone we would expect from the aliens. When the overlord spoke through Ben, Connor was able to articulate the smug, arrogant tone we would expect from them.
Ben and Karen
It saddened many viewers, including us, when Ben left at the end of Molon Labe. He feels he is best used to help the skitter rebellion and we don’t know yet if we will see him again. The dynamic between Karen and Ben has been one that I feel strengthens both the story and their characters. They are opposite sides of the same coin, one fighting for the aliens and the other fighting for humanity.
Both Jessy and Connor has drawn in the viewers as they root for one and pray for death to the other.