I can think no better single word to describe this episode than Trust. In many ways its an act of both love and courage to simply trust someone enough to listen and believe in them. This episode, being the middle of the season is by far my favorite episode.
In this episode, Ben is that person needing trust badly. This episode helped establish for us Bens story arc. Revealed to all of the 2nd mass was the fact that Ben has been in communication with the skitters and protecting red-eye.
In one of the most well written, best acted, heated exchange to date, Tom and Ben go at each other over trust. Ben tries explaining to Tom that Red-Eye is the leader of a group of skitters who have been able to resist the harness and are rising up against the overlords. Tom is having a hard time trusting Ben and questions how long he has been in communication with it. Ben tells him since Jimmy died. Tom asks about the spikes and Ben is caught off guard asking who told him that. Ben knows but never thought his brother would betray him like that. Ben didn’t want Tom to think of him as the enemy. Tom says, “the enemy Ben? never the enemy”, “damaged, broken then” says Ben. Tom said if you had told me I would have tried to help you. Ben yells “Than help me now”. Tom asks how, and Ben simply says to “believe me”.
I have to admit, this exchange between Tom and Ben is by far the most powerful and real exchanges between them, even more so than the talk about hatred at the start of the season. The fear and hurt in Bens voice is apparent. He is a victim and to top it all off he has been betrayed by everyone around him, and lost all bit of trust he had with even his own father. Connor Jessup (Ben) and Noah Wyle (Tom) play this scene very well bringing an authentic father/son relationship to screen in the midst of mistrust and betrayal. Notice Noahs head shake when he tells Ben ‘never the enemy’ and watch as Connor follows suit. Subtle but excellent touch that reinforces the characters as father and son on screen. Connors skills grow with each episode. In this episode his range of ability to express emotion on all different levels was extremely well done.
With Jimmy and Ricks death Ben has seen nothing but heartache and death at every turn for anyone close to him. He nearly saw his younger brother Matt harnessed like he was. Ben has come to the realization he should no longer stay around the 2nd mass. Sitting up on the roof and staring at the stars he tells Matt that he may need to leave soon but Matt has to keep that a secret. After the beytral from his brother, the mistrust of his father, the hatred of the 2nd mass and the deaths of his only friends, who or what is left for Ben?
I had some flash backs of Steven Spielberg’s work when I listened to the music and watched Ben looking up at space as the camera panned away. The feeling you get watching the ending is a very empty and somewhat omanis feeling that we are so small compared to our visitors and as Ben put it, it would be impossible to be afraid of nothing. For what else lies out there, that we have yet to see?
Hal and Maggie
The relationship between Hal and Maggie is growing and most especially in this episode. There are several moments during this episode where we get to see some genuinely close moments between them. We also get to see that Maggie is more venerable than she would like to admit to anyone. When they get to a hospital and find meds for the 2nd mass, she refuses to go inside.
When her and Hal share a kiss, she stops and tells him that this cannot work and she storms off. She has issues with having a close relationship but won’t tell Hal why. Maggie manages to get herself into some trouble as they ride back to the 2nd mass, when they are ambushed by mechs. Maggie wants Hal and the others to get back to the 2nd mass but Hal refuses to leave her. Anne patches her up and once the 2nd mass makes it to the hospital Hal and them were just at, she is put in a bed to rest. She hates hospitals and asks Hal to stay with her until she falls asleep.
Whats great about this relationship is Drew Roy and Sarah Carter who pull off a real performance on screen that we can believe. Awkward at moments and touching at others.
Red-Eye is using Ben but not in the way we thought. Some skitters are resisting the harness and rising up against the overlords. Red-eye knows that Ben is the key to them winning a war against the overlords that has been going on for 100 years since their were harnessed on their own planet. Ben is the bridge between the skitters and the humans. Beyond the fact that Ben may be able to get the humans to help, Ben is strong and has many of the abilities the skitters have.
Just as we suspected at the end of season 1, Ben is important to the resistance and Ben wants to be apart of it. But as much s the resistance wants Ben, how badly does the other side want him?
As a halfway point through the season this is a very large ramp up for events to come. Skitters are rebelling, Ben no longer has a home with the humans and the overlords are desperate to crush the rebel leader. Whats your thoughts?
We had three main plot points in the ‘hump’ episode of the season to mark its half way point. Each ramping up the tension as we march towards Charleston. First we have Ben, who has lost practically all the trust of the 2nd mass and his family, save Matt. As Weaver put it to Tom, he has to be ready to ‘make the hard choice’ because Weaver is no longer concerned for Bens well being.
Joe Weisberg also pulls together the first real relationship on the show to date. I say ‘real’ because the exchanges between Hal and Maggie are the realistic awkward, flirty type interactions you would expect at that age. But it also has the distance that you would expect from someone like Maggie with a shadowy past in a world filled with aliens.
The last plot point you have is the Skitter Rebellion. This plot point ties in both Bens story and the 2nd mass. Ben is extremely important to red-eye and we never did hear the reason for that. While hinted, we are not sure exactly why Ben was so much more important to the uprising than any other kid with spikes. In the end, this important status in the rebellion could lead to Ben not only being a liability for the 2nd mass but a liability for the rebellion, because the other side will want to know what he knows.
The writing from Joe Weisberg plays an important part in making the scenes flow and the story feel real. The dialog between Ben and Tom was perfect in how it was written out and than performed perfectly by Connor Jessup and Noah Wyle. Director John Dahl does an excellent job tying in 3 very different but important plot points. He managed to exchange some answers for more questions. So while we learn more this week, we also have many more questions.