Okay, lets start with the elephant in the room. The finale didn’t end with a giant cliffhanger like season 1 and 2 right? Sure, it didn’t end with another alien race joining the fight or Tom leaving on a Espheni ship. Yet this finale left us with far more questions than it answered and introduced an entirely new scope moving into season 4. The Season 2 finale was a slow build up to a last minute climax that left us with a cliffhanger. The season 3 finale gives us the action from the very moment it starts and goes all the way to the end with the death of Karen and reunion of Anne and Lexi. While it didn’t end with a giant cliffhanger, it had some of the largest plot points and story arcs of any one episode to date.
Also, What happen to Denny? I mean she literally dropped off the radar after the first few episodes in the season.
I have seen it with so many shows in the past, like Warehouse 13 and Eureka, where every season had to have a major dramatic CGI-laced blow out ending. By the time it happen the 3rd or 4th time its effectiveness to draw you in and hold you over until the next season faded. Recent studies have shown that 65% of genre shows in the past 5 years have never made it past a 2nd season order. Genre shows like Falling Skies and The Walking Dead are rare but having made it past season 3 and moving into their 4th seasons, each show gained a massive following.
Season 3 Finale – What we loved
The Volm’s relocation plan
The Volm arrive and it turns out their leader doesn’t have much respect for the ‘native’ inhabitants of the planets they arrive on. Upon first meeting Tom, the Volm inform them that they will be relocated to Brazil to be ‘safe and out of harms way’ as the war rages on with the Espheni. My favorite part of this meeting with finding out that the leader was Cochise’s father. Looking at Cochise as perhaps a young Volm puts a whole new spin on his behavior over the entire season. Doug Jones does an amazing job of expressing through the suit the meek naive son look of a Volm son ashamed by his father.
Tom is caught off guard by this new information too but when Weaver hears the ‘but’ in Cochise’s statement, he realizes the truth of whats happening. Weaver begins to stir up the camp along with Pope to get out of there while Tom is being held by the Volm for ‘touching’ their leader. Just as everyone was about to leave, Cochise shows up with an armed detail telling everyone that they need to listen. This relocation is in the best interest of everyone.
Another great part of this meeting was the subtle attention to detail in the look of the guards uniforms. Cochise and his father both had blue glows while the guards were all orange/red. Also hearing the Volm speak their native language for the first time was a welcome sound and evidence of a translation device that allows them to learn and speak other planets languages.
Another great touch to the uniform’s was the cloak that Cochise’s father wore. Each little detail helps to set up a system of ranking that helps show us the difference between a foot soldier and a commander. Notice that both Cochise and his father wear a vest or coat of arms on top of their uniform that is copper in color. That clearly tells us they are both family and rank as royalty. The cloak shows that his father is the leader of their race. The rest of the Volm are in plain black uniforms, being nothing more than standard soldiers.
Karen is dead. For real this time. Karen’s storyline started in season 1 and has been an undertone for the show in season 2 and 3. Her conversion to the Espheni affected Tom, Ben and Hal. In Season 3 her story had reached the peak of its worth from a writing stand point and it could not be allowed to drag on. Thankfully the writers saw that and ended it. I love Jessy as an actress and when we met her in person at Comic Con last year, she was very lovely. Tom was able to end her, and Maggie added 2 extra bullets to make sure it ended.
Beyond ending Karen’s story, she yet again came to Tom and the 2nd mass with a white flag and a message. After her last attempt with the white flag in season 2, Tom wasn’t about to fall for that. However, she had a very concerned tone regarding the arrival of the Volm but before she could reveal what she wanted to tell Tom, he shot her.
The Chicago Decoy Mission
The Chicago decoy mission was a great addition to the episode. First, Pope’s speech about the windy city and its pizza over that of New York was a favorite spot of mine. I grew up in Chicago so it was a nice touch to the scene that was an otherwise dark moment. The team that was put together for this mission was an interesting setup also. Anthony was no big surprise as he would fight alongside Weaver any day. More and more this season Anthony has been the go to man for getting things accomplished. It is really great to see Mpho getting more screen time.
Seeing Lyle and Pope on the mission is party due to the growing respect that Pope and Weaver have for each other after everything they have gone through so far in season 3. Pope is not one to go on a mission that he knows may very well be suicide but at the same time, he gets a front row seat to killing some alien ass and everyone knows Pope wouldn’t resist a chance to kill some aliens. Oh and part of the deal was that Pope got to shot one of those big Volm modified guns. It’s like dinner and a movie! Along for the ride was Lourdes, who looked like someone from night of the living dead. She was being used as a beacon to keep the Espheni troops off the trail of the real mission which was back in Boston preparing to fire the Volm weapon.
Season 3 Finale – What was didn’t love so much
The Volm Weapon
The Volm weapon sorta worked. I will admit I was a bit underwhelmed by the weapon as a whole. It ended up getting the job done but it felt as though it was a misfire but it never got explained away, leaving us all wanting a little more. Dr. Kadar is finally coming above ground and I think we will find him becoming a larger part of the group in season 4.
Another thing that bothered me about the weapon was the lack of information on how they found it, got it out from underground and got it on the ship to head towards Boston. In the past I have been a fan of some of the gaps in time the show has used. Such as the 7 month gap at the start of the season or the 3 month gap in season 2. These are important and useful to avoid wasting budge and time with what would otherwise be slow and useless in the overall picture. However, in this case, I felt like it needed to be shown. They spent too much time showing how the mole destroyed the Volm complex and the build up all season to this weapon and its purpose only to just appear with it mounted and ready to go.
The Anne and Lexi story arc.
Lexi coming back as a 6-7 year old has been done many times before and seems rather plain as a development for that character. From a writers stand point, they had no choice. They wrote themselves into that corner and that was the only way to write themselves out of it. Lexi pulls the eye worms out of Lourdes which will end up saving her life so what does that mean?
The conflict with the Volm leader (Cochise’s father) was resolved far too quickly. The entire season we have been building up that we might not be able to trust the Volm and that they may have other motives and when they first arrive we see that is true. But just as quickly as they arrived, the conflict is over. Ideally this season could have benefited from 1 additional episode to play out Tom’s imprisonment and the relocation story with the Volm.
Season 3 – Best Season yet?
The right balance for any show is not just alien battles or soapy love stories, it’s a balance of both. Falling Skies took until its third season to find that balance at the hands of Remi Aubuchon. Season 3 was heavy on human stories and world building. The importance of these two items cannot be understated. The human stories are what drive every motive, reason and battle when talking about alien invasions or post apocalyptic setups. Season 3 built upon the existing main characters and expanded many more characters giving us broader depth and a larger vested interest in watching them fight and survive.
Season 3 Character Pairings
Our favorite pairing this season on-screen start with Matt and Ben. Ben in season 1 and 2 remained an isolated, hurting and rage filled teen who was trying to come to grips with the fact that he was a slave to an alien race and they have forever changed him. His insecurity has cost him dear friends and he is not accepted among those in Charleston. Matt, being the youngest of the Mason family, was largely unexplored as a character in season 2. In season 3 we slowly watch Matt wake up to the war around him and see how that affects him. Seeing that Ben has been the big brother and supportive friend for Matt and has remained the one thing that has kept Matt from giving up while his father and Hal were busy with other things.
Our next pairing is Weaver and Pope. Tom and Pope already came to a mutual understanding over the years that while neither of them like each other, they both understand the other is needed in order for the 2nd mass to survive this war. Weaver and Pope have never seen eye to eye but in season 3 they are on the same page about the Volm. As things continued to progress, Pope and Weaver started looking after each other, even being on the same team who went on the decoy mission to trick the Espheni. The scene in the nest when Weaver walked in on Pope beating on Tom or Hals death was my favorite. Nothing was really said between them but it spoke volumes.
Tom and Cochise are another pairing on-screen. Their relationship remains me of the season 2 relationship Tom and Weaver had. Weaver has not been as focused on Tom since Jeanne returned but Cochise leans on Tom and Tom leans on Cochise. From the start of the season we saw a close relationship between Tom and Cochise. Each has been a solid foundation for the other during hard times.
Hal and Maggie have been an on going back and forth since season 1 but more so in the 2nd and 3rd seasons. Maggie really came full circle, ending up right where she started in season 1. Having ended Karen who was already dying in front of Hal, will put a strain on their relationship as already is shown at the end of the finale. I am not a huge fan of the continued forceful focus on the relationship between her and Hal. I do want to see Maggie developed and Hal developed but the love triangle thing needs to end.
Season 3 World Building
World building is another important part of building a fan base and a story that can continue for many seasons. Season 3 spent it’s time expanding the universe around Falling Skies to include a new alien race with a back story about a prolonged war that spanned generations. We also expanded the human resistance movement, learning that other large pockets of humans existed. One of them included the former president of the United States.
At it’s heart, falling skies is the human stories, the family drama that comes with the Masons and those around them. The backdrop to that is an alien invasion and a war. Having kept that intact for season 3 has allowed the show to establish itself in a way that will allow for a much more expanded mythology on the alien side in season 4. Season 3′s world building also expanded to include a lot of location shots that took groups out of Charleston and into areas in other states.
Season 3 Alien Weapons
Another great addition to season 3 was alien weapons. It was a big complaint in season 1 and 2 that the 2nd mass had a lack of technology. We had a very short run with mech bullets in season 1 and that all but went away in season 2. With all the things the aliens were throwing at them, it was only a matter of time before they got something of their own. In this case it took the introduction of a new alien race to get those new weapons but now we are seeing more tech used by the aliens and humans. Those touches help bring the science fiction back into the human drama and help draw large viewership to the show.
In case you didn’t hear it before now, Falling Skies was renewed for a 4th season to air in 2014. On top of that, it was given a 12 episode order, rather than the standard 1o episodes. That means a larger budget and international success in the ratings for them to have made that decision. The overall ratings or season 3 have been exceeding season 2 and breaking basic cable records for TNT. Falling Skies has remained in the #1 spot for basic cable every Sunday night and in the Top 3 shows overall for Sundays.
Season 3 – Guest Stars
Season 3 brought with it 2 new guest stars and a new series regular. The series regular is played by Doug Jones, who plays Cochise of the Volm. Arriving at the end of season 2, the Volm have promised to help humanity win the war against the Espheni. The rebel skitters are not all that convinced and neither is Ben. Doug has been a great addition to the series and his interactions with Tom bring a whole new scope and depth to the story, adding a constant alien presence on-screen.
Robert Sean Leonard as Dr. Kadar, who wants to remain underground but has a brilliant mind for detail and technology. Booked as a guest star with a 5 episode arc, the season ends with Dr. Kadar very much an important part of the 2nd mass moving forward. His quirky demeanor and quick qibs (such as the peanut butter comment) make him a fun and interesting addition to the story. He takes great attention to the experiments being done to determine if the children deharnessed are in fact free of alien influence. That leads me to think there is a great backstory to his character. Robert was hand-picked by Noah Wyle to play the role and we hope to see him back in season 4 as a series regular.
Gloria Reuben as Marina was an anti-hero for most of the season. Seen as a rival to Tom and someone who threatened his position as president, Marina was thought by a majority of people to be the mole within Charleston. It turns out that she wasn’t. In fact, we find out she had experience before the invasion with presidential matters. She holds the job for only a short time after Tom gives it up and she already wants to give it up. We left the season with the survivors in Charleston left up in the air. Will we see her again and will anyone in Charleston be alive when the 2nd mass returns?