Tonights episode is really what we have been waiting for since season 2, a great balanced episode of alien and human drama all mixed together. It is true that having a plot story like this so late into the final season is a bit annoying as we all want to be knee deep into the final battle but it does flesh out a few very important arcs. All season we have been teased about the firing squad and tonight we finally got to it and the results of it.
If you have not seen the episode yet, remember SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP.
The military treason arc has come to its conclusion and as expected the Capt was under the influence of an overlord. In fact, in a twist that I personally didn’t expect, she wasn’t just under the influence of an overlord she was a clone of the real Capt. Marshall who actually died in battle several weeks prior. We know the Espheni have been big on trying to mutate humans into alien hybrids for their army but never before have we seen them try and make exact copies that could be used to infiltrate human resistance groups. This gave me vibes of invasion of the body snatchers a bit.
That notion makes you wonder how many more there are and who else may not be as human as they seem. The first person that comes to mind is Tom Mason. We know he managed to make it back from a beamer in space but we never see how that happens. Is he a clone as well and doesn’t know it? The Marshall clone stated they still feel and have memories so it is possible he may not realize it yet and the Dornian in his head may just be mind games by the Espheni. As far fetched as that might be, its not a great idea to put together such a complex arc idea so late into the season, with only 2 episodes left.
The firing squad never fires thanks to a well directed series of undermining within the military ranks thanks to Tom and Weaver, which were fleshed out very well and believable. Some of the best moments tonight included Ben and Hal talking about girls while Hal cared for Ben’s wounds. It has been awhile since we have had that brotherly bond shown on screen, since before the love triangle to be exact. Season 1 and 2 were some of the best scenes between the two of them as Hal saved Ben from the skitters in season 1 and Ben saving Matt in season 2. It is clear how much both have grown as actors as well, as the scenes tonight were very smooth and believable. it is nice to finally see Ben back to using his super human abilities in this war. It was very annoying to see how passive his character had become in the fight due to the writers love triangle.
So you wonder why this episode paced so well and the scenes meshed together with emotion, well thats because this was the first episode directed by a cast member. That cast member was Noah Wyle. The cast were very excited to have his make is directorial debut in season 5. Besides the brother bonding scene mentioned above there was another scene that clearly had Noah’s influence that was very emotional and had you on the edge of your seat, the firing squad scene. As seen in a few screen shots below, each person lined up had the mannerisms and look on their face of complete despair and fear.
The two most impressive for me on this front was Moon Bloodgood and Connor Jessup. As Anne gives her speech defiant and not willing to show emotion in front of the 2nd mass, she gives a Tom like speech to rally the troops to continue the fight no matter what happens here. Ben being the youngest in front of the firing squad at 15, for the first time in awhile shows the fear you would expect as the black bag is put on his head. Between the last minute effort to convince the man with the bag not to do it, the heavy breathing and the twitching movement back and forth trying to prevent himself from breaking down it was a very tense scene that was both well acted out and directed.
The writing this episode was also great. Many times throughout the 5 season we have had great actors and actresses forced to read rather bad lines on screen and it makes the entire scene that much worse. This episode was written by Jack Kenny (EP on Warehouse 13), who also wrote another great episode from season 5 Pope Breaks Bad. I know I am not the only one who wishes he had written more episodes but sadly this is the last one he wrote for the series heading into the final 2 episodes.
The final scene with the Espheni communication device has Ben sticking his hand in it and getting the clearest picture yet of the overlords who are meeting and communicating. As he continues to watch, they all start to bow and he can make out a much larger creature, one that they are all chanting to, an overlord of overlords? Well we managed to capture a screen cap of the creature which was only shown for <1 sec on the screen, so tell us what you think? Cochise knows something but hasn’t told Tom and the 2nd mass yet, however next week Ben is going to risk his life to get as much intel as possible on this new development. Our theory is that its a female overlord, a queen and so far all we have seen on earth are male overlords. Might seem simple and too easy but they don’t have a lot of time to get super complex with it.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the Espheni, The Volm and the Dornian and how they all fit together. Over the past 5 seasons we have seen them enslave human children, mutate them and create clones. What we don’t fully understand yet is why? The ramifications for de-harnessed kids has not been explored and based on our recent interviews, probably won’t be. The Volm are clearly hiding something from Tom and the others regarding the Espheni. It will be interesting to see next week just what that something is.
As we lead into the final 2 episodes, we know that a main character is going to die. Admittedly I am upset we didn’t at least lose one tonight. Going into the final 2 episodes, it would be rather annoying to wait until the very final moment to lose one and not get to see how each of the surviving characters handle that loss. That means if its played out properly, next weeks episode may see that loss. Which leads us to the very final scene at the end with Pope’s Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves according to Pope’s rules. When Pope does learn that Tom is alive, he makes ready to go after Tom.
There are also a few minor issues I have with some of the writing of characters like Maggie. So as Maggie and Isabella try to get to the barracks she states “We are going to get Tom and Hal, they are going to be executed”. They make it glaringly obvious that she forgets that Ben is also going to be executed. It feels like the writers are intentionally trying to force the issue of Maggie not wanting anything to do with Ben romantically, which we clearly established 2 episodes ago. The fact that the writers took the extra time to make it “Tom and Hal” and not “Tom, Hal and Ben” is forced and annoying. We get it, Maggie likes Hal but Maggie wasn’t exclusive of saving all the Masons in previous seasons so to make her that way now is against the character we established over 5 seasons. Lets for a single moment remember that in episode 7, the ass-hat military guy (i won’t mention his real name), says to Maggie a member of the 2nd mass, a kid, someone who you care for as a friend and your boyfriends younger brother was being tortured and you don’t bother to ask where they are keeping him? Maybe as a long time fan of the series and the characters this lapse in episode 8 and her lapse of even asking where Ben was being tortured in episode 7 were not intensional but more a rush in the writing process or overlooked.
Next week, we will finally get into the action of taking on the Espheni. I kinda hope we get to see some Cochise/Ben/Dingaan scenes because I feel like the two of them with Dingaan would be a great trio on screen.