Falling Skies enters its penultimate episode tying up loose ends with character arcs and also tripping its way through a few of them. Normally the penultimate is the setup for the season finale cliffhanger and helps get you ready for the final push in the next episode. In this case it’s the penultimate episode of the entire series and for a series as big as Falling Skies with 5 seasons behind it, it didn’t reach up high enough to really satisfy its entire viewership base with only 1 more episode to go, forever. For me, it was a great episode from the alien mythology perspective and did touch on a few areas of character arc’s that had been left very open-ended or unfinished.
Tonight’s episode managed to fix several characters arc’s including Ben, who is finally using his abilities for something in the war. Maggie also resolves issues with Ben, and has a nice scene with Matt as well. Matt is another character who finally got more screen time to develop his character and again learning that his emotions get the best of him. Lexi coming back was more about the entire Mason family facing their unfinished business where she was concerned more than anything else. We also got the attempted redemption of Anthony after having sided with Pope.
Seeing Ben finally use his alien abilities to some use after seasons 3 and 4 of not really using them is great. In fact, what made it better was the visible physical toll this endeavor took on Ben. Lets face it we knew from season 2 there were side effects to having these abilities and as Connor Jessup pointed out in our most recent interview, they never really explored that and should have. We also finally got a small resolution to a glaringly missing talk between Maggie and Ben after she removed her spikes. In the past 2 episodes I complained over the fact that she purposely left Ben’s name out of each situation where she said she was going to save the Masons from execution. Tonight she was there to try to prevent Ben from doing something that could kill him, after he came to her looking for help.
Using his spikes Ben is able to get bits and pieces of intel about the overlords plans and what the Queen’s introduction means. We never do get to hear Cochise’s explanation of what he was hiding but Ben learns that she has arrived on Earth. He also learns that an assembly has begun and that the meeting place will be at the ‘Foot Of the Giant’. While the peppering of some real science has been filtered in with Dr. Glass over the years, for the first time Ben discovers some clues to the aliens origins and purpose that have a small grab into reality. The queen coming ‘back’ to earth means only one thing: Occupation. The key word here is ‘back’, meaning she has been here before, a long time ago and makes reference to the Nazca Lines of Peru.
The shows science has had a hard time grounding itself in something real world that we could all grab on to and feel like for even a moment that this could have some realism. I mean yes aliens in general are not ‘proven’ to be real but human hybrids, harnesses and alien clones are the things of science fiction. The Nazca Lines are believed to have been created between 500 BC and 500 AD. These lines create hundreds of figures which range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards. They are a real world wonder and many still think to this day they are alien made. It was a small but nice touch, and it was previously referenced by Maggie and Ben in past episodes.
Tom is lead over to the bay only for us to see a quick glimpse of the Dornian in their true form and a ship coming out of the sea to reveal what the Dornian ships look like. Why they didn’t bring the Volm into this at all just annoys me, a little more background would have been nice. Anyways, they present Tom with the ultimate weapon to kill the queen and all the Espheni. Turns out this is also deadly to EVERYONE ELSE. After a great fast paced start, we start digging ourselves into 2 blunders for the episode. Leave it to a really bad joke on the part of the writers but the guy everyone loves to hate, Marty, just so happens to have been a Beer Taste Tester (I mean Biochemist for hire) and he has a plan to make it safe for humans. If they wanted a scientist they shouldn’t have killed Dr. Kadar. However it turns out that his skills are exactly the type they need, and while he has made it harmless to humans, they don’t know yet if that made it harmless altogether.
Blunder number 2 tonight was the final serenade of John Pope. Pope has always been a jack ass and an instigator at the best of times, but to be
an out right crazy murder whack job is just too far out of character even for Pope. The way they came into the camp was good, not great, but good. Then the fire fight starts and only when Anne comes out and is in the line of fire does Anthony suddenly grow a backbone and he ends up getting shot, twice. Then as quickly as it all began, Tom and Weaver blow up the fuel barrels (remember how much attention Tom paid to them when Matt was moving them, talk about foreshadowing with an anvil) and Pope is killed. A total of 2 minutes for that fight and a 5 season character is gone.
To end Popes character like that was beyond stupid and wasteful. This is a character who has been with the show as long as the longest characters (Tom, Weaver, Hal, Maggie, Matt and Ben). In fact, in the original pilot Ben didn’t even exist and was only written in after the pilot to become a much larger role. However, Pope was always there. He was the dark side of Tom, a balancer for the second mass and a reality check for the world. Colin Cunningham is a great actor who has a rich heritage of science fiction roles that stood the test of time and I am truly sad to see it end this way for his character.
This next part I was really worried about right up until the end but was glad they finished it how they did, Lexi. So suddenly Lexi returns and I can just hear the viewers cringing in their seats at the thought of Lexi returning to the fold. Turns out she was a clone like Capt. Marshall was and they got to test the modified Dornian weapon on her. I feel like the entire 2 episodes dedicated to the military arc were to set up this scene, otherwise they would not have had a good explanation to bring Lexi back. If that was the case, it was clever writing on the part of the show. However, It is something that may have been better off earlier in the season. The modified weapon works, after Ben throws it at Lexi and she is killed almost instantly. Now Tom is going to have to get close to use it.
The episode ends with the incoming fleet of Espheni bugs and we still have not made it to D.C. and there is only 1 episode left, ever. It’s going to be hard to see the show end. It has a great and unique mythology behind it and its a show we have grown to love over 5 years. This episode was a 9/10 for us in its own right, but a 7/10 when compared to the fact that it’s the penultimate of the entire series. A lot of what happen tonight would have been better in episode 6 or 7 of the season allowing more time for the big wrap up. Their meeting point is at the foot of the giant, which Tom is convinced is the Lincoln Memorial in DC.