Series Finale Review: Falling Skies Season 5 – Reborn

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Here we are, the final push to DC for the final battle against the Espheni. However Ben’s efforts to extract information from the enemy communication device has also given away their position. This episode begins with a voice over and montage of photos exactly like the pilot episode of the series but with added enemy sketches and voiced by the same actor who is now much older, Maxim Knight (Matt). The short battle at the military base results in losses including that of Marty, who we really didn’t care all that much about but he is given more care than 2 other deaths, which we will discuss later.

A backup group arrives to meet up and leave for DC and the plan is laid out. The enemy has formed a giant wall around the Lincoln Memorial area so the only way in is through some underground tunnels that Lt. Wolff happens to know as he lived in DC as a kid. They waste no time fast forwarding to the team being at DC and they begin their trek under ground. What they run into under ground is unlike anything they have seen before, baby Espheni eggs. Cochise comments that they are very violent when they are first-born, a reference he made back when Lexi was in her egg. The group must be careful not to disturb the eggs as they make their way to the heart of the enemy camp.

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As they get close to the end, one of the creatures erupts from the egg and kills one of the men, and with one baby Espheni on the loose they prepare to kill it with a grenade. With everyone hunkering down for the blast in an enclosed space, Hal grabs Maggie and asks her to marry him. With the grenade fired, everyone takes a small hit from the blast, including Anne who seems to have been blown back against the concrete. Tom is  separated from them with rubble between them but Wolff didn’t make it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 7.20.13 PMTom makes it outside to see the gathering forces of the enemy and comes face to face with the Espheni Queen. She looks like a giant spider to be
honest. Tom attempts to provoke her into coming out of hiding so he can use the Dornian weapon but she spits a substance at him and pins him to the wall. She mocks his request and goes on to tell Tom why humanity deserves this fate. It turns out the Espheni came to earth nearly 1500 years ago and met our primitive ancestors. They wanted earth for it being the only habitable planet in the galaxy and a strategical sound location. She sent her best warrior, her daughter. The humans of that era killed all of them and ate their flesh in order to gain her strength. And now mommy is back to take out her revenge on earth.

The rest of the 2nd mass are finally outside after having to go the long way and Anne collapses revealing the injury from the blast that has her on death’s door. Ben runs off to find his father who is struggling to reach his weapon. As he tries, the queen begins to drink his blood and plans on sucking him dry. Tom manages to reach the weapon but unable to throw it, allows it to attach to him and poison his blood. As she drinks it, it poisons her and in an instant she disintegrates. And so does the entire army of wasps, skitters and other creatures. Just as they start to die in the sky, we see Anne die from her injuries and cut back to Ben finding his father. After confirming that its done and they are all dead, there is a moment when Ben gives a concerned look and we cut to Tom asking whats wrong. In that moment we think Ben is going to die due to his spikes, but instead we cut back to Ben leading Tom to a now dead Anne.

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Only Tom knows she is pregnant and in a moment of flashback he remembers what the Dornian did for him and he picks Anne up and heads back to the military base. Somehow we quickly found ourselves back at the bay with Tom carrying Anne asking for the Dornian to help him save her and the baby. The Dornian reply and take Anne under water. Just then, an old friend turns up behind Tom: Pope. Pope was saved by a fellow group of militia near by and has a gun pointed at Tom who doesn’t really care about Pope right now. Pope just doesn’t have it in him anymore to do this and tries to give the gun to Tom to shoot him but Tom refuses to fight anymore, the war is over. Pope hating Tom to the very end, dies sitting down on the beach.

We cut away to Matt writing as he narrates the final moments of the episode. We are led to believe that either this episode or perhaps the entire series was seen from the point of view of Matt Mason as he wrote out the adventures of the 2nd mass over the course of the war. We see the cover of the book he was writing in and watch as Tom reads it thinking it was great. Everyone is preparing for Tom’s big speech and wearing galaxy pins to represent their new alliance with the Volm. As we get ready to hear Tom’s final speech we get a view of each members new life now that the war is over. Matt is his father’s son, likely to be a history professor of his own once we gets older. Hal and Maggie are an item and we assume they got married. Ben is seen with the Volm delegation which seems fitting since he still has his spikes and is an intellectual at heart. Weaver is a proud papa watching Matt and the others group up, even saluting those who stood by him, Dingaan and Anthony. Both of them joined the army. In a surprise (not surprised) twist, Anne is alive and still pregnant, having been saved by the Dornian. As we pan out on Tom giving his final speech, we zoom out into space to see Orion’s Belt with the message that “we are not alone out there”.

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A look back at story arc’s that never were

Even with a lot of the attempts to wrap up story lines from 5 seasons of writer and show runner changes, Falling Skies enters its final episode with far too many unanswered arcs to finish them all. There were some great story lines that were started and never wrapped up, a few jump the shark ideas and some that were completely undone in the next season rendering so much of the previous season pointless. The final shot into space really hurts the most as the writers seem to want to point out that there could have been another story to tell.

When we spoke with Greg Beeman on set during season 2, we were told that 5-7 seasons was the goal. Though they hit their minimum, they didn’t get the chance to take it to 2 more seasons or at least get a 12 episode season 5 so we had a bit more time to conclude the story. The lack of a real battle with the Queen is one reason we wish the finale had been 2 hours to allow for a bit more time to smooth those scenes out rather than rushing them.

Harnessed Children

One of the glaringly obvious items missing from tonight’s episode, and several past episodes are the harnessed humans. Going back to seasons 1 and 2, the harnessed kids were a huge part of the story of the aliens and the driving force behind humanities push to win and save them. What made the show so unique and draw in such a large and broad crowd of viewers was the parasite type creatures on the kids backs and how the 2nd mass was fighting aliens to save their children. So much of season 1 and 2 centered itself around how the human children with harnesses and those with spikes after removal, were apart of the aliens now and what that meant for their future.

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At one point in season 2 we saw a harness factory where Ben relived some of the horrors he experienced when he was taken, as they went to save Matt from the same fate. In the comics and some of the story plot there was a lot of interesting back story into the harness factories, how kids were harnessed, and why some overlords took certain humans to a special harnessing facility to be mouth pieces for them, like Karen. It was even teased at the end of season 1 and towards the end of season 2 that Ben was strategically important to the Espheni from finding out about the rebel skitters to getting to Tom mason.

The fear among other humans and their abilities were all major focal points. Going into the last 2 seasons, we have all but forgotten about them. We still have not had a real straight answer on why they went after the children instead of just wiping everyone out. Yes there were talks in season 2 about how the kids were easier to control but after season 3 we simply forgot about it. We also forgot to explore the repercussions for keeping the spikes up until last weeks episode. As Ben attempted to get information from the enemy communication device, we see the physical toll it took on Ben and they sorta redeemed themselves on that angle of the plot line.

Skitters – Difficult to Kill until they’re not

The skitters are another sore point that goes back to either poor writing or just too much to try to resolve. Skitters were fearsome creatures that were exceedingly difficult to kill and in the past few episodes they have been super quick to die and easy for everyone to shoot and kill in droves. We have not seen many, if any, skitters in the past few episodes and are left to wonder just what aliens are left to fight or are they all hiding in DC? Pulling out the Queen card this late into the game makes for a rushed story arc on her.

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Rebel Skitters

TV budgets are not what they used to be and that’s really too bad. When the rebel skitter plot was introduced in season 2, it was an exciting new possibility to get deep inside the alien camp and use the harnessed kids as a way to infiltrate their ranks and do some damage from within. However, after 1 season of exploring the benefits and downsides of having the rebel skitters we threw the plot line to the dust and abandoned it by season 3.

The Dornian – So powerful they were killed off

The original form of the skitters was the Dornian. This race appears to have technology that rivals that of the Volm and the Espheni yet they didn’t survive a war against the Espheni and were wiped out. The last of the Dornian sat idly by devising the perfect weapon to kill the queen and waited for the right moment to save Tom and give it to him in order to win the war.

The Third Alien Race – ?

In season 4 we were teased with a ‘shadow’ approaching in the war and something that both the Espheni and Volm feared, a new race of aliens. However, going into season 5, that entire story line was dropped. It is clear from the start of season 5 that the original intention for the alien Tom saw at the end of season 4 was to be the new alien race. However, once the writers found out the show was given only 1 more season, they switched gears and made them the Dornian and used that as a way to provide Tom with a means to kill the queen and win the war.

The Queen and the motive

Suddenly there is a higher being to the overlords. The Queen is something that Cochise knew about but never bothered to disclose and we never really get an explanation on that. We find out that her race had been here before and revenge was her reason for coming. I will admit the writers could have come up with a more cliché reason (resources, etc) but instead came up with an oldie but goodie reason.

The only issue with this reason is it doesn’t line up very well with the overall actions of the Espheni over 5 seasons. If revenge was the reason, they could have simply wiped out the planet and killed everyone from space without much effort. The writers wrote themselves into a difficult place coming into season 5 and didn’t have a lot of options for giving the big question a big answer.

A final farewell to the 2nd Mass

It goes without saying that war is an ugly thing and there are many deaths along the way. Some hurt more than others, depending on how the writers setup each character. Some were gone before we even had a chance to like them and others we loved were gone without a second mention or look back. We make mention of Dai and Jimmy who both died in season 2 and Pope who almost managed to make it to the very end. Dylan Authors (Jimmy), Peter Shinkoda (Dai) and Pope (Colin Cunningham) were all great actors who were given complex characters who died in rather disappointing style. Jimmy was perhaps the most mourned of the 3 on-screen and the more fitting death. While Dai and Pope were both given some of the worst deaths I have seen on TV. Their characters deserved so much more.

Tom Mason has had to go through a lot as a father and a leader over 5 seasons. When you look at where he and Weaver were at the start of the series they have switched places learning from each other and leaning on each other for comfort as each faced loss after loss. Call me cynical or perhaps maybe I’ve watched too much of game of thrones but we really needed to see a Mason die by the end of the season. TV watchers have matured as an audience and expect more twists and darker storylines with their characters especially when it involves war.

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Having every single Mason make it to the end with all the other characters who died around them just seems too good to be true and while I loved all of the Mason characters, and for those of you who followed our website closely you know that Ben was one of my favorites, I really would’ve liked to see Ben die at the end while saving everybody else. That final scene where Ben finds Tom after he has killed the queen there is a moment when Ben gets a look on his face as if something is wrong and Tom asks what’s wrong at that very moment I was expecting Ben to be dying because of the spikes in his back. Why Ben survived with his spikes when every other creature that had a connection to the Espheni is another plot point the writers never fully explain. However I will say that seeing Ben with the Volm Delegation was fun and fitting for his character given his super human strength and ability to communicate with other alien races (which we assume he kept with the help of the Volm).

Matt Mason’s character ends up pretty much where we expected him to go after starting out as a little child who just wanted everything to go back to normal he ends up being his father son and a bit of a historian all on his own. Hal finally makes up his mind and decides to tie the knot with Maggie who has also made up her mind and the two of them end up in what appears to be a happy relationship. In a bit of a sad moment we see Weaver who gives a big hug to Matt and salutes to Dingaan and Anthony but doesn’t appear to have anyone for himself but he is proud and happy of where everyone in the second mass ended up.

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A series worthy of praise even in its worst moments

On a side note, no matter how bad some may think season 5 has been (and we think its been better than 3 and 4), the show is still something that will go down in the record books as a series that defied all the odds. Lets face it, when is the last time a science fiction series lasted 5 seasons and was on a major network channel such as ABC,NBC,Fox,CBS or TNT? Sure there have been shows that have lasted 10+ seasons on channels like Syfy and BBC but the audience for channels like Syfy are very narrow and geared specifically towards science fiction programming. Falling Skies managed to bring SciFi programming to a main stream audience that wasn’t just die-hard alien geeks but also families and ages young and old. Getting the balance of human drama with alien is not an easy thing to achieve. Even throughout all of its stumbling, overall it has managed to be an addicting series.

Our website was started 5 years ago, as a fan site to Falling Skies. The name Three If By Space was a reference to the Dark Horse Prequel Comic to the series where Tom is seen putting up posters that make American Revolutionary war references to aliens by using the adage one if by land ,two if by Sea, three if by space. The cast of the series has been some of the nicest people to meet in person and interview over 5 years of the series. Some like Connor Jessup and Maxim Knight have literally growing up before our eyes and started great careers in film both in front of and behind the screens.

While the debate over what could have been with the finale will rage on for many years, we will always love the series and hope that perhaps one day they might complete some of the open-ended stories through a comic or a movie. In the day and age of Netflix and Amazon creating their own series, a show is never truly dead. Whether it’s in the form of a comic to tell the final tail or perhaps a movie. And every time we think we are the only ones who love this show, Tom Mason will be there to remind us that “We are not alone”.

Fans who will be at Dragon Con: We will be on a Falling Skies Farewell panel Sunday Sept 6th discussing the series, so be sure to stop by.

What did you think of the Finale?

Robert Prentice