Monday, June 18, 2012

'Falling Skies' recap: Season Two premiere

BY AARON SAGERS

Three months after the Falling Skies Season One finale when Tom boarded the alien ship with the uber-alien, to discover more about Ben’s transformation - and to broker a peace? – the two-part season premiere begins with a firefight between the 2nd Mass and the mechs and skitters.

In part one, titled "Worlds Apart," the team of Hal, Ben, Pope, Dai and Maggie deal some nasty blows then must retreat before skitter backup arrives. A battle-hungry Ben disobeys Hal’s order to fall back because he wants to kill off the remaining bugs, but in the process of taking one out, he inadvertently fires upon Tom, who was behind the alien and engaged in his own struggle. The shot hits Tom, who drops to the ground, smiling, because he’s found his sons.

Heck of a way to begin the season, right? Well, if it seemed like a reunion cut short, it also likely sets the tone for the whole season...

We see the new digs of the 2nd Mass, a refugee camp under an overpass where tents and vehicles are used as shelter. Ann tends to a wounded, unconscious Tom while Hal scolds Ben for ignoring his orders. The older brother also consoles the post-harnessed Ben and tells him it was a mistake he shot dear old dad.

Meanwhile, we see Tom’s flashbacks aboard the ship. Instead of being served tea and cookies, he’s been locked up and tasered by a skitter with a bloodshot eye and half his face burned off. This is obviously the “Red Eye” character we reported about, but have we met him before – like when his face was intact? Anyhow, Tom meets with a grey uber-alien who speaks through the harnessed Karen and tells the professor that the remnants of humanity can survive if they agree to be set aside in “neutral zones” (aka internment camps). The uber-aliens have obviously been studying human history – and have taken a particular liking to Tom, who tells them not to borrow from Earth’s darkest moments. The malevolent uber is then given a dose of the Mason magic when Tom steals a taser from Red Eye and shocks him.

Throughout some other flashbacks, Tom is eventually released by the aliens, along with many other prisoners. But the mechs gun them all down except Tom, who they obviously let go. He spends the next three months trying to reach his team, encountering a young girl whose mother had just been murdered by a human scavenger just moments before Tom arrives. Tom hardly makes friends with the girl, but they do team up for a while, and share her motorcycle. They part ways just as Tom runs into the firefight from the opening scene.

In the second part of the premiere, titled "Shall We Gather at the River," Tom is saved by Ann after some touch-and-go moments. No big surprise there. The resistance needs to get moving because they’ve been stationary for too long. They also need a way of masking the heat signatures of their vehicles from alien ships. This task serves as a way of introducing newcomer Anthony, the mechanic/engineer (and love interest of nurse Lourdes). He is also the one who sets upon repairing a bridge for the 2nd Mass convoy to cross (after the aliens blow it up real good, and are rewarded by some fancy, ship-downing shooting by Dai).

This half of the premiere is the episode of paranoia. Everyone seems suspicious of Tom, and remains suspicious of Ben. Even Tom worries about what the aliens did to him, including implanting post-hypnotic messages or utilizing mind control on him. Matters are not helped when Ann discovers and removes a wormy, metal thing that’s crawling around in Tom’s eye. Even though Pope – who now commands a unit of rascals called the Berserkers - has been on Weaver for a while to not trust the returned Tom, it is Tom himself that convinces the captain to tie him up in the hospital bus. The professor also makes Hal promise to take him out if he turns into an alien stooge.

As for the wormy alien parasite, it can apparently transform into a little marble, and did so after Lourdes stored it in a glass jar – which seems like the perfect way of dealing with alien tech! The bugger eventually cuts a hole out of the jar and transforms – again! – into a flying moth-thing and crawls into the eye socket of Red Eye. This dude is going to have a lot to do this season, it would appear.

Ben, who is teamed up with Jimmy (remember Jimmy? He has apparently evolved from annoyingly sappy kid character into a kind-of cool sniper character!), goes on a scout mission across the river to see how things look on the other side of the bridge for the convoy. He discovers some Battlestar Galactica-esque organic technology in alien ship wreckage and squashes it, and also snaps some pics of an alien communication structure eventually destroyed by Dai.

With the bridge temporarily patched, the convoy heads across. Most make it across before a platoon of skitters move in - except for the hospital bus, holding Tom and Matt. Although Matt has been a little sketched out by his alien-escaping dad so far, he cuts pop loose to join the fight. A cool battle rages between the aliens and resistance and Tom finally gets to kick a little ass. That is, until Pope detonates a charge to blow the bridge with the professor still on it.

That makes twice in the premiere that everyone thinks Tom is dead or missing, but wait, he swims up on the other side of the river just as everyone is grieving for him – again.

Alien Afterthoughts


  • The second season of Falling Skies is already looking better than the first. The effects are better, the budget higher and the style more cinematic. The slightly darker tone and faster pace works, and it makes sense to have the 2nd Mass’ on the run more.
  • Brooding, hateful Ben (Connor Jessup) is an interesting development as long as the character doesn’t veer into too much mope territory.
  • If you thought Pope (Colin Cunningham) was going to become cuddly this season, the writers want you to know he’s a bad guy, but is a good soldier needed in the war against the aliens. It’s also kind of cool to give him a merry band of misfits; he’s like Zartan to the Dreadnoks.
  • Dai (Peter Shinkoda) doesn’t say much, but he might be the biggest badass on the show. Writers, please don’t ruin that by giving him a love interest or a kitten to look after. The show made the right move by trimming some fat and killing off unnecessary characters between seasons.
  • Red Eye is a smart character to introduce. Instead of rooting against all skitters, audiences need a couple individual big bads to love-to-hate...
  • ...But we need to know why the aliens moved in and want the planet, sooner or later.
  • Seriously, who removes an alien parasite from a prisoner's eye and then just drops it in a jar, only to be forgotten about and not discussed further?
  • Random thought, but Karen (Jessy Shram) kind of reminds me of Luna Lovegood.

0 comments: