Falling Skies: The Skies are Falling
If we didn’t know better, we’d swear the title to this episode was deliberate; a “serious cat is serious,” “redundancy is redundant” take on the show, which is how we felt about a lot of this episode after it was over.
We liked the episode as it was unfolding, certainly. It felt like a gripping finale for the season, with some seriously high stakes and risk-taking, culminating in a moment when we really did fear that most of the cast wasn’t going to survive. Unfortunately, that feeling only lasted a moment.
Worse was the way the story seemed to whiplash back and forth. Martial Law! Arrest the President! Put the Second Mass in confinement. Okay, maybe not! Berserker guy reveals himself to be a hardcore Marine! Okay, maybe not!
Our complaint comes down to this: we have another showdown with the penis-head alien and Hal’s former girlfriend (whose name we can NEVER remember), another member of the Mason family appears to be under the control of the aliens, the Second Mass is going back out on the road, and at the end, a THIRD alien species lands on earth. Isn’t this all only slight variations on stuff we’ve already seen? Shouldn’t a season finale NOT give the impression that the show is spinning its wheels? And can we put the kibosh on any more reunion scenes between characters? How many times have Weaver and his daughter had hug-filled goodbyes and hug-filled reunions this season? They’ve lost their emotional potency; just like seeing a mind-controlled Hal doesn’t really push any buttons that weren’t already pushed with Ben and Tom.
Also: We have absolutely no idea what that thing was they destroyed. Maybe it was important. Maybe they even told us at some point. But it all got muddled and confusing between the hugging and bug-crawling-out-of-an-eye retreads. Maybe it was the thing preventing that third alien race from descending. We don’t expect a finale to answer a lot of questions, but we’re not even sure what questions we’re supposed to ask, outside of what we said in the final 5 seconds of the show: “Who the hell is THAT?”
But what really got us groaning was the “You’re throwing up? How long have you been pregnant?” scene. Oh, please. How disappointing that the writers are taking the most interesting female character and turning her into a vessel for the main hero’s hopes and dreams. Everyone else faced their alien torture with bravery, but Anne suddenly turned into a whimpery girl because in sci-fi (and a whole hell of a lot of other kinds of stories) once a character becomes pregnant, that’s all she is to the story: The Pregnant One. A damn shame, because Moon Bloodgood is doing wonderfully subtle work with the character. She faced down ALIEN SPIDERS WITH FACES AND TEETH without breaking a sweat, but once she pees on a stick, all her previous character traits get forgotten. Never mind how silly it is for a pediatrician, of all people, to be somewhat irresponsible with her reproductive health in a post-apoc setting. She should’ve been the one handing out condoms to the whole Second Mass and informing them of the dangers of getting pregnant in a war zone instead of the one getting accidentally pregnant. It’s like having Tom forget what happened at Lexington & Concord.
Granted, we got some deaths. Red-eye, Penis-head, and … Token Asian. Not exactly shocking or heart-wrenching stuff, although we did cheer when Red-Eye beat the piss out Penis-Head and roared with approval when Tom finished the job for him. If we had more of that kind of thrilling violence and catharsis instead of SO. DAMN. MANY. socio-political-historical conversations, this show could be a huge hit.
Unlike Walking Dead (Or V, or any of a number of attempts to do this kind of story), there’s a real intelligence behind it; an attempt to draw parallels between the current conflict and the American Revolution (much in the same way the original V series drew strong parallels between the alien invasion and the Nazi Holocaust), with a protagonist who isn’t a Sheriff or FBI agent, but a teacher. That’s awesome, but we shouldn’t have to sit through lectures.
We enjoyed this season a lot and consider it a huge improvement over the first season, but it’s long past time for the show to demonstrate that they know what they’re going instead of throwing yet another alien at us in the hopes of keeping it interesting. We don’t normally give grades to TV shows, but while we’d give Season 2 a solid B+, this episode barely gets a C.
Final Memo to the writers: If you need a character death, stop turning to all the non-white ones to make your pick. It’s the absolute worst cliche in science fiction.