This week, TNT’s Falling Skies brings season one to a close with two episodes. The first, “Mutiny,” deals mainly with Weaver’s (Will Patton) ability to command, and the doubts Tom (Noah Wyle) has about Weaver’s mental stability. Of course, those sort themselves out, and “Eight Hours” concerns an offensive against the aliens. Ben (Connor Jessup) proves essential when he realizes he can help Scott (Bruce Gray) find the aliens’ radio frequency, jamming their communications. This gets the invaders’ attention, but instead of wiping out the 2nd Mass, they just take Tom, supposedly to better ‘understand’ their opponents.
Falling Skies is one of those shows with moments of greatness, but often falls flat in its attempt to achieve the grand scale. Over all it is a pretty decent series, but not one of the all time greats. This is beautifully illustrated in “Mutiny” with the Weaver problem. Here we have a commander who is taking pills and making bad decisions. Tom determines Weaver must be removed, obviously. But then, in a confrontation, for some reason, Tom doesn’t make Weaver explain himself. He just wants Weaver to let them get behind him. What? Weaver mentions he’s off the pills, and other than a shaking hand, that’s the last we hear of it. Weaver gives everyone the facts, and his plans continue.
Admittedly, Weaver’s plan is one that the 2nd Mass is desperate enough to attempt. Tom’s insistence that they know what they are up against is a sound one. But there isn’t enough resolution or explanation. From the point where Tom and the others are ready to relieve Weaver of command, to everyone getting along again comes too easily, and without enough realism. In truth, Weaver should be removed at that point. Tom can take over and present the same situation Weaver does, or even allow Weaver to do it as a mouthpiece, but Weaver is done. Surely Tom has lost faith in the commander. What does Weaver possibly do to gain that trust back? Interestingly, Patton is so good, these missteps are quickly forgotten about in the second hour.
In “Eight Hours,” the only real weak point centers around the attack on the tower. Isn’t it odd that every face that goes with a name for the viewers is in Weaver’s group, while the other three groups are completely wiped out? And then, somehow, all of those names survive, save one introduced only recently in “Mutiny.” This is a suicide mission, and lots of men don’t make it back. But the half dozen we know survive? Falling Skies has already killed off recognizable faces, but when the chips are down and the stakes are high, they back off from taking out any others. Missed opportunity. The impact would be higher with an emotionally moving death scene.
There are plenty of characters that I could go on about in this review, from Tom’s interactions with his children, to Anne’s (Moon Bloodgood) stolen kiss with Tom, to Margaret (Sarah Carter) and Jimmy’s (Dylan Authors) new bond. Yet, the only relationship that is really intriguing, so much so that it still evokes musings a day after watching, is how Pope (Colin Cunningham) fits into the group. And with only limited time to get this review of Falling Skies done, that seems the place to focus, so I apologize if I’m skipping a beloved favorite.
You see, Pope is a very bad man as a rebel and hunter, who is forced to become a cook after capture by the 2nd Mass. He escapes, causes some trouble, but then comes to the rescue of some kids, proving he is not without heart or redeemable qualities. He returns to the 2nd Mass, and helps them prepare for the final battle, seemingly becoming a team player. Yet, none of this is entirely out of character. His change of heart likely stems from the fact that he is involved in fighting aliens now, and as long as the 2nd Mass lets him work to that purpose, he can play nice. It may be that Pope led brutes and let them get away with their awful behavior to keep them loyal, rather than being a total tool himself. Granted, what Pope allows to happen to Margaret during her tenure with him is unforgivable. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be useful and get along when he needs to.
Finally, the nagging questions about the aliens may begin to be answered by the intriguing cliffhanger. Harnessed Karen (Jessy Schram) approaches Tom and forces him to get on the alien ship. Tom does it to protect his son, Ben, who is maybe turning into a skitter? Anyway, this new interaction will likely give Tom a chance to save Ben from metamorphosis, as well as shine light into what the aliens are doing on Earth. Unless they harness Tom, too, which could be interesting, considering Tom is the central hero. Though no adults have been harnessed up to this point, and that may prove to be impossible.
Falling Skies can go any number of ways from here, and only the writers know what direction the series will take when season two resumes next summer. Hopefully, given a second season, the weaknesses will be ironed out, and the strengths played to. There is real potential present. Falling Skies will return next summer to TNT.