Is TNT having budgetary problems? Or are the writers of Falling Skies so intent on proving this is a character-driven drama that they purposely leave out key sequences?
The answer must be yes to one of these questions, as this show has suffered from a focus on exposition over action throughout the summer. Never was this more evident than on the two-hour season finale. Consider what vital scenes were NOT show on "Mutiny" and "Eight Hours:"
Porter's death. Any of the attack on his camp. Tom stealing the charges off Pope's bombs. Rick's talk with the harnessed young girl in the forest. The attack on Weaver and the 2nd Mass in Boston.
Instead, viewers were treated to one long speech after another, with characters simply telling us about what happened. And we're talking about major events here! Would it have been so difficult to kick off the opening hour with Dai speeding away from Porter's camp? With a shot of that integral character being killed?It was baffling, not to mention boring, for this huge piece of information to be relayed via a wounded Dai in a hospital bed. The same thing could be said for any of the developments listed above. A well-written series shows, it doesn't tell.
I understand that Falling Skies prides itself on its characters and their interactions, but there's a big difference between dialogue that lets us into the lives and minds of these individuals - and exchanges that simply rundown key storylines in order to move the plot along.
The first half of the episode, overall, felt like forced filler. Tom and Weaver had just bonded, literally hours earlier, in the latter's old apartment. Suddenly, they were at such odds that they went all Crimson Tide on us? And the key player in their feud was some guy named Danner, a never-before-seen Lieutenant? Who was then killed an hour later?
Eventually, we were back to where we started: the attack on the aliens was imminent and the 2nd Mass was on board. It felt mostly like a waste just to get us to the crux of the finale.
Fortunately, a couple developments stood out and leave me excited for what's to come:
- Ben as a soon-to-be Skitter, using his knowledge of the enemy to help the resistance. It was growing tiresome for the group to continually ignore Ben and Rick, who were both clearly affected by their abduction/harness. But now the secret is out in the open. What other ways will Ben's state contribute to the survivors' cause? How else will he change? When will he turn from an asset into an enemy? All intriguing questions for next summer.
- Tom entering that spaceship. I certainly can't find fault with the cliffhanger. Kudos to the show for realizing it has to mix things up next season. I have no clue what will come out of Tom's chat with that long-necked alien, but I assume it will be a major game-changer. Falling Skies could only go on for so long with survivors hiding out in a camp and wondering about an attack.
It may not seem that way from most of this review, but I'm on board for season two. There's a lot to like about Falling Skies - Noah Wyle, the unknown motives of the aliens, the harnessed kids, everything Pope says - but there are also many changes I'd like to see. If the series ups the action and dials down the explanatory discourse, I'll be happier than a bazooka-firing Tom Mason.