Falling Skies Review: The Skitter Secret

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Attention members of the 2nd Mass: BEN AND RICK ARE NOT NORMAL!!!! Start paying attention to these once-harnessed kids in ways that go beyond mere glares.

Overall, "What Hides Beneath" was a significant episode of Falling Skies, revealing major information about Weaver, Karen and the Skitters. Still, I can't help but initially focus on the fact that these survivors aren't very intelligent.

Tom and Hal

How can a doctor such as Anne simply chalk Rick's condition up to PSTD? How can an athlete such as Hal just shrug off the fact that his brother can now do 100 push-ups and jump rope for close to three hours? For all the talk from the survivors about how they need to learn more about the aliens, it's frustrating to see them ignore those in their camp who had the most direct contact with those creatures.

Speaking of ignorance: hello again, Karen! Sorry you've been harnessed and all. The return of Hal's girlfriend would have had more of an effect if we'd heard a peep about her over the last few weeks.

But we've actually seen Hal flirt it up with Margaret and that 7th Mass girl instead. Has Karen's name even been uttered? I'm guessing the show was hoping to raise the shock value of her appearance here by putting her out of the minds of viewers since she was abducted - but the result, for this critic at least, was simply a less meaningful return.

This is the second consecutive week that I've written a negative review of Falling Skies. I do enjoy it, I'm a huge fan of Noah Wyle and there's enough on the show to keep me intrigued (the harnessed children become Skitters? I saw it coming, but certainly a lot of promise in that storyline.). But there are often storytelling glitches, such as the series' habit of telling instead of showing. It seems to have missed that fifth grade writing lesson.

On "What Hides Beneath," for example, think about the multiple times a character just explained a major plot point: Porter and the explosives; Weaver and his family; even Tom and his Gloucester misdirection. The final example may seem small, but it stands out to me: I don't like it when a show dumbs down its dialogue for viewers. Of course Tom was lying to that woman. Did we really need him to explain it to Hal, who was simply serving as a stand-in for the audience?

Similarly, Weaver is an intriguing character and I've always like Will Patton. But perhaps we could have been treated to a flashback or two? An image of him trying to save his daughter? I don't need Falling Skies to deliver non-stop action; I'd just prefer fewer speeches and exposition.

All this said, am I looking forward to next Sunday's finale? Heck yes. Let's blow that structure to smithereens, resistance fighters! Just please keep an eye on Rick and Ben as you do. Seriously, those kids seem pretty important.


Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (36 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I find it extraordinarily clever that the front and center hero is a history professor. When the skitter killed the children in front of Hal, his father explains to him that historically that was a tactic used by the Germans during WW2. With that mentioned I recalled Hitler's Generals that were opposed to his decisions and were willing to plot against him and in the end die for it. For those of you who watched the original (V) series back in the 80's there was much taken from WW2 and used in the production. Remember the youth movement? Well Hitler used the children too. Hummm...lets see now, where are we going with this? (Part 3 from Sammy)


It is not just their physical structure that is remarkable to ours, but their internal organs are also different. If the writers are moving in this direction, than they must have a hefty back account indeed, as the special effects for this could support a small country. As for the skitters compassion towards the children they care for within their group, this would be understandable if they too had once been a free agent in their own home land. The killing of the line of kids by the Mach which was ordered by the skitter was to me not unusual at all. Once you realize that the skitters on not the top guns here, what they were doing was following orders by those who control them. This is war and the true aliens are functioning like any other military type fractions. It's all rank and file. There are Privates, Lieutenants, Captains and Generals on this alien team...just like here. (Part 2 from Sammy)


I find the Skitters interesting and my opinion of them changes almost from episode to episode. In the beginning I thought they were in charge, but I became suspicious of that early on when the teacher made a comment to Tom about a question a student posed to him. Why would an insect/arachnid type creature build a biped machine? Indeed!!! When the real powers that be made their appearance, I was not surprised but mollified. When they brought the captured skitter to base camp I slowly found myself feeling sorry for it, but I couldn't reason out my feelings. It wasn't until the good doctor discovered that it too was harnessed, that I realized it was also a controlled victim, possibly a life form from a planet other then the one the prime aliens hail from. I know that there are many viewers who suspect the skitters are life forms that might have had a humanoid appearance at one time; I admit that I myself pondered that; but it seems totally absurd beyond belief. It is not just their physical structure that is remarkable to ours, but their internal organs are also different. If the writers are moving in this direction, than they must have a hefty back account indeed, as the special effects for this could support a small country. (Part One)


I really enjoy watching the show, I look forward to every Sunday! I think they have been doing such a great job keeping the audience interested, I agree they could do more flashbacks, its more emotional and relatable that way. Other than that im so eager to watch the 2 hour finale! My only question is where did those tall human like aliens come from, they actually gave me a good scare when I first saw them.


Sorry, but I do love the show! I'm always like "OH NO! It's over already?" Anyway, question: 1) why are those creatures called Skitters? I must have missed something. Also, I'm assuming "Mech" stands for "Mechanical ?? something.


I've been trying to figure out if the harnesses are used to CONTROL the minds of the harnessed or to ALTER them. It's obvious by Matt's newfound physical capabilities and Rick's recovery from his condition that the harness alters the host physically and, it would seem, permanently although it's too early to tell. On the mental side of things, it appears that Rick's mind has been altered whereas Ben seems to have regained control of his mental faculties. Does it have something to do with length of exposure to the harness? Is there a point of no return at which the host's brain is permanently compromised? This could present a moral dilemma down the road when it comes to deciding which kids can be rescued and which should be killed/euthanized.


Agree with review, especially the expository concerns. Lots of way to show versus tell. But this may be a case of having to put their bucks into alien graphics rather than people scenes. They foreshadowed the new aliens weeks ago with the comment about the physique of the mechs. That was OK - gave me something to look forward to. However the harness/skitter relationship raises more questions: Why did the captured skitter say "kill me?" Why the tenderness of the skitters for the children in their care if they know what's going to happen to them? Why did the skitter kill the group of children if they are emotionally attached to them? Will there end up being a skitter/human alliance against the overlord aliens? Lastly, Hal is a teen-aged guy. Of course he forgot about Karen in a week.


I agree mostly with the review, particularly the part about Karen. It seemed like last episode you had three potential love interests for Hal, including the med student, and he hadn't mentioned Karen. Maybe he thought she was too old to be harnassed or something so he assumed she was dead? Remembering the scene where Karen was taken also made me think of when Rick said "we would never kill one of our own..." Too bad he didn't see half a dozen harnassed kids killed because his father helped him escape. And speaking of Rick, where was he running to once he saw that Pope had a weapon to use against the Mech? They should really keep a closer eye on him. This may be mean of me to say, but I would like to see him run back to them only to discover that he was wrong about them. As far as Hal shrugging off Ben's new abilities, I think that's the only thing he can do. Ben proved his loyalty last week. Even if he hadn't, he can question his brother but his new athletic prowess isn't really in Ben's control either. All in all, I still enjoy the show and am looking forward to the finale!

Jo gr

Re the whole ammo issue, that was the first time the surviors had time and the chance to pull apart a mech gun. Pope was surprised to discover that even the ammo was of human origin. Also sometimes people are just that thick for a moment, we all do it, smack ourselves in the head and go, why didn't I see that or think of that. So I find that part of the episode to be fairly real.


I agree with the review.

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