Falling Skies Review: Doing the Charleston?
It's hard to go wrong with an hour largely focused on Tom Mason and John Pope, easily the two most engaging characters on Falling Skies.
Throw in a death in this makeshift family; a surprising visitor with even more surprising news; and a unique alien with scary, unexplained powers and "Compass" was one of the best episodes in this show's season-plus history.
Let's start with Mr. Red Eye himself.
In my interview with Colin Cunningham, the actor specifically referred to this creature when teasing the "twists and turns" to come on Season 2, adding that nothing is ever just "one-note" on Falling Skies.
How should we interpret these words now that we've seen Red Eye run down Tom on the spaceship... murder all humans who were taken captive except Tom... suck in that freaky eye bug thing to close last Sunday's premiere... and now somehow turn on Ben's harness remains? Your guess is as good as mine, but here is my actual guess:
I think Red Eye is using Ben to see what Ben sees. So far at least - and we've barely witnessed the two mysteriously interact, of course - Ben is clearly aware of the spell being cast on him, but he doesn't seem affected by it, not physically at least. Might Red Eye be getting inside the child's head? Might he now know every move the Second Mass plans to make, specifically, at the moment, its migration to Charleston?
A migration that must be a mistake, right? If that Churchill lady were serious, why would she not have some kind of proof? Even just a photo depicting the survivors who have gathered in that city?
I don't blame the group for taking what appears to be some kind of bait - Tom was right about the effects of essentially hibernating for the winter instead - and I have no idea what could be awaiting them in Charleston, but it seems unlikely to be what the pilot described. Still, this storyline raises the suspenseful ante and also gives the show a clear arc:
The Second Mass is on its way to Charleston to meet up with what it hopes to be thousands more like it. It's simple and it's intriguing and I always believe shows of this nature need clear direction.
We then come to Tom and Pope. These two have shared incredible chemistry ever since the introduction of the latter early last season, when he and Tom engaged in an extended debate over the state of the post-invasion universe. They can simply talk and I'm captivated.
It also helped in this case that fans could see both sides. Tom is painted as the good guy, and rightfully so, for sticking around in order to protect his sons and all those around him. But Pope is anything but a one-dimensional villain. He's certainly not wrong in openly challenging Mason as a leader, considering his three months (really) abroad. My only problem with how this feud played out is that Pope will clearly return.
In what capacity? I don't know. But I hope it's not as predictable as Pope swooping in at the last moment to save Tom's life and then a newfound, begrudging respect develops between the ex-enemies.
Finally, we end by bidding farewell to Jimmy. RIP, young man. You did not die in vain.
As I've been preaching about regarding True Blood for many seasons now, any series that deals with these kinds of enemies - supernatural or foreign - needs to throw in the occasional death in order to keep the stakes raised and believable. It's not enough for Weaver to just count the number of Second Mass members who have died since the attack.
Viewers need to believe that almost anyone can die at almost any time, that there's a reason to be worried when attacks take place or battle lines are drawn. That's the purpose served here by Jimmy's death. I certainly expected him to make it, especially after Weaver uttered the cliche about how strong of a fighter he's always been. But he didn't, a legitimately shocking development that expands Weaver as a character and should serve as a warning to all fans:
Don't get too comfortable. You never know who could go next.