Falling Skies

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Falling Skies Review: Doing the Charleston?

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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.

Grass Crouching

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.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (51 Votes)

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

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Way too many commercials on season premiere

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I agree with everyone who says that Charleston is a trap. There are just too many inconsistences: where does the Churchill-Lady get all the fuel her plane needs? Or spare parts for it? Food for her damn long way to Europe? And I wonder - unlike others here - why the hell Pope is the ONLY one not trusting Tom and saying that aloud. Yes, Tom's a nice guy and everything, but he can't even say / be sure what happend to himself and there are lives at stake! Felt terribly sorry for Weaver. But promo says he gets his non-harnessed daughter back soon, so there's hope at the horizon :-) Liked last episode very much.

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I agree with Shaerra's thought about Charleston, and I'll add that last season we were told that the 2nd Mass is a small group because alien airships can detect groups of over 600 people. Unless the writers forgot that, we need some explanation of how a group of 3,000+ is surviving in Charleston. Also agree that it's likely that Red Eye is a rebellious skitter with his own agenda. I think the writers are setting us up to at some point question if the skitters can be freed/redeemed - we know that they are slaves, that the harnessed children are mutating into something like them, we've seen Rick talk admiringly of them, etc. It's an interesting idea if that's the direction, we'll see how well it's pulled off.

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Red Eye is Weaver's daughter! That talk about the compass and how he was going to give it to his daughter... and how Red Eye was the one who actually killed Jimmy who was holding the compass... it's all foreshadowing!

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Didn't even know there was a first season. Still don't know how it would have gotten renewed for a second. Yes, I tried to watch it. Poor acting fits the script. Who lights this show? Should have been better special effects with todays tech. Someone let me know if this gets beyond a yawner.

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I feel the humans need a win...so far in this show theres only lost for the humans....and that eye bug was the BEST! It had me looking at my eye in the mirror after watching that....another thing I would be with Pope cause I wouldn't trust Tom or his son with those things on his back...come on. And is it just me or does he have no feeling what so ever....just sayin!

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I struggle to accept that Pope has turned into such a menace - it feels contrived to me. He ended last season wishing Tom "good luck" as Tom left with the RPG weapon to find Weaver and shoot at the mother ship. It seemed like he felt genuine respect and even affection for Tom. It seems unlikley then that he would try to kill Tom in the premiere episode simply because he suspected that Tom might be somehow connected to the aliens. I like the show and my family is hooked on it but the Tom/Pope relationship is perhaps the most important on the show and I would hate to see it messed up. Looking forward to seeing how the Charleston thing plays out and I hope the trek there does not consume the entire season.

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I do not see why someone hasn't shot Pope in the head yet, he's insane and fairly worthless as a leader, plus he proves to be a liability to the 2nd Mass time and again. And The leader mentions that they've lost over half their number already, and geez, its only season 2! I just don't know if I can stay with this show. There isn't enough hope in it for me as a viewer, and the science fiction element is all on the side of the evil aliens, who don't use their powers for anything but death and subjugation. And now they're going to Charleston, where everyone predicts disaster and more death for the group...where's the entertainment in that?

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As a science fiction fan for many years, I really wanted to love this show. I watched the first season, though I found it overly gross and depressing as hell,(I mean really, big powerful aliens would doubtless have wiped out 99 percent of the human race before this, and leaving a ragtag group alive to fight back is stupid of them, when they are supposed to be such an 'advanced' race) with the humans fighting overwhelming odds to survive. I am not a fan of dystopian literature like "The Road" or horror science fiction that predicts that we'll all die a gruesome death at the hands of a brutal alien force. Still, I love Noah Wylie, and I saw some potential romance, so I stuck with it. Though I missed the season premier, last nights ep pretty much told me what I need to know, and added the death of a good character just to make things more depressing. I do not see why someone hasn't shot Pope in the head yet, he's insane and fairly worthless as a leader, plus he proves to be a liability to the 2nd Mass time and again. And The leader mentions that they've lost over half their number already, and geez, its only season 2! I just don't know if I can stay with this show. There isn't enough hope in it for me as a viewer, and the science fiction element is all on the side of the evil aliens, who don't use their powers for anything but death and subjugation. And now they're going to Charleston, where everyone predicts disaster and more death for the group...where's the entertainment in that?

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I watch this show as a total girly girl- Love the dramatic moments between the characters, the A/U-ness of the setup, and the growing romantic entanglements. As such- I was glad last night DID include a Tom/Anne kiss (unsteamy as it was) and did NOT include any bugs in anyone's eye.