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Falling-skies

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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I think Tom got his strength from whatever happened on the ship - even he seemed surprised at how he whipped Pope's ass...

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I believe Shaerra is right - Charleston will end up being the 'neutral zone'/prison camp that the alien leader mentioned in the season premiere. They're sending out human ambassadors like this Avery Churchill to entice any surviving human resistance to come willingly (For the record, I don't believe that these ambassadors are maliciously trying to lure their fellow humans to their doom - they're just people who are tired of fighting and, for better or worse, have decided to buy what the aliens are selling in the hopes of resuming a somewhat normal life). Once the 2nd Mass arrives (probably in the penultimate episode of the season), they'll be surrounded by a massive alien force and given a choice of surrendering and entering the camp or resisting and being annihilated. Of course, they'll choose the second option, or else the show would essentially be over :) WatchesTooMuch is right - the smart thing would be to send a scouting party ahead to verify that Charleston actually is what Churchill claims it is before moving the entire regiment there. But hey, who knows? At some point before the show is over, the 2nd Mass does need to hook up with a larger overall resistance movement. I just don't think that it will happen this early in the show's run.

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My theory about Red Eye is that he is not dissimilar from Tom or Pope of whatever species he was, he might remember more of who he was before and has been looking for an opportunity to overthrow these really tall alien things. He likely is not a good guy, but he sees in Tom a chance to join forces for a common purpose. After that, well who knows. While I am sure that he was reading the Second Mass' plans from Ben, I also wonder if he was telling Ben anything or if he was just trying to figure out more of something familiar he had seen from their first interaction and determined this boy was Tom's son. I doubt Charleston is anything that is really good, but you wonder about their travel (I have a terrible sense of direction, but it would seem you have to go almost to the Appalachian mountains to avoid New York and Washington

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This show is nowhere near as compelling as reviewed here. Pope is about the lamest bad guy I've ever seen. He can't control his idiotically named crew - the berserkers? really? - Tom has more authority with them, He can't fight worth a damn, and really he is just to vanilla to be threatening at all. A short, skinny guy with long hair is threatening only to 15 year old nerds. Tom is not a fighter, yet he can kick ass on the tough guy of the group? lame, lame, lame. Most egregious example? Why would Pope keep the compass off the kid? That's not being a "bad guy" that's just being an idiot which reflects the writing. Terrible show and equally bad review. Sorry, but you sound more like a fan than a reviewer.

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How soon before the secret, rebel aliens make contact? C'mon you know they're out there. Maybe Red-eye is one of them or their leader?

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Charleston is the 'netural' zone Tom was told to take the 2nd Mass to. The aliens are just trying a different tactic since the first one didn't work.

Watchestoomuch

I agree that this was a good episode. I share your skepticism about Charleston, and I wonder why the group couldn't send out an advance team of 2-3 members to check the place out. I don't like anything involving Pope. He's not a real character. He's too smart, too unpredictable, too much of a smartass, and too clumsy at looking after his own interests. Including criminals in the mix was a good idea; giving us an inverted Mary Sue as one of the characters was not such a great idea. As regards Red Eye, I think it's safe to assume that this skitter has an agenda of its own, and I'm guessing that down the road we're going to see this skitter making common cause with the humans (or at least using the humans) against their shared evil alien overlords.

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