Episode Reviews

Mutiny / Eight Hours

In the two part season finale, Falling Skies continues its trend of character bickering but maintains enough interest to keep viewers watching.

Tom looks on as the strike team leaves

And with that, we have the end of this summer’s “biggest cable hit,” Falling Skies. With a relatively short, but compelling 10 episode run, Falling Skies is not a traditional Sci-Fi story, but rather a story of human perseverance amongst the overwhelming odds of a superior invasion force.

For 10 weeks we’ve followed around Tom Mason (Noah Wyle, ER) and the 2nd Mass resistance group and have seen all manner of heroics from the survivors, but in the end it was very clear that this was not a show about sticking it to the aliens. Rather, it’s about what we as people do when our backs are to the wall and are fighting for our very existence. We’ve seen acts of betrayal masked as pure will to keep our kin safe, and we’ve seen acts of sacrifice.

In tonight’s first part of season finale, “Mutiny”, we have the aftermath of the revelation that Captain Weaver (Will Patton) has been taking both sleeping pills and stimulants to get through the long days of the resistance. It’s a fairly straightforward episode, if not downright predictable. Tom implicitly implies that Weaver needs to reevaluate the assault plans, which lands Tom in the brig. Soon after Tom’s supporters break him out and get Weaver to back down and reevaluate his plans, calling on a majority of the fighters to volunteer to hit the command center as planned.

While concise and moving at an acceptable pace, “Mutiny” feels like one of the weakest of the series plagued by a sense of identity crisis. “Mutiny” falls into the category of episodes that merely show insight into the characters motives by starting with a simple cliche motif (drug addiction and the will to avenge) provides a short lead up to a central conflict (Tom’s incarceration and escape), with a final resolution without much effort on anyone’s part (Weaver agrees that Tom is right in about 2 minutes).

On the other hand, “Eight-Hours” is a much faster moving war film piece in which we have battles on multiple fronts while the impending attack loom on the school. As our less utilized combat teams head out to hit the aliens where it hurts, Tom and the remaining fighters hang back to cover the evacuation. It’s somewhat of a cliche that reminds me of many other war/combat films where we find a inspiring history laced speech by Tom providing the morale boost to help repel the aliens.

Falling Skies continues to make an overly obvious allusion to the revolutionary war once again citing the battles of Lexington. It’s as if the writers just wanted to make doubly sure that the audience knows that yes, we are like the same revolutionaries of the 1700s and that yes, the aliens are like the British. It does make me wonder how international audiences feel about the emphasis on American war history. Other audiences might feel that it is even more overbearing and self righteous than I do as it is.

After a surprisingly short and easy engagement, the fighters at the school repel the advancing mechs using not bullets, but rather their communication jammer. It will be interesting to see how this device plays out next season as it basically acts as a force field around the units. So while we find the 2nd Mass is in a similar situation as those from “The Walking Dead”, alone, in the woods, merely fighting for their survival, at least they have have the ability to repel enemy forces on the ground. I can’t help to wonder though why did the aliens only send a ground force and not just wipe them out from the sky from afar.

With the obvious elimination of the 4th and 5th Massachusetts forces, we find that the 2nd Mass is once again totally alone, and this will hopefully generate more compelling episodes next season. While the relative safety of the school is good for morale and operations, it does create a sense of complacency without the fear or urgency of a force constantly chasing them.

Overall it was a good series hampered by what I feel are too annoying characters. A somewhat stale lead character and a gang of secondary characters with varying levels of personality nearly brought down the overall attraction of the show. Hopefully with the second season, we will find more of a sense of urgency and fear among the group with a darker motif that many of the fans had wished from the beginning.

Other Thoughts

  • With the destruction of the majority of the 2nd Mass fighters and their weapon supplies, are they going to be able to put up much of a fight anymore?
  • Pope always manages to survive.
  • Tom’s RPG shot was pretty ridiculous. I half expected the single crashed fighter to destroy the whole command center.
  • I hope they took that downed mech at the school with them, they are gonna need the metal.
  • Without a dead body in sight, I’d expect Colonel Porter to show up again next season.

By Kien Tran

Based in Dallas, Texas, Kien Tran is an avid television enthusiast. After spending hundreds of hours wasting away on a couch, he decided to actually do something creative with his hobby and created this very blog.

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