Naturally this review of Falling Skies will contain spoilers, so if you don’t want to find out what happens in the series then I would recommend not reading, but who knows maybe you’re a sadist or something and want to do it anyway, it’s up to you.
What I loved.
- Cochise & the Volm.
- I thought this was a novel idea, because it makes sense. It sounds weird to say that but when you think about it, if the bad guys (because I have no idea how to spell their name, and I’m not going to hopelessly guess) had went about the galaxy reaping other planets of all their resources then you would imagine that once in a while they would have pissed a couple of people off. It just makes sense, and as things go forward you can only imagine that the Volm versus the bad guys (…..ugh, it’s the Ashvenie….or Assvenie or something who knows) will become a larger part of the story going forward.
- Cochise was also pretty cool as the big alien dude that like to hang about with the monkey people. I do find it odd that until the big ship lands we don’t really see any other Volm apart from Cochise (dead people don’t count).
- He’s probably the best character in the show, and is certainly the most consistent character in the show in terms of producing season to season. I think this was probably his weakest season but the guy is money.
- Colonel Weaver.
- Similarly to Pope Weaver is one of the most consistent performers in the show and plays a very good bum.
- I thought Karen was excellent in the limited amount of screen time she had and worked very well as the main antagonist. It didn’t make much sense (which I’ll go into later) but her cold delivery worked really well and she was another highlight of the season.
- It’s a shame they felt that they needed to kill her off, because they could easily have gotten away with her not dying. It isn’t that big a deal but I felt she had more to give.
What I liked.
- Tom Mason.
- What can you say about Tom? He’s a nice guy and is the main protagonist of the show. He is the glue that holds it all together and is often found to be the voice of reason. It’s hard to not like Tom, that’s why he is in the what I liked category.
- Strange Brew.
- I thought this was a nice change of pace to what we normally get and was a bit like a Twilight Zone episode. The reason it isn’t in loved is that I feel that they sort of blew what was potentially a great concept. The reason I believe that is because I feel it would have worked better if they had made it as if everything was back to normal like none of the alien invasion had actually happened. Instead they went along the route of using the characters in the show as if they were a part of Tom’s life (I could see Pope being some hippy university lecturer).
- I thought possibly the best part of this episode was Colonel Weaver as a homeless ex-army the world is ending bum. When he showed up at first I wasn’t sure what they were doing yet and had a brief moment of thinking that ‘oh, that’s what he was like before the invasion’, before Karen showed up and put that idea to bed.
- Search and Recovery.
- Very similarly to Strange Brew, Search and Recovery was an episode that had lots of potential but failed to fully delivered. It was a classic TV formula, where two characters have an intense episode where the story very much concentrates on their relationship. In doing so they took two of the best characters in the show to do this with, and naturally the fireworks were soon going off as the two rubbed each other the wrong way. Again it could have been better, and I hated the whole we’re back at Charleston and now we fall over with exhaustion thing…..bleh.
What I disliked.
- Mole storyline.
- The whole thing just sort of petered out. First it’s like ‘oh there’s a mole!’ not a bad story arc. So it’s Hal, then it’s maybe Cochise, then maybe Anne or her weird baby, or what about Marina she seems suspicious, however in the end it turns out to be Lourdes? How the hell did that happen? At no point throughout season did it seem like it was her, but then it was her. It just felt like they got backed into a corner and picked a random person for it to be.
- When she killed Arthur Manchester in the first episode, I think I am right in thinking that he said that he thought it might have been her. Why? (Maybe I am wrong about this it was a long time since I watched the first episode, but I’m pretty sure he said that).
- One of the worst things about this for me was why did they never explain how she became infected with the little bugs. When did it happen? How did it happen? Where did it happen? None of these questions were answered and you get the feeling they probably never will be.
- I did like how they used Lourdes as a way of making Karen make mistakes, it was clever. However at the end when Tom’s weird kid removes the bugs, why didn’t she have a bag over her head? Surely that would leave them open to an attack.
- America the brave.
- What is it with American’s and the aura that they surround people who were or are the President? It’s like they look at him as being above them, almost as if they are better human beings (to be fair people in UK aren’t much better when it comes to the Royal family). Tom was elected to lead, so why after finding the President before the shit hit the fan he feels the need to step aside for him? Pretty stupid really.
- Also why did the Charleston Presidency become a touch pass the parcel? I thought Charleston was a democracy, yet they didn’t have elections after Tom stood down, rather just giving it to the next person in command. It isn’t a big deal, but a show loses credibility when it doesn’t make sense.
- Karen the leader.
- Although I think as a character she was good, it just didn’t make sense. Why would the Ashveni (I’m going for it), pick a non-Ashveni to lead them? They wouldn’t, it just doesn’t make sense at all.
- What’s wrong with Brazil?
- Have you seen Brazil? There’s nothing I’d like more than for someone to up and move me from a war zone to Rio beach. However apparently the cast of Falling Skies see it differently, they would rather stay in the mess that is the USA. So the choice is the rainy East coast of the USA where you are stuck in guerrilla warfare and you don’t know if you are going to make it to the next day, or nice sunny Brazil……I know what I’d be picking.
- Rebel skitters.
- What happened to the rebel skitters? They were a very big part of the last season, but were almost forgotten about after the first couple of episodes of this season. Yeah, they still mentioned them but they should have had a bigger part.
- Weird Baby.
- Ok, babies are weird enough already, so imagine a baby that talks and shit…..I know it sounds horrible, and apparently all talking babies aren’t like Stewie Griffin.
- 7 months.
- Was it 7 months between the last episode of season 2 and the first of season 3? You would never know because it isn’t like the characters kept going on about it.
What I hated.
- Matt Mason.
- Worst character in the show. It is really hard to write good child characters, and Falling Skies failed miserably. He is whiny and annoying and isn’t what I’d call a great actor. Pretty much a total fail.
- The Volm are destroyed.
- This really bothered me, it was the big explosion moment where the bad guys destroyed the ship of the Volm, and Cochise came out of the water with some other guy who was dead. We then find out that all but Cochise are dead (how lucky for the main Volm guy and the audience), however the machine that they made is ok because it is too deep for it to be affected. So there were no Volm at all down with the machine at the point of impact? What was it lunch time or something?
- Writing on the fly.
- One of the biggest issues with Falling Skies is that from season to season, the whole thing feels like it is being written on the fly. From season to season, it feels like they change their mind on where the show is going, and it really hurts the writing.
- Certain things seem rushed in Falling Skies, namely the introduction of the Volm. By not getting a proper introduction it made you think that you couldn’t really trust them, which I don’t believe was the best way to handle the situation.
- Not fulfilling potential.
- When I look at Falling Skies, I love the concept of the show. However it has never been able to fulfil its potential. Every so often it will threaten to do something special, yet is never able to move the show past ordinary, which is a damn shame.
- Plot armour.
- Way too much plot armour in Falling Skies. This is war, people are going to die, but it seems that the people who die are never what you would describe as main characters. How many times have the main characters gotten themselves into a sticky situation but regardless of what they are up against manage to survive? Too many.
- Everything is too smooth.
- Everything seems to happen as if it has been written in a story (odd that). When I say this I mean that too often in Falling Skies stuff happens because it suits the story, rather than it makes sense.
- I think one of the best examples of this was when Tom ends up in Boston and manages to get back to Charleston pretty snappy, by the way of a sailing boat. One where did he find a boat? Two how did he find a boat that is in perfect condition? Three when did he learn to sail so well? Four, which is a pretty long journey from Boston to Charleston, sailing in the volatile Atlantic Ocean.
- The ending.
- I thought this sucked. I didn’t like how they killed Karen and I didn’t like how it was so smooth in Anne coming back into the fold. So Tom kills Karen and they still allow them to have Anne and creepy kid back? Not very good kidnappers.
Every year I tune in to watch Falling Skies my expectations are high that the show could be really good this year, and every year I am let down because it is just ordinary. Falling Skies is a solid show that never takes it to that next level, and never really moves out of its comfort zone; keeping everything safe and mundane. It isn’t that it is a bad show (because it is not) but it never becomes a good show. Occasionally it hits a nice episode and has a nice idea but the writers are never able to fulfil the full potential of the concept. The acting is generally good (with a few exceptions), so it isn’t their fault but rather because they are scared to make a big move by killing off one of the big names. For example in the first episode of this season we see that Hal has become paralyzed from the waist down, and I thought to myself ‘wow, that’s a brave move but it shows the dangers of war’. However that was short lived as we found out it was something that Karen had done to him last season, instead of an actual serious injury. This could have led to an interesting storyline on how he is struggling to cope with his new life, but instead by the second half of the season everything was ok again and there was no further consequences. For me that is just one of many examples (some others I have talked about in the sections) of the writers missing potentially great ideas for plot and character development.
Usually drama type shows (I know this is also a sci-fi) hit their peak in the third and fourth seasons, that so far hasn’t been the case with Falling Skies, with the third season probably being the worst of the series (it’s close with the first season, with the second season being the best). I think Falling Skies still has potential and has been renewed for another season (which doesn’t surprise me), but for this show to move past ordinary and to become must see TV it must start taking the risks that it has been adverse to doing so far.
Leave a comment about Falling Skies and what you thought of the season or the series as a whole. Are you also wondering what happened to those pesky skitters that bothered our hero’s throughout the first season, yet seem to have almost disappeared as a major antagonist since then, and what happened to all those harnessed kids that were floating about all over the place? Leave a comment and discuss your confusion.