TV REVIEW: Falling Skies S2, Ep 3: Compass

Falling Skies seems to be settling into a new rhythm, one of constant forward motion. Nothing seems allowed to settle, as if the one the first seasons big criticisms, that it stood still and talked a bit too much, has really been taken to heart. This well finds the 2nd Mass at the airfield mentioned last week, making preparations to move into the mountains and start their guerilla campaign against the Skitters from there. Of course, nothing quite goes to plan. 

There are really three main stories in this episodes, all of them sort of linking through but never really meshing into a coherent thematic or storytelling whole, but all tied into what feels like longer season arcs. The first is the simplest – a plane turns up at the airbase with new orders from a newly founded “Continental Congress”;  head for Charleston where some semblance of government and order and resistance has been restored. Weaver gets to fret over it a bit, but really its too big a plot point to ignore,, but highlights that Weaver is a much better character this season – more a commander as he should be, without being a slightly pointless hard-ass for Tom to rub up against.  Not much else to say on this plotline really, but it will be interesting to see where it goes.

More interesting is what they seem to be doing with Pope. Last week I made some off-hand quip about him being a Sawyer knock-off but this week he’s in full-on psycho mode, and all the more interesting for it. The show needs some sort of intra-human tension, and Pope is a good place to get it; someone just interested in killing Skitters, not fighting a war with the compromises that involves, and it makes a certain amount of both narrative, and character sense, to drive him out of the group as a full-on renegade. Another one for future episodes, I think.

The final arc is the real emotional meat of the episode. I’ve started to worry that the lack of up-lifting homilies from the writers of Falling Skies is starting to make me worry we are going to get an episode full of them, but we got one this week, at the end, over the grave of one of the shows recurring characters, and its effective, not twee. The death itself is brutal and grim, from a fight that didn’t have to be started, and for no real gain. The show spends a lot of time dealing with its ramifications, and whilst it does help to heal some of the rifts between Toms family, its at a terrible cost. Ben’s returning from Harnessing remains a big thing so far this season, and the recurring Skitter characters evident interest in him is all the more intriguing.

So there is a lot more sense of things moving in this episode, three stories for the price of one. I’m still waiting for the episode of homilies though!

Reviewer: Matt Farr

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