TV REVIEW: Falling Skies S2, Ep 5: Love and Other Acts of Courage

I’ve been praising Falling Skies this season for being a much stronger, more tightly written show that above all else is moving with a sense of direction, both physically and in terms of its ongoing story. It has also managed to strike a reasonable balance between that ongoing story and coherent individually episodes.

I have to be honest and say that it sagged on both fronts a bit this, slowing down to take a look around, introduce some new elements and do some character stuff, and whilst not a poor episode by any stretch, it was a bit of a reminder of the more rocky first season. 

The episode starts strongly with Ben echoing the Skitter’s “dawn chorus” seemingly praising the rising son, a nice show-don’t-tell moment revealing how much he still struggles with whatever the remnants of his harness is doing to him. This quickly transitions into the camp being awoken by a distant gun battle; another nice tracking sequence as every gears up and goes to investigate, only to find the deserted battlefield and evidence of internal strife between the invaders. Yes folks, Falling Skies is doing the old “enemy civil war” plot. Turns out that Rick (the other post-harness survivor) is back, Ben is with him, and they’ve got the leader or spokesman or whatever of the Skitter Resistance holed up in basement.

By and large the episode then falls back on “Tell-not-show”. The Skitter talking through Rick and Ben is a creepy and effective touch but the dialogue is too stodgy and I don’t buy Tom’s line about the Skitters not looking remorseful about killing – they’re aliens Tom, don’t judge their body language! It is a dense and information heavy exchange peppered with clumsy dialogue, interesting, sure, but inelegant.

The episode counters this by putting Hal and his team in peril, and letting him get closer to Maggie, another of the shows sadly peripheral supporting cast. I’d been assuming Hal and Maggie were together, because, well, it’s the end of the world, they’re clearly interested in each other and why the hell not?, but apparently they aren’t, so we get a bit of teen love and angst. Hal seems to thing smooth chat-up moves revolve around tales of his previous conquests, which may explain why he’s still single. Anyway, it’s not bad but it is a little by the numbers, aside from a pretty tense sequence with them holed up in a car with patrolling mechs outside, the direction keeping the enemy out of sight to fuel the claustrophobia of the moment.

And I have to give credit for the final conversation between Tom and Weaver about the status of Ben, which is underwritten and well acted and tense, before they spoil it by finishing by saying how much they like each other! So, a decent episode, one which keeps moving the story along, but not one of the best this season.

Reviewer: Matt Farr

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