TV REVIEW: Falling Skies Season 2, Episode 9 – “The Price of Greatness”

Not for the first time this season, Falling Skies returns to some of the ideas from its first season. This time it’s military-civilian conflict, and an obsession with the American Revolutionary War. Also not for the first time this season, it does it in a more interesting, and generally better, way. The 2nd Mass has reached Charleston, and it’s warm, safe and welcoming. But as ever with safe havens after the end of the world, can it be all it seems?

It’s quickly apparent in this episode that conflict is going to arise between the incoming resistance fighters and the half-formed government in Charleston. It is to Falling Skies’ credit that it doesn’t try to simply recreate the usual way these stories go. That is to say, that secretly they’re mad, or under alien sway. It’s simply that Arthur Manchester (a guesting Terry O’Quinn) is intent on building his new order in the ruins of the old: a new Democracy, a New Form of Government, ready to emerge when the Invaders get bored with occupying the Earth and wander off again. He’s a Utopian, his comfort blanket wrapped around his head and desperate not to threaten the chance he sees to build something worthwhile from the rubble. As the missus pointed out, he is, in fact, the Artilleryman from The War of the Worlds.

Of course he’s wrong to dismiss the intelligence brought to him about Skitter uprisings, de-harnessed kids and the like, but I found his point of view understandable and well put across. It is a pretty crazy story Tom and Weaver come up with, and compared to the clean uniforms and ordered air of Charleston they do look like a raggedy bunch of loonies. There is a missed story, I feel, of the 2nd Mass being unable to settle in the security, portraying them as disruptive and restless troublemakers – there is only a cursory nod in that direction. After wanting Falling Skies to keep its pace up over the last few weeks, though, it is weird to find myself wanting it to slow down a bit.

Instead, it cracks along with Pope being the eternal troublemaker once again. Combine his arrest and news of a Skitter Uprising, things escalate out of control to an ending that is an interesting setup for the finale, not least of which is a somewhat nuanced view the show seems to take to the imposition of Martial Law. It’s a situation presented as just flat-out messed up, with no obvious villain, and I think that is an interesting stance for the show to take, and also is in keeping with its more upbeat view of humanity. We’ll see how it plays out next week, for the season finale.

GS Rating: 4/5
GS Reviewer: Matt

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