TV REVIEW: Falling Skies: Series 1 Ep 4 – Grace

So, four episodes into a 10 series run, and I think it’s fair to maybe start drawing some broader conclusions about Falling Skies. Episode 4 falls into a very similar format to episode 3, making me think that perhaps this is going to be their model, anda couple of unexpected moments (and one fairly expected one) started to confirm my overall feeling towards to the show. So, lets take a look.

First up, the episode itself. A lot like last week this front-loaded the weaker parts of the show and noticably accelerated in both pace and tone over the course of the hour. Which is a good thing, in many ways, even if i was rolling my eyes a bit by the first advert break. It is clearly aiming to go for slow burn characterisation, over the more usual format of character-centric episodes, but outside of Tom, and probably Weaver, it’s not really working for me. Still a little too much telling, and not enough showing on the character front.

The exception this week was Pope, of all people, going seriously off-message out on a mission pretty much just so he can kill skitters. Its a change from his “pragmatic survivor” schick and that reckless disregard for anything other than a chance to kill a few more aliens makes a lot more interesting than his “edgy” beard and tendancy to backchat, and implies there is a little bit more to his backstory that at first it seems. We also got some nicely underwritten scenes with Weaver, one of the few characters that is standing out for me.

Also good this week – the attack by the kids on the garage and Tom’s forces sudden paralysis in dealing with the prospect. Coupled with the pretty grim fate of the rescused and de-harnessed kid from last week it demonstrates the flashes of darkness that, lets face it, entirely appropriate given the setup, and I like the “mistakes” the amateur militia keep making; they’re not a profesional force and they don’t act like one.  Yes, occasionally you think “argh!! don’t do that” but it’s not a military show not pretending to be one.

I probably could have done with out the symbolism-heavy bread-breaking at the end though. And Tom’s youngest son remains a bit of a poster-child for the show grinding to a halt. And a decent female character would help, although Moon Bloodgood is struggling gamely with a bit of an underwritten role. And why is everyone’s hair still so nice?

Alright, niggles aside, where do we stand with the series so far? Well Episode 4 confirms (pretty much in a single line of dialogue) my early theory that the Skitters may themselves be a client race, and it would be interesting to see if they have some sort of Harness themselves. And it was also nice (and grim) to see that de-Harnessing isn’t as simple as just cutting the damn things off. The long-term plot of Falling Skies seems to be shaping up pretty well, all told, and when the show focuses on that it comes to life – not just, I think, because I’m more interested in it, but because the characters can be depthless.

Overall I’m enjoying the show; its not blowing my socks off, and I can’t see it being the sort of show that commands crazed fan loyalty. It is the sort of show however that is trying (and partly succeeding) in charting a light, middle-ground sort of Sci-Fi Apocalypse that I can maintaining a decent audience in part because of the familiar characters and heart-warming moments…

GS Rating: 3.5/5
GS Reviewer: Matt

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