TV REVIEW: Falling Skies Series 1: Ep 8: What Hides Beneath

So last time I was feeling cautiously optimistic that after a pretty big diversion into “collaborators” storylines, Falling Skies was making the right sort of noises about dropping the rubbish and driving towards it’s endgame. Heck, it’s only got 3 episodes to go. So naturally we got a strongly character focused episode.

In the spirit of the show I’m going to start with a little diversion. There is a storytelling technique that this very common these days called “decompression” which is basically stretching stories out by running many small plots at the same time  – usually character focused – rather than having episodic, self contained stories with “arc” and “non-arc” plots. It relies on rewarding the audience with regular, little movements almost constantly throughout any episode as part of a larger story.

I think Falling Skies has heard of this but doesn’t quite know how to do it.

This week we have this sort of decompressed movement on a lot significant fronts and pretty much all the episodes sub-plots are significant – Annes big-if-not-unexpected discovery about the Skitters, Pope’s improvised weapons factory and the Recon Mission that forms the main plot, are all solid, progressive “building” stories pointing at the finale. The unexpected return of a character the show seemed to have forgotten was nice too, as was the Recon Teams big-if-not-unexpected discovery of a third alien type.

I’m more conflicted about Weaver’s largely un-foreshadowed walk “off-message” and Blair Brown’s guest appearance as a batty survivor. They’re both good plots in their own right, with some powerful acting at times and good insights into the characters involved. I particularly liked that the team treat their betrayal with sympathy rather vengeance; the point is made that this situation is almost driving people nuts, and they’re acting beyond rationality, rather than the willful collaboration we saw in “Sanctuary”.

My issue is more that I could have done with these stories earlier in the series, when characters like Weaver were crying out for development and a bit of wider world-building would have been nice. Its just a pair of good stories in the wrong place. There is a lot of good in the show, I feel, and generally I’m frustrated that I can’t like it more than I do.

GS Score: 3.5
GS Reviewer: Matt

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