Falling Skies: “Grace”

Posted on July 05, 2011

We can’t.

No, seriously. We can’t. In fact, we both turned to each other at various points while watching this episode and said with exasperation, “I can’t.” This is almost certainly traceable to our reaction to the finale of The Killing, but it also has to do with the time we spent on V, The Event, and last summer’s Persons Unknown. We can’t waste our time on a show that really doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing. We’ll probably tune in next week (maybe), but unless next episode turns out to be an amazing turnaround, we’re not likely to blog about this show anymore.

So let’s run down the reasons why T & Lo are pissed, shall we? We can boil it down to one major problem: these characters are idiots. Serious morons. At least last week they had enough residual brainpower to put the alien in a cage in the basement somewhere. This week, they move it into the same room where one of their former mind-controlled child soldiers is recuperating from the very experimental surgery, the results of which are still unknown. Sure. That makes perfect sense. It’s not like the resistance has any reason to fear this monotone, mind-controlled drone who doesn’t recognize his father. It’s not like the alien might have some abilities the resistance don’t know about, since this is supposed to be the first alien captured. Stick ’em in a room together! Then leave! Let the bereaved father, whose poor judgment fucked up last week’s mission and got two people captured, alone in the room with both of them. And a gun!

Also, let’s release the murderous Pope from captivity and let him go on a mission. Why? Because only he knows the super-secret location of a motorcycle dealership. Apparently, rather than being on an interstate, it’s somewhere down in the Mines of Moria or something. Also, let this murderous prisoner roam free. Turn your back on him, if you want. What could possibly go wrong?

Back at the alien daycare center, Doctor Anne argues with Doctor Harris because she thinks he’s unutterably cruel for wanting to cut open this precious creature. It’s much more important to her to lean the alien’s language by pointing to pictures like a deranged kindergarten teacher. Harris may be a ridiculously insufferable asshole whose only personality trait seems to be “I’m an asshole,” but we would have cheered if he yanked those stupid pictures out of Anne’s hands and threw her out of the … whatever room that’s supposed to be where you keep political prisoners and post-surgery patients. Seriously, now; civilization is literally in ruins and virtually all children on earth have been turned into mindless slaves. This is not the time to bust out the feel-good “If we could just understand what this creature wants…” kind of moralizing. It’s fucking ridiculous.

And speaking of moralizing, you’re soaking in it. Since Harris and Tom are being set up as opposites, it makes a twisted sort of sense that Tom’s personality is equally as one-note as Harris’s. “I’m an asshole,” meet “I’m as naive as a person gets while still managing not to fall into open manholes or walk into propeller blades.” And right next to Tom is the named-with-a-hammer Lourdes, the Worst Christian in the World. Or maybe the Only Christian in the World since every time she says something overtly Christian (which means praying, which she does constantly and loudly), everyone must stop and stare at her incredulously. We get it; people have no faith in this hopeless world. But come on. In times of great disaster and hardship, people always turn to religion. If you want to inject it into this story (and we’re not opposed to the idea at all), then it’s wholly unbelievable that only one girl seems to still have the Jesus bug. That’s not the way it works. How do we know that? Oh, just all of human history.

And look, if things have gotten to a point where people have no hope and have lost their faith, then they should have ditched their squeamishness over facing mind-controlled child soldiers a long time ago. It’s all well and good for Tom to hope for a better world, but he’s never going to get it if he keeps acting like such a wuss. He’s a military history professor. The thought of child soldiers shouldn’t turn him into jelly because once again, all of human history tells us that such a thing ain’t exactly new. Are we suggesting they mow down all the drone kids? Well, no. But if ever there was a time for a “holy shit” moment that demonstrates how fucked up things really are, the motorcycle shop scene would have been it. It’s not that we relish the idea of seeing kids killed, but “Don’t shoot the children!” is practically a guarantee that the human race is over. If you can’t bring yourself to fight the enemy’s foot soldiers, you’re never going to win. And if you’re writing a show with this exact setup, then you have to follow through. Otherwise, the characters look like morons.

Feh. We’ve already spent too much time writing about this episode. The setup of the show is not being followed up on and no character in the story so far acts like any recognizable human being. It’s all plot hammering, all the time; and if that’s where you are only 4 hours into the series, there’s no reason for us to be optimistic about the show’s future. We’re pretty much done with this one. We’ll check out Torchwood when it comes back later this week and maybe we’ll pick that one up for our nerdy summer pleasure.

[Picture credit: TNT]

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