Falling Skies: Homecoming

Posted on July 16, 2012

We’re past the halfway point of the season and it’s time to assess; especially since this episode provided a perfect example of what’s working and what’s not.

Anne and Tom? Totally working. In fact, it’s such a refreshingly low-key and grown-up relationship that it might be the very best part of the show; one of the parts we can’t get enough of. Not that we want to see this become a romance-heavy adventure show a la Lost. Then again, the characters as they’re currently written would make impossible candidates for a Jack and Kate-style romance. They are, as we said, grownups, with all that that entails, including a long history prior to hooking up with each other and a world-weariness that makes sense, given everything they’ve gone through. This is life during wartime and if that means sometimes a dead-spouse’s name pops up in the middle of an argument, so be it. There’s too much at stake and they’re too exhausted to make an issue of such a human thing. When they’re romantic and flirtatious with each other, it’s in a knowing, amused way, and when they’re angry with each other, they tend to let it roll off their back and move on. It may be one of the healthiest relationships on TV right now. That kind of partnership can be sexy as hell.

Ben and his glowing spikes? Mostly working. With this episode we’ve headed into the area that we spent all season praising the writers for avoiding: Stupid Teenage Boy Tricks. It doesn’t bother us so much because at least Ben’s actions have gotten a lot of setup. To be perfectly honest, we have no idea who to believe or root for right now. We’d say that’s a good thing. Mostly. But it sort of leads into our first big complaint.

Plotting and pacing? Not quite working. It took us a minute or two to realize that some time had passed since they set up camp in the hospital and we spent at least the first half hour wondering what happened with the whole skitter rebellion sub-plot. In addition, Weaver “suddenly” falls ill. Yes, we knew about his bite, and yes, a couple of weeks have passed in between episodes, but it still felt like it came out of nowhere. It doesn’t feel like there’s too much going on. It just feels like they’re doling out story time to each subplot in a somewhat arbitrary and occasionally confusing manner.

And yes, it must be said: They’ve fallen into the trap of characters doing stupid things or withholding important information for no reason. Weaver’s pretty no-nonsense and does everything for the good of the Second Mass, so why would he keep his accelerating sickness a secret from anyone? He had to know that Tom’s one fault as a commander is his sentimentalism, which means he’d put the whole group at risk just to save him. It would have made more sense if he’d left some sort of instructions or planned for this in some way, but withholding that info and avoiding a plan of action for dealing with it strikes us as very un-Weaver-like. We do like the issue of fuel and how using it to save Weaver means they don’t have enough to make the trip to Charleston. That’s likely to become more and more of an issue as they juggle the struggle of simply living with the struggle to get the hell out of there.

As for Ben, this is where the story needed to go. It’s not quite how we wanted to see it play out, though. That he’s acting stupid is a bit of a disappointment (because really, you’d have to be blind and deaf not to see what a manipulator Karen is), but we suppose it can all be written off as spike-related. That doesn’t quite explain why Hal’s being such a dick, but we can even go so far as to write that off to stress, exhaustion, and a whole bunch of shit that no sane person could handle well. After all, the show does an unusually good job of depicting the exhaustion and despair that comes with this life. It all just felt a little … rushed somehow. But this is quibbling, we suppose. We’re still totally invested in the story and genuinely like most of the characters. Except Pope, who just had to show his face again. Ugh.

But like we said, we really don’t know what to believe any more. Prior to this episode we were feeling more than a bit manipulated, what with the whole “Churchill dropping out of the sky” and “perfectly stocked and immaculately clean hospital springing up out of nowhere” things. From the minute the aliens let Tom leave their ship, it’s felt to us like everything since then has been part of a larger plan that our characters can’t see. Are the skitters rebelling against their overlords? Is Charleston really the nirvana it sounds like? Is Ben to be trusted? Is Karen? (Hint: Not really.) It’s good that we’re so confused, but we think we’re ready for an episode where things are laid out a little more clearly.

 

 

[Photo Credit: James Dittiger/TNT]

    • http://twitter.com/MandySCG MandyJane

      I am totally bummed about Pope coming back so soon. 

    • Wakey1

      I was happy to see Pope, on the other hand. I still think he’s a pretty compelling character, if the writers give him something to do. Everyone else is trying to preserve human civilization; but civilization never did Pope any favors, and he’s actually enjoying life more in the current situation. He represents the totally animal, kill-or-be-killed approach to the situation that they’ve all had to develop–the difference is that he’s embraced it. It’s good to have that element in the show, but they don’t always use him well.

      • MilaXX

         That’s the thing. The writers needs to integrate or definite him a little better. I thought is was a bit clumsy to have him back to lay down a VERY IMPORTANT PLOT POINT ABOUT KAREN. We as viewers were already suspect of her, so having the character speak it was a bit anvil-ious.

      • http://twitter.com/MandySCG MandyJane

         The problem I had with Pope, was that the writers gave him too much to do in the beginning, in order to justify his continued existence in the 2nd Mass.  Civilization did him plenty of favors, else he wouldn’t be the wise cracking, bullet making, mechanic-ing, crack shot, chef. 

    • http://twitter.com/ursny UrsNY

      Oh, I think Ben knows what he’s doing. He rushed her outta there as soon a she said she could hear everything. He might be genuinely affected by someone to relate to, but I also believe he’s very invested in the 2nd Mass and the Skitter Rebellion. Too much to succumb to her. He did the only thing he could do with super-hearing super-strong traitor girl: get her away ASAP with no discussion. I think Ben’s real tragic conflict will come when the two rebellions conflict.

      • http://twitter.com/ms_smartiepants Beth Mellone

         That was EXACTLY my take on Ben’s actions.

    • MilaXX

      I completely agree with you quibbles, but since the show has more things working right than wrong I’m still interested. I have to say having Karen be the ex-girlfriend  makes thing a hell of a lot more interesting to me. Especially since she now has some sort of spike related connection with Ben. Since there appears to be several levels of aliens I foresee a alien/human alliance to fight the biggest of the evil aliens.

    • Pennymac

      I’m still interested too. And slightly confused. And desperately over the “characters with holding important information” from each other thing. That’s my biggest beef with most dramas. The hidden crap is used as a plot device WWAAAYY  to much. If all of your problems can be solved by your characters telling the truth, your writing sucks. I hope they don’t rely on this too much in this show!

    • TropiCarla

      You gentlemen make this show SO much more enjoyable. I still haven’t watched Season 1 so I didn’t know who the heck Karen was, but this episode still packed a nice punch for me.
      Miss Margaret made the classic mistake of underestimating the treacherous ex and got her ass kicked. I sorta loved that and hope she learned an important life lesson. Also, hopefully Ben has a master plan for getting ol’ girl outta there. I will be sad if he winds up like idiot son from V.

    • Jenny Martin

      Like other commenters, I thought Ben was onto Karen’s manipulations and wanted to separate her from the 2nd Mass so he could get rid of her (i.e. cold bloodedly shooting at her once they were far enough away from camp?), but by the absolute end of the episode (and the preview for next week) I wasn’t so sure anymore. It did seem like the spikes were manipulating his emotions on top of what Karen was already trying. I mean, their blue spikes basically shoved their heads together and said “Now kiss!”  I am still liking the show though, and I think having Ben peel off on this side mission might add a new dynamic. Though, then again, it could just be another rehash of Tom saying “I have to find Ben and save him!”

      Anyways, love this show. I just wish more of the TLo commentariat watched this show so more people would comment. ^_^

    • http://twitter.com/RaizaValery Raiza Valery

      in addition to what has been said above.. i do think that the aliens set them up with and immaculately clean hospital and all. it’s all a little too convenient. as well as the sudden fuel supply, which was found (the guy, no name was way too happy and it was ignored by Tom), which will probably will bite him in the ass, sort of speak. they want to keep them there for some reason. hope we’ll find out soon enough..