Previously on Falling Skies, ‘Non Essential Personnel’
Starring: Noah Wyle, Will Patton, Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy, Colin Cunningham, Sarah Carter, Doug Jones, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Mpho Kaolo, Treva Etienne | Director: Jonathan Frakes
This week, Tom is taken care of by the world’s most fortunate family while Hal and Isabella get to know one another while searching for dear old dad. Meanwhile, the 2nd mass set up camp in a distillery and uncover a potential means to learn more about the Espheni’s new battle plan. Also, Maggie and Ben literally and figuratively plug the plug on their fakelationship. Sadly (or happily?) there is no Pope and Anthony in sight.
The most effective moments were some of the earliest in “Respite”, as Tom breaks down while witnessing a family share dinner at the table. It’s been three years Skies time since the invasion and seldom has a homestead let alone an entire family survived so comfortably. Thankfully, Tom’s inner warrior has a seat and he’s able to accept the family’s state of being; they know of the horrors occurring mere acres from their home yet want to protect their children by not exposing them to the occupation.
Of course the eldest son (Brendan Meyer) has a strong suspicion that something isn’t right, considering they’ve told him to stay on the property for three years and the family hadn’t seen another person until Tom. It’s kind of weaksauce, but overall Tom’s interaction with the family provided potent motivation for his desire to finally neutralize the Espheni threat.
Mercifully, the most awkward and muddled story line ended when Maggie (Sarah Carter) demanded her spikes removed. Although the extraction of the spikes maybe have made her a standard grunt once more, the weight of being a super-soldier and dealing with those unwanted feelings towards Ben (Connor Jessup) can know float away like an innoxious vapor. …or so we think. Just when we thought we were finally through with the love triangle, they double down!
It turns out Ben’s desire for Maggie isn’t entirely the fault of the spikes, as he developed feelings for her entirely on his own. After her procedure, he mentioned to Maggie how he felt hurt that she would do this without his knowledge, it’s like killing a piece of him, etc and so on. a) Her body, her rules. b) Cry me a fucking river, dude. Be ready to watch all Ben’s misplaced rage put to bad use because I’m certain he’s going to foul things up for many a folk.
Add to the fact that Hal has returned to camp with a still-new and blossoming partnership with Isabella (Catalina Sandino Moreno) just as Maggie sacrificed her life to not only be free of the spikes but win back Hal’s affection. Oy vey.
It’s understandable that the human aspect of Falling Skies is crucial to the driving force of the 2nd Mass. For good or for bad (and occasionally the eye-rollingly dumb), these spectacles of the human experience are what makes our species unique from the Espheni and Volm. The crux of the problem has been finding that balance between the schmaltz and intergalactic warfare.
The main storyline was touched on briefly with the discovery of an Espheni communications node by Marty (Todd Weeks), Weaver’s rescue project/self-imposed valet. As the series comes hastily to a close in the next four episodes, the tension and expediency to eliminate the alien occupiers feel as though it diminished to a snail’s crawl. Tom, Weaver, Anne and Cochise have mentioned multiple times in passing about striking before the Espheni resume control, however so little has been executed.
As aptly managed and well paced “Respite” was by director Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG, Castle, Agents of SHIELD), Tom hasn’t deserved much of a respite this season given the languishing “B” stories that are his alien visions and John Pope’s vendetta. At its current state, Falling Skies must be intentionally saving its best for last or it’s going to be a difficult journey for those who’ve held on all this time to see the 2nd Mass victorious.