Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Falling Skies

Falling Skies
Episode 7: Molon Labe
By: Carlos Uribe

Falling Skies is a show about the human resistance against an alien invasion force-months after they wiped out most of humanity.

Spoilers Ahoy!

This is a surprise. This is the second episode in a row that was actually pretty good. There was a small weakness in the episode and that's it lasted a bit longer than it should have: I kept expecting the end to come at the end of a scene, only to find out there's even more scenes. This is a small problem that doesn't detract from everything that came before it, or for the actual scenes themselves. The ending simply could have been paced a bit better. The rest of the episode had great narrative momentum and there was some actual tension in many of the scenes. It even killed off a character, although it was a character that hadn't been developed much. This is the best episode that Falling Skies has had and it's nice to see the series actually have a streak of good episodes. I wonder if the streak will be able to hold, but this might be a sign that the series is actually finding it's footing and improving itself. This is good news.

This episode introduces new enemies. Every video game that involves some sort of alien usually has some small bug-like creates that swarms the player. These are weak enemies that can easily be defeated. They gain strength in the sheer numbers. These enemies can be deadly to any player who doesn't deal with them. It turns out that these enemies exist in the Falling Skies universe. There are some small bug-like creatures that start to swarm the hospital. They are in the vents and are able to eat through medal. The way they were introduced was very effectively. It begins with some of the characters finding out that Jamil had been attacked. He's bleeding and slowly dying. The characters aren't aware of what happened to him, he merely has a warning to not open a door. The series is therefore able to establish not only that these new enemies are dangerous but it is able to build them up in an effective manner. When the bugs swarm out of Jamil and forces the characters to abandon him to his death, it's one of the most creepy scenes this show has done.

There might have been new enemies, but we also learned a bit more about the old ones. The characters had managed to find Ben and Karen, just as Ben was to be captured by the Overlords and the Skitters. The Second Mass manages to save Ben and capture one of the Overlords. They quickly figure out that this Overlord is important. While the aliens lose no time in surrounding the hospital, the characters are able to eventually communicate with the Overlord. It's through this discussion that Tom is able to discern that the skitter rebellion has the Overlords worried. Tom shoots the overlord, but doesn't kill him. This allows the second mass to be able to escape in a deal they make with Karen. It's a pretty effective story but it's all grounded in that the entire fragile situation happened because of Ben and Karen. It's partly Ben's fault that the hospital was surrounded and that the events of the episode largely occurred.

It's not Ben's fault because he left with Karen but because he hadn't left earlier. His contact with the skitter rebel leader has made him a number one target for the Overlords. His mere presence in the second mass is endangering the lives of everyone in it. He sees that the only way to protect the Second Mass is to leave and fight with the skitters. When Ben leaves at the end of the episode, his father can't do anything but allow him to leave. I'm hoping that the series doesn't ditch Ben until a future episode, because it would be interesting to see how the skitter rebellion is doing. It would also allow us to learn more about the skitters and even the Overlords. This is a great opportunity for a story and I'm hoping the series takes it.

Falling Skies had it's best episode yet. It managed to do this by having a new credible threat and a constant sense of danger from the Overlords. It grounded this sense of danger with the characters. This is the best episode of Falling Skies because it built tension, kept things entertaining, and it had great narrative momentum. The ending might have dragged on a bit, but it doesn't really weaken the rest of the episode. Good job Falling Skies: you've shown what you're truly capable of. If it can replicate this in a more consistent manner, then that would be to the great benefit of the series.

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