Thursday, August 8, 2013

Falling Skies

Falling Skies
Episode 10: Brazil
By: Carlos Uribe

Falling Skies is a show about the human war effort, along with it's allies, against an alien invasion force.

Spoilers Ahoy!

The third season finale of Falling Skies was actually pretty good until the very end. I'm not entirely sold that the cliff-hanger ending was the best one but let's not get ahead of ourselves. It turns out that the last episode's implication that the characters were going to have to dig the weapon out against the clock didn't really come true. We jump in on them using a freight ship to take the volm weapon to Boston. They do send a decoy troops to another location in order to fool the skitters that it's going to be a different target because they take Lourdes with them. Their able to take down the Boston tower, the defense grid goes down, and the volm ship arrives. It's a pretty cool sequence and it's one that could have easily taken the whole finale. The ending would have been cool and there was a lot of promise on where the show could have gone then. The good news is that's only the beginning of the finale as we quickly find out how trustworthy the volm are. It turns out that their not really interested in being our allies but our protectors. They want to take the human resistance group to Brazil, where they will be protected because the skitter presence in that country is presumably weak. I'm not entirely sure why Brazil is considered a good place to set up a safe harbor but our characters aren't going to have any of that. They rightly see that as simply being prison camps. They quickly find that actual resistance is a bit futile because the volm have advanced weaponry. It seems like our characters are going to go to Brazil, right? You would be wrong because Tom is able to prove to the commander that humans are different from every other race they have encountered. For you see, the human spirit separates us. I'm not going to deny that there's certainly going to be traits that make our species unique in an intergalactic society but I believe the idea that only we would be willing to fight back is a bit too unrealistic. The volm are convinced to let the humans go but there isn't going to be an alliance. They will simply be fighting the war separately. This does open up a question of what happens to the planet once the skitters are gone. Will the volm leave? Will they stay? Will they let us have our planet? There's a lot of room for this to go near the end of the series.

It's when the humans leave Boston towards Charlestown that the finale sort-of loses it's way. The series basically states they're going to be on the road again. There's nothing wrong with going back to it's roots but it's also kind of repetitive. I see no reason why they can't just stay at Charlestown. They can rebuild their city and use it as a home base. Anyways, that's when Karen shows up with a white flag. She basically wants to open up some kind of diplomatic relations with the humans. Only Tom still thinks that Anne and Alexis are dead so he shoots her. It's a pretty cool shot but you kind of know what happens next. He is reunited with Anne and his baby girl. Only she's no longer a baby but a six-year old girl. Blah. I understand not wanting a baby on the road because it's easier to have a child actress than a baby on set but it's still pretty ridiculous. Alexis is able to remove all the bugs from Lourdes because of her alien DNA. This is where the finale decides to end. Really? Like, that's what you think is going to keep me wondering until the next summer? It's the lamest cliff-hanger you could throw at me. I could care less about Alexis and her new ability is more like a second-act twist than something you end a season on. It's not like I'm going to be questioning how she was able to do that because she's part alien. If anything, it promises to continue a plot that I really haven't liked at all. It's also an ending that completely deflates the narrative momentum that the whole finale had been building. It's anti-climatic, over-the-top, and frustrating. If Falling Skies had simply ended with Anne reuniting with Tom then it would have been better since it would have at least concluded the storyline where she's missing. It's a disappointing end to a disappointing season.

There is simply no doubt that the third season of Falling Skies had been a disappointment. I'll admit the first two seasons weren't perfect but it was heading in the right direction at the end of the second. It was at least grounded enough that it rarely went over-the-top and it had some pretty good episodes. The direction at the beginning of this season simply went everywhere even as it brushed aside the whole war to the background. This was a huge mistake because that's what the show is. The characters are simply not strong enough to sustain the drama on their own. It did start to improve in the second half as the ridiculous plots were closed out over individual episodes. It started to place a larger emphasis on the actual war effort. What I would like for the fourth season of Falling Skies to do is to get away from the over-the-top science fiction stuff and go back to being a relatively grounded show. It should definably be more about the world than the characters because that's the strength of the show. The volm, the skitter politics, and the human resistance effort are all the strong points of Falling Skies. It needs to concentrate more on that rather than stories about alien babies. This might have been a weak season but it's possible for the fourth season to be a stronger effort. The real question is if Falling Skies is actually interested in making that effort? Or is this direction of the show where lots of stuff happens without rhyme or reason the new norm? I'm going to hope for the former because I'm still rooting for this show to get it's act together.

The third season finale of Falling Skies had a lot of great moments where it could have ended. The volm ship arriving, the resistance getting kicked out to Brazil, them heading out on the road on their own. They were all perfect ending points. It could have been a great ending to simply reunite Anne and Tom after that Karen battle. The problem is that it kept going and chose a cliff-hanger ending that defused the whole finale. In many ways, this is a finale that shows what we could have been exploring (volm politics, the war effort, skitter politics) but reminds us that we're stuck with alien daughter plots instead. There's so much compelling material here but it remains largely in the background. Brazil temporarily brings it to the foreground-making this whole season of Falling Skies even more disappointing.

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