FALLING SKIES: Is No One Safe?

banner_recapFALLING SKIES
Season 1, episode 106: “Sanctuary Pt. 2”

So, yes. This is coming out the same day as the next episode. Last week’s schedule got thrown off by our trip to Osfest 4.0, so my apologies for the delay. This episode just went live today over on TNT’s web site.

SO! Onward.

Lots of things happening in this episode, the second of a two-part set. Clayton has convinced the 2nd Massachusetts to let their kids go ahead to a sanctuary established in an area already swept by the Skitters, with the intent of meeting the 3rd Mass and joining up later. But Clayton has secretly made a deal with the Skitters, through the young Megan, who was taken when the 7th Mass got creamed a while back, leaving Clayton and a handful of others as survivors.

This episode raises an interesting question: is there ever a point where you just give up and do what you can to survive? Or is it worth it to keep fighting the good fight until you win or lose?

Clayton’s deal with the Skitters is all about his survival, and his sense of responsibility to his group of people in what’s left of the 7th Mass. But what about his responsibility to humanity? What could have happened if he’d taken what he knew about the Skitters need for kids and used it against them? Responsibility for others seems to be the running theme in this episode, along with a comparison between the two rescued kids, Ben and Rick.

Ben seems to have come out of the harness with his sense of self intact. Indeed, this episode tries to set up the question of whether he’ll come through with a rescue party (io9 was surprised when he did), but there’s really been no justification for the question. He’s adjusted back into the 2nd Mass without any trouble, while Rick has pulled further and further into himself. Rick’s even talking about humanity as if he’s not a part of it anymore. This is perhaps the most annoying element in the show so far. I really want some more detail as to why the two boys are reacting so differently. They spent about the same amount of time in a harness, they were both detailed to the same work assignment, and they were both rescued by family. For Rick to be acting so differently, hints at other factors at play, and it’s played out long enough that we need to start seeing some answers. And as we wrap up the episode, it looks like we might get some in the next episode.

It’s good to see Pope again. And while he may still be the resident “guy everyone hates”, I see him as a perfect foil for Tom. The two are going to have a moment, I’m sure, where they stand shoulder to shoulder against a swarm of Skitters. The show has yet to explore the potential friendship between these two, strained as it may be.

Hal is definitely coming into his own as a man, and as a leader. He takes responsibility for the kids, leaving Mike behind to cover their escape, and gets them almost home. His decision to let Ben go ahead to get help shows that he’s learning when to think like a leader instead of a brother. And Mike’s decision to stay behind to protect the kids, even the son who’s now so disconnected from him, goes along with this theme of responsibility that plays through the episode.

(I wonder if we’re going to get any resolution on Karen’s capture? It seems to have disappeared…)

Weaver had some nice moments this week. The biggest surprise was his helping with Sarah’s delivery. Bit by bit, we get reminded that there’s a human inside the soldier, and Will Patton does a good job of keeping that “soldier” face intact, even as he helps Dr. Glass. His pep talk to Sarah is clearly his attempt to connect with her by addressing her as a soldier, putting the entirety of “motherhood” in the same category as any other massively difficult job he can think of. It’s his way of reaching out to a civilian, and it’s pure Weaver. Patton sells it with just enough emotion under the skin.

And then we get to see him as full-on Captain Weaver, who takes no guff from anyone and can’t stand the idea that he’s been played for a sucker by Clayton. These moments, along with Lourdes’ ability to play the piano, and Maggie’s attachment to the pregnant Sarah, keep adding depth to the characters and give us more to like about each of them. I’ve said all along, that I think they made a good choice going with “types” in the first episode, so audiences could immediately identify who’s who. And each episode gives us more layers to all of the characters, bit by bit, in a way that’s organic to the show and doesn’t feel slapped on as an afterthought.

Mike’s funeral was suitably understated, and gives us another “Professor Tom” moment, only not as over the top as before. It leads to a couple of nice moments for Mason, and I was impressed that Dai and another fighter folded up a US flag and presented it to Rick, just as if they were at a proper military funeral. It’s the first glimpse of emotion from Rick, only it’s not the emotion anyone’s expecting. This is where we get the notion that Rick is no longer one of us, and that sets up the next episode quite nicely.

And with Mike’s death, the stakes are now a little higher for all of the main characters. Granted, Tom Mason probably won’t get killed before the 10th episode, but who else now has a target on his head?

[Official Show Site at TNT]

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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