[photos: James Dittiger]
Do Skitters have a Mecca?
Seems like it. This episode begins with Skitters all over the city screaming t the sunrise like Klingons at a funeral. And then Ben does it, too?
Wait. What’s Ben doing in the city? By himself. I thought the 2nd Mass left the city, and were headed away from the city. Isn’t it now more of a trip to get there? Across the river, where the only remaining bridge was blown up?
I’m not going to think too hard on this. Otherwise, it my spoil my enjoyment of where the show’s been taking me so far.
Maggie’s got a quiet place, overlooking the ruins of the city. And Hal, of course, knows all about it, because he
stalks likes her. After a bit of flirty-flirty, and Hal telling Maggie they have a scouting mission to find pharmaceuticals, things start to go BOOM in the heart of the cold, cold city. ‘Splosions, and they’re not caused by the 2nd Mass.
In the mad scramble, Weaver and Tom take the Berserkers to investigate, allowing for the possibility it could be another resistance group. They head out, leaving Matt in charge of guarding the medical bus. Tom, it seems, has resigned himself to Matt’s involvement. Might as well manage it gradually, right?
In town, it’s Kentucky Fried Skitter all over. Aliens and mechs burned to a crisp. Nothing the resistance has in the way of weaponry could do this kind of damage, which raises the question of whether the Skitters were fighting amongst themselves.
So, in roughly four to five scenes, we get the setup for the episode: Ben acting odd, Hal and Maggie looking for medicines, Weaver and Tom trying to figure out the Skitter BBQ and what it means for the 2nd Mass. Throw in finding Rick for good measure, and you have a lot of pieces to a puzzle.
At least we start to get some answers to questions that have been around since the season opener. Why did Stinkeye leave Tom alive when the mech killed everyone else that was imprisoned on the ship? What’s the Skitter plan for humanity? Why does Stinkeye have such an interest in Ben, and what happens when the spikes glow with the Force?
Turns out, Stinkeye’s the leader of the Skitter 5th column, and he left Tom alive because of Ben. Ben and Rick can understand what’s going on, and Ben tries to get Tom to believe that there actually is a resistance inside the Skitter army, and they’ve been trying for a hundred years to throw off the oppression of the Overlords. Tom has trouble with it, but not as much as Weaver does. Of course, this could mean Tom’s sympathetic because of whatever they did to him, but his conversation with Stinkeye – through Rick – makes it clear that Tom isn’t buying any of it.
Although it’s consistent with what we know of the Skitters so far – like the fact that they, too, are harnessed. Which likely means they’re under some degree of control just as the harnessed humans are. And it makes sense, too, that some Skitters would be more resistant/immune to the harnesses. Like Ben?
When I wrote my preview of Falling Skies, I said this was the natural heir to the original V. Where the reboot failed, this one picked up the ball and ran with it, showing a decent projection of what would have happened if the Visitors had gotten more of a foothold on Earth. Julie Parrish and Mike Donovan would have fit right in with the 2nd Mass. And it’s only logical that the show would introduce a resistance movement. Because it’s the natural order of things. Anytime you have an oppressive regime, you get a group of people who organize and fight back any way they can. It’s a lesson of history.
So, Stinkeye is Martin. Or Caprica Six. Or Oskar Schindler.
Hal and Maggie, along with their team, finally find the mother lode of pharma, locating a hospital with a fully stocked pharmacy and clean sheets on the bed. And our young couple has another moment, this time with kissy-face. Except it freaks Maggie out, and she’s only able to commit to being Hal’s combat partner, not girlfriend. It’s awkward for them both. Is this because of the cancer? Does she just not want to get close to anyone knowing she might lose them later?
On the way out, they get ambushed by the death squad that’s hunting Stinkeye the Traitor. Maggie’s hurt, Hal goes back to get her, and she gets up in his face for being an idiot.
Yeah, they like each other.
Hal and Maggie get four moments in this story, and they each take on a different tone. At first, they get flirty and playful and all is A-OK. Then there’s the close quarters in the back of a car while Mechs search the city. It’s a little more flirty until Maggie mentions Karen, and then it gets awkward. That moment informs the others – an abortive kiss between them later, abruptly ended when Maggie jumps away, and then in the hospital after Hal has rescued her during a mech attack.
The relationship building between these two feels normal, and it’s that bit of “normal” that keeps this story grounded this season. That, and the budding romances between Tom & Anne and Lourdes & Jamil. It’s one of those bits where you have to be reminded of what’s important to humanity’s survival in the midst of all the action set pieces that keep the audience watching from week to week. The ‘splosions are fun, yes, but they’re the icing. You have to have character moments or the show’s going to die a quick flaming death.
Speaking of quick flaming death, the 2nd Mass manages to escape theirs and gets to bunk down in a clean place for the first time in how long? – and they even get the emergency generators up, meaning they have electricity, too.
But is it such a smart thing to be turning on the lights?
Don’t ask Tom and Anne, because they find a room.
The essential take-away from this episode is the question of whether the resistance is real. More than likely, it is. But also likely is the possibility that Stinkeye knows more than he’s letting on. Tom and Weaver are smart to be cautious. But if Stinkeye is telling the truth, what does that mean for humanity? Why wouldn’t the resistance have come forward and made contact before now?
And will Hal and Maggie get a chance to get over themselves and admit how they feel toward each other? Given all that Maggie’s been through, it’s doubtful, but she’s going to open up gradually, sure as the day is long.
But then there’s Ben, who’s not so gentle, who goes off into that good night alone. What’s he up to? And does this start an arc that will make the second season of Falling Skies more “The Ben Show”? So far, there’s been a decent balance. Let’s see if it stays that way.