FALLING SKIES – Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

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Episode 407: “Saturday Night Massacre”

[photos by James Dittinger/TNT]

With an episode title like that, I’m sure everyone’s going to make it out of this episode just fine…

So we pick up immediately after the end of the previous episode. Lexi , with her new larger irises, claws her way out of her alien cocoon and collapses in a naked heap in front of the fam (I mean, who hasn’t done that before in their early twenties?).  After recovering, she announces that she can’t stay because the fear and hatred of the human survivors is driving her away.  She finds their reliance on violence repellent.

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On her way out of the enclave, Lourdes, Lexi’s A-Number-1-Fan, offers to go with her.  Lexi offers to set her “free” and kills her with a touch, while the rest of the gathered humans are frozen in place by Lexi’s powers.

Body count = 1

Even though she immediately murdered someone after leaving the cocoon, Anne argues that she and Tom have a chance to save Lexi because they truly love her (insert sappy song about love building bridges/conquering all/mountains high enough here).  With Lexi gone, Cochise of the Volm returns with news that his team encountered a large force of skitters and mechs led by the Espheni Torch moving towards the enclave.

Realizing that Torch’s interest and participation are personal after Tom maimed him during their escape from the ghetto, they work to make the enclave a defensible position.  The Volm destroy a bridge while the humans prepare barricades and kill zones to funnel the invaders into.  Ben opts to track down Lexi on his own.  Pope and Sara (who was absent last episode) have an awkward sexually tense moment, and it’s obvious that both like each other more than they are willing to articulate.  She talks about taking some fuel and hitting the road, heading to Florida, just the two of them.  Pope demurs, in addition to admitting a grudging respect for Tom Mason and his family.

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Digaan and Deni occupy a forward position and encounter a group of humans from the enclave that line up in front of the invaders, expecting them to recognize their passiveness.  They all get executed where they kneel.

Body count = now at least 7

The initial stage of the human attack seems to bear some fruit, as thermite dropped on the mechs and skitters from above has some effect.  Unfortunately things go pear-shaped very quickly as a gas main ruptures and explodes up through their main kill zone.  And while it does kill some skitters, it also kills quite a large chunk of humans in the process as well, including all the 2nd Mass members at the main barricade.

Body count = at least 20 folks have joined the choir invisible

After the explosion, Pope and Sara share a quiet moment as their collective bravado and glibness are stripped away by the shock of the explosion.  The remaining 2nd Mass members look for survivors before moving back to the bomb shelter, hoping to wait out the rest of the attack by tricking the Espheni into thinking they’re all dead from the explosion. Unfortunately, Dr. Kadar caught a large shard of glass shrapnel in the side during the explosion and bleeds out.  Also, no one can seem to find Maggie.

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Body count = up to 21 who have shuffled off this mortal coil.

Meanwhile, Ben finds Lexi and asks for her help.  Ben tries to reason with her.  She insists she must leave.  An Espheni craft lands nearby.  She mentions that Ben following her must be fate so she activates his spikes, and he follows her to the ship.

Body count = skyrockets up to 60-70 injured or dead at this point (Tom briefly mentions how many people they started with and how many are now left)

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While the rest of the survivors go to the bunker, Tom opts to confront Torch and kill him. Tector volunteers to join him because of his Marine Corps sniper training. Tector tricks Tom into leaving their sniper perch as he thinks Tom is too emotional to make the shot. Tector misses his shot at Torch and draws enemy fire that collapses the building he and Tom are in (in Tector’s defense, one of their Volm allies shoots down an Espheni fighter that, while it was tasked with attacking that position, only lost control after the Volm shot it). Trapped by rubble, Tector blows himself up as the skitters approach his body.  Torch sees Tector’s burned, unrecognizable body, but we don’t know if he mistakes it for Tom or not, though he does turn around and leave, their ruse of being dead apparently working (it helps when you’re surrounded by that many legitimately dead people to begin with).

Body count – 71, give or take

Before the credits roll, we get a glimpse of Maggie partially buried in rubble, and Tom also finds himself completely buried in rubble with (inexplicably) a pipe wrench (it’s not that I don’t see the utility of having such a device to dig yourself out with, it’s the amount of screen time given to a focus shot of said tool, before Tom even has a chance to look around for something to dig himself out with).

Sooooo…no mystery in the title of this one, as we are get the grimmest episode yet out of all 4 seasons.  We went from 100 plus survivors at the opening bell to less than 30 by the end of the episode.  The named 2nd– and 3rd-tier characters we have lost this season (mostly in this episode) include: Lyle and Tector (so no more Wild Bunch references there), Lourdes, Dr. Kadar, and Jeanne Weaver.  Most of our marquee players are still intact, though, though they are a leaner, meaner bunch coming out of this episode.

The battle scenes are well-staged, though the big explosion takes some air out of the proceedings (not that it wasn’t believable or possible, it’s just that when the producers of the show get you keyed up for a gunfight, you kinda want to see the gunfight).

Strongest acting again this week is from Sara and Pope.  Her breakdown after the explosion, where she tells Pope that he was wrong when he told her the battle would be “fun” is arguably one of the most emotional scenes, however brief, the series has ever delivered and is a neat, concise commentary about war junkies and the insanity of war and violence.

My only “oh, c’mon” moment from the show is Torch’s less-than-cursory examination of Tector’s burned body.  Wouldn’t you think, after all the grief Tom has caused, you’d want to be sure it was him?  But no, all it takes is one burned male corpse and one pair of goggles nearby and that’s proof positive for Torch.

Woodchuck sez, “Check it out.”

[Official Show Site at TNT]  [“Falling Skies” on Twitter]  [Previous Recap – “Door Numbe Three”]

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