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FALLING SKIES Isn't Great… But Still Works

Episode 19 “The Price of Greatness”

I could very easily delve into the politics of it, but I won’t. Because we like each other. And this isn’t a political site. 🙂

And I’ve switched the episode number to reflect what’s being used on TNT’s site for the show, so don’t think I’ve stopped paying attention to where we are in the season.



We are now in the new Charleston, which turns out to be an underground mall that’s been converted to a community of refugees from all over. And there’s food, hot water, fresh greens and fruit from the hydroponics operation… and the 2nd Massachusetts is given a hero’s welcome.

And Weaver’s girl is there, too. So everyone’s back together (although tough luck for Diego…)

Of course, it’s too clean for the Berserkers, and of course Pope is already chafing. We know where this is going to go, right?

I’m not going to go blow-by-blow, scene-by-scene on this one, because this mainly goes by the numbers. Everything’s fine on the surface. Except it’s not really. As the 2nd Mass tries to integrate into the Charleston group, there are noticeable cracks in the happy walls.

Tom’s former professor, Arthur Manchester, is nominally in charge. And he got that way – being the history professor – by getting the group to work together to stay fed and sheltered. He’s got them all happy and hidden – he thinks. Naturally, he and Tom get crossways when Tom wants to get back out and fight and Manchester just wants to hunker down and stay underground.

See, there’s this confidence vote coming up, and Manchester is only worried about what will keep him in power. Tom and his ilk threaten that balance, so they now constitute a threat to the order of things. General Bressler and Colonel Porter are the military leaders, but Bressler pretty much has bowed to the “civilian authority” – meaning he doesn’t really want to push the status quo, either.

It’s a tired plot, decently executed. And it has some nice moments, such as Murphy/Tector deciding to stand with his comrades rather than the uniform types, and Dr. Glass spouting off to an uptight surgeon who spends too much time looking down his nose.

But it’s predictable. It’s an old trope, well-worn and not in a comfortable way. Especially in an election year. Manchester is basically a dictator wannabe with good intentions. Selfish, near-sighted, and the same kind of politician we see too often in the real world – concerned only with his own immediate political needs. There was an opportunity to do more with his character, but the show missed it. Manchester was almost the kind of character you could trust until he turns on you. But the episode telegraphed from before the first break, that he was going to be a problem for the 2nd Mass.

This also puts Porter in a bad light, as it makes him just another cardboard military type just following orders. Porter was a slightly deeper character than that in the first season. In the very first episode, he puts Tom with the 2nd Mass to keep an eye on Weaver, to question the captain if need be. Porter was calculating. To see him reduced to furniture is a little annoying.

And Bressler. It was fun to see Matt Frewer again — this time without the fake accent — but he’s a cardboard cut-out, too. The beaten-down military type who finally has his fill of the civilian authority and engages in a coup.

All the while ol’ Red Eye is waiting to parley with the Charleston government to see if they can be allies and fight off the evil Overlords.

It doesn’t sit well that only the folks from the 2nd Mass seem capable of seeing the big picture. That’s not how real life works. And it’s certainly not what I see happening in a resistance against an oppressive regime. You can see an example of it in the Tea Party movement — no matter what your political stripe, witness that several groups all sprouted up all over the country, all of them agreeing on fundamental points of view. It wasn’t just one group deciding for everyone else, which is what we’re seeing here as the 2nd Mass ends up right in the middle of the coup.

Hopefully, this is a setup for something really spectacular, but my disappointment is getting in the way.


[Official Show Site at TNT]     [Previous recap: “Death March”]   [“Falling Skies” on Twitter]

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.

One thought on “FALLING SKIES Isn't Great… But Still Works

  • I actually love the show, in my opinion on of the best sci fi shows in a long-long time. I was bummed when V was cancelled and kept hoping a cable network would pick it up and continue the show. Then Falling Skies came along and I have barely thought about my missing of V.

    I admit, at times the show is slow, but I think it stems from this being sci fi and everything sci fi needs so much explaining because every term and species is foreign (hence sci fi) and for any good concept to develop you need a background, unlike the familiar environments of a police drama or family comedy.

    My only gripe with FS would be they had a great conspiracy storyline that I think they let the cat out of the bag too soon. That being the skitters are also harnessed beings. I am sure story will also develop with the story of the rebellious skitters.


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