Wednesday, 13 July 2011

FALLING SKIES, 1.5 - "Silent Kill"

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The midpoint of this ten-part season (which has already been renewed by TNT) was a good one, but a few concerns about this show are creeping in. Primarily, I'm bored of the high school the survivors use as their HQ, mainly because I was under the impression this show would be about a group on the move. We've spent half the season in dark corridors and classrooms, and it's beginning to bug me. I know the show needs a base of operations, and a school makes for an interesting one, but it's starting to feel strange the aliens can't find where they're hiding. I much preferred the nomadic feel to Skies in those first few episodes, with a crowd of people on the move, so hope we get back to that soon. It doesn't help that a TNT budget isn't likely to stretch to the kind of city-wide destruction the concept calls for.

It also irritates me that they killed Dr Harris (Steven Weber) so brusquely. The character hadn't been around long enough for us to be upset about his demise, sure, but he'd been around long enough for us to feel he's been a waste of time now. Mere episodes after his debut, he's been murdered by the skitter they captured because he got too close to its cage? It was probably intended to be a shock to the audience (a sign that nobody's safe), but it didn't work. It just feels like they've disposed of one of the few adult characters you can easily identify, outside of Tom (Noah Wyle), Anne (Moon Bloodgood) and Weaver (Will Patton).

The episode's story was very simple: extract the harnessed children from a compound the skitters are living in, with Tom's son Ben being a key reason the mission's going ahead. The rescue plan, developed by Ben's older brother Hal (Drew Roy), involved the classic ploy of disguising yourself as something the enemy won't be suspicious of (in this case a harnessed boy), with Hal entering the lion's den to rescue as many kids as he can. It seems everyone's forgotten about the alien's threat they'll kill an equal number of innocent children for every one liberated, strangely! I hope they can live with the knowledge rescuing this small group has condemned other kids to death—but maybe that threat was just bravado and the skitters value the kids too much to kill them?

And just what is it with these kids, anyway? When Hal entered the compound, the skitter inside was exhibiting affection for the children it has in its control. Are the aliens incapable of having children of their own, making these human children surrogates? Or do they just treat their slaves with more compassion than we'd expect to in human instances of the relationship?

There was another welcome clue about Weaver's back-story again (a particular song reminds him of something he'd rather forget), and an additional piece of information about Anne (she has a son who is missing presumed dead), but this was mainly an episode focused on the daring rescue mission. It even ended on a happy note, with Ben awakening from his harness-removal surgery and recognizing his father. Is Tom's family united once again, or is there a sting in the tail for next week?

A shorter review this week, as I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure Falling Skies is complex or profound enough to warrant weekly reviews. I've pretty much said all I want to say about the show, as it stands right now, but hopefully things will develop and improve to inspire more thoughts.

written by Joe Weisberg / directed by Fred Toye / 10 July 2011 / TNT