Saturday, June 9, 2012

Falling Skies, Season 1, Episode 4: Grace

They have their imprisoned Skitter that’s now active and awake – and it remembers Tom. We have some essential Bad Assery as Tom stares it down. Meanwhile Captain Weaver (who hasn’t been eaten) has been talking to Pope who knows about a motorcycle shop that may not have been picked clean of supplies yet – and he wants Tom to go check it out. Tom isn’t pleased – he wants to rescue Ben not bike parts. But as Captain Weaver points out, rescuing children who are Harnessed takes a lot of heavy drugs which, in turn, requires bikes to scout and find them. Damn it, I hate it when he makes sense. I still want something to eat him. Tom is also convinced to bring Pope since he knows where the shop is and they’re down a rider with Karen missing

Time for some emotional meetings between Tom and Ann, Tom filling her in on why he doesn’t like Harris, making it clear he doesn’t blame Mike for screwing up the mission when he rescued Rick. And it seems Ricky has been cured of his cystic fibrosis by the Harness. And Margaret tells Weaver (who hasn’t been eaten yet) that she was never with the Convict Gang and doesn’t need people watching her. There’s also the question raised by Hal and Pope both about Matt and Tom’s insistence of not teaching him to fight. Tom wants him to have a childhood, but that’s not the world he is living in.

Lourdes and Jimmy have some back story discussion, I think to remind us the characters exist as much as anything. Matt and the teacher, Uncle Scott are playing with radios and hearing static. Ann and Harris are busy trying to communicate with the Skitter. Ann by trying to offer it water, Harris by showing it dead Skitters. They argue over the best way to communicate with the Skitter – Ann for compassion, Harris for cutting it up. Even if you ignore the compassion standpoint, how does Harris intend to communicate with something by making it scream?

Ricky wakes up from his Harness/drug coma – but doesn’t recognise Mike, his father. From that Mike goes to talk to the Skitter, giving it a chance to communicate before they kill it. It doesn’t point to the pictures after hearing Mike’s English instructions, so they point a gun at it. Every time Mike threatens the Skitter, the radio Uncle Scott is using with Ann and Matt makes more static. Ann puts 2 and 2 together and suggests autopsying the dead Skitter they have to see what they can find – with Harris dripping arrogant contempt all over Ann. (what, they didn’t autopsy this thing the minute it came into their hands? Really? For all they know it could reveal some terrible sci-fi weakness like an allergy to silver or water or something. Hey, Signs got away with it)

Ricky wakes up again and sees his detached Harness – and puts it back on, healing the connecting needles. Mike, Ann, Scott and Harris run in and find they can talk to the Stirrer through Ricky – but Mike can’t stand it and rips the Harness off again - though it doesn't kill him.

While heading to the motorcycle shop, the racist Pope and Arthur argue – with Pope considering Arthur a gang member and Arthur revealing he was actually a police officer including Arthur threatening to shoot Pope for click’s death. I’m glad there was some acknowledgement and we’re not all fast forwarding the “let’s redeem Pope” story. And Tom and Dai discuss how Hal, only 16, is coping with Karen’s capture. Dai makes a good point on how he feels lucky to have had no family to worry other in such dark times.

Pope smells some Skitters – like bats, 4 of them are hanging upside down under a bridge, sleeping. There are Mechs lurking around also on standbye. Tom decides not to kill them since the Mechs will wake and fight if they do – Pope doesn’t like it, but Tom sticks to the mission. It seems when he turns off Big Damn Hero mode, he also loses his Cabbage Brains. That’s something at least.

They begin scavenging in the bike shop, there’s some more poking at Pope’s criminal past. And, predictably, Pope knocks Dai on the back of the head (because leaving him with one person was sensible) so he can run off with some fuel to blow up the Skitters under the bridge.

In response a large number of Harnessed kids with weapons move on the bike shop – shooting Dai in the leg. They grab bikes to flee with, distracting the kids and killing the Skitter controlling them.

Back at the school Weaver (who hasn’t been eaten) and Tom discuss what they’ve learned and the implications of the Skitters using the Harnessed children as weapons. There is definitely a mutual respect growing between them. And Hal and Tom talk a little about Ben and have some more bonding moments.

The Skitters are confirmed to be sending radio waves, obviously. And at dinner they have a saccharine “what we’re thankful for” moment. To be honest, I’d have probably strangled Lourdes’s sainted optimism by now.

It is interesting to see Captain Weaver (who hasn’t been eaten yet) moving from dishing out orders to Tom to negotiating more with him and not even trying to issue commands. Maybe, just maybe, he can be removed from the Needs to be Eaten List. Being a Big Damn Hero has its perks, even if it does come with Cabbage Sense. Ok, yes I can understand it - Captain Weaver has military experience and was probably less than thrilled to have a history professor as his second in command until tom proved himself. But I still don't like his dismissal of the civilians.

Dr. Harris is becoming more and more objectionable – especially towards Ann. I think it’s largely based on the fact she’s the only other medical profession around more than anything else, especially since he mocks her for being a paediatrician. He’s establishing his expertise by putting down the competition. Still, if he keeps this up I’ll be wishing for him to be eaten as well.

I am extremely happy that the “let’s redeem Pope” train has been heavily derailed. Redeeming the bad guy is all well and good, but it has to be actual redemption, not just over night change and covering up all the crap he’s done.

I don’t understand why they haven’t done an autopsy on a Stirrer by now. They’ve killed them before, they must have recovered bodies – I can’t imagine this wasn’t the first thing they did. And why was Ricky even left in the same room with both the Skitter and the Harness? There’s not a lot of sense here.

There are a lot of emotional and interaction scenes I gloss over because there’s a limit to how much conversation you can report in a recap. But there are a lot of powerful scenes that really set the tone of the series and build the characters. Margaret and Tom in particular really grow in these conversations (Ann’s more a generic caring nursemaid). It’s also these scenes that really bring home the relationships, how much people care for each other and the scale of the loss and stress everyone is facing. They don’t slow down the story but add different layers of depth and give the more on point, action scenes, meaning and context

That being said, while it’s great for this part of the series it’s possible they could drag, especially if we get a lot of time spent on not very necessary characters.

Speaking of: People on the “Need to be Eaten” List:  Doctor Harris, Captain Weaver, John Pope.