Monday, June 11, 2012

Falling Skies, Season 1, Episode 6: Sanctuary Part 1

Ann, in her infirmary is treating a child for a fictional illness – because the real plan is for the father to hold Ann at gun point and try to steal drugs. Between the kids still with spikes in their backs from the Harness and Dr. Harris (who is dead! Yay!) killed by the Skitter, they want to run for it – but take items for trade while they do it. Ann doesn’t give up easily because she’s Ann and more than a little awesome.

The man woman and child all make a run for it, followed by Tom, Captain Weaver and Mike (what, why send the boss and second and, apparently, third in command? Shouldn’t at least one of them stay behind? And Weaver blames it on Tom – oh, someone’s heading back to my “should be eaten” list). The situation is diffused by Terry Clayton from the 7th Massachusetts coming up behind the fleeing guy and disarming him. they let the family go – if they don’t want to stay there’s no point in keeping them. Terry is there because the 7th Massachusetts is gone – Skitters attacked them.

In the command room they learn that of the 7th Massachusetts there’s only a dozen people left (if it’s anything like the 2nd, it should be 300 strong). Examining the maps they find that the Skitter army is probably heading their way. Porter’s (that’d be the big boss) plan is to regroup – so the 3rd Massachusetts will be joining them then they all leave together. Because it will take a while for the 3rd to reach them, Terry is supposed to take anyone under the age of 20 on ahead – so they don’t have to worry about kids being Harnessed. Something Tom is not amused by. Weaver won’t send the kids away yet – but he wants Tom, as the parent, to explain to the other parents why it might be necessary if an attack is imminent.

There’s a lot of fear and panic – worry about sending the kids away and more worry about  the kids being there making the group a target. Lots of preparation for evacuation. And Margaret, settling in more helping pick up drugs for Sarah’s pregnancy and giving Ann a boost after she fought the thieves – and giving her a gun. Ann is pretty affected by being hit by the thief and is still upset – it hasn’t been brushed over and she does take fire arms lessons with Margaret. They have a great female bonding moment over high calibre weapons

Ben, in contrast to Rick, seems entirely human despite the Harness spikes in him. Some of the kids are seeing their spikes disappear but not Rick and Ben because they were Harnessed for so long. Ben is also enjoying increased physical health and robustness. He already has regrown a relationship with Matt, his little brother, teasing him (much to the annoyance of poor Hal, trying to sleep). Ben describes the odd hive mind of the Skitters and wearing the Harness – and how the Skitters even cared about them and treated them as family. Which Hal hears and takes to Ann – he’s worried that he’s not acting the same way he was before.

Tom is torn over sending his kids away or not. And Jimmy (the 13 year old) begs Weaver for another chance to return to active duty – which he grants. Even as Weaver acknowledges how wrong it is for a 13 year old to be fighting, that’s the way the world is during the war. There is a continued angry debate about sending the kids away – how parents don’t want to be separated, whether they will be safer, whether there is any safety at all. In the end, Tom takes responsibility for making the decision whether to evacuate the kids or not.

The debate is rudely interrupted when they hear shooting – on the barricade, Jimmy and Parker are attacked by a Mech. Jimmy survives, hiding in the bus, but Parker is dead. Reinforcements arrive before the Mech can squish Jimmy and Weaver and Tom run to help too knowing Jimmy is out there (and Parker? Anyone care?)  Jimmy runs to get help and runs into a Skitter, but manages to keep a padlocked door between him and it. Weaver to the rescue, though Jimmy is badly shocked and shaking. Ok, Weaver can live.

Unfortunately, 1 Skitter, 1 Mech means it’s a scout patrol looking for them. The same thing happened to the 7th Massachusetts, according to Terry

Another problem is brewing, some of the people are blaming the unharnessed kids – like Ben – for the Skitter attacks. Margaret and Hal are forced to run and protect Ben. Ben goes to his father and says he’s happy to go with Terry since it will give him chance to learn how to fight which he needs to if the aliens come. Ben compares it to the Evacuation in Britain during the Second World War. Of course his motivations may be just to escape the people calling him “Razorback” – or even go back to the Skitters.

Tom then speaks to the crowd and tells them that he’s sending his own kids with Terry since it will give them a head start to get away ahead of any attack – all but the youngest kids (who the Skitters aren’t interested in) need to be sent to safety.

Hal and Ben have a moment, and Hal tells Tom, their father he’d like to go with Ben since he promised his mother he would look out for Ben and Matt.  So the column of kids goes marching off with 4 fighters to guard it. Because it’s safer than being surrounded by the army. – but they arrive at the ranch safely (which surprised me, I admit).

Of course there’s a twist – Terry Clayton takes a boy, Eli, into the woods at night ostensibly to see his parents. There he meets a girl called Megan with scary-totally-wearing-a-Harness-eyes. Yes, she has a Harness and Eli tries to go but she won’t let him – until the Mech stuns him and a Skitter shows up. Terry communicates with the Skitter through Megane and agrees to bring more in 2 days.

And where did he get his information from about the kids with the 2nd Massachusetts? Why from the imprisoned John Pope (who hasn’t been eaten yet) in his cellar.

A collaborator, now there’s a twist. And with 1 Mech and 1 Skitter he has managed to separate all the kids from the army. See, told you moving those kids out wasn’t the best idea! Move out alone or stay with the 2nd Massachusetts until it’s reinforced by the 3rd?

Ann’s reaction to being hit by the thief was well done. We often downplay the effects of physical violence and how it can hurt people not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Similarly with Jimmy as well – him going into actual shock.

I am really unhappy with the whole “razorback” as a slur and the looming “prejudice” I’m sure we’re going to see. Not only is it annoying to see these fictional representations rather than developing real prejudice it also makes no damn sense. This isn’t the “other” we’re talking about or a historically marginalised group – it’s their rescued  children. Why would anyone blame them for the alien attacks? It’s not like the aliens don’t attack anyone whenever they see them! The motivations seem convoluted and forced.

Ok episode 6 now, past the half way mark of the season and we’ve given the portrayals time to develop, time to put on my unhappy face.

First of all, the dominant characters are the show are primarily white and male – the Mason family. Dai, Arthur, Karen (and then Margaret – blonde female side-kicks are interchangeable! Anyone remember Karen? Anyone?) and Lourdes don’t even get last names. We have some development of Margaret and Ann, but it’s primarily in passing. Arthur and Dai are little better than extras and Lourdes is just an annoying extra.

And compare Mike and Rick with Tom and Ben. While Tom can be emotional, it’s Mike who’s out of control with it and, ultimately, a liability (which Tom has to fix).  Rick doesn’t know his dad, puts his Harness back on and is still half alien in mindset. While Ben, from the moment of waking, knew and acknowledged his father. He spends the whole episode interacting as a normal 14 year old, despite some misgivings from Hal.

Casualties are also interesting – and a lot lower than predicated. Of the “good guys” we’ve lost one nameless child (dead); Crick, black man (dead);  Parker, black man (dead), Karen, a woman (missing) and Dai, and Asian man has been injured. Lower casualties than expected but also notable in the marginalised state of the victims.

And the glaring erasure – Boston, which has a population of 12% GBLT people, didn’t produce any for the 2nd Massachusetts it seems. Yes, it’s another dystopian where it seems GBLT people are super-extra tasty for aliens since they all seemed to be killed in the first wave! Don’t you all wish you were as finger lickin’ good?