Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Falling Skies Season 2, Episode 2: Shall We Gather at the River

We dramatically begin with Tom having a nightmare about a Skitter- which is probably natural given the world and the situation. He’s worried about what the aliens may have done to him – and keeps getting tested by Ann. Ann has full faith in him despite him walking onto a ship of his own free will (told you it was ridiculous), but Ann is there to reassure his guilt. Ann is also talking powerfully about the toll the war is taking on her, how she’s lost so many patients and can’t even remember what they’ve looked like. We also learn that Rick has completely disappeared – and that Ben’s tough skin is spreading. Without an X-ray they can’t discover what’s going on inside Ben or whether something has been put inside Tom (after all, you don’t have to have advanced technology for a tracking beacon).

Jamil and Dai are testing a bridge, the only one over the river that seems intact. With Hal and Maggie in charge with Jimmy trying to reassure Ben about shooting his dad. They’re interrupted by some of the alien ships – but with their big gun and the new ammo Dai manages to shoot them down – but the crashed ship destroys the bridge.

Weaver and Tom discuss how things have been since tom disappeared – they’ve been in retreat with the aliens pouring into them, Ben saved them when they were surrounded, finding a soft spot in their lines and in general they’ve lost a lot of people. Now with their back to the river they’re facing the same situation again. Weaver does a really good job of both saying how essential Tom is, how much they need him and how much Weaver needs someone who will argue with him and slap him down if necessary (ok, Weaver officially gets to live) while at the same time chiding him for disappearing for 3 months. But Tom is worried – he doesn’t know what they’ve done to him and he doesn’t trust himself – and doesn’t think Weaver should trust them. Weaver dismisses that – he will choose who he can trust.

Pope, however, certainly doesn’t trust him (don’t make me agree with Pope, it makes me feel dirty). And they have a little field trip to the broken bridge and discuss rebuilding it. It’s risky and will take a while – but the alien army will find them within 2 days and they have no other way to cross the river or stop the aliens from surrounding them. Jamil, their chief engineer is plotting how it can be done and how quickly.

But before they go across they need someone to scout across the river – and Ben is the best choice with his Harness-improved physical prowess – something Hal later explains to Tom. This leads into one of their bonding moments which, in turn, leads to Tom talking about his time with the aliens – including time he can’t remember, he doesn’t know what they did to him and if he loses control, he wants Hal to stop him by any means necessary. This is all overheard by youngest son, Matt. Hall tries to talk him down but Tom gets agitated and demands he be there to stop him – and collapses. Matt calls for Ann.

Ann, Lourdes and Weaver gather round Tom’s medical bed – and find something in his eye, something small and wormlike and moving. They pull it out (uckies uckies oh ew ew ew ew uckies) and store it in a jar – where it rolls up into a ball. They gather Jamil and discuss what it is – Ann points out if it were a tracking device the aliens would have found them by now. Tom is, naturally, worried about other critters in his body and wants to be restrained until they’re across the river, just in case. Weaver agrees to the pleas for bondage and they tie him up (stood up? That’s not the most comfortable way they could do it) in the med bus.

Pope shows his normal wonderful self, insisting that Tom be killed and that he should have been killed long since – Hal, Weaver and Anthony hold him at gun point to present a counter argument. Why is this character still alive? But Weaver needs him and his band of degenerates (wait, what? What band of degenerates? He was alone. And why do they need him?)

Meanwhile, Ben and Jimmy have had a good friends moment and Ben has swum across the river to do some scouting. He finds the wrecked alien ship which is broadcasting painful noise and takes pictures of the living thing inside – almost like a Harness, before stamping it to death and ending the noise.

He hears a noise and sees a sudden movement, but relaxes when he sees a deer (what? No, haven’t you seen any horror films – when you relax after the rustling noise is explained is when they pounce). We get more annoying radio waves and he finds a pillar like structure being patrolled by ships and Mechs

Back at the camp Ben and Tom have a little heart to heart between alien-puppets. Ben’s tactic for resisting alien control is to hate and despise the aliens for turning him into a freak – Tom protests him calling himself a freak so Ben shows Tom his freaky back- with the spreading patches of hardened skin. Tom protests – you need more than hate to keep going, you need love. And Hallmark swooped in and wrote it on a card.

Ben has also brought his pictures back including the insides of the downed ship – Jamil wants to study it first hand so they can learn more about the alien technology. But he doesn’t tell them about the radio he heard – or any kind of piloting system, despite seeing living thing inside it. Regardless, Weaver assumes that the pillar is a communications antenna and that they need to send a squad over to destroy it to knock out their air power and allow them to cross the river.

Naturally before we move out we get lots of human reaction – including group of bikers that are apparently Pope’s berserkers (wherever they came from. Ugh anything that keeps Pope around as a relevant character is the last thing we need), Lourdes and Jamil flirting and Maggie and Hal flirting. We also see Mat avoiding Tom since he’s uncomfortable . And as an extra bonus – the nasty little alien bug from Tom’s skull manages to cut its way out of the jar, crawl all over Lourdes then escape.

Everyone is in position – Hal’s team is across the water to take down the tower, Weaver is leading the convoy across the temporarily fixed bridge and Jamil is ready to blow the bridge once they’re over.

Pope and his men hit the aliens and draw off the guards from the pillar – but it also draws 2 of the ships as well, heading to the bridge. Dai has to run closer to be able to hit with his rocket launcher – with only one shot – which hits most dramatically. The signal gone, the 2 ships fly off without attacking. Then it’s a matter of racing over the bridge because the Mechs arrive (where are their super bullets they made last season? They’ve downed enough Mechs to make quite a few). But the medbus full of the wounded gets stuck – and Tom asks Matt to let him free. Despite his reservations he does (showing he trusts his father even aliened). Once across the bridge he pulls out his Big Damn Hero mode and leaps onto the burning truck with the Big Gun (a Skitter that tries to stop him is shot by Matt who has picked up a gun – see, good idea to teach the kid how to shoot).

Most of the defenders fall, leaving Tom alone to be a Big Damn hero – running ahead of the horde urging Weaver to blow the bridge before he gets across – everyone gathers to watch his dramatic run with Skitters inches behind him. Weaver holds, so does Jamil – but Pope grabs the detonator and pushes the button, blowing the bridge. Will someone please shoot Pope now?

Over the bridge they assess. They lost 3 vehicles, a food truck and 6 fighters. Matt and Hal talk about Tom; and then Pope tries to play nice – until Hal smacks him (jolly good. Do it again, please. In fact I shall rewind and rewatch. This is almost as much fun as watching Tyrion slap Joffrey). It’s in this moment that Tom comes crawling out of the wilderness. What, you didn’t think the Big Damn Hero had died did you?

We finish on the little bug that escaped – reaching a Skitter and crawling into its eye. Oh ewwww again. Really there’s a better way of spying little aliens!

Rick has completely disappeared? We don’t even get to see him. I reiterate what I said in my end of season 1  recap, the contrast between Rick and Ben’s treatment is glaring.

We finally have some acknowledgement from Dai that the jamming tactic they had last episode has been countermanded and no longer works – it was a bit of a story breaker since it rendered all aliens pretty much helpless.

Can we please kill Pope already?