Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Falling Skies: Season 2, Episode 4: Young Bloods

In previous episodes I said that it was necessary for Matt to grow up fast and get used to the world they’re in, to learn how to fight, to, in many ways, be desensitised to the violence that now rules the world he lives in – that he can no longer live a normal childhood.

Yeah, that didn’t stretch to “hey, let’s use him as bait for Skitters and then splatter their blood and organs all over them”, no it did not. And you have to laugh that he’s wearing a helmet while playing on the scooter – because safety first while taunting children-targetting aliens, right?

Aside from their little brother’s growing collection of traumatic experiences, Hal and Ben are busy scouting a path to Charleston for the 2nd Massachusetts (where the new civilian government is supposed to be. They find a building with Mechs and power and alien stuff going on, and make a note to avoid it. I say “they” but Hal is talking and Ben is busy staring zombielike at the aliens. Heart-to-heart talk about his silence is called off on account of people stealing their bikes. Thankfully Ben is there with his disturbing alien super-powers to hear which way they’re going.

Following them they find a camp of kids and teens lead by Diego, there’s a stand off but Ben acting as sniper makes them back down. Hal wants his bikes back but notices how many kids there are , with no adults at all - and he offers some of the 2nd Mass’s supplies. Diego agrees to bring a team to check it out – at the urging of his girlfriend and second in command.

Back at the camp, Tom and Ann are flirting and bonding over very-out-of-date chocolate treats and going from “I never thought I’d have a chocolate pie again” to “I never thought I’d have TWU LUB AGAIN!” inevitably, their dizzy making out (no, really, was the cameraman circling them or were they spinning like a couple of drunken ballerinas?) is interrupted by Lourdes.

Tom runs to rescue Matt when he realises he is being subjected to truly cringe-worthy rapping. And the possibility that, in this dystopian world, his 9 year old may be given *gasp* beer. Before we accuse him of the most ridiculously messed up priorities, it turns out while he agreed for Matt to go as a runner to help report things, he didn’t actually agree to Matt being used as alien bait. Tom is, rather unsurprisingly, Not Amused By This and rakes the men over the coals and back. To which Matt slopes off in a tantrum because he totally wanted to be alien bait.

Weaver emerges just in time for he and Tom to greet Hal, Ben and some of the kids. One of which is Jean – Weaver’s daughter. Time for reuinion, joy and sadness since his ex-wife and her mother is dead, but also happiness to be together. Yes, it’s schmaltzy, but you can’t be all grit grit doom gloom.

Diego is helping Hal update his scouting maps and pointing out the damn obvious, that Hal and Maggie are becoming a couple. (Frankly, I thought they were a couple already). And Tom invited Diergo’s group to join them to come with them Charleston. They don’t try to pressure Diego to join them though and let them make their own decision. Tom takes the chance to try to patch things up with Matt – telling him his actions just weren’t smart and were risky – and Matt throws getting onto an alien spaceship back at him. To which I have to say; 9 year old, 1: Tom, nil. Wow, Tom just got told by a 9 year old; it must be hard to raise a kid when you have demonstrated the same level of common sense and intelligence normally reserved for moss. This is what it is like to never ever have the moral high-ground again – no matter what stupid crap his kids do, it pales before his.

Diego and Weaver naturally don’t get along because Diego is dum-dum-duuuum dating his daughter! (Please let us not have this storyline. Please, we have aliens to worry about, we don’t need a father-scaring-off-boyfriend story). Lourdes asks Diego if he’s heard anything about whether her family was in Mexico – but as far as he knows Northern Mexico was destroyed and there were no survivors.

Diego and his group returns with supplies (Hal and Maggie help them deliver them) including Jean, though Weaver assumes she will return (I see competition over whether she chooses Weaver or Diego). But when they get there, all is not well – the place has been ransacked. They find a hidden survivor who tells them that Skitters had taken everyone – they’re all kids so they’re all to be harnessed.

Back to the 2nd Mass and they look at the factory Hal and Ben saw; it had power and a lot of harnessed kids inside. Ben searches his memory but can’t remember much about being harnessed. And Weaver and Diego, predictably, clash over whether to rush in or make a plan. Diego steps so far out of line he can’t even see it by saying he’s not taking orders from Weaver since he couldn’t save his family – Weaver loses his temper and both Diego and Jean turn on him as an “angry control freak.” Ummm, maybe he is – but this case? No, I think he was very restrained considering what Diego said and what he is planning (rush in with a gun and expect to somehow pull people out. Do they even have the means to kill a Mech?)

Diego and co run off to implement operation “Let’s Get Harnessed, Yay”, with an extra bonus of inviting 9 year old Matt to join in the fun and Weaver angsts with Tom about his anger issues. And then they discover that Diego, Matt, Jean and Co have all run off for their Harnessing Party, causing them to hurry quickly to follow the suicidal fools (on the plus side, Tom, Matt has officially done something that is ALMOST as ridiculous as getting on an alien space ship. Go moral highground again!) They have no plan and no idea of the layout – but they have to try and save the kids from themselves.

Inside the kids are all strapped down to tables ready to be harnessed (the plan worked perfectly) with lots of gloomy lights and crying for help and in pain going on. We see a vat where the harnesses are made/grown/whatever – and one of the kids get harnessed.

Meanwhile in a holding room Diego the rest of the kids are tied up, to be rescued by Maggie & co. In the factory, Matt is the next one to be harnessed – but Tom is there just in time to save the day (for Matt anyway. The other kid’s screwed) and Jean is saved by Weaver where she hugs him and apologises and says she should have listened. And Ben has a little moment with the tank full of swimming harnesses, and his spikes start glowing blue again. He breaks the vat – to free them or kill them? And the harnesses are slaughtered. – though Weaver gets bitten by one of them.

Back at the camp all is well again – Jean and Weaver have their little reconciliation moment. And the kids don’t want to be part of the resistance – they’re leaving the 2nd Massachusetts to hide rather than be part of the resistance; which Weaver accepts. He assumes Jean is staying with them – but she sneaks out while Weaver’s asleep to leave with Diego.

Hal tries to talk to Ben about the glowing spikes but Ben is adopting a policy of ignoring it and hoping it goes away. Half the camp is still suspicious of him because of his spikes, he’s unwilling to risk more distrust.

And Jamil and Lourdes have a moment where Lourdes discusses her losses and the hopes she had clung to even though she knew there was none. I think them as a couple’s being pretty strongly written.

I have to say, tactic-wise, I question the wisdom of gathering everyone in one place, especially since the aliens used “neutron bombs” (I assume some kind of WMD) before. But maybe Charleston has some immense defences or something

I have to say it again – Ann and Tom have no no no chemistry between them. But they keep doing the flirting and the making out and it doesn’t work for me at all. They may be getting a little better, but they still strike me more as siblings than lovers – which just makes the whole thing worse.

I am, again, impressed by how Falling Skies can bring up the many issues of a dystopian world beyond the aliens trying to kill them – like Weaver’s ex-wife dying from a stroke because she no longer had access to her blood pressure medication; we think a lot about the fighting killing people but this shows the full dimension of what happens when society breaks down and things like medicine are no longer available.

I do like Diego as a new POC and I like that he and his groups speak Spanish, they haven’t dropped into an English default despite having a Latino leader. I am dubious, however, at how easily everyone is willing to accept them going their own way rather than assuming they’ll join the 2nd Mass. This was a group of teens and children that were half starving before they arrived - it still seems beyond odd at everyone being quite content for a group of children to try and get by on their own. I’m also less than happy that he has the intelligence of lichen (or Tom) and lead his people to a disaster that Weaver and Tom had to save them from.