Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Falling Skies, Season 3, Episode 8: Strange Brew

Tom wakes up from a dream - about alien invasion and people dying! But it was all a dream and he wakes up next to his loving wife in his nice normal home just 10 days before Christmas (and he still has to shop. Shopping 10 days before Christmas? I’d take the alien invasion). And he’s all soppy and happy – but his wife wants to know why he was talking about Anne in his sleep (whoa, take Alien invasion AND shopping 10 days before Christmas ahead of saying another woman’s name in your sleep while next to your wife).

Ok I’ve been patient. Explain these shenanigans please.

Everything’s all normal, the 3 boys bicker, Ben is wearing glasses and Tom is freakily groomed. Well groomed looks AWFUL on him. Hal has a girlfriend, Rita – and Weaver is a homeless doom-sayer with a sign proclaiming the end is near. I knew he was lying about being in the army! The policewoman who collected him could have been Karen – was that Karen?

Pope is a philosophy professor (my brain hurts at the very idea). Lourdes his student who he’s having an affair with, Anthony is the Dean of his college. And his secretary tells him an Anne Glass keeps calling him – but he’s never heard of her.

No, really, I’ve been patient – these shenanigans need explaining.

Marina another professor, Maggie is a student along with Lourdes and she’s excited because Tom taught her history where women did more than just domestic duties; and the mysterious Anne has left him an expensive bottle of whiskey.  Marina’s battling over the location of something but Tom sees homeless man Weaver again and decides to check it out but is interrupted by Dai (remember him?) Anne’s husband accusing him of having an affair.

In discussions with various people, the same 4 cities keep coming up. New York, Jacksonville, Chicago, Boston.

When Dai leaves, Pope arrives to try and get the city as well – while Tom watches Weaver be dragged away by Karen-cop again. Ominous music plays ominously

Shenanigans have still not been explained (though by the same cities coming up, the Espheni are using subliminal questioning to learn something from Tom about one of those cities? My guess).

The ominous music continues when he decides to ask his with who Anne is and about the random cities; she’s bemused especially with him zoning out. For a flicker, in the mirror, he a sees a reflection of the dishevelled Tom we’ve seen so often.

At work he draws up a whole whiteboard which tells him nothing and he gets another love note from Anne. He goes to Pope and tells him he’s being gaslighted. Pope, being a philosophy professor, responds with gibberish. Ben drops in to try and parse some sense and bring up the cities again, but Tom just acts more erratic – especially since he gets a text message inviting him for coffee from Anne.

She’s there in the coffee shop and greets him as someone who knows him and very warmly – and she wants to know where they’re going, those 4 cities again. She asks which one he wants to go to – it’s her Christmas present to him; and he zones out looking at homeless Weaver again. He comes back to himself and tells Anne she’s a complete stranger and he doesn’t understand why she’s haunting him. Anne has a huff, tells him to take his wife away instead – but tell her the city first so she knows not to go as well. More and more people repeat the cities and Tom begins to flash out of it

And we see him in an alien location, surrounded by Skitters, people with harnesses and with a nasty looking alien thing over his face which one removes as Karen enters. Finally, Shenanigans concluded.

Karen wants to know which tower Tom intends to attack with the Volm – one of those 4 cities is the target. At which point several  troops from Charleston arrive, including Weaver and his sons. They grab Kate and ask where Anne and Lexie is but she says the Overlords took them – Tom announces she’s no use to them and shoots her in the head.

I call shenanigans again

Then he wakes up in a clinic in Charleston with Matt by his bedside – he’s been unconscious for 2 days. He rushes out of the room, barging past Lourdes, to the main tactic room where he tells everyone that Karen is accelerating her grid plans. Weaver says it doesn’t matter because they’re attacking today, their original target (conspicuously not naming what that is) and asks Tom to map it out for them; and again sees 4 city maps to choose from. Tom doesn’t fall for it and shoots Weaver this time.

SHENANIGANS! Y’know the Espheni might try being a little more subtle with their scenarios. Karen seems to give up on these tricks and instead threatens to torture Anne and Lexie. Ah, the problem with torture is that Tom could now, very easily, just say “oh actually it’s happening in Baton Rouge” and there’s no way Karen could know that’s not true. Torture makes people say stuff, doesn’t make that stuff truthful.

Karen takes Tom to a cocoon in which is Lexie and Anne – apparently dead. Tom goes berserk but is easily restrained by a Skitter; Karen talks about being desperate, how the Overlords are not impressed with her performance. But the grid which will kill all human life goes up soon, in minutes, so there’s no worry then; but Tom can save the human race by telling her the plan. Why would she need to if there’s so little time left? Tom refuses and machinery starts clanking, it’s starting

To Charleston, the real one this time, and Maggie and Pope on watch and Pope convinced Hal isn’t coming back. Which he rapidly changes when Maggie grabs him by the throat and Lyle decides to swap shifts with him. I find Maggie’s argument convincing and worthy of repetition.  

Inside Charleston Anthony continues his investigation of who killed the president (the old one) and the only person without an alibi is Marina. She tries to represent this as Anthony having no solid leads but he’s not buying that deflection – what he’s saying is she is the only one without an alibi. Weaver takes this to Pope – because Pope has really showed himself to be trustworthy right – and Pope repeats his suspicion about Marina especially with her not wanting to contact President Hathaway’s people.

He goes into the building heading to the radio room and Maggie asks to join the first team on the attack – even if it takes the most casualties, she wants to be the one closes to Karen to bring her down. Weaver initially refuses because vengeance and grudges do not make for good tactics – and then a bomb explodes and knocks them both down. The mole strikes again, destroying the radio and preventing them contacting anyone else. As Lourdes patches Weaver up, he agrees to Maggie’s request

Tom is taken outside with Karen (one push and he could kill her), they’re in the leg of one of the towers – and its powering up. It covers the sky in bright blue lines that connect up. At which point Tom realises how high up they are and leaps at the Skitter, knocking them both off (why not Karen?!) and falling – the Skitter breaks his fall. And just plain breaks. He staggers away

In Charleston they see the spiderweb cover the sky so Weaver makes a speech encouraging everyone; while Marine takes him aside. She knows Anthony and Weaver think she’s the mole and points out how obvious such a conclusion is. She adds that her sudden change of mind on the mission is that Cochise said the grid would kill all human life and while she doesn’t necessarily agree with everything Cochise says, the grid is still Espheni made so is a Bad Thing. She tells Weaver that if he removes her and seizes control, they will no longer be a democracy (*ahem* who voted you in, Marina? Are you even an elected official at all? She was the president’s aide) and she invokes the emotion of the big grief tree.  Weaver agrees to support her, but he goes to Pope and while he tells him not to bring down Marina, he also tells him there’s absolutely no need for Marina to be told tactical details.

The Mason sons return to Charleston, reunite with Maggie, expressing their confidence that Tom will make it back as well since he has a habit of coming back (that’s some quality plot armour)

Tom keeps walking, alone (he’s escaped the tower it seems in that plunge). He walks past a house (it looks like the Mason house) and goes inside, wandering around, taking a note that was stuck to the fridge. He goes upstairs and collapses on the bed, sobbing. And Rebecca, his wife, appears next to him in the bed to hold him while he cries. She comforts him then tells him to get up and leave, there’s nothing left there for him; and a cat disturbs his hallucination and brings him back to reality (I think this is an actual hallucination not an Espheni trick)

Tom leaves the house and starts walking with purpose

Wait so the Masons set off to find Anne- who seems to be really, actually dead – and Tom gets derailed and captured so the three sons turn around and go home? They don’t keep looking for Anne or Tom or anything? They just go home?

And is that really the conclusion of the whole alien baby storyline? Really? It seems… lacking.

I’ve said it before, but this is a really short season of Falling Skies. There are only 2 episodes left and there’s a lot packed in still that either has yet to be adequately covered or have been covered very unsatisfactorily (the kids and the possibility of removing their harness, the Volm who have been nearly non-existent, the mole, the government tensions, freedom et al, even battles against the Espheni have been minimal, finding President Hathaway, why Karen is in such a position of authority). And this just becomes really frustrating for me because it seems we’ve spent a lot of time on side points – establishing Kadar as a character, Hal and his eye worm and then last episode when we spent more than half of it stuck with the Picketts. Now, we spent over half the episode in mental shenanigans that can be summed up with “Tom was questioned, he said no.” It’s not like it’s a scene we haven’t seen before in other sci-fis and it wasn’t even well done.

It’s frustrating to me that so much is being rushed, underdeveloped or plain ignored while we wander around on really pointless, drawn out episodes that doen’t seem to advance the plot or world setting at all.

Also treatment of POC and women have been really shaky this season - both of which I'm going to rant on at length methinks. But before that - Maggie is left behind and spends a ood part of the season convincing Hal to keep his potential possession secret, Karen is an enemy, Lourdes is a spy, Anne was irrational, not to be trusted and then killed off, Marina is a figure of suspicion who has just begged Weaver to let her keep ruling, Dani has disappeared into the plot box, Crazy Lee has died (or was fridged even). That not only covers most of the women but most of the POC - leaving only Anthony who has barely opened his mouth all season