Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Falling Skies, Season 4, Episode 12: Shoot the Moon

This episode has a strange dramatic opening, everyone on the ground posing with various weapons, something happening on the moon base – and a man begging Botha for help with some kind of alien thing on his chest (all with the background sound of ragged breathing and a loud heartbeat). He’s just one of many suffering horribly in an odd, foggy swamp place.

Everyone else is all tense and looking at the moon and hearing some very very loud wolves. Botha had left with a scouting team and returns alone and late – and not looking so good. He describes what he saw and Ben realises it’s a mobile mutation plant – a way for the Espheni to mutate people without dragging them to a factory first.

That foreshadowed (and some brief hints at Maggie/Hal breaking up and being friends thrown in with some Pope angst) a Beamer drops an ominous, fog producing thing. When the fog touches people’s feet they become glued to the floor – and then it releases chest sucking creatures into the fog. An extra is caught and gets a chest sucker on her and becomes all feral and evil. E

Everyone gets caught and glued by the fog. Matt manages to kill the chest sucker after him with a throwing knife. He and Weaver are stuck together

Maggie frees Ben and they both work to help Hal showing he has to truth them (despite his snark)and how well they work together.

Botha chews out Pope for his endless, ridiculous charging into danger (which got them both stuck. And yes, Pope has been needed this lecture for some time) but then Botha gets a chest sucker but Pope manages to kill it by chewing through the tube that connects it to the foggy thing. And yes that’s disgusting. Sarah then returns from parts unknown to help kill the chest suckers going for Pope – awww she foes care. Unlike me. Damn it Sarah, I thought Pope was finally going to be killed off.

Anne discovers the fog doesn’t like flares. Conveniently, she happens to have a flamethrower. Which runs out of fuel as she gets to Matt and Weaver, making it a pretty awful rescue attempt as she, too, is trapped. Weaver begins despairing so now there’s more “don’t give up” speeches.

On the ship to the moon, the broken technology we saw last episode turns out to be the bomb – bombs don’t like cold it seems. Lexi still upset that one guilt dream doesn’t make Tom trust her implicitly and Tom actually reassures her. He wants to use her super powers to destroy the power plant but she can’t – her powers rely on twisting natural forces all of which are absent or weaker on the moon.

We get some science as to what the power plant actually is (using a form of Helium the moon has lots of apparently) and why this made the Earth an ideal target. Exposition interrupted by a bigger ship rumbling them and pulling them to it.

They go onto the big ship and find that Mira is now fully harnessed (seriously, they brainwash the kids THEN harness them. Really?)  as a mouthpiece of an Overlord (the scorched one who hates Tom so much) who smacks Tom across the room – and uses Lexie’s necklace to strangle her, he just points at her and it contracts. A safeguard to control her. She tries to convince the Overlord she’s on their side.

While Scorched Overlord obsesses in burning Lexi, he turns his back on the completely unrestrained Tom who gets up and stabs the Overlord. Setting him on fire was a minor inconvenience. A small knife kills it. What an anti-climactic death! He removes Lexi’s necklace and they decide on Plan B – ramming the ship into the power source

Couldn’t you search the ship for a bomb? No? Ok then

This also means Tom has to go and turn off the tractor beam (which Lexi can’t do remotely because REASONS) so they have an escape route. But also so they can split up and, I bet, Lexi can nobly sacrifice herself proving she’s good after all.

And yes, when Tom releases the tracking beam she nobly tells him how she’s going to sacrifice herself because it’s so utterly and completely predictable. Touching goodbye scene follows.

For ominous foreshadowing for the next season, Cochise contacts his dad and asks for help - but says he has something important to tell him about the Earth’s moon. I’m guessing it’s going to be “super precious resource, come and get it!”

But this does help Tom whose Beamer is being chased by a horde of enemy Beamers – which are then destroyed by the returning Volm ship.

Lexi completes her dramatic suicide and destroys the power source. The destruction turns off the foggy machine on the ground along with the rest of the Espheni technology – saving everyone. Everyone gathers all happy and safe and Pope and Sarah have a moment

Tom’s Beamer isn’t doing so well – the explosion knocked it away from the homing beacon which presumably then was deactivated. Cochise tells Anne that they’ve now lost the Beamer and don’t know where he is. Hal and Anne both make dramatic speeches about having to finish what they started and kill the Espheni now they’re helpless

Tom wakes up in a very normal-pre-apocalypse room. Only his hand goes through the picture he tries to pick up. Between random radio broadcasts a voice says “we come in peace” and “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They greet him by name and a door opens – another alien species appears. It’s blurred but Tom calls it beautiful.

And that’s the season over. I think the ending really did continue the themes of the whole season – broken plot lines, massive coincidences, little common sense and no actual regard for canon while at the same time being grossly predictable with its tropes.

In some ways there’s not much to say with this season finale review because I’ve been saying it repeatedly all the way through the season – and, to a lesser extent, all through Falling Skies run. The writing is terrible, plot lines work through atrocious coincidences or the characters making decisions that don’t make any sense at all. Yet they all still work because of plot armour. Past seasons and established canon are just thrown away or convolutedly thrown into the background because REASONS. Anything that didn’t fit, anything that didn’t make sense was just ignored and the characters just didn’t bother to mention it because it was convenient to do so. This continued even to hold up really dubious scenarios like the Lexi cult and the Espheni Youth camp– it works because no-one bothers to challenge it, no-one bothers to raise the obvious illogical flaws.

Then we have the Masons as the super duper leaders especially Tom who can never be challenged ever. I almost like how Anne called Tom out for being arrogant and not listening to anyone but it resulted in no change in behaviour. Even his dramatic failing – trusting Lexi – is spun to be more Anne’s issue than his and absolutely no-one ever truly holds Tom accountable except Pope (who is cast as eternally wrong and an arsehole even when he’s asking reasonable questions). Nor does the plot, Tom never has consequences for his arrogance, his decisions or his recklessness and people questioning him are just wrong. What made Tom so damn special? Why is Tom so damn special?

Then we have a shed load of dull predictability hammered on everything. Lexi’s death (and the fastest redemption train I’ve seen for a while), Sarah returning to Pope, Mira turning out to be a traitor. Honestly, did anyone not predict every damn thing in this season? Frankly between the awful writing and worshipful trope adherence I think the writers may have phoned this one in.

Marginalised characters was similarly terrible. For a fourth season we have no LGBT people, it looks like the Espheni belong to an odd branch of the Westboro Baptist church and hunted down LGBT people first.

POC I’ve already spoken about – but add Mira and Lexi dying to the huge death count. And Deni and Anthony being nearly non-existent for the whole season.

The women of this show aren’t much better – with Lourdes, Lexi and Mira all dying and all of them and Anne having the ridiculous flaws I pointed out in that piece as well. They’re all too trusting, too naïve and, of course, very very emotional and not sensible or rational or very effective. Maggie ran through a lot of high emotion against Lexi (but still needed Ben to guide her into actually doing something) before landing her in the middle of a love-triangle plot line. And Sarah? She could have been a character with growth and development but we didn’t spend that much time on her – she became Pope’s love interest and not much more. Sarah’s place in the group, everything about her, is defined by her relationship with Pope.