Falling Skies – Grace
And so it goes that another very promising pilot quickly falters in the confines of full production. I know that it is only early days yet but the fact that this review is so late to being written speaks volumes on my level of interest; as does the fact that I, an avid watcher of first airings, waited until today to finally see this fourth episode of Falling Skies. I had reasonably low hopes for this show, just wanting from it something akin to Jericho – a pulpy but entertaining summer series with a hint of depth and darkness – but quite frankly it is failing to meet even those expectations thanks to minor and major failures from every level of the production team. I have previously spoken about those failures in a general sense but today I’m going to point out the specific area’s in which the show is weaker than a Skitters soft palate.
Once again our episode was split into two halves; one a Mission-Of-The-Week style scrapyard challenge in which a small band of survivors venture out to gather supply X before being involved in a third-act action scene and the second a slower paced scientific look into the eyes of the enemy. This is a fine structure in theory, but only when the two halves either merge or excel individually which they don’t so much do here.
This week’s MacGuffin comes in the form of motorbikes and so the gang all head out to Pope’s favourite store to see if they can find a good deal. I’m not even going to get into the idiocy of the group bringing Pope along but I will say that it was just as bad a move on the part of the writers; so far that man has been the shows one point of real dynamism and so it is so disappointing to see him enacting a plotline that is both overly contrived and entirely expected, hopefully it is building to something but I have low hopes for whatever that may be. Aside from his shock turn of coat the whole Bike outing was rather little lackluster because the writers aren’t setting the stakes well enough in regards to supplies for us to care about where the group is going or whether they got back with a good haul. I just really hope that the show runs through these shallow missions soon so that it can start letting the action appear naturally.
There was one interesting moment in the midst of this adventure though and that was the reveal about the extent of the aliens control over the harnessed children, specifically in regards to their use of Child Soldiers as meat shields. This tied in nicely with the second string story-line’s reveal of the alien’s apparent psychic broadcasting system, though it seemed that the ahead team knew too quickly to look for a controlling Skitter. I hope that the show is building to something with this too and the captured Skitter’s responses seem to suggest that this is so; it was more afraid of failure than it was of death, which suggests that there is a worse fate awaiting it back inside that monolithic mother-ship, that I am interested in but I fear it’s not something that we will see for a long while yet.
The titular grace scene was also way too much. I have no issue with showing the emotional side of this story, in fact I openly welcome it as I do our new Alien overlords, however this brand of hammy humanism is just too much for me because there is no subtlety or truth to it. From humanism to something entirely different; as a long-time reader of The Walking Dead I’m also constantly wondering how and when the resistances Middle School military complex will fall and I really hope that it will be soon – Though I expect to be very disappointed in this matter, with the show being so predictable as to have this occur in the Season Finale – because I feel as confined by it as that Skitter, the show worked much better in those free-roaming sections of the pilot than it does here, again through a lack of stakes.
I was going to say more, but to be honest I’ve already lost interest. In summary, if you are going to so obviously construct a story, stack it to the point that there is mortar oozing out onto us from between each brick, than you have to be building to something very special indeed, but I just don;t see that this show is. Like The Killing it seems stuck between simplicity and Cable worthy content, between Summer pulp and rich drama, schlock and parable and it needs to decide its course soon lest it fall forever into that gap between the two.