Falling Skies – Silent Kill
“Surgeons would not consider that a plus.”
“But Patients do.”
I came into this episode presenting the show, in my mind, with something of an ultimatum: impress me here or you’re dropped and thankfully – thankfully because I do really want to like this show, despite what my constant harping criticism may suggest – that is exactly what it did. The episode opens as a recon team has just returned from gathering all the narcotics necessary for the rescue of the children, or at least the closest six. This fetch quest format was most likely the major impediment to the shows success since the pilot and so skipping the final step was about as good a gift as the show could give a boy like me; I took this as a sign to stick with the show and so stick with watching it I shall, though don’t think that means it will be getting any kind of free pass, there is still much criticism to come.Though it was this literal leap forward in plot that first won me over with this weeks episode it wasn’t what kept me pleasantly surprised, that was the emotion. Though most of the moments explored in this episode have been covered before -the general loss of civilization, the specific loss of children, etc. – they are explored here once more with feeling, and not even the forced kind (some of the time). Too often the show has been satisfied by simply having it’s characters saying things like ‘I am sad’ or ‘My child is dead’ but these sentences and sentiments cannot be conveyed in such a way, one has to be shown someone feeling something before they can feel it themselves.
This is where Silent Kill was a real step-up, it bore down on two supporting characters – Bloodgood and Greenwood – and gave them some time in which to stretch their emotional beats, to personalize them and make them their own; this is what tore them apart from the treacly generalities of previous episodes. There was also a nice subtlety to them; sometimes showing can be just as blunt as telling but here they used a somewhat impressionistic approach which allowed us the room to guess at their feelings and thus get inside their head. I’ll admit that it wasn’t an emotional roller coaster: I didn’t cry nor cheer but, for the first time in a long time, I cared and that is most definitely a step in the right direction.
The other upside to all this wussy weeping was that it worked to hide the episodes construction. Last week I spoke of the mortar from between the bricks dripping onto the audience, to continue this metaphor I would say that this week’s emotional work was a plaster facade laid over the top of any such machinations; not only does it make the whole thing much prettier but it hides whatever is going on inside from our prying eyes, and that’s really the way that it should be.
Especially given that this week’s episode contained a number of unexpected twists and turns (Spoilers to be found in this here paragraph, see if you can’t find them all!) ranging from the unexpected but utilitarian – the death of the good Doctor and the end of the most expensive Actor’s tenure – through the un-necessary but ultimately exceptional – Rebel scout’s reveal that she is in remission was quite a shock and the way it played out was rather brilliant, this is the kind of depth that the show needs – to the complete and utter upending of convention – the sudden, un-strung out rescue of Ben … in episode Five, nothing is ever supposed to happen in episode five! All of these twists really worked for me, they are driving the plot forward naturally (which is admittedly an alien pace for genre fare) while also making me want to watch more. It’s not subversion on the level of Breaking Bad but it’s honestly nice enough to see a formula twist at all.
Where though does the show go from here? Will the survivors be forced back onto the run, will they launch a wide-scale counter-attack now that they know the Skitter’s weaknesses or will they simply keep trying to rescue kids, as their unit seems specially set-up to do? And what of the Skitters? Are they as alien as we wanted to think they were? Are they taking better care of the children than the adults are able to given the circumstances? And wasn’t that scene with the Nurse-Skitter just so creepy? All of those options sound good to me and what’s great is that the show is now in a spot where all could become the reality. I love that kind of openness in a new show and can’t wait to see which route it takes.
The episode ended with another supposedly moving montage, this time set over a baby-shower; it was still a fairly forced moment but sufferably so in this case because most of the characters had been building towards it all through the hour and so we were at least able to buy into their sections of it. The scene itself was a nice dichotomy of hope and loss, the new and the old as some of the community celebrated it’s saves and victories while the others grew more regretful over those that they could not save, some happy and some very sad. I’m trying to stand solidly in the former category, trying to look forward to the future potential of Falling Skies rather than getting caught up in what it has done wrong in the past. I’m feeling annoyingly optimistic over here, I have hope.