TV Review: Falling Skies, Season 2 Premiere
What the hell happened to Tom Mason?
As you’ll recall, the last time we saw college professor turned freedom fighter Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), he had voluntarily entered a spaceship alongside one of those spindly legged aliens and Hal’s former flame turned alien mouthpiece Karen (Jessy Schram). As Season 2 of TNT’s alien invasion show “Falling Skies” returns to the airwaves, we learn what exactly happened to Tom onboard that alien ship. Well, most of it, anyway.
Three months after Tom disappeared, the ragged soldiers of the 2nd Mass are still battling for the sake of humanity, launching guerrilla ambushes against the alien’s ground troops — those ridiculously easy to kill multi-legged “Skitters” and their heavily armored but questionable aiming “Mechs”. Still led by Captain Weaver (Will Patton), the humans are doing pretty good, putting quite the pounding on the bad guys, until, well, the bad guys finally adjust. For a bunch of spacefarin’, interstellar types, the aliens of “Falling Skies” remains to be remarkably bad at tactics. No wonder they just decided to nuke the planet with their fancy alien bombs, if this is the full extent of their fighting prowess.
But I digress.
“Falling Skies” returns with a two-hour premiere on June 17th on TNT. The premiere is stitched together from two episodes — the first episode, “Worlds Apart” re-introduces Tom and the remnants of the 2nd Mass. Weaver informs us that they’ve lost at least 100 fighters since they took down the alien tower at the end of Season 1. The group is now constantly on the move, harried along by Skitters and mechs always one step behind them and closing in fast. As Tom lays in vet-turned-field medic Anne Glass’ (Moon Bloodgood) makeshift MASH unit (aka the bus), he flashes back to his time with the aliens.
We learn what happened to Tom, how his convo with one of the spindly legged aliens went (these aliens are also remarkably bad at negotiations), and thankfully, no anal probing ever took place during his stay. Or at least, we don’t think anal probing took place. There was a very evil looking Skitter with one red eye there, and it seem to know its way around a metal rod…
The second episode, “Shall We Gather at the River”, deals with the repercussions of Tom Mason’s return from the dead. Tom isn’t entirely certain about what happened to him on that ship, which means he and former con-turned-badass Pope (Colin Cunningham) finally has something in common. It’s Pope who first voices concerns about Tom’s sudden re-appearance, though no else wants to hear it. I guess it takes someone who doesn’t give a damn (or so he keeps trying to convince everyone) to say the one thing no one wants to say out loud. Weaver, Anne, and the rest of the Mason Men — Hal (Drew Roy), Ben (Connor Jessup), and Matt (Maxim Knight) — would like to think it’s the same Tom, come back to them. But is he? That’s the question.
I’m still not entirely sold on “Falling Skies” as a must-watch sci-fi show. The whole alien angle still seems incredibly poorly thought out to me. The existence of the Skitters, in particular, continue to confound me. Watching them wade into battle armed with nothing but their legs is pretty absurd. I mean, it’s not as if they even hide behind those mechs, they just sort of run around hoping you’ll get close enough for them to punch you. There’s so few of them around (a couple per squad, it seems) you’d think they would take more effort to defend themselves as befitting a race of space-faring, intergalactic military conquerors. On the plus side, the Skitters, like the mechs, seem to have gotten a noticeable upgrade in CG. They may still be the most incomprehensible part of the show, but at least they look more real this year.
It looks like all the surviving castmembers from Season 1 are back, with only one really notable addition in Brandon Jay McLaren, who plays the gang’s mechanic/scientist-type-ish Jamil. The all-purpose grease monkey also provides a love interest for the lovelorn Lourdes (Sychelle Gabriel), who is mostly still an afterthought in terms of storyline. Speaking of Lourdes’ love life, there are now strong hints of a developing romance between Tom’s eldest son Hal and co-scout buddy Maggie (Sarah Carter). Carter also has an extra name in her billing, by the way. I guess she got married while “Falling Skies” was on hiatus?
Of all the returning characters, Connor Jessup’s Ben will continue to be featured prominently throughout the season, from the looks of it. The “freak” of the 2nd Mass is essentially a super soldier, thanks to his alien infection. There are strong hints that the writers have just found their new favorite character. Ben is usually partnered up with former screw-up Jimmy (Dylan Authors), who has become a decent soldier (not to mention crack shot). Dai (Peter Shinkoda), the other intriguing background character, still doesn’t have nearly enough to do. I’d rather see more of Dai being a total badass than watching bad “buddy” rapport between Pope and Anthony (Mpho Koaho), but maybe that’s just me.
Season 2 of “Falling Skies” premieres this June 17th on TNT.