Seriously, I want to love Falling Skies, and I have a lot of affection for the show's characters and concept — but I don't understand what this show's storyline is about. Last night's episode, in particular left me wondering whether this show's storyline is just one colossal alien shaggy dog.
In a nutshell, last night's Falling Skies disposed, apparently once and for all, of the "mole" storyline along with the "What's going on with Hal?" storyline. (Unless they actually pull something clever and the mole is actually Anthony or the new President Peralta, in which case hats off to them.) Hal is apparently the mole who's been causing all this trouble, but he was under the control of Karen the Overlord. In last night's episode, Hal takes his father hostage and then gets caught and eventually cured of his mind-control eyebug via tons of smaller, ickier eyebugs. And then all four Mason guys go off on horseback to find the missing Anne and baby Alexis.
We're now six episodes into a ten-episode season, and between the "mole" and "Hal" storylines, a ton of screentime has been spent on something that apparently wasn't really going anywhere.
And meanwhile, you have to wonder what the season's big arc actually is about. Like, are the Volm important? You know, those bubble-headed aliens who showed up at the end of season two and have barely been seen since?
Apart from one great scene where Cochise talks about flowers we've never really gotten a sense of what the Volm even say they want. The show keeps telling us not to trust the Volm — but meanwhile, we've never even been given a single reason why you'd trust them in the first place. It's not even like the show is telling us "Don't trust Count Evil von Evilstein," it's more like the show is saying, "Don't trust Count Evil who wandered through the background of one scene three episodes again." My response isn't, "Well, duh." It's, "Who?"
And what about Karen the Overlord — is she the Big Bad this season? It sure seems like she's being set up to be, but we've barely seen her since she had glowing-spine sex several episodes ago. We hear a lot about her, and apparently she was close enough to Charleston to have regular hookups with Evil Hal — but we've seen almost nothing of her lately.
I could go on and on. But forget about the fact that this show has a yawning gap between the things it tells us are important, versus the things it spends time on. There's a bigger problem than that.
I don't know, thematically, what this show is about — except, in a vague sense, "family is important." Take Charleston — what does it represent? In season two, Charleston seemed to stand for a false sense of security, with its citizens assuming they could stay off the aliens' radar and not get bombed back to the stone age. But in season three, we've seen Tom become president, shirk his responsibilities, and finally resign. When I saw Tom resign as president last night, was I supposed to feel like that was a momentous thing? He did give a couple nice speeches here and there — but the whole "Mason family leaves Charleston" thing didn't carry the weight that it was probably supposed to. What are they leaving behind here?
I feel like Falling Skies was originally pitched as "gritty war drama from the writer of Saving Private Ryan," but also "post-apocalyptic story about how we hold on to civilization and/or rebuild social institutions." To that end, it would have been nice to see Tom Mason actually trying to govern, and making the tough decisions about feeding the people of Charleston — do they have farms? What do they do for food? — while also fending off alien attacks.
I want to be hard on Falling Skies because it has so much amazing potential — last night's episode had one or two really great scenes, notably the one where Pope is taking bets on the outcome of the Hal-and-Tom standoff and then Col Weaver walks in to order a whisky. Genuinely great moment of drama, and Pope's line about "If there's any funny business, take the comedy right out of it" is priceless. Last week's episode was bleak and character-focused.
But you have to wonder if anybody working on the show has sat down and figured out what story they're telling here.