As part of its quest to throw every single possible idea at the wall and see what sticks, Falling Skies gave us this moment of glowy-spine sex, straight out of Battlestar Galactica. Given that a few BSG's writers have also written for Falling Skies, it's especially... odd.
In general, last night's two-hour season premiere was frustrating. I've watched the first half of the new season, so I know that there's some better stuff coming, and in particular the June 30 episode is a neat hour of character-based storytelling. But these first two hours? Clunky as heck. There are a ton of new plot developments being thrown at us with all the grace and accuracy of a broken batting-cage machine.
In last night's two-parter, it's seven months since the season finale — did you pick up on the numerous and incredibly subtle references to the fact that it's been seven months? Well, just in case... it's been seven months. And everything has changed. In particular, we've tossed in our lot with a new group of aliens, the Volm, led by a guy named Cochise (Doug Jones). And we're actually holding our own against the Overlords (the Espheni) and the Skitters. But the Overlords have a new leader — and it's Karen! Whut. Also, they have a mole in our ranks, someone who's been feeding them inside info on all our cunning plans.
The bits where Arthur Manchester (Terry O'Quinn, completely wasted) is leading the search for the Mole are probably my favorite unintentionally funny parts of last night's two-parter. Especially the bit where he tells Tom, "Oh, I've narrowed the suspects down to a dozen names, but I won't give you the list or anything — I'll just tell you later, after I've been brutally and inevitably murdered." And the way he greets his killer: "Oh, so it's YOU." He seems kind of happy, like his blind date turned out to be prettier than expected.
Anyway, the Mole thing takes up a lot of the episodes. And meanwhile, the Volm are building a giant McGuffin that they swear is totally not for evil, they promise. And our heroes have to mount an expedition to take out a nuclear reactor that the Espheni are using to power their mechs, in an actually fun and tense sequence. And EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE MASON FAMILY IS HALF ALIEN EXCEPT FOR MATT NOW. Hal? Mind-controlled by his alien neck implant to go and have somnambulist sex with Overlord Karen. Ben? Still using the spikes in his spine, which at least are a major part of his character's arc. Baby Mason? Apparently already sitting up and practically speaking in paragraphs a few days after being born. This family is nuts.
It's really no wonder that Matt goes and blows up buildings and sasses his stepmom.
The thing about Falling Skies is, I really like this show. I think it's silly as hell and sometimes incredibly treacly, but I still like it for whatever reason. Especially at this point, the whole cast has gelled to the point where their relationships feel organic and real to me, even when they're in the middle of a bunch of situations that seem to have been pulled out of a hat. Hal and Maggie have some really nice moments in the middle of the "Hal is fake-disabled and also sleepwalking" storyline. Tom and Anne feel like a real couple who are having a baby. Tom and Dan Weaver have what seems to be a real friendship, at this point. And relations among the core Mason family members now feel completely solid and believable. I believe in the characters, even when I don't believe in anything else about this show. And that counts for a lot, especially when you stack it up against a ton of other shows on TV lately.
Also, this opening two-parter does a decent job with the scene-setting and world-building, making Charleston feel like a real place. There are a LOT of long tracking shots where we follow one character and then another, and it's a nice use of space.
If only this show could stop just throwing darts at a board to come up with its storylines — and stealing from other, better science fiction shows — we'd be golden.