Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: Falling Skies "The Armory"

Non Spoiler Review:
Tom and his team scout the Acton armory after Weaver insists they find out for sure if there are any weapons in there, or just a trap. They quickly run into trouble—but not the alien kind. At camp, the civilian/military debate heats up between Anne and Weaver, while Hal struggles to follow the mission when he wants to be looking for his brother.

The Armory focuses on the darker sides of humanity that have emerged as a result of the attack, while furthering along the dynamics between the characters, with the introduction of someone new and controversial to the regulars. It was a decent ending to the premiere, and sets up the main thrust of the storyline to find the harnessed children in future episodes, while successfully introducing the core cast.

Spoilers Now!
The second part to Falling Skies picks up with Tom, Hal, and his team scouting the armory for Weaver, but they quickly draw out a Mech. Thirteen year old Timmy freaks out that his dog might get hurt, which draws its fire, forcing them to flee.

The survivors are camped out in town, with the military getting the choice pick of houses with beds. Tom retrieves Matt, who has been sleeping comfortably in someone's bedroom, then goes to report in to Weaver, intent on looking for Ben that night.

Weaver's not impressed that the scouting mission failed, so wants them to go back and check it out again. Tom thinks it's empty and the Scitters are staking it out. Anne shows up, wanting to see if she can get the civilians to stay in houses, too, and not tents. Weaver says it's not feasible to evacuate in a hurry if everyone were scattered about in homes and suggests they minimize the whining and be grateful for their protection. Anne points out the people pull their weight by doing chores, but he brushes her off.

Angry, Anne runs into Tom. They walk out to the civilian camp in the meadow and he muses about the age old question of civilians and the military. He sees them as a liability, but also the best motivation to fight.

Tom goes on to chat with a teacher named Scott, who has been wondering why six-legged aliens would create bipedal Mechs. Tom suggests it might be to instill fear in humans.

Karen is getting jealous of rival Lourdes always hitting on Hal. Lourdes' faith in God is also an issue for her, and a source of mockery. Hal later puts Karen's mind to ease that there's no competition.

Tom lets him know they have to go back to the armory that night instead of looking for Ben, which gets him angry. Karen says she'll come too. Timmy, however, will sit this one out, though Weaver admits the kid is a good fighter.

That night at the armory, one of Tom's men is shot—with arrows. They manage to shoot and wound one of the attackers, but they realize they're all human, and they take Hal and Karen hostage. Tom surrenders, and they're taken to a gymnasium where a man named Pope interrogates him while their wounded man, Billy, is treated and sedated. Tom speaks for everyone, so gives himself away as the leader. But Pope wants to know where they got their weapons.

Pope is about to shoot Tom when Hal speaks up saying he can get them more guns from the 2nd Massachusetts. Pope reveals they've been watching them for two days already and knows exactly how many of them there are and what they have. He'll set them free for the mounted gun they have in their car, and sends Hal back to town to bring the terms.

Hal tries to negotiate with the girl, Maggie, who takes him out of their lair, but she won't listen to him. The rest of the group are separated from Tom, and Pope remains to chat with him about what he did before the invasion. Pope looks at the end of the world as the best thing that ever happened to him, and he doesn't agree with Tom's optimism about the resistance. But he's had success in killing lots of the Scitters (and has one laid out in the gymnasium as a trophy). Tom suggests Pope join the resistance, given he seems a lot smarter than his men.

Anne talks to Weaver again about housing, but Hal shows up to explain the situation. Weaver won't make the trade as he thinks they will likely attack them anyway, and they don't have any real idea where they are. He tells Anne to get the civilians ready to move and after everyone is safe they will go back to attempt a rescue. Hal resists, of course, so Weaver locks him in the bedroom, but his friend Mike immediately lets him out, and Anne has an idea to go back with Hal as the doctor to treat their wounded man.

Hal and Anne meet up with Maggie, who isn't impressed he didn't bring the gun, but she takes them back. Billy is in pain, and Pope is furious for them changing the terms. But the prospect that she can help Billy eases the situation a bit, and he may even let them live if she succeeds.

Pope leaves Maggie to guard them while he goes off with the rest of his men to get the weapons. Weaver is angry with Mike for disobeying orders, but any punishement is interrupted when they suddenly see flares in the sky, shot by Pope. He comes over with a white flag, demanding the weapons, as the aliens will soon come to investigate the flares and blow up the area. He wants their food and the car with the gun in exchange for their captured men. Weaver reluctantly agrees, but says he'll get him.

Billy is conscious and orders Karen to model her body for him. But that only gets Maggie angry as she came into the group much the same way and was abused by the men. So she asks Anne if he'll recover, and when she says yes, Maggie shoots Billy and the other guard, and helps them escape.

Pope gets the car ready to go but is suddenly under fire by Tom, Maggie, and the rest (with Pope's guns). Anne goes to advise Weaver of the situation. Pope suggests Tom leave, but Tom points out they're the ones standing among the flares for the Scitters to target, so they're sitting ducks. He tells Pope he can join them or die.

Pope climbs into the car just as a ship swoops down and fires. He gets away with the vehicle, but his men are all killed. Weaver is there to take him into custody at gunpoint.

The group moves on to a school as their base of operations. Weaver isn't happy with everyone being so reckless and wants to ensure people follow the chain of command. But he lets Tom go look for his son given he successfully checked out the armory. Maggie's said she saw some harnessed kids by a hospital, so they'll start with that.

Tom escorts his prisoner, Pope, to his new cell. It hasn't been decided what they'll do with him yet, though Maggie wants to be a fighter and is willing to join them. Pope's happy to take a rest for awhile. Tom thanks Anne for coming and Matt shows up to play a game of catch. Then Tom, Hal, Maggie, Karen and their crew head off on their search for the harnessed kids.

The Verdict:
As the second part of the premiere, this episode stands on its own with little plot in common to the first part, aside from the overall threads. The scenes at camp were as interesting as the hostage crisis, especially the chat about the bipedal Mechs and the little bits of conversation talking about the attack—Weaver made a comment that the town's inhabitants were rounded up to a relocation camp and then nuked—was this common practice for the initial months after the invasion? Are there radioactive areas that they'll have to avoid?

Pope's character is an odd duck to fit into the cast. His crew are racists and rapists, so he's not just a simple rebel or anarchist with a different viewpoint. He doesn't even comment on his brother dying, so the man's a sociopath. While it doesn't surprise me Tom would let him live, it does that Weaver would bring him back to their refuge. It will be interesting to see what's done with him.

Maggie looks to be a good addition, though she is a bit similar to Karen—perhaps another potential member of Hal's fan club? Anne's easily a favorite, and I'm looking forward to seeing more civilian characters and their contributions.

However, Weaver's ambivalence about the civilians just does not work. I find it strange that his men would share the same view, given most must have families among the civilians. It would make sense he would face a lot of insubordination with so many unprofessional soldiers in his ranks. But that could be part of the storyline to come, and these first episodes have piqued my interest and raised my hopes this series will get into a lot of dark territory like The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica.

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