Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: Falling Skies "Grace"

Non Spoiler Review:
Attempts at communication with the Scitter prisoner and how it influences the harnessed children provide the focus this week, while Tom's mission is to secure motorbikes for faster reconnaissance. Anne, Scott and Mike get some additional screen time as they try to decipher what's going on with the aliens.

The series is doing a good job fleshing out its characters. Weaver continues to grow more likable, with Anne and Scott as easy favorites so far. However, Lourdes and her constant prayers come across quite annoying, and unfortunately for Harris, he's managing to be even more arrogant and dismissive this episode. The whole communication angle remains the most compelling plotline, with attempts to learn what the aliens want and why they've invaded, and the additional creepiness of the harnessed children always lingering in the background.

Grace started out strong, but as the hour progressed the story seemed to slowly dwindle out, ending on a rather quiet note. While not the best episode, it wasn't a failure either. I'll attribute my boredom to Lourdes' scenes.

Spoilers Now!
Weaver orders Tom to go looking for motorbikes (on Pope's intel). Tom seems to see the logic in that—it will be easier to grab kids if they have more bikes. Pope wants to go, given he knows the area, so Weaver decides to send him along, despite Tom's opinion to the contrary.

Anne is surprised how healthy Rick's lungs are and suggests to his father that his cystic fibrosis has been cured by the harness. Tom asks how he's doing, and Anne assures him the surgery isn't bad as long as they have enough drugs to counteract the harness' effects once it's removed. She's noticed how Harris is acting around him, though, so Tom explains about his wife dying.

Maggie has been on reconnaissance and says the hospital is still being used as a base for the kids. She's noticed Weaver's had his men keeping tabs on her, though, and she points out she's the reason Tom got away from Pope's men, so she should get some points for that. She suggests taking Pope on the mission is a big mistake.

On the way to the bike shop, Pope manages some aggravating racial innuendo with Anthony. Hal wants Matt to learn how to handle a gun, but Tom's insisting he have some modicum of a normal childhood. Hal's still upset about Karen's disappearance.

They arrive at a bridge and find four sleeping Scitters hanging upside-down. They also find Mechs in sleep mode. Tom wants to move on, given the Mechs will activate if they fire on the aliens, so they leave them alone, despite Pope wanting to take them out.

Anne attempts communication with the caged Scitter, showing it photos of Earth. Harris gently mocks her for trying. She thinks it's scared, so offers it water, but Harris prefers a more heavy-handed approach and shows up with a gurney carrying the dead alien they retrieved from Pope's hideout. The Scitter freaks.

Scott shows Weaver a crank radio he's made. He's also been put in charge of making explosives. Scott suggests Matt be given something to do by monitoring the radio for broadcasts of other resistance cells. Matt hears some unusual static just as the Scitter in the other room is acting up.

Tom's crew find a number of bikes they prep for travel. But Pope gets his bike going first and rides off with a gas can to take out the sleeping Scitters at the bridge. They hear the explosion back at the store.

Back in Acton, Anne is resistant to Harris dissecting the Scitter. She wants to figure out what it wants and learn about their enemy, reminding him Porter wants to attempt communication. Harris manages to insult her and won't be second-guessed by a pediatrician. 

Rick wakes up, but doesn't recognize his father. Mike (continuing his trend of bad decisions) goes over to the Scitter's cage to talk to it. Given the harness cured his son, he wants it to talk to him and explain itself. When it does nothing in response, Mike brings out his gun. When he still doesn't get a response, he shoves the gun in its mouth and it abruptly collapses.

Anne goes to hang out with Scott and Matt, angry with Harris. Just then the radio starts picking up another short burst (at the same time as the Scitter acts up again). 

Later, Harris thinks Mike hit a pressure point in its skull that caused it to have a concussion. Harris cuts open the dead Scitter to see if they can find an organ responsible. They begin to put two and two together that the radio signals are being caused by the Scitter's reactions, though Harris mocks that theory. The corpse proves too old to be of any use in proving it.

Rick gets up and grabs the harness, replacing it on his back. The needles reconnect and he goes over to the Scitter cage. The radio acts up again so Mike runs back to the lab as his son tries to release the Scitter. Harris asks Rick what he wants. Rick, in zombie mode, replies they want to hurt him and to let him go. The child is one of theirs. Mike rushes over and rips the harness off and the Scitter screams. He needs to know why Rick would put the harness back on.

Harnessed kids, armed with machine guns, begin to surround the bike shop and begin firing on their position. Dai gets shot. Tom refuses to shoot kids, so they need to find the Scitter controlling them. They make a break for it in the bikes, with Tom taking Dai with him. That's when the Scitter arrives and they manage to kill it and make their escape.

Weaver can't understand why the Scitters are arming the children, but Tom assumes it's a method of psychological warfare. But he's given the go ahead to go searching for more drugs and later on, to grab as many of the kids as they possibly can.

Anne updates Tom on the Scitter radio signals, which apparently aren't that strong, as they haven't alerted nearby aliens. Maggie lets Tom knows all the pharmacies nearby have been picked clean, but there may be another option. Given Pope has apparently deserted them, the group sits down to a dinner and joins their hands together in a prayer of thanks, courtesy of Lourdes.

The Verdict:
Grace lost some its momentum three quarters through and fizzled out. Pope's absence was casually brushed off, and, as mentioned, Lourdes got two too many scenes in which she got to talk about her faith. The flight from the bike shop was done rather quick and effortlessly, including taking care of the Scitter that made its sudden appearance as they were leaving.

Harris is playing too much as a cliche and source of conflict again. If and when he gets killed (and I'm betting he does) it would have been nice to have his character illicit a little sympathy here and there.

On the plus side, Weaver continues to grow more human and it's refreshing to see him cooperating more with Tom and losing his edginess. Also nice to see was Matt getting something to do, and further development for Scott. I enjoy Anne already, however she could easily slide into the overly humane doctor type who doesn't want to harm the Scitters, versus Harris' hard line approach. 

While the series is still finding its legs and setting up plot, I see the necessity of these mission-of-the-week stories, but I do hope this doesn't become the blueprint for the remaining episodes. Otherwise the series could get repetitive (someone screws up the mission, Tom offers some sage advice, Hal has angst, etc.).

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