Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: Falling Skies "Silent Kill"

Non Spoiler Review:
Silent Kill was a great episode from start to finish. Several storylines come to a head, as the mission to grab the harnessed kids figures prominently, while the captive alien catches everyone off guard. The Scitters managed to grow increasingly creepier through one particularly effective scene. Hal and Anne both got a chance to really shine here and she proved she's no lightweight. Maggie's also begun to show her value to the group.

Falling Skies appears to have reached a mini-climax with this particular storyline, as the first few episodes have been driving towards this moment. Now that the cast is getting firmly established, I'm looking forward to an exciting second half of the season.

Spoilers Now!
Maggie and Hal return from their drug excursion with oodles of percocet and even heroin, thanks to Maggie knowing where some old drug dealers kept their stash. She won't give up how she knows that, though.

Anne's happy to get it all prepped, but warns Tom that the harness removal isn't an exact science, and he should be prepared if something goes wrong if they should manage to get Ben. Tom refuses to go talk to Harris directly about it, preferring to trust Anne instead.

Tom briefs Weaver on his strategy to get the kids out of the hospital, but it's Hal who has the smarter plan for one man to go in alone with less chance of being discovered.

Meanwhile, in the civilian camp, one whiny pregnant girl, Sarah, complains to Maggie about the military keeping a Scitter in the school. Lourdes decides to keep herself busy by helping to organize a baby shower for her, and invites Maggie.

Scott has determined the Scitters are communicating via radio waves, but they've not found a way to apply it to any tactical advantage. Scott found some records, one of which sparks too many memories for Weaver, so he takes it. Scott takes Anne aside and urges that she put something up for Sam on the missing children bulletin board, but she won't take part. Later on, Tom suggests she do the same thing.

Harris gets a little too close to the Scitter and is killed (!). Anne wants to continue to study it, but manages to get 24 hours to learn what she can before Weaver executes it.

Hal goes to see Rick, who's sitting by himself missing his harness and all the togetherness with the other kids. He tries to get some tactical information on the hospital but Rick says they'll kill them all. Hal gets the idea he can put on a harness and get in among the kids and no one will notice. Tom isn't happy with that, but Weaver agrees it's their best shot.

The main problem is figuring out how to kill the Scitters without making any noise. It falls to Anne to figure it out, and she mentions the soft palette Mike discovered when he knocked it out last episode. Anne decides to prove the theory, so tazes the Scitter, then stabs it in the mouth with a knife and kills it (go, Anne!). Angry and a little traumatized, she goes to the bulletin board and says they all want her to put a picture up, but she doesn't have any. So she puts a bloody hand print there instead.

On the mission, things initially go as planned, with Hal getting into the hospital and joining up with a group of kids walking into a room with a Scitter. The kids all get down into a pile to sleep, and then the Scitter crawls over top and gently pets their heads, including Hal, who has to lie there and be quiet. The Scitter eventually goes to sleep.

Hal's overdue, so Tom goes in to check on him. Hal slowly makes an attempt to get in position to stab it, but sees Ben looking at him. The Scitter wakes up and the two of them struggle while Tom and Maggie arrive. Tom fires his crossbow and Hal finishes it off. They grab all the kids and make a break for it out the window.

At the school, Tom and his crew arrive, and Anne makes ready to remove the harnesses one after the other. After a tense marathon of pulling the implants off, Anne only loses one patient. She's still devastated, but Tom is grateful she saved Ben and four others.

Hal asks Maggie how she knows so many secret ways to the hospital so she admits she was there because she had cancer. It was 50/50, but she made it. One of the doctors told her to smoke pot for the nausea so that's how she knew the drug dealer.

Sarah gets her baby shower. Anne shows up and lets her hear the baby with the stethoscope.

Tom congratulates Hal for getting Ben back. The two of them, plus Matt, look after Ben in recovery. Weaver nods in approval, then goes and puts the record on the school speaker to play throughout the camp. Anne returns to clean up the operating room while Tom thanks her again. Then Ben wakes up.

The Verdict:
Go Anne! This was a pretty enjoyable episode, which was really made by two things—Anne taking out the alien prisoner, and the extremely creepy head-petting scene with the Scitter and the kids. Falling Skies has managed to make their villain continually mysterious and eerie, and I'm really enjoying how it's unfolding.

Harris' death came a little more quickly than I would have guessed, but I'm glad he's gone. Things seemed to take a big leap ahead, and Anne had her chance to shine to save (most) of the kids in an effectively tense scene. Hal also gained some points with his level-headed planning, which is a contrast to the usual hot-headed teen we see on other shows.

Maggie's growing on me, but she seems to be a Karen replacement (who can't be gone forever). Her cancer reveal was a little odd, and seemed like a device to add some sympathy to her character, but we'll see if it comes up again.

The only thing that wasn't working for me was the overtly sentimental stuff with Weaver and the record, as well as the baby shower. I really didn't need to hear some preggers civilian bitching about the military keeping an alien prisoner. I can see why Weaver hates having to put up with some of them. All the thank yous and hugs at the end slowed down the pace.

Now that the kids are back, I'm hoping we move away from the weekly missions and get into a more focused arc. I can't help but wonder how big Acton is, given the aliens would likely conduct a thorough survey of the town to find those responsible for the hospital raid. If they bomb things so willy-nilly, wouldn't Weaver want to move the population out of there, given they're conducting operations in the very same town they're hiding in?

And again, I would like to see some flashbacks pre-invasion (or during) to flesh things out a bit more and provide a contrast with the current status quo. On a positive note, at this point TNT has renewed Falling Skies for a second season.

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