Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Falling Skies "What Hides Beneath"

Non Spoiler Review:
Events begin to accelerate towards the season finale as Weaver and Tom go on a recon mission back to Boston to observe the alien super structures. While there they encounter several surprises, including a revelation about the invaders. Anne, meanwhile, has a hunch about the Scitters and ends up doing an operation on the corpse which reveals another shocker with loads of ramifications.

Weaver figured prominently again and continues to evolve in likable ways, which was no small feat given how he started. Pope also contributed a lot, and all the myriad side stories with Ben/Rick, Hal/Karen, Matt/Scott, and Anne/Lourdes all get some screentime. 

I'm excited to see how it all ends up, especially the implications with the Scitters and what's been discovered. And it looks like things are going to end on an explosive note (and I'm hoping they blow their effects budget for the finale).

Spoilers Now!
Porter returns to update Tom and Weaver on the situation on the ground. A major offensive is being planned against the structures over Boston (as well as others), as the aliens appear to be pulling back to them for the moment. Tom seems to think this is in preparation for a greater offensive, but there's no way of knowing. He wants the 2nd Mass to send a team in on reconnaissance in preparation for the assault, which will involve blowing up the four legs of the super-structure to bring it down.

Porter is brought to see a recovering Pope, who learned a lot from an ex marine when it comes to makin' s'plosions. Porter wants him under observation at all times, but okays it. Weaver happens to notice Rick's drawings that Anne has encouraged through her art therapy. He drew a row of townhouses that look familiar, but won't answer Weaver when he asks where he saw it. Rick gives the picture to him. Weaver, unable to sleep, continues to obsess over the image.

Pope is sent to collaborate with Scott on explosives and manages to insult everyone on the way. Scott's been busy trying to deconstruct pieces of a blown up Mech, but they find its gun section can still fire rounds. Pope realizes the Mech bullets have just been refurbished from existing bullets the aliens have scavenged on earth—refitted with the tougher Mech metal.

Hal comes across Ben exercising again (for two hours), which is a stark contrast to his days as a math nerd. Ben brushes it all off. He later has a check up with Anne, who seems to notice that he has no feeling on his back around the areas of the implants (which aren't disappearing on him as they were on some of the more recently harnessed kids). Ben tries to make friends with Rick and get him to talk about his dad. Rick doesn't believe the Scitters have abandoned them, but Ben says he hates the Scitters and doesn't want to think that they'll come back.

Weaver accompanies the scouting mission into Boston, despite Tom's concerns he hasn't had enough sleep. But Weaver says he had a construction business, so knows a thing or two about where to set the charges on the alien structures. Weaver realizes the superstructures are constructed of earth materials—all the scrap metal the harnessed kids were collecting, so there is nothing otherworldly about them at all.

Suddenly they spy some Scitters and then two tall, bipedal creatures approaching them—a different kind of alien none of them have seen before. Tom is worried if they are coming out now they might be feeling they've won.

They then run into Sonja, an older woman who has been surviving in the city by herself. She invites them in, as she's been watching the aliens and offers some observations. Weaver sends Tom and Hal in and remains outside to keep watch. She seems to have a lot of supplies on hand at her house, but explains the aliens took her away in the early days to the internment camps, but just for a brief time. She was let go because they didn't care about someone like her. She was told this through the harnessed kids. Then Weaver abruptly drives off and sabotages Hal and Tom's bikes so they can't follow. Sonja wants to make sure they're coming back.

Anne is very pensive about Ben's implants, so enlists Lourdes' aid in doing an autopsy on the dead Scitter. They cut it open and deep inside they find another harness. The Scitters might not have always been the way they appear now.

Weaver has gone to his old home which matches the row of townhouses from the picture. Tom and Hal show up and find Weaver in his back yard, but notice a lot of old blood on the floor. Weaver and his wife had split the year before the attack. He gives Tom the picture of his house and wants to know what it means, wondering if Rick and the Scitters can read their minds. He then confesses when his daughter was captured, his exwife and her husband were killed, but he managed to find his harnessed daughter. He attempted to remove it—unsuccessfully. He wants to stay and tells them to go on without him.

A Mech shows up so Hal takes cover. Weaver insists on staying but then finds a pair of glasses that makes him think twice. They manage to blow up the Mech and assume Sonja gave them up to the Scitters. They return to her apartment and she gets a visitor outside her door—a harnessed Karen (!) delivering food. Looking through the peephole, Hal nearly freaks. Sonja says she's been coming there the last few days. Then one of the new bipedal aliens shows up at the door, but Sonja just gets them to leave the food outside and that the others have long gone. Both it and Karen leave her alone. 

Sonja confesses they promised they wouldn't hurt them, and told her she'd have company again like she used to. They always promise to bring them back, which is why they let her go in the first place—to turn in anyone who might be passing through. Tom says she can come along if she wants, but she wants to stay, wrapped up in her delusion that the Scitters will bring people to stay with her. He gives her some false intel about another town being clear in case she tells the aliens.

Anne is pondering all the drawings of the harnessed kids. Lourdes doesn't know if she can keep it all quiet, but Anne says it would create a panic, though she will tell Tom. Rick and Ben could still be lost. 

Tom agrees to keep Weaver's secrets between them, but wants to know why he changed his mind about coming back. Weaver explains he found his wife's only pair of glasses in the house, and they weren't there after the attack, so there's a chance she could still be alive, and maybe even his oldest daughter. He has some hope again.

As Tom and Weaver return to base, Pope summons everyone to a demonstration (Matt's been hanging out with Pope during his research into the Mech, much to Tom's chagrin). Pope fires a regular round against Mech armor, to no avail, then replaces a standard bullet with a Mech metal slug in a .45 and blows a hole in it. Rick watches and quietly slips out, but Ben sees him go. Pope advises Weaver he can make more with metal making tools by melting down the armor. Everyone gets a big boost to morale.

The Verdict:
The introduction of the bipedal alien race was half-expected, but effectively eerie shaking up the characters' perceptions about the invasion. I'm not as sure about the implication of the harnessed Scitters—that Rick and Ben will turn into Scitters (if that's what the discovered harness suggests), or if it simply means the Scitters are an additional slave race beefed up by their overlords. 

Okay, so Pope is slowly becoming an acceptable character, and it's probably a good thing that he remains so acerbic and outside the main group for awhile. It does seem a bit of a stretch that he's the only one who thought using the alien armor to coat their bullets might come in handy?

Weaver's had some sappy scenes lately, but he has certainly evolved from his one note military commander role from the first episode. Falling Skies has pretty much made every annoying character at least bearable, including Sarah and Lourdes.

Finally we had Karen's return, made especially creepy now that she's in the company of the real alien powers. Once again, I'm proud of my boy Hal for not freaking out and putting the entire mission at risk when he saw it was her. 

We really haven't gotten a lot of detail on these internment camps (that Sonja experienced) and what went on there, aside from the mass executions. If they don't want the humans around one would think they could be more thorough if they wished. That emphasizes one of my main gripes—more talk about what happened in the last six months. Not the alien agenda, which is sure to unfold over the series, but just actual flashbacks to what characters experienced during the initial days. Now that we see that the super structures are just plain old earth materials, it seems extremely unlikely even these aliens could construct such massive architecture over multiple cities in just six months.

The revelations open up a lot of potential for where the series could go. Might there be an attempt to work with the Scitters against their common threat? How safe are all three Mason children? Can they actually bring down the super structures? I'm hoping for some spectacle for the two hour finale to carry on the momentum of what's been a pretty good close to the season.

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