Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Falling Skies "Compass"

Non Spoiler Review:
Jimmy and Ben have made a habit of hunting scitters, which inevitably backfires. The 2nd Mass makes preparations to move as winter is coming, but the question of where to go remains a source of contention. Pope makes his move against Tom, while the survivors get a surprising visitor.

Compass was a depressing episode and hammered home that Falling Skies is going to keep it dark. Lots of threads and questions emerge about what's happening with the scitters, the harnesses and the outside world. There's some hope on the horizon, but is it genuine? 

Spoilers Now!
Jimmy and Ben are out hunting scitters, managing to bring one down that Ben takes pleasure in finishing off. Meanwhile Weaver and Tom agree it's time to move from the aircraft hanger before winter, as the aliens are combing the countryside. Weaver wants to go north and disappear into the hills, but Tom says it will send the wrong message to the aliens that they're defeated.

Tom is ambushed by Pope and his men and taken into the woods. Pope offers him the chance to walk away because he won't have him in the 2nd Mass given his suspicion Tom was compromised. Before Pope can force him to leave Ben takes Pope with a knife and forces the others to disarm. He and Jimmy are on their way back from patrol. They take them to Weaver to pass judgement.

Weaver wants to leave Pope and his berserkers behind, but Tom suggests Pope is just the problem. Anthony plays devil's advocate and wonders if Tom is a walking time bomb. As a compromise Tom suggests he return to duty, assigned to the berserkers so he can keep an eye on Pope.

Jimmy and Ben track the scitter with the red eye. They're overpowered and the scitter manages to take control of Ben by accessing his harness (which glows on his back). It leaves, Ben regains his senses and goes to Jimmy's aid, who is impaled on a tree.

He's brought back to Anne. Weaver is furious to learn they've been hunting scitters. Tom and Weaver come to terms with the reality of their world that their kids will grow up fast and there will be casualties. Weaver orders the berserkers to sweep the area. On patrol, Tom finds Jimmy's compass at the site of the battle. The scitters return and they watch a mech come to collect the dead. 

As everyone waits to hear if Jimmy will live, a plane lands at the airport. Avery Churchill is her name, and she's been looking for the 2nd Mass. She's one of four pilots who left Charleston looking for survivors on direction of the new Continental Congress (elected by 3000 civilians in Charleston). She wants them to get to Charleston where the militias are assembling to form a united force. They have made contact with Europe, as well. Weaver is skeptical and needs to detain her until they move out. Tom thinks Charleston is a better option than the mountains. Avery has even heard of Tom and his time with the invaders. They need people like him in Charleston, she tells him. 

Ben is sitting with Jimmy when Tom finds him. Jimmy stops breathing and Anne is unable to save him. Weaver digs his grave while Ben and Tom prepare the body. Jimmy's compass is missing and Tom finds it with Pope. That inevitably leads to a fight. Tom finally gains the upper hand and has to be pulled off Pope. But he gets the compass. 

Pope goes to Weaver to demand some repercussions given Tom should be under his command, but Weaver tells him if he wants to leave then go. Pope tells Tom he should have killed him when he had the chance, but his berzerkers won't go with him, except for Anthony, who says he owes him. Anthony tells Weaver someone has to make sure Pope doesn't double back and endanger the 2nd Mass.

Anne, who has been keeping track of the dates, is upset that it's her daughter's birthday, and Jimmy died on it. They bury Jimmy and Weaver delivers a fitting eulogy. Avery flies off as Ben comes to see Weaver at the grave. He gives him the compass. Ben finally breaks down.

With only 176 people left, Weaver has changed his mind to go to Charleston. He owes it to Jimmy and everyone they've lost to stay in the fight and Charleston seems like a good place to do that, especially with winter on the way.

As Ben sits in the woods he's grabbed by the red-eyed scitter who seems to exert mental control over him then leaves. Hal arrives for Ben and he rejoins them.

The Verdict:
Overall this was a great episode, delivering quite an emotional punch and surprise with Jimmy's death. Ben also performed well, and the chilling aspects of how easy the scitters can control him do not bode well for the future.

Pope's behaviour was a mixed bag. I realize he's quite erratic to begin with, but the way no one seems to obey Weaver's orders these days doesn't speak well for the future of the 2nd Mass. Why Anthony is off with him seems an unusual step, as well.

The big news from Charleston is screaming a trap. Is Charleston and the Continental Congress real? It appears too good to be true, and too suited to Tom's military history background that it seems constructed just to rope him in. I also question the wisdom of having such a congested amount of people in a city. What is the alien tactical situation? Can they not locate this centre of government. It's almost as though they have no satellite or mother ships monitoring the planet anymore. Or are they allowing it to happen in order to get everyone in one place?

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