Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Falling Skies "Death March"

Non Spoiler Review:
Death March is a very chatty episode that guides the 2nd Mass on the last leg to Charleston, leading many of its characters to interact within the confines of the convoy of vehicles. On the way they encounter a few surprises before reaching their ultimate destination.

Death March was strictly a character piece that only got exciting in the last five minutes, but at least there was some significant plot movement. The character stuff played out lazily, and some of it worked while others did not—Lourdes being a bitch, the introduction of some odd plot points that don't seem to go anywhere, as well some unspectacular revelations. But it ultimately serves to set up the finale of the series with a nice ending, heavily drawing from Battlestar Galactica.

Spoilers Now!
As the 2nd Mass is on the road to Charleston, the characters are cooped up in their vehicles along the convoy. Tom's thoughts are of Ben. Matt writes out his will and wants his father to keep it for him just in case they don't make it. Weaver attempts to learn more about Tector and has him pegged as military given his sniper skills but needs to know he can trust him. Their conversation is interrupted when their truck hits a harnessed girl.

Anne thinks her harness is damaged, though she's displaying some scaly growth from it. Weaver can't afford another enemy agent. The girl, Jenny, wakes up asking for Tyler, her brother. Matt immediately befriends her and brings her something to eat. Her guardian and the others were killed by humans, she explains. Matt tells her all about Charleston (!?). Jenny can sense Tyler coming so they stop the bus and Tyler (who is a scitter) tries to get in to her. She wants to go to join him and runs out. Matt gets knocked out in the process but he's okay and the convoy gets back on the road.

Scouting ahead, Hal, Maggie and Pope run into trouble when the truck overheats. Pope sends Hal to get water for the radiator. Alone with Maggie, Pope asks her how long she's going to lie to Hal about the truth about her—who and what she really is. When the three of them get back on the road Maggie confesses to Hal that after she got out of the hospital for her cancer, she had to get away from everything. She found herself living with a guy doing as much drugs as she could. They started breaking into houses and eventually got caught. She ended up in prison, three months pregnant. She had a boy, but they took him away. Considering the entire planet is nearly destroyed, Hal doesn't react too seriously to this. Then they run into something on the road, as well.

Weaver learns Tector was a gunnery sergeant in Iraq and Afghanistan. He admits he once unwittingly led his patrol into an ambush because he was tired. But when he gets them to Charleston he wants to move on. Weaver commiserates with him about making the hard decisions and how he nearly left the 2nd Mass himself after their losses.

The convoy slams on the breaks as they come to a destroyed bridge. They disembark and observe the distant ruins of Charleston.

It's quite a lot to absorb for Tom, who was looking for hope and a chance at a new start. Anne consoles him, telling him they're not dead yet. Weaver doesn't know what to say to his people, so Tector suggests he make something up. 

Weaver gathers them around. Charleston was a bust, he admits, and he should have known better. But the dream wasn't bad. They'll have to work harder to make it happen so they'll press on. As they return to the vehicles they find a surprise—Colonel Porter. There's a welcome reunion. Even Porter has heard of Tom's months with the aliens. Looks are deceiving, he says. They're from Charleston, and Hal and Maggie are with him, as well. Buoyed by the news, the 2nd Mass makes ready to head to the new American capital.

The Verdict:
This episode on the road did bring some further character insights, particularly to Tector who has been in the background all season but with little development. I hope he's not next on the list of axed characters. Interesting that the secondary characters don't really get noticed until plot warrants. I have difficulty even catching names sometimes. Maggie's new revelation lacked a lot of impact as well. Humanity is nearly extinct, I don't see why she (or Pope) would put any weight on what's happened in the past.

What was the point of Jenny? Is she another throwaway harnessed kid or will she be making an appearance? There seemed little to be gained plotwise from her appearance aside from Matt's inexcusable reveal about their destination. At least Weaver was wise enough not to trust her presence but we'll see if the damage has been done.

The tone was very much Battlestar Galactica this time, even arriving at the ruined city. But I'm pleased that the dream that was Charleston isn't dead and the capital does exist—just not in the open. Also welcome to see is Colonel Porter. So a decent episode leading into the closing arc of the season, which looks to change the game for our characters.

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