Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Falling Skies "Molon Labe"

Non Spoiler Review:
Ben's terrible decision to throw in with Karen backfires, but does offer some strategic value for Tom and Weaver as they make ready to break camp. What emerges is a tense standoff, and a look at some additional weapons in the invaders' arsenal, more teases about their agenda, and some tough choices.

Molon Labe was a great episode that provided equal parts good drama and chills (with hints of The Mist). But AGAIN we get ridiculous decisions by people who should know better by now. At one point the overlords have quite a bag of tricks to use in their war effort, yet they don't take the simplest routes to exterminating their resistance. Once the audience continues to ask these questions again and again each week they need to be addressed at some level, or believability falls out the window.

Spoilers Now!
Ben (foolishly) reveals quite a bit about how the rebel scitters are communicating with him and leads Karen through the woods to rendezvous with it. Instead they meet up with some mechs and an overlord, who Karen then turns Ben over to, explaining he's been in contact with the rebel leader. They hold him down as they prepare to reharness him. Fortunately the 2nd Mass attacks (at just that moment!) and Tom chases down the overlord, which causes all the mechs to stand down.

They bring it back to the 2nd Mass where Maggie is getting stitched up by Anne. Weaver is on his feet as the camp is making ready to move out. Tom returns with his surprise with the intent to take it to Charleston for intel. But the hospital comes under attack by mechs. Tom blows up one in the basement and unknowlingly traps Anne, Lourdes and Matt down there as they're gathering supplies for the trip.

The attack subsides and Karen steps forward wanting her master back in exchange for their release. He's the same overlord who talked to Tom on the ship. Ben tells his father the overlord is scared and the rebellion terrifies him. Tom goes to see it.

Jamil is sent to search an access tunnel as a possible escape route, and emerges in the basement bloodied and near death where Anne, Matt and Lourdes find him. He tells them not to open the door. Jamil professes his love for Lourdes as Matt notices holes in the door. Jamil abruptly dies as insects pour out of his mouth. They run, realizing their only chance is to go through another vent, so Matt volunteers to find help. Anne looks for an oxygen cylinder.

Maggie's had a change of heart about Hal and thinks he's the right person for her (Karen's presence likely had nothing to do with that). They're exploring in the lower levels together and open a vent only to see a horde of insect like creatures emerge. Tom and Weaver come to investigate, and Pope joins them, promising to follow Tom's lead. They find Matt in the vent.

Outside, the berzerkers hear gunfire, realizing their scouts are pinned down. Karen returns again with a white flag, calling for Weaver. She has one of his fighters captive and they're forced to watch him get shot down by a mech.

Anne uses the oxygen tank as a flame thrower to burn a way out as Pope and Tom arrive to hep them escape.

Tom threatens the overlord to end the siege. It rises and breaks its chains, takes over Ben's mind and speaks through him. He wants peace. He has no interest in annihilating humans. Just a correction. Earth is spiralling out of control exhausting its resources, and once their task is completed they will move on. He says the humans are crippled by sentiment and cannot win, then causes Ben to collapse and go into a seizure, which leads Tom to rush to his side. Tom orders him to stop it, and he does. He suggests Tom is in over his head and he needs to release him before it's too late. Tom understands and shoots the overlord.

Anne tries to patch him up but she doesn't have high hopes. Weaver is furious the situation is spinning out of control. Tom is convinced the scitter uprising is real, otherwise nothing makes sense.

Karen is brought to camp to see her wounded master. She's furious and rushes to attack Tom but Ben holds her back. Hal shows her there's plastic explosives wired in the building. Let the 2nd Mass evacuate and they're free to leave and she may be able to save his life.

Outside the mechs watch as the 2nd Mass loads up and moves out. They're 500 miles to Charleston. Tom and Anne finally have a chance to talk. Lourdes gets back on her feet but is resolved that sooner or later something terrible will happen again.

Tom catches Ben about to sneak away from the group. He says it's for the best, as the aliens will continue to come after him and there are more kids like him who have their harnesses removed travelling with other resistance groups. He needs to reach out to them. The overlord who invaded his mind couldn't keep his thoughts walled off—he saw what the aliens are all about and they have to beat them. Tom has an emotional good-bye and wishes him luck.

The Verdict:
Apparently molon labe is Greek for come and take them, a response from the Spartans at Thermopylae when the Persians demanded they surrender their weapons. It was good to see Tom take a chance and gain some tactical advantage with their hostage. But while I enjoyed the tension in this episode, my main criticism (as with pretty much each one this season) is how the writers glaze over the escapes and sieges that continue to befall the 2nd Mass. As the scitters rightly point out, they are hopelessly outgunned. The overlords should be sitting in their motherships watching their every movement from the sky, but seem to lack the most basic surveillance techniques.

How many overlords are on Earth? They must really value Ben if one of them would come out of their secure bases and walk around in the open like that. Why are they so terrified of the scitter rebellion if it's been going on at some level for a century?

Jamil's loss would seem to be quite a blow given he's a valued member of the group, so I question the wisdom of killing him off (especially Scott's off screen death between seasons robbed them of another tech guy). Lourdes seemed unusually useless and out of character, but it's evident the writers are putting her on some particular path after revealing the loss of her family in Mexico.

I can give Ben a break for being a teenager and making a bad decision in trusting Karen, but it's obvious now (and in the past with Rick) that he is a source of a lot of intel regarding the alien agenda. Why then would Tom not ask his son to elaborate about the overlords' true plan when Ben just drops that tidbit before he leaves?

The new insect organism brought suitable chills and lived up to the new level of creepiness established by Falling Skies. Are these alive or mechanical? Because my first thought was what happens to these creatures in the hospital when everyone's gone. Will the overlords collect them, or are they free to introduce themselves into the local ecosystem? That's a scary thought.

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