Sep 18, 2014

[TV] Falling Skies: Season 3

As I mentioned on my personal blog last week, I don't fully understand why I continue to watch Falling Skies. It's not like I've found the story to be all that compelling. I think in certain ways I just watch because there's so little science fiction television out there. Thus there's the misguided logic that if I support mediocre shows like this one, it might help encourage networks to create better ones. But I don't think this strategy is working out thus far.

Falling Skies has dragged on for a while and has been going in pretty strange directions. It was campy enough to try and believe that a history teacher was proving to be an excellent military strategist because of his knowledge of historical battles. But some of the shifts in the first two seasons have really pushed the limits of good taste - or even just logic.

What started as a meager effort of a resistance group to survive an alien occupation has shifted to a rather serious effort to actually rid the planet of the invaders. And this third season tried to up the ante further by giving our human rebels something more to work with. But of course, not everything is as it seems.

Synopsis: Falling Skies is a science fiction TV series created by Robert Rodat for TNT. Steven Spielberg has been attached to the production as executive producer since the first season.

The second season introduced us to the existence of a rebel faction within the Skitters themselves that seems open to helping our human heroes to overthrow their masters. At the very end of that season, te show introduced the Volm, another alien race that is in conflict with Espheni and their armies. And thus the season begins with the forces of the 2nd Mass working with their new allies to deal with the alien invaders - and to some extent they're actually winning more and more battles. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) has been elected as President of the New United States and he continues to work closely with the Volm ambassador, Cochise (Doug Jones).

But things are never so simple, of course. It appears there's a spy working within Charleston to undermine their new government. And things get stranger still with rival human forces attack them and reveal they are working for Benjamin Hathaway (Stephen Collins), the President of the United States that had somehow survived the invasion. And of course Anne (Moon Bloodgood) has finally given birth to her daughter with Tom, whom they name Alexis. But Anne has her suspicions about her baby and secretly tries to find out on her own just what might be wrong with her.

The Volm did represent an interesting element in this story, although it wasn't immediately believable the the only way to deal with the Espheni that they could come up with involved working so closely with the 2nd Mass and other humans. And given everything else that had gone on on Earth, you'd think that they'd be a lot more suspicious of getting help from yet another alien race. Some were of course, but on the whole it didn't really seem to go anywhere.

The Mason children continue to be interesting and boring at random intervals. We can entirely dismiss Hal (Drew Roy) since his only real role has been being the eldest sibling. In this season they tried to make him a little more interesting because of some alien technology that got intimately involved with him, but there's really not much to say here. Ben (Connor Jessup) is probably one of the more interesting Mason sons only because of his openness to the alien harness technology still embedded into him and the freaky abilities this gives him. Some of his "powers" were a little odd, but I suppose we can go with it for now. And Matt (Maxim Knight) is really just growing up and waiting to be old enough for the writers to know what to do with him.

It's never perfectly clear to me what the heck the Skitters and/or the Epheni really want here. They go through a lot of trouble to manipulate humanity, control their children, and yet also destroy all signs of civilization all at the same time. Sometimes they have big statements about what they want. Other times they rely on their human pawns to send subtle messages and whatnot. There's an effort to be clever but more and more it just seems they're being inconsistent and possibly crazy. And I don't understand how the Volm haven't been able to deal with them before this point.

I'm oddly impressed that Tom continues to stick around with his little band of human friends. By the same virtue, I am also surprised that the 2nd Mass felt he was the perfect choice for the leader of their new nation of sorts. This has got to be one of the luckiest history teachers around. And people still trust him despite his past time with the aliens between seasons 1 and 2 and of course his obsession with his sons and his willingness to put them before everyone else. Is this the kind of leader you want to save humanity? For the show, the answer appears to be yes. Maybe everyone just really loved ER back in the day.

I think one of the more compelling reasons to watch this show is their continued investment in special effects. You all know I'm quite the sucker for robots and the prevalence of Skitter mechs makes for low-brow entertainment for me. The rest of the plot can be strange and nonsensical but I get distracted for a moment when more mechs come into view. And this season continues to have the humans barely able to handle these alien constructs.

Falling Skies continued to trudge on in this season and I'm  not sure if the Volm were the best plot hook that the writers could have added into the mix. It's not like it dramatically changed things since the Volm relied a lot on the humans to do the leg work, and so the twist at the end made even less sense. Thus season as 3 lovely CGI mechs out of a possible 5.


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