As many of you should know, I am a pretty big Falling Skies fan. I enjoy the science fiction genre a lot, especially when it’s played out on television. I feel as though science fiction has a better chance on television when compared to other media forms such as movies because they have more time to tell the story and explain the universe they’re in. Often times if the mystery is revealed too soon, people will get bored and feel like they really don’t have a reason to tune in every week. I feel as though Falling Skies has enough going for it to bring viewers in weekly; whether it’s for the action of fighting off an alien race, the drama between main characters in a post-apocalyptic war setting, and of course the mystery and intrigue that has yet to be explained involving the aliens ultimate motives and plans.
This being sad, the first hour of the season premiere was pretty terrible (note: I am treating it as the first episode by itself, separate from the second hour). On the surface, we got more of what the first season of Falling Skies had to offer. There were definitely the three elements I spoke of above: action, drama, and intrigue. However, the dialogue was fairly lacking and the plot holes were pretty substantial. Most importantly, credibility and believability were thrown out the window whenever it suited the plot. Instead of writing a story start to finish, I feel as if they had an outline of where the episode was going. They then just threw in whatever was easy and convenient disregarding logic and common sense, just so they could move the story forward. Let’s take a look at a few of these points. Obvious spoilers ahead.
1. Tom lays on the alien ship for days, apparently. As we all know, Tom was voluntarily abducted by the aliens in order to try to save his son. He’s told that even without the harness Ben will still be apart of ‘the process.’ In order to save him, he agrees to go with the aliens for some answers. We start off the scene aboard the alien ship with Tom on-top of some sort of table. It’s very claustrophobic, and there are bright lights in the background. It felt like a real alien abduction as it has been portrayed in the media before, and I liked this atmosphere. Then Tom start yelling about how he’s been on the ship for days and it tired of, well, being on the ship for days with nothing really happening. This is when Karen comes to get Tom to speak to the alien leader. Was this just a huge coincidence? Maybe; but Tom was fighting with a skitter sort of and causing a ruckus right before she came to get him. It seemed more to me that they decided to finally let him talk to the alien leader because he was causing such a commotion. At least, that’s how the script and filming played out. Did the aliens forget about him? Did they implant him and then decide to leave him there on the operating table for days? He clearly doesn’t know about the implants right away, so it wasn’t like he was awake for any sort of medical procedures done on him. So he starts yelling about how he’s been there for days, and the aliens say, “We forgot about this guy. Time to get this story going,” because that’s all it was; bad dialogue written to tell the viewers he had been there for multiple days.
2. Doctor Anne’s dialogue does not resemble a doctor at all. With Tom brought back to group badly injured, they immediately get him on the hospital bus so that Anne can try to save his life. He has a bullet wound that did not exit from his body. In order to stop the bleeding and patch him up, Anne needs to remove the bullet from the wound. So instead of saying something reassuring, or attempting to calm herself or others down, she says, “I might make things worse.” At which point Tom replies, “I trust you.” I’m not a medical expert or anything, but I don’t really understand how she could make ‘things’ worse than dying. Tom is in the process of dying, and if the bullet isn’t removed and the bleeding stopped, then he will die. How much worse could it get? If she messed up the operation, could she accidentally kill herself? Maybe accidentally kill Ben too? I just don’t really understand why a medical professional would ever say something like that to a patient, ever. Before you tell me she used to be pediatrician or whatever, the point still stands. She has been the doctor for 2nd Mass for a while now, and even performed procedures to remove harnesses with completely unforeseen consequences. Her dialogue does not make her sound or feel like a real doctor.
3. Dad’s gone, but we only know how to write family in the military drama! So last season we had to deal with Tom and Hal’s relationship on two different levels; they were father and son but also commander and soldier. Being an angst-filled and somewhat rebellious teenager, Hal butted heads with Tom multiple times when it came to the chain of command. Sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn’t. It became a little tiring towards the end since it was played out so much, but it was also integrated into the larger story. Tom and Weaver disagreed a lot too when it came down to military decisions. Hal would go against his orders from others in the 2nd Mass when he felt like he needed to. You began to realize that Tom’s guilt for his wife dying as well as for Ben being missing was influencing how he treated Hal. Tom’s been missing for three months on the alien ship when we start off the season. You would think we would move on as a show now that Ben is back too. Their situations have changed, completely. Alas our beloved writers only know how to write that scenario, or maybe they just like it a lot, because we have the exact same thing between Hal and Ben. Hal has taken on the role previously held by his father while Ben is now the angst-filled teen who wants to prove he has what it takes to be a badass in the military. They begin clashing instantly, talking about how Ben has to follow Hal’s orders even though Hal is his older brother. I fill like I’ve seen these scenes before, just with Tom and Hal instead. That’s because we have. We also get another great line of dialogue from Ben, speaking to Hal about trying to teach his brother Matt to shoot, “You may be in charge out there, but here, you’re just my brother.” I’m summarizing, as I didn’t write the exact quote down. How does the chain of command work around here? You’re only suppose to take orders from someone when you’re out on a mission? It would make sense if Hal was telling Ben to clean his room or something like that, but he’s not; Ben has taken a fully loaded gun and placed it in the hands of a civilian. It doesn’t seem like it that situation can get any more military involved than the one we’re given.
4. The humans know more about the alien’s positions with practically no technology, I guess? The 2nd Mass establishes with the viewers that they have been setting up ambushes for alien patrols in the area in order to keep them on the offensive. Seems pretty legit. We’re shown one of these ambushes in the opening sequence of the episode. Then later on we’re shown the gang headed out to set up a new ambush. They spotted a patrol in the area or something like that. They pull up to what looks like an intersection in the city. They start talking about points to set up a perimeter and areas where they can get a great firing solution on the alien patrol. The only problem is, how the hell do they know exactly what intersection the aliens will be walking through? Do the aliens patrol down a single street in a straight line? If this is the case, are the aliens stupid? Patrols usually would cover an area if it was just a general patrol. In this scenario there is no guarantee as to where the aliens would go. If the aliens were on a specific mission, then they who knows where they’re headed or why. If this was an alien transport route that had been clearly documented and observed before it would make sense. Trying to make the viewers believe that the humans know exactly what area the aliens would be there and when makes no sense. Wouldn’t it make more sense that the aliens could easily track the human’s movements? Oh wait, they kind of throw that in there. Before the humans can get their perfect ambush set up, and alien airship destroys their car. When they return to base they inform Weaver and the other leadership that the aliens must have found some way to track their vehicles. They begin to discuss it and come to the conclusion that it must be from the heat of the vehicles. They all act like this is a new and interesting development. Except in the Season 1 episode entitled ‘The Armory’, they already knew that alien airships could detect the heat of flares and vehicles. Did the cast forget? Did the producers forget? More than likely the writer of this episode forgot, because it’s clear whoever wrote it hasn’t even watched their own show.
5. The skitters only exist to save money on computer generated effects. There’s too much going on in this show. We have skitters, we have tall aliens, we have mechs, we have airships, and we have harnessed children. One enemy with multiple vehicles or armaments would have been enough. I constantly ask myself why the skitters are even in the show. During Season 1 it was simply because they wanted to have a ‘gotcha’ moment when they revealed the true alien leadership that was a different species. You thought it was those aliens in charge, but it wasn’t! Ha! We gotcha good viewers! Skitters don’t really do anything. In the opening scene, a few are running around the mech getting shot and killed. It didn’t even seem like any of the had weapons, or were doing anything. They were just there as cannon fodder, literally. Then in a later scene when Tom is on the alien ship talking to the alien leader, there’s a skitter behind him the entire time. It’s one of the prop skitters, no computer generated. They change it up when they can, so usually scenes where there are multiple skitters in an action setting, they have to computer generate them. One skitter not moving much at all, they bust out the prop. Why though? Why are these things even around? It’s so they can have a simple alien in scenes without having to pay for the expensive computer generating costs attributed with it. To me they serve no purpose to the story (yet) and are just a tool to keep the show cost-effective without cutting out aliens. Kind of how The Walking Dead had audio of off-screen zombies last season to save on costs. I have an idea: if you focused more on the story then no one would be upset when there was a lack of aliens or zombies. The only time the audience starts to notice their absence is when nothing is happening and we’re bored.
At the end of all this I have to admit I’m going to continue to watch this season so far, just to see what happens. The show was entertaining enough to keep me interested in one sitting, but there were too many head-scratch and eye-roll worthy moments in the first hour. Enough for me to not want to jump into the rest of the episodes I have saved on my DVR, at least. They can definitely make Season 2 of Falling Skies amazing and redeem itself from the terrible start, or they can keep pumping out mildly entertaining episodes and watch the ratings plummet. Only time will tell.