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Darkness Descends on Falling Skies: Season Premiere Review

By on June 18, 2012
The cast of Falling Skies. Photo by Michael Muller. Image © TNT. All rights reserved.

The cast of Falling Skies. Photo by Michael Muller. Image © TNT. All rights reserved.

By Jamie Krakover

Falling Skies kicked off its second season last night by kicking things up a notch. Audiences were treated to more aliens, new characters, changes to the old favorites, great effects and more than a few big bangs!

Taking place three months after the conclusion of season one, the Second Mass is on the offensive. Pope is more bloodthirsty than ever, and Ben, in pursuit of revenge, has joined the fight. At the end of the opening encounter with the aliens, Tom Mason’s triumphant return is met with accidental friendly fire from his son’s weapon. Ben’s hunger for payback has caused him to act before thinking.

Cast and crew have indicated that season two will take a much darker turn. Connor Jessup’s Ben Mason recently told Chevron One that “When you have a world with such a rich mythology, and so many characters you have to spend a few episodes establishing all of that. But as the first season went on, the pace began to ramp up, and things got a little bit more exciting. Mysteries were unveiled and layers were peeled back more and more, and we really ended the season on this incredibly high note. We were, in essence, half way through the build up. And season two continues that without pause.” If last night’s back to back two hour premiere is a true yardstick, then the season ahead looks like an exciting landscape.

Noah Wyle as Tom Mason. Image © TNT. Photo by James Dittiger

With an unconscious Tom being treated for his bullet wound, we finally get to see some much wanted flashbacks from his time with the aliens and beyond. According to the invaders the resistance is doomed and we should just surrender. Someone should have told the humans that because they definitely don’t want to give up. Karen, one of the harnessed teens, says the aliens are willing to offer Tom and his sons the chance to live together. Using Karen as a medium, they propose to give the survivors a “place” to live peacefully. The aliens have a godlike-complex telling Tom that they will decide if the Earth will continue to survive. Tom has no intention of taking the newcomers up on their offer, and says they will always continue to fight as long as the aliens refuse to be peaceful. Tom proves he still has a lot of fight in him as he tries to take on a two legged alien and a Skitter. Later he is dropped off with a dozen other captured humans who face a skitter and a firing Mech. Only Tom is allowed to survive  – which can’t be a coincidence.

Tom continues on alone and happens upon a bag filled with a ton of cash and a man trying to haul off a teenager. He fights the man off and tries to help the scared teen who doesn’t seem to appreciate the assistance. When she realizes Tom is one of the few kind people left in the world she strikes up a deal and he hitches a ride with her back to Boston. Unfortunately having seen so much death, this girl has lost all hope for the future and conveniently dumps Tom off right in the middle of alien’s skirmish with the Second Mass.

Meanwhile Matt Mason wants to join the fight as well. (Everybody say aww!) The poor kid feels left out and really wants to help but he’s a bit too young. Despite this Ben agrees to teach his little brother. Ben and Hal are at odds over this decision, among other things. Hal feels responsible for Ben, but Ben says his big brother is not his dad. He will follow Hal’s rules on missions but not outside of them. However when Hal catches Ben trying to teach Matt how to fire a gun, he gets angry. Ben’s valid argument stemming from his time being harnessed, is that Matt has the right to defend himself. Hal doesn’t agree saying their Dad didn’t want this for Matt. And true to brotherly form Ben hits a soft spot by bringing up Hal’s harnessed girlfriend Karen. The scene illustrates just how fragile the Mason family unit is without its patriarch.

The Second Mass is taking heavy fire from the aliens who have started targeting the heat signature on their vehicles. Luckily they have a plan to use fiber glass to mask the heat of the engines. But they can’t move until Tom is more stable. Too bad there’s a hoard of aliens headed to their current location. The convey goes on while the med team and four soldiers, including Ben and Hal, hang behind to protect them. The Mechs show up but bypass the humans.  The aliens clearly want Tom alive. When he finally wakes up he forgives Ben, the Mason’s have a happy family reunion (Careful Falling Skies. Avoid too many of these Hallmark moments and you’ll do just fine!) and the Second Mass is elated to have him back – well most of them anyway …

Foreground: Tector (Ryan Robbins) Image © TNT.

Pope has a new and interesting role in the second mass in command of a band of outlaws. He however is one of the few not happy about Tom’s return. He’s harboring serious suspicions surrounding it. Something more people in the second mass should probably be paying attention to.

At the start of the second hour, we see Tom waking up from a nightmare involving a Skitter attack. He asks the good doctor to check him out, thinking the aliens may have done something to him. Anne reassures him all is well. Tom is disappointed that the aliens reeled him in with seemingly empty threats but Anne insists he has nothing to worry about because his boys are fine, and Ben visibly hates the Skitters. However  Tom is rightfully concerned that Ben still has the spikes in his back.

Captain Weaver is worried about the aliens closing in and brings Tom up to speed on events. It’s clear the Second Mass are desperate for Tom’s help, but he  refuses because he can’t trust himself and thinks no one else should either. Weaver puts his foot down and the audience is left wondering if its all going to come back to bite someone in the ass.

When the Second Mass analyzes the best way to cross a river, Ben offers to swim it to check things out. Tom seems surprised but Ben reassures him this is what he does now, having acquired new abilities such as superhuman speed and strength. When he does cross the river, Ben is repeatedly assaulted by an alien frequency when he happens upon a giant alien antenna surrounded by Mechs.

Connor Jessup and Maxim Knight in TNT’s ‘Falling Skies’ Photo by James Dittiger

Ben will be an interesting character to watch this season as his transformations continue to take hold and he struggles with that fact that he’s become a “freak”. Ben harbors a lot of hate, and Tom confirms that it is a powerful emotion but tells his son that if hate is all that’s driving him, then the aliens have already won, as love of his family is the way he’s been able to keep moving forward.

Since no one is listening, Tom confides in Hal and tells him he has to agree to keep him in check because he doesn’t trust himself. After some arguing Hal starts to come around but Tom collapses mysteriously before the conversation reaches a resolution. Matt worries that what his father said is true but big brother Hal tells him the aliens couldn’t change their dad if they tried. Hmmm….

Unfortunately Tom turns out to be right and Anne pulls a rather disturbing looking parasite from his eye. After the removal everyone thinks Tom is now fine but he’s still paranoid and rightfully so. With the aliens sources of technology, who knows what other goodies they have planned for Tom. Especially when the parasite manages to pass through solid glass, sprouts wings and flies out the window of the med bus. I hate it when that happens!

Pope continuing to do what he does best, challenge authority, expresses that Tom is a liability. He probably would have gotten shot, but lucky for him the captain still “needs Pope and his band of degenerates.” How is it that Tom, his young son, and the crazy guy are the only ones who suspect Tom might be a problem?

Captain Weaver (Will Patton) and Hal Mason (Drew Roy) study the map © TNT.

Back in the tent, Weaver studies the images from Ben’s surveillance and they develop a plan to take out the alien antenna he found. The Second Mass needs to get close enough to fire on the aliens, and once successful they hope to blow the bridge up hindering the aliens from following. With one shot Ben manages to take out the top of the alien antenna, knocking out the signal only Ben can hear and the team heads back for the bridge. The Mechs however, descend before everyone is across. Tom jumps into the fight and to his surprise Matt joins as well taking out a Skitter.

When everyone else retreats Tom stays behind and they can’t blow the bridge until he is clear. As Tom runs back to the group he yells at them to hit the detonator. When no one does, Pope takes over and executes leaving Tom’s fate unknown. Hal gets in a good punch on Pope in revenge before Tom makes his second reappearance of the evening. Anne threatens to tie a cow bell around his neck so she doesn’t lose him anymore, (We think we may actually want to see that) but its probably not necessary because he must have at least seven of his nine lives left. As the two hour episode closes we see the parasite return to a skitter and assimilate with it.

So there you have it Falling Skies fans. We’ve waited a long time for some answers and we definitely got some …  but with lots more questions. We now know the aliens will not back down and they expect the humans to surrender. The war is heating up and Tom Mason is not to be trusted. But what do the aliens really want from the harnessed kids and what will become of Ben as he continues to become more superhuman? Season two is certainly shaping up to be an intense one. What are your thoughts on this explosive opening? Do you like the increased action and darker twist? Tune in to the Skitter frequency and let’s talk Falling Skies!

One Comment

  1. Zach

    June 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Good review, but I believe the third picture is Tector (Ryan Robbins) and Lyle (Brad Kelly), instead of John Pope (Colin Cunningham)