TV Review: Falling Skies 2.1, "World's Apart"
Overall Season 2 Episode 1 provided a little action and ultimately set the stage for an interesting Season 2 full of more questions and hopefully some more answers.
One of my Father's Day presents this year was the return of Falling Skies on TNT for its second season. This show is one that despite all of its flaws I love. For those who didn't see the first season and are unfamiliar with the premise, here it is. Aliens came to Earth. They conquered human civilization pretty easily. The survivors have formed up militia style to become the resistance. They fight the aliens, the aliens fight back. Some things we learned last season (SPOILER ALERT): There are two varieties of aliens. The first variety is the skitter/cooty. It is a large multilegged insect looking alien. It's fast, strong and tough to kill. The second variety is the skinny and it reminds me exactly of the description of the skinnies in Starship Troopers (the book). It is tall and technologically advanced. Up until the last few episodes of season 1 we were unaware of any alien other than the skitter (variety 1). There are also Mechs which are essentially robotic war machines. Another huge reveal was that the skitter variety is essentially a slave class. The skinnies put a device on humans (and maybe other aliens) called a harness. The harness gives them strength and stamina and lulls them into a blissful state while it converts them into a skitter. That's pretty much the premise. We follow the 2nd Mass(achusetts) in their fight to survive and fight back the alien menace. The main characters are Tom Mason (a history professor and the company XO played very aptly by Noah Wyle) and his sons. Captain Weaver (Will Patton) is the company commander and Anne (Moon Bloodgood) a civilian doctor. Pope is also a prominent figure as the resident anti-hero. At the end of season one we were left with several cliffhangers/loose ends. One was the introduction of the skinnies. The other was the reveal that the skitters were harnessed at one point. But the big cliffhanger was the capitulation of Tom to the skinny commander as he boarded the skinny ship in the hope of keeping his son Ben (who was once harnessed) from falling back under their control. Season 2 picks up with some of the same themes helping with the continuity. We find the 2nd Mass underway with a guerilla action against the aliens. The big surprise and a probable theme of this season is that the previously harnessed Ben Mason is starting to realize the kick-ass side effects of the harness and is taking it out on the aliens with vengeance during the fight. Of course this has an unfortunate side effect when he puts a bullet into an alien and inadvertantly wounds his father Tom who shows up out of nowhere after months in captivity. Most of the episode is taken up by the fight to help the wounded Tom and flashbacks of Tom's time in captivity, subsequent release and journey back. One of the series strong points is the constant relation of the characters' current situation with times in US (and World) History. It's sometimes done overtly, but when the skinny offers a truce to Tom during captivity in the form of a prison camp/reservation type situation Tom points out quickly that mankind has done some horrible things and that just because they were done didn't mean they were right. One of the things that irked me about a similar situation with Anne (played by Moon Bloodgood) is to have her recite Tom's words to Weaver. Weaver laments with Tom gone the company has lost its conscience and historical reference. Anne proceeds to lecture Weaver about how Tom would approve. I find this whole scene odd. That's my only real problem with this series and that's interjection of constant drama (hey it's TNT's big catchphrase!). Technically Season 2 is starting out better than 1. It seems like the effects supervisors have realized the alien CGI looks crappy in daylight so most of the aliens we see are dimly lit or at night. The skinny is truly freaky looking but the skitters now that we've seen them better just look a little silly. But this is to be expected with a lower budget cable series. It's a minor complaint. One of the other big themes we see explored is that the aliens are a problem but so are the other survivors to a point. This is a very played out but always interesting theme in all postapocalyptic fiction. It literally figures in just about all PA fiction I've read or seen. We get a triple dose here. Can we trust the previously harnessed Ben? Did Tom get turned by the aliens? Will Pope shoot them all in the back and steal their stuff? Overall Season 2 Episode 1 provided a little action and ultimately set the stage for an interesting Season 2 full of more questions and hopefully some more answers.