Quick Take: Falling Skies, "Shall We Gather at the River"
"Tick tick boom." – Hal and Margaret
Review: Falling Skies, "Shall We Gather at the River"
(S0202) The second hour of the Falling Skies premiere delivers a much stronger episode than "Worlds Apart," but still has some distance to cover to prove that it earned a second season. For an alien apocalypse, a lot of people die without it really impacting the main cast. Everyone important to them is already dead, or so we've learned through exposition, and other than the guy Pope killed last season before he slimed his way into the ranks of the 2nd Mass., no one whose name we know has ever been in immediate danger, despite the constant abductions and assaults by overpowered aliens.
Tom's recovery from his gunshot wound leaves a lot to be desired throughout the ranks. Pope remains largely antagonistic towards Tom's return, and though Weaver shares his suspicions, his history with the history teacher affords Tom the benefit of the doubt. But when Anne and Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) pull a parasite out of Tom's eye, it becomes apparent that they need to keep their own eyes on him just in case.
There's still a great deal of development focused on the Mason brothers, particularly Hal and Ben, who have been at growing odds since Ben's rescue. The remnants of the alien harness in his spine have helped equip him, mentally and physically, for active duty, but he also takes the opportunity to try and equip the youngest Mason, Matt.
I have high hopes for the kid, if only because he's already meddled around with radio frequencies, explosives, and now guns. Even though he faces the reality that his father might be under alien control, Matt ends up saving Tom from his captivity on the bus and kills his first alien during the resistance's push across the river.
The robotic parasite isn't a particularly new aspect of alien mythology – since we're already in a realm where aliens communicate telekinetically, I submit that the parasite turned Tom into a glorified wi-fi webcam for the Skitters and Slendermen. Whatever it is, it had better be worth watching that thing get plucked out of one eyeball, only to embed itself in another.
Falling Skies still has a great deal of ground to cover before it becomes a truly iconic sci-fi series. For the time being, though, it helps fill the absence left by the real bar-setting, otherworldly shows such as Game of Thrones, Fringe, or even Once Upon a Time. That being said, it's a safe enough show to pick up in the middle of without having to worry about references to past events (they get attacked, they fight back) or former characters (again, no one important has died yet). Personally, I'm holding out for Terry O'Quinn's eventual guest spot this season to decide how much longer I'll give the show.