Quick Take: Falling Skies, "Worlds Apart"
The aliens have landed... again.
Review: Falling Skies, "Worlds Apart"
(S0201) Steven Spielberg must be feeling a lot like Joss Whedon right about now. Out of three projects that he's attached his name to in the past year, only Falling Skies has earned its renewal, while Terra Nova and The River have gone on to greener pastures (though the latter is one of the better standalone seasons in recent history).
While Falling Skies may not have dinosaurs or magical Amazonian labyrinth, it does have aliens – and it does aliens well. The special effects are markedly stronger than what we’ve seen in the recent realm of alien apocalypses – V and The Event spring to mind – and while the presentation of the alien "Skitters" and "Mechs" are nothing particularly innovative, last season’s reveal of what I’m calling the "Slendermen" as the true invaders introduces a new level of intimidation that I can definitely get behind.
Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) spent a great deal of the show’s freshman season trying to free his middle son, Ben, following his abduction. With the help of the 2nd Massachusetts resistance, Tom finds his son, allowing the good doctor Anne (Moon Bloodgood) to remove the mind-controlling harness fused to his spine, though not without consequence.
As his last act of protection for Ben, Tom gives himself to the Slendermen in the Season One finale. Picking up three months later, Season Two opens with Tom’s reappearance on the battlefield, though Ben believes he’s an alien and shoots him without a second thought. Tom spends the first hour of the premiere unconscious and remembering the past three months. After refusing to surrender his race to a neutral sanctuary (pronounced "concentration camp"), and reminding a despairing girl that humankind still has some hope left, he makes it back to Boston to be shot by his son. Some trip.
Tom’s return isn’t everything that it seems, however. Even though the teacher-turned-strategist’s moral compass is as straight as his laces, resident suspicion-sowing Pope (Colin Cunningham) and the resistance’s military leader Captain Weaver (Will Patton) remain skeptical regarding the circumstances of his return. Granted, they didn’t see the field of people slaughtered in front of Tom just so the Slendermen could make their point.
Even though the stakes should be high mid-invasion, the sense of constant and impending peril isn’t entirely established in the opening hour. We are given a proper reintroduction to the Mason family, however, as they are the Spielberg-signature family struggling to get past petty problems in a time of crisis. The second hour delivers the way a premiere should, though, building upon the arms race between factions, as well as the internal struggles that threaten to disrupt the resistance’s attempt to survive the end of the world.