Heads Up: Falling Skies Has Gotten Pretty Watchable Again

Falling Skies' latest (and penultimate) season got off to a rocky start, with Nazi reeducation camps, Tom Mason as a masked superhero, and Tom's daughter Lexi as a creepy cult-leader. But over the past few weeks, this show has seemed to find its groove again. At least somewhat. Spoilers again...

The actual plot, the past couple weeks, has had to do with Tom finding a nearly intact "beamer," or alien spaceship, and devising a plot to fly it to the Moon to destroy the Espheni base up there. And then the wayward superbeing Lexi turns up, having discovered that the aliens really are evil, and saves the humans in the nick of time.

This is in keeping with every season of Falling Skies — each season always starts out with the humans in terrible straits, unable to fight back. And then in the last few episodes, the humans invent "mech bullets" or find out that they just have to destroy one Espheni base to weaken the attackers critically, and the season ends with humans scoring a great victory. Nothing wrong with sticking to a winning formula, I guess.

But meanwhile, as the show has veered back towards its traditional focus on the embattled survivors of humanity fighting aliens, the relationships have come to the fore again. The great strength of Falling Skies has always been its characters and its focus on the Mason family and their relationships, and the show has been playing to that strength a bit more.

In particular, the relationship between Tom and his new wife Anne has had some really nice moments — right after their shotgun wedding, Anne realizes that Tom's egomania is getting out of control and he insists on leading the probable-suicide mission to destroy the Moonbase. When everybody else insists on drawing names out of a hat to decide who goes, Tom rigs it so his name comes out. And the conversations between Tom and Anne about this are painful as well as tender. They're feeling like a real couple in a way that they didn't quite when they were debating what to do about their half-alien daughter.

Also, for whatever reason, I'm kind of digging the love triangle between Hal, Ben and Maggie. Ben has had a thing for Maggie for a while, and now that she's got alien spikes taken from Ben in her neck, she and Ben have an irresistible attraction. What's great is that this is played not as the two brothers fighting over her, but as Hal having to grow up and realize that he doesn't own Maggie and she has to make her own choices. (Although he makes kind of a mean joke about her probably marrying their younger brother Matt, as if she's just working her way through the Mason boys.) Any time Hal and Ben get to share a real scene together, it becomes obvious that Drew Roy and Connor Jessup have done a lot of work on making them feel like real brothers.

Matt, meanwhile, is going through adolescence and being a jerk — I could probably do without some of this, especially so soon after Matt nearly getting everybody killed by trusting his girlfriend from the reeducation camp. But Maxim Knight really sells it, and it's kind of neat to see an adolescent on television who isn't whiny at all.

I even liked how things played out with Pope and Lady Pope — he decides she's back to using drugs after her big announcement that she was going clean, and it turns out she was just taking aspirin or something. Pope feels genuinely betrayed and gets on his high horse about it, and she actually manages to make Pope realize what a dick he is.

In any case, if you've taken a break from Falling Skies, it's worth watching the last couple episodes, which felt more emotionally grounded and thus more entertaining. The two-hour season finale is this Sunday, so there's time to get caught up. I'm kind of stoked to see them actually get off Earth at last.