Ugh. (SPOILERS AHOY AFTER THE BREAK)
Yeah, I know, not a good start to a review of the season premiere of a show, but... ugh. Here’s my review of ‘Find Your Warrior”, the season premiere episode of season 5 of Falling Skies.
Opening scene: Tom is in dream/flashback land, and he sort of knows it, because REMEMBER YOU’VE HAD THIS DONE TO YOU BEFORE, TOMMY-BOY???? Of course he remembers... and then he falls into it anyway. Sigh. He’s soooooo tired. It a conversation with his dream wifey who has/had cancer, yet the conversation becomes a thinly veiled message from (we are guessing) a third alien race about how he has to be strong! He has to fight! He has to find his (groan) INNER WARRIOR! And then the scene sort of melts away, and his bedroom in Boston suddenly begins to flood.
Cue the opening logo.
Cut to the 2nd Mass. Oh look, Doc Glass (Moon Bloodgood) is now in charge of the 2nd Mass, instead of Weaver, who just hands off leadership to her? Ooookay. And so she goes and gives that there requisite inspirational speech about how Mason and his hybrid daughter Lexi succeeded in their mission to blow up Moonbase Espheni, and supposedly all the Espheni ships have hightailed it offworld (and we assume have abandoned the others on the ground?). But of course Tom Mason ain’t dead. Remember the water rushing into his dream bedroom? Well, it isn’t because the dream bathroom next door had a pipe burst! It’s ‘cause he splashed down in the ocean! Oh yes, splashed down, makes it to shore, all while Glass speechifies. And of course, bad boy Pope belts out a hearty “LET’S DO THIS” at the end of her speech about now having the upper hand and away they go to... what exactly? Of course, they acknowledge that Lexi kind of sucked as a person/being/cult leader, and now she’s gone and maybe we can (or can’t) forgive her.... ah, what the hell, who cares? Her character was lousy and they wrote her off the show the best they could, I’ll give ‘em credit for that! Tom, meanwhile, is wandering on the rocky beach he washed up on (New England, I’m guessing..wait, where the hell is the 2nd Mass now?) and sees a crashed Espheni mother ship in the shallow waters offshore, ala Independence Day. And there was much rejoicing... (cue Monty Python bit...).
2nd Mass then goes about shoring up defenses (first smart thing they’ve done in ages) before heading out on the offensive the next day.
Back to Tom: he’s using his mental Boy Scout Field Manual (which of course he’s memorized like he has 5 million other books) to figure out which wild berries he can eat. It’s dark, he’s alone... so of course you know he’s gonna get attacked. And yep, right on cue, out of the bushes pops one of the flying Espheni critters. Hand to, er, hand(?) combat ensues, with the critter sort of giving up and crapping out 20 seconds into the fight. But instead of taking a minute to figure out what’s up with the Espheni critter being weak, Tom instead hears dream-wifey’s voice to “find his inner warrior” and he goes all rage-monster on the critter with his makeshift machete thingy. OK, sure, let’s get completely away from everything the Tom Mason character has been up to now, because a hallucination brought on by unknown aliens told him to become a raging bad ass. Sigh.
After the commercial break, it’s back to Tom walking away from dead critter, and he sees his reflection in a puddle... and it’s the same ‘BATTLE-TOM” reflection he was shown in the dream/hallucination, face splattered with critter blood ‘n’ guts and all! Who would have guessed it? (ANSWER: everyone watching, of course). And so he wanders a little more and magically he’s back at the gates of the 2nd Mass base, and Pope is of course on guard duty. Cue the skepticism showdown between the two as Pope is ‘Popeskeptical’ about Tom’s survival, in his ‘Popeish’ way. And yet... he doesn’t stop him totally from entering the camp?? OH COME ON!!!
Next up: the Mason clan is with Tom as he’s checked out by Glass. He tells them about the dream bedroom, and Glass wants to just write it off as hallucination from hypothermia. Or something. Matt wants to know, then, how he got from space to the ocean. Good question, Matt! Then they all just sort of shrug it off. Cut to Tom speechifying to the 2nd Mass, and now he’s saying “I’m mad! GRRRRR!!! And you all need to be mad too! GRRRRRR! But not just mad, I mean RAGING IRRATIONALLY MAD! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! I mean, what’s the worst that could happen if we all get raging mad???” Yeah, OK, Tom.... you’re not being influenced by the new aliens. Nope. Noooooo, not at all. Hey, come on 2nd Mass, let’s go be warriors and blow our load on what’s left of the Espheni! Oh, and look, I brought the critter’s head in a bag! See??? BAD. ASS.
At this point, only Pope and Glass seem skeptical. Everybody else is drinking Tom’s Crazy Kool-aid. Cut to Weaver and Tom with Cochise (remember the Volm? Yeah they’re still kind of around). Cochise shows them a map of where the nearest Espheni bases are, and the 2nd Mass goes on the offensive! GRRRRrrrrr... you get the picture... But wait! Weaver informs Mason that they don’t have any working vehicles. And Tom goes all ragey on Weaver, because of course this is, I guess, Weaver’s fault? Oooookay... but Cochise let’s them know they aren’t alone: other human militia groups are out there and will probably be attacking as well, so even if the 2nd Mass is on foot now, they can still take the offensive! Cochise informs them that the Volm know of 317 groups now around the world. Yippee for Team Human!
Of course, there are these militias, but there’s nobody with the machismo and charisma and overall star-pow- I mean, ‘leadership skills’, to lead and organize them. So of course, it will be Cpt. Awesome, himself, Tom Mason, who unites them all. Sure, why not?? The Volm are going to act as communications links to all the groups now. Gee, why couldn’t they do that before, eh? Whatever. Hand-waving ‘don’t-you-worry-about-that’ ploy engaged! Forget everything you know of the past season, folks! Again, it’s the people of the world banding together and sharing info and intel to take down the alie- wait, this is TOTALLY the ending of Independence Day. ARGH!
(NOTE: for the rest of the episode, the whole “unite all the militias” thread is kind of dropped, because, well... it’s Falling Skies.)
Now on to Maggie and Ben. Ben is moaning about how it should have been him and not Lexi on the mission to the moonbase, and Maggie consoles him. So of course up walks Hal to make sure the audience is reminded of the awkward love triangle at play here (because Maggie has spikes now like Ben, actually transplanted FROM Ben, and they get all horny when the spikes activate and knock boots and all that but Maggie and Hal had been together and Hal punched Ben or something... whatever). Hal asks Maggie if he and Ben can chat all private-like; she agrees, and Hal does a quick “bro’s before hoes thing” then informs Ben that the three teams are going to head out, but that Ben is on a different team then Maggie, but surprise surprise Hal is on the same team with Maggie. Ben is none-too-happy about this.
Now on to everybody heading out: Matt wants to come, Glass says ‘no’, but Tom says “yeeeaaahhh, sure, why not?” Glass is none-too-happy about this.
Cut to Hal, Maggie, Anthony, and and the girl I think was the other harnessed girl as Team Alpha running for cover as they have charges set in an Espheni crashed ship. Before they blow it though, they see 3 skitters munching on a dead cow, because we need it spelled out for us that the Skitters are all screwed up now. They go back to the ship and BOOM! Explodey ship and critters! Also, the expected Hal/Maggie flirtation bit has returned. How’s Ben gonna like that?
Now on to Bravo team: Weaver, Ben, Pope, Sara (remember Mira Sorvino is in this show now??) that African dude (Jamil?) and Cochise are approaching an Espheni base. But lo and behold a couple of Mechs pop up and still have power! Fire-fight ensues... but not for long: the mechs only had enough power to pop out of hiding and fire off about 10 seconds of ammo before shutting down.
Now to Team... uh... Tom? It’s Tom, Matt, Glass, a Volm annnnnd let’s call the other guy ‘redshirt’, shall we? They find a crashed Espheni escape pod in a tree, and plan to blow it up, but... snap-crackle-pop something is approaching: it’s a buttload of Espheni! They’re surrounded! E gads!!!
Back to Team Bravo: they’re breaking down the mechs for spare parts (not a bad idea, it’s one thing in this episode I approve of) while Weaver confers with Cochise: why is Team Tom not finished at their objective? Weaver and Cochise deduce that Team Tom (oh, it’s Team Charlie!! Of course... well, I like Team Tom better, though). Weaver rallies the troops to run off to help out Tom and co.
Back to Team Tom: the Skitters (who we already know are ravenous and crazed) attack! Redshirt gets grabbed and ripped up before Tom can drive back the attackers. Redshirt is toast, which of course none of us saw coming at all. Redshirt (who is named Scotty... I think we saw him as a minor player in previous episodes. DAMMIT SCOTTY!) is hefted onto Tom’s shoulders as Tom tells the dead body he “still needs his help”. Lemme guess.... Tom’s gonna use him as bait in a trap. Meanwhile, Glass get’s to go all knife fight with an Espheni (the Espheni of course forgot to bring its knife in this scenario), and she wins waaaay too quickly. Because they are all bad-ass killers now. Yep. But Glass, as the Skitter dies, f-ing TALKS TO IT! AND TRIES TO COMFORT IT AS IT DIES! “Just let go” she whispers. Oh good god...
Tom sets the charges, lets the Skitters go all feeding frenzy on the dead Scotty body, runs back to the group, throws the detonator switch annnnnd... nada. The bomb doesn’t go off. All seems lost: they’re running out of ammo, the Skitters are closing in... and SHAZAM! 11th hour save by Bravo Team, because it’s FALLING SKIES, people!
Bravo Team starts shooting, and Team Tom comes a-runnin’ through the woods with Tom shouting ‘SHOOT THE BOMBS!”, which Sara does, because she is now some accidental sharpshooter. Or something.. KABOOM! The bombs go off, the ship plummets down, it too explodes, taking the remaining Skitters with it. The whole scene looks like the RotJ scene when Han Solo comes running out of the shield bunker and it detonates. Hey, if it worked for Star Wars....
Back to Alpha Team: Maggie let’s Hal know that she knows he intentionally put her and Ben on separate teams. Hal responds by first denying he did it on purpose, and then literally sweeping her off her feet and professing his love for her... or something akin to that. And he asks her to, y’know, break his brother’s heart so that she can be with him. Choose Ben or choose me. Nice, Hal... nice. She opts not to choose, because there is an unspoken 3rd option there?
Back to Team Tom: Glass of course confronts Tom about Scotty-bait, and Tom shrugs it off, because he is Grrrr!!!! Warrior Tom!!!! This is all a set up for Glass to be the moral compass of the season, naturally. OK... any way, the group realizes that this was a trap, meaning there is an Overlord nearby controlling the Skitters.. So they need to “flush him out” as Weaver points out.
Back at base, the group is trying to figure out where this Overlord might be. Cochise drops the knowledge bomb that Overlords can only control Skitters in a 5 mile radius (would have been nice to know this LAST season, buddy!) so the crew figures Alpha Team’s targets weren’t controlled, while Tom’s were (and yet, the Skitters went after Scotty’s body like it was a buffet, so.... hand wavy?). So where is he hiding? Gotta be a building or structure big enough to house him, some tech, and a bunch of Skitters, right? Weaver points out a hotel, a canning factory, and Woodrow Wilson High School... and... oh wait, Tom saw a bust of Woodrow Wilson (that’s who that was a bust of???) in his dream bedroom. Riiiiiight.... at least Glass is calling him out on his whacky visions. But oh well, they’re gonna go get ‘em anyway in the Woodrow Wilson HS (and the scene ends with lame “isn’t everybody afraid of high school’ joke. Yuck.)
Cut to nighttime raid on the high school. The marquee of the school reads: “The future is in the hands of our youth”. That couldn’t be foreshadowing, could it? Nahhhhhhh. They bust into the place, annnnnnd... nada. Although a pile of desks kind of reminds me of something we saw a few seasons ago in a Skitter nest, but... still nada. Maggie and Ben don’t feel anything in their spikes, there’s no sign of aliens, so they do the smart thing... they split up! Anthony and former harnessed girl go to the pool, the others to the gym. In the gym: LOOK! Under the bleachers! Mucho Skitters! But Hal and another guy have cannibalized mech weapons and have made them handheld, and the others open up on the Skittters. It’s a massacre! Skitter bits everywhere!
Meanwhile, Anthony and Deni (finally remembered her name!) are at the pool, nothing is there, but then a Skitter zips by, grabs Deni, and runs off. Anthony gives chase, rounds a corner, and there’s two Skitters playing tug-of-war with Deni. She pleads for help... and Anthony just f-ing STANDS THERE! And then (the best bit of the whole ep) we get an off-screen Deni death and all we see is Anthony getting splattered with her blood. HA! It was so bad it was great! Anthony finally decides ‘oh, hey, maybe I should start shooting!’ and blows the Skitters away... juuuust a little too late there, buddy.
Now back to Tom in the gym. But wait! He’s by himself! And he’s hallucinating the woman’s voice from dream bedroom again! And he sees flashy light stuff through a doorway and heads to it, and finds bust of Woodrow Wilson, just like his dream vision! Wow! Amazing! Incredible! So shocking!!! Now he’s at the top of a stairway going to (one assumes) the basement level, because all the really really bad stuff likes to happen in basements. Tom’s searching for whatever he’s supposed to find there, and he comes across (of course!) the Overlord, who has Ben under his control (again, “WHY DID EVERYBODY SPLIT UP AFTER THE GYM!!!” I scream and scream at the screen and am again glad my wife isn’t home to witness it.)
Tom challenges the Overlord, who claims he is controlling Ben as his only leverage. Tom states he can kill the Overlord and all Ben gets is a headache. The Overlord accuses Tom of becoming a savage and says he’s not afraid... and Tom shoots him in the head. Guess he shopuld have actually been afraid. Then he shoots him about 7 more times for, y’know, effect. And Ben stares on disbelieving that his papa is so darned ruthless now. Golly, Dad!
Now we’re back at the 2nd Mass camp, and everybody’s toasting marshmallows on Deni’s funeral pyre (OK, another RotJ copied scene? Feels like it is). Anthony has a single tear running down his cheek, but when Glass asks if he’s OK, he states “I’m fine” though of course he’s not. But now GRRRR! He’s got that there Tom Rage! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!! They shall PAY for what they did to Deni (yeah, you mean what you stood there and let them do to Deni? Right??) Matt consoles Ben, who felt kinship with Deni (wait, she had super spike strength too, didn’t she? How’d she get killed so easily??? Crud, now I can’t remember if she’s the one who had her spikes removed or not...) and then he glances over at Maggie to emphasize that bond with anyone who has/had spikes. She smiles at him, and of course Hal sees it and grimaces. Hal not happy! HAL SMASH!!!! GRRRR!!!
Tom stands watching the fire, and then a buzzing sound is heard, but only Tom notices, and a big ol’ fruit-fly thing lands on his neck and stings him! He smashes it, looks at it, and it sure ain’t no Earth critter. His neck is bleeding and he looks perplexed. And that’s it!
No, really... that’s it!
This episode was painful to watch. It’s like they forgot everything good they did in the past four seasons. They (the writers and showrunners) got it right now and again, and I had hope that they would streamline the show for its final season. Alas, they have not, and it’s a mess.
Oh well, maybe after this Noah can go back to being a regular on the delightfully fun The Librarians series that he is also the producer for. Same network, anyway.