I am compelled to go into this week’s Falling Skies episode, “Evolve or Die,” by examining whether or not the show succeeded in providing us with a lot of story from the perspectives of every character on this show. However, we then got to the last two minutes, which decided to go so far out there that it makes me have little patience to write about it later, rather than right now. So here we go, on top of a very busy episode, we now have crazy Espheni communication powers, where two overlords can not only talk to each other by crushing dirt in their hands (or whatever), but be super snarky dicks to each other as well. Thanks for this off the wall development, Falling Skies.
To be fair, the conversation that these two Espheni leaders have with each other is a significant way to boost the threat level, given how simple Tom’s near casualty-free escape from the ghetto. Buried beneath the casual insults these Espheni were handing off to each other, we get a sense that there really is nothing but sinister intentions in store for the humans, were the Espheni to have their way. Sure, there may be something they hope to achieve by assimilating human kind with their own, which we will examine later with Weaver’s subplot, but nothing good can come from the final result and I don’t care how many Lexi/Lourdes cult combos are thrown at it.
Speaking of which, we do get a push forward in what is going on with Lexi, as the presence of Anne makes for certain truths coming out. This is actually the plot with the least going on this week, though the ramifications seem to be leading to the most significant endpoint, if Lexi cannot be controlled. Essentially, after Anne figures out that Lexi has been chatting it up secretly with an Espheni, a confrontation occurs, which leads to another outburst of Lexi’s weather-controlling super powers. The Espheni overlord, having revealed itself, allows itself to be captured, in an effort to calm Lexi down, but Ben is not buying what it has to say. It really amounts to baby steps here, as we haven’t moved very far, but perhaps we’ll get some kind of interrogation next week.
Moving on, we once again manage to combine a couple plotlines, as Tom is bent on rescuing his son Matt from the Espheni re-education camp. We get a quick check-in with Matt, who was put into isolation, after taking the fall for something last week, which gives us one last chance to see Matt have a conversation with creepy Ken. Meanwhile, Cochise fills Tom in on where Matt is located, which leads to Tom, Cochise, and Weaver all heading out to rescue him, while Hal is placed in charge. I will get back to Hal, but for now, I enjoyed seeing something that I never really noticed before; Drew Roy has done a fine job of channeling Noah Wyle in his performance as Hal.
Following along with Tom, Cochise makes for a good guide, but he would also be very effective in helping to rescue Matt, which is why this show of course requires him to be injured and forced to sit that portion of the mission out. How? It is because something out of Predator appears to be following Weaver. While Weaver may look weary, he is aware that he is being followed and only discovers what this is, while Tom is busy rescuing Matt and beating the crap out of creepy Ken. If not for the conviction in Will Patton’s performance late in this episode, I would have written his subplot off as way too convenient, but here we are. The thing stalking Weaver turns out to be his daughter in a mutated skitter state. It looks nasty and she dies by saving her father. How this happened, I am not sure, but Weaver explaining the situation to Tom made up for it enough. Tom is certainly sympathetic to Weaver, but he did manage to get his son back, let alone allow the audience a chance to watch creepy Ken get beat up. Now we can only hope the rest of these kids are rescued, let alone reverse-brainwashed.
Back to Hal, I mentioned last week how interesting I found Hal’s role as a potential leader to be and it is like the writers heard me, as they continued to deliver on that aspect this week. They even managed to pick apart my thoughts on the one old man dying by applying it to Hal acknowledging his effectiveness as a leader overall. Well played Falling Skies, as it worked. While not based around effects and action sequences, I did like listening to him and Dingaan (Treva Etienne has been a good presence in general) talk out the decision making, since Tom is not around to lead. With the Volm informing Hal that the Espheni are on their way, it is a tough decision for Hal to make, as he is now in a role of leading a large group of people and it could lead to harsh times if the decision proves to be a bad one, but he eventually makes it and it is seemingly the right call. Surely Tom will find his way back and take Hal off the top step, but for now, it is a good way to forward the idea of what this character is turning into – his father.
And of course we have Pope. Not happy taking orders from Tom most of the time, let alone his son, Pope is aware that supplies are needed and since he fixed up a truck, he decides to go offer and get what he can. Coming across a house with plenty of fuel lying around, he goes for it, only to find out an answer to a question we were all asking: where has Mira Sorvino been? Apparently she has been squatting in this abandoned farmhouse, as she pulls a shotgun on Pope and eventually makes him aware that she’s going to take his truck. Power shifts once Espheni mechs make their presence known, leading to Pope getting all that he needs and taking Sorvino’s Sara character with him to join Hal and the gang, as they head out.
Obviously Sara has been designed to be a love interest for Pope, as she has the same sort of attitude and even claims to, “Live every day like it’s her last.” It helps that Sorvino is a good actress and she and Colin Cunningham have solid chemistry right out the gate. Where this is going? I am not sure, but if Sorvino is sticking around for a while, so be it, I am not upset by that. Plus, the meeting between her and Hal was exactly the kind of character spark that makes me enjoy being with these characters more than a situation on a show like The Walking Dead, where no one would speak clearly to each other, someone would probably get shot, and then the greater good of killing walkers would eventually bring them together, begrudgingly developing a tenuous friendship, before another horrible thing happens.
All of this is capped off by the Espheni dirt-fueled phone call I described earlier, with the Espheni overlord that Tom burnt to a crisp last week vowing to have his revenge. I guess that is a way to go, but honestly, “Evolve or Die” had a ton of story to get through this week and the weirdness of that scene was almost maddening, as it just felt like too much. That said, while not as inherently fun as last week’s prison break episode, the pacing is so solid that it is hard not to be caught up in the momentum that this season is pushing on us. I can see it being hard to keep up with, were you not taking diligent notes like me, but the strength of the performers, let alone the production this week (which thankfully had less dull greys abound, compared to the ghetto setting), has made for what can at least be seen as an involving hour of television. Ideally we can have focus on less characters next week, but the show at least feels confident when it tries to put together all of its characters into one episode, with shared amounts of screen time. Given how much of a battle it must be to try and make that work, evolve or die seems to be a code to live by.
Other Thoughts From The Desk Of Tom Mason:
- More fun with Drew Roy’s Noah Wyle channeling, there are several instances where he acts just like Tom would, as he asks about the supplies and what to do. This is later capped off with Hal using a historical reference to Roanoke Island and the phrase, “Croatoan,” so his dad will know how to meet up with his son. It may be more obvious to some than others, but I like what is being done, as Hal is now being given something more interesting to me than what girl he is currently dating.
- These characters groupings are getting closer to becoming one again, as Hal decides to head towards the coordinates stated in Lourdes’ radio message.
- Alos, this week on “Shut up Lourdes” – She forces the 2nd Mass to wait outside with their guns.
- “Colonel Weaver is displaying somewhat erratic behavior.” – Cochise is a creature of accurate wording.
- “Lacrosse is not a sport man.” – Dingaan is a fun character.
- “I know karate.” – I’m looking forward to the energy that Mira Sorvino is so far putting on display in her role.
- Next week, get ready for “Mind Wars” #TNT BOOM!