I apologize for missing last week's episode of Falling Skies, folks. Life (and laziness) got in the way of my TV watching sked, and my recap deadline came and went. But I'm not too torn up about losing my chance to write 800 or so words about last week's ep. Honestly, I didn't have a lot to say about "Sanctuary Part 2" then, and I still don't have a lot to say about it now. It was a tight episode, and a few big things happened -- the evil farmhouse folks were defeated, Pope escaped his captors, and (gasp!) Mike died (Or did he?) -- but I can't honestly say that any one of those developments came as a surprise. But this week's episode … this week's episode … Holy sh*t!
For the past five weeks, I've tuned into Falling Skies not expecting much more than a fun sci-fi show with a heart and some solid action scenes. I never really expected the series to thrill or move me in any significant way, especially during this first season. But that changed this week with "What Hides Beneath," easily the best and most intriguing episode of Falling Skies we've seen all season.
There were so many twisted revelations here, I don't know which one to tackle first. The Skitters take their orders from giant charcoal-colored humanoid alien things! Pope found a way to easily penetrate the Skitter mech armor, possibly turning the tide of the war! The Skitters were once other beings, and some of them might even be human! WTF!
The sick part of me that loves to watch Jeff Goldblum vomit on his breakfast in David Cronenberg's The Fly is eagerly anticipating the eventual human-becomes-Skitter morphing scene (or even multiple episodes, as I'm guessing the transformation doesn't happen overnight.) But who will morph into a six-legged creepy crawly first? Ben? Rick? Someone we haven't met yet?
Rick seems primed and ready to throw away his humanity for a shot at becoming a Skitter foot soldier. What's interesting here is that Rick is responding to the compassion and care that the Skitters showed him, and not just to the fact that his significant health issues disappeared after he was harnessed. He sees the Skitters as his family, and his poor dead dad, Mike, was part of who he was "before"--a sick, defenseless kid. Mike couldn't take care of Rick, and he couldn't heal him, but the Skitters could. It's an interesting notion: our destroyers can make us better. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here, but Falling Skies might be laying the groundwork for a larger conflict between the resistance fighters and the Skitter wannabes – humans, children, who want to be harnessed and mutated to become part of the "superior" race. Now that would be creepy, especially when you remember that the Skitters are controlled by scary, intergalactic basketball players with an unknown agenda. And, you know, they're basically giant roaches.
Rick's promise to Ben ("It will get clear, I promise. They love us Ben, they will come back for us.") made me more than a little nervous. Could it be that these two kiddos are becoming more Skitter-ish with each passing day, even though Anne removed their harnesses? Ben still seems to possess his superhuman skills, and both Rick and Ben still have the harness spikes dug into their backs, not to mention that the skin around the spikes has become tough and dense. Maybe the civvies are right to fear the "Razorbacks."
The other big revelation of the night: Captain Weaver's got layers! Layers and layers and layers! Will Patton delivered a fine performance here as the tired and sorrowful leader of the 2nd Mass. I enjoyed his journey in this ep, and I liked that the writers cooked up logical reason for him to return from the drunken dark side – his wife and kid might still be alive. Sure, we've been through the whole, "my lost family member is still out there" thing with the Mason clan, but I like the idea of a renewed Weaver running on more than just revenge fumes. He's got a real reason to fight now, which marks a nice, positive change for the grisly character.
This episode seemed to have it all: Shocking Skitter revelations, solid character development, the return of Karen (sort of), decent suspense scenes, Nina Sharp (!), and enough John Pope sass to fill an entire season. I'm still enjoying Colin Cunningham as Pope, even though he almost takes it a little over the edge with the bad boy swagger. Thankfully, most of his snarky, pop culture-referencing one-liners are more Spike from Buffy and less Chloe from Smallville.
This was the last episode before the two-part season ender. I don't know about you, but I'm excited about the final two episodes of the season. I wanna to see our unwashed resistance fighters leave the hideout and take the fight to the baddies! If the last two hours of season one are as good as this episode, its gonna be a long wait for season two.