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A science fiction premise can be a hard sale for some people, but post-apocalyptic events are pretty trendy right now on the big and small screen. Among these shows is Falling Skies, a narrative set on Earth shortly after an alien invasion that devastated the country and left a large chunk of the population dead. It may be a premise similar to stuff that has been brought to the small screen before, but Falling Skies is still a unique premise with interesting characters.
While there are shows that are easier to invest in if they are watched from Day 1, luckily there are plenty of shows with the ease of plot or the writing finesse to help people to jump into any episode and get involved with a new series. To determine whether a show falls in to the former or latter camp, TV Blend writer Jessica Rawden has vowed to watch episodes of shows she’s never seen before and analyze those shows in different areas to let you, the reader, know how quickly you could become a fan. This week Jessica is tackling Falling Skies’ Season 3 Episode 9 drama “Journey to Xibalba.”
1. Quality Of Story
This week’s episode begins with the return of Tom Mason, played by ER’s Noah Wyle. The news isn’t good; a few people he cares about have been killed by a woman that has aligned herself with the aliens. Tom is part of a militia, and during the episode, the crew puts together revenge-oriented plans, which are later derailed when a mole inside the crew causes an explosion that traps some of the main cast underground without air. That seems like a lot for one episode, but this show is extremely detail-oriented and even with all of the aforementioned stuff going on, I'm missing a lot of the important threads of conversation that run throughout.
We’re pretty deep into Falling Skies’ story at this point and there’s a lot of technical jargon I later had to look up. For instance, some humans are harnessed by humanity’s alien foes. These harnesses take control of human bodies and pits them against other humans. Another term that might be helpful to know is “mechs,” which does stand for a mechanical object. In this case a mech is an attack drone. Now that you have these terms down, you should be good(ish) to go.
Overall, I can see why this show inspires deep loyalty among fans. It’s action-packed, has some intense characters, and even offers its own lingo.
2. Quality Of Characters
Speaking of the show’s characters, there are a lot of them. It’s easy enough to spot Mason’s children in this episode, as he has to explain to them what went on while he was away from the base. Despite all of the action and all of the enemy plotlines, at its heart Falling Skies is also a family drama and the moments Mason shares with his kids during the episode help to show that.
Additionally, we get a close-up look at some of the top level people in the militia, which include Captain Weaver (Will Patton). I actually really liked that there are so many characters in the series that have an ease of dialogue with the main cast but that I didn’t really know much about after watching one episode. Since a bunch of people are living in a small area, it stands to reason that the show would have an ever-revolving recurring cast.
I also liked that not everyone is a fan of Tom Mason and thinks he is particularly heroic. The show sets up antagonists from within, as well as alien antagonists that could attack any time. It’s not a particularly safe or happy environment, but humanity, like it always does, just keeps on trucking.
3. Likelihood Of Staying On Air
TNT only produces roughly 10 episodes of Falling Skies per season, which means we are currently at the very tail end of Season 3. However, if you have been wanting to catch up on the series, now would be a good time to start, as TNT has renewed the drama for Season 4, which is expected to return to the schedule in 2014.
Falling Skies will be back for at least one more season, which may be enough of a reason to invest. If not, jumping in won’t be a huge time commitment either, as just a few more episodes have been produced in the series in total than network TV creates in a just one season. If you don’t want to watch, it’s because you are not interested in the premise, not because you don’t have the time.
4. Necessary Investment Level
Falling Skies has a lot going on, plot-wise, in any given moment. Teens are beginning to date one another and fathers and sons are having important conversations—just before plotting revenge on aliens that have taken something dear to the community. The militia is a small community, and the variety of personalities and the way people interact with one another feels extremely real. It also means that newbies will need to watch the program carefully to soak up any details they can.
The good news is that the writers are extremely deft at bringing up any and all relevant information. On one hand, I had no trouble identifying the relevant characters and following the basic plot once I sat down for this one episode, and if you do miss an episode, there’s a great recap at the very beginning of the episode to help explain exactly what you missed. On the other hand, since the show only offers ten episodes a season, it seems like the program is a carefully crafted one, and it seems to be pretty important to seriously invest in this one and watch every episode.
The Good, The Bad, And Whether You Should Watch
Yes, the show is in its third season, and yes, if you get the opportunity to watch TNT’s drama from the beginning, I’d say go for it. Even if you don't have the opportunity to start with Season 1, the learning curve is pretty fast. By the end of the first episode, I was able to identify most of the main characters and follow the basic premise with ease. I already felt an affection for Tom Mason and his kids and I wanted to know more about some of the characters that only got a few lines of dialogue this time around.
If you are not a die hard fan of sci fi, Falling Skies may not be a show for you, but if you like stories about communities and don’t mind a post-apocalyptic bent, TNT’s drama is worth checking out. The show airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.
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