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Falling Skies Watch: Episode 4 - Grace

We learned more about the Skitters and their creepy connection to Earth's children in 'Grace,' one of the most intriguing and disturbing episodes of Falling Skies yet. But before we dive into the episode's plot, I want to bring up something that's been bugging me about this show from the start.

There's a lot I like about Falling Skies -- the central characters and the actors who play them, the suspenseful action scenes, the mystery of the Skitters, and the alien creature design to name a few – but, so far, the show has one glaring flaw: It just looks too damn clean. Too "TV." You know what I mean?

The show is supposed to depict life after the world has crumbled, after most of humanity has been wiped out by killer alien monsters and darkness has fallen over the Earth. But its hard to buy that premise when every scene is so brightly lit and all of the "rag tag survivors" look perfectly clean and happy and healthy. It's hard to believe that they're fighting for their lives in a post-apocalyptic living hell. How are we supposed to become emotionally involved in the characters' struggle when they don't really look like they're struggling?

Everyone still seems to have easy access to makeup and hair product and hair dryers – not to mention bright, unblemished, fully stocked places to "hide out" from the evil alien overlords. Even the scars and bruises on the soldiers' faces look phony, like they were painted on for a school play. I'm not trying to nitpick here, but it's a problem when the show's visual production seems at odds with its scripts, which tend to dip into dark, adult territory more often that I thought they would.

Maybe I'm just spoiled by four years of Battlestar Galactica, where the characters' levels of desperation, fear, and anxiety were reflected in every aspect of the show, from the scripts and the performances to the lighting, wardrobe, makeup, and the set design. But I can't be the only one who feels this way about Falling Skies. Maybe it's an unwillingness to accept the show on its own terms. I dunno. I'm looking forward to hearing what you guys think about this issue.

Despite my problems with the show, I'm still enjoying Falling Skies, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how this season ends. As the TNT promos keep reminding us, the story has only begun, and we have six more episodes to go before the summer series wraps its first season.

Things moved along at a steady clip in this episode. I call this ep disturbing because of the scenes involving the brainwashed children turning on their friends and parents. It seems like the Skitters are claiming the Earth's kids as their own, and they're using them to fight and kill other humans. It's a smart tactic, as Tom and crew refused to fire on the kids and instead decided to distract them in order to escape from the motorcycle shop. But there's something even more sinister about the aliens' connection to the kids, as evidenced by the scene with Mike's son Rick and the captured alien.

Rick denied his father, voluntarily slapped the gooey harness on his back, and started walking toward the Skitter, like he wanted to help it. It was weird, almost like he looked to the Skitter as a father figure. Earlier in the ep, Anne had posited that the harness might have healed Rich from his illness – an interesting development. Why would the Skitters be kidnapping kids and healing them? Perhaps healing them will make them better soldiers?

Anne also figured out that the Skitter's brain waves (or something) might be causing the static on the radio, which brought up even more questions about how the Skitters communicate and about how they control the children. And the Skitter finally spoke, sort of. Speaking through Rick, the Skitter demanded to be released, claimed that Rick was "one of ours now," and then demanded to be killed. As creepy and compelling as that scene was, it didn't really tell us anything about why the Skitters are so obsessed with kids, or if the kids can be restored after the Skitters take them prisoner. That made this ep a little frustrating, but, like I typed before, this is only the beginning. I have a feeling that answers are on their way, and I'm hoping those answers won't disappoint.

We also found out that the Skitters have a vulnerable spot on the roof of their mouths. So I guess that means you can punch them out? That's pretty silly.

John Pope is still a bright spot on the show. I like his frak 'em all attitude toward the Skitters. If one of those creepy crawlies enters his line of sight, he's gonna try and kill it, plain and simple. You gotta love that. Pope is cool and corny at the same time, but he's also the kind of bad-guy-gone-good that I love to root for on genre shows. It helps that Colin Cunningham plays Pope more as a confident and flippant prankster than a scummy criminal. But Pop rode off into the sunset after knocking Dai unconscious. (Seriously, Tom needs to choose a smarter right hand man. You suck, Dai!) Pope is gonna have a lot to answer for when the 2nd Mass catches up with him again.

'Grace' offered some solid suspense and deepened the mystery of the Skitters, but it was also full of eye-rolling moments, most of them concerning the overly pious and perfect Lourdes and Dr. Steven Webber, AKA Dr. A**hole, AKA, Probably Gonna Die Pretty Soon. What did you think about 'Grace,' and how are you enjoying the series so far?

Other thoughts:

- Loved seeing Pope blow the upside down sleeping Skitters to bits, even if it gave away Tom's cover.

- The sight of the Skitters sleeping upside down like bats was pretty unsettling. So was the sight of the Skitter crawling on the wall all spider-like in the bike shop.

- These writers must be huge Harry Potter nerds. We got at least 2 or 3 references here from different characters.

- I didn’t mind the holding hands and praying bit at the end. What bothered me was the whole "I haven't seen bread in forever" thing. These people look like they're having three solid meals a day plus dessert and snacks in between.

- Line of the night: "At least they're sleeping and not having Skitter group sex!" Eww.