‘Falling Skies’ spent nine episodes building up to the battle against the Ephensi, and in the episode before they were in quite the pickle. The Volm engineers that could use the weapon had died, and there was no one to operate it unless the agoraphobic Dr. Kadar could learn extremely advanced technology in the matter of days. Half of Charleston had been blown up, and it turns out Lourdes was the spy all along.
The opening of this episode ignores all of these things, and basically just says “they were taken care of somehow. Anyway, let’s blow stuff up”. Somehow, Pope, Weaver, and Anthony get a hold of a train to “attack” Chicago, taking Lourdes with them so she can mislead the Espheni. They survive the Espheni attack and arrive in Boston in time to get on with the celebrations. There are a lot of things I question about this, not the least of which is how they managed to get a train with tracks they could follow (usually infrastructure like that would be the first thing an invading species that doesn’t require cars or trains would do), or the fourteen hours between Boston and Chicago that miraculously traversed unharassed, or the fact that they were attacking as the decoy at night when Tom Mason and Co. were clearly attacking their target at night.
My point is the timing doesn’t work in any sense.
I also don’t know how Mason got a huge boat and managed to ship it all the way to Boston harbor without also being captured. It is incredibly hard to be stealthy with a boat, in my mind.
In any case, within these five minutes, everyone survives and the Espheni defense grid is taken down. And rest of the episode is setting up the tension that is to follow in the fourth season, namely that the Volm are not what they exactly seem and the humans refuse to be exported to Brazil for their own safety while the Volm and the Espheni duke it out in North America.
The timing, you’ll note, feels a bit off here too. Nine episodes and then it’s just boom? All done? As for why Brazil? I don’t know, but apparently the Ephensi, when they attacked THE WORLD, decided that the South Americans should be left alone, I guess. I’ve never really been able to follow their tactics.
The dangling plot threads are disgustingly numerous. The people who served under the real president, Benjamin Hathaway? They are distant memory as we abandon the stationary life of Charleston and all of its forgotten dramatic possibilities in favor of what’s been done: Mason and Co. wander about and guerrilla fight.
It’s a shame. Charleston had so many opportunities for amazing stories along the lines and tension that would be between characters that weren’t the Masons, and none of the stories were truly explored. The showdown between Pope and the government was pathetically C-plot, as was the Vice President’s distrust of the Volm. It seems it doesn’t matter what position Mason is in, he is always the dominate character and the plot will only go the way he chooses it to go.
I think I know the reason for why Charleston was abandoned, though, so I probably shouldn’t be so hard on the show. Each season is 10 episodes long, which doesn’t really afford several long, sweeping, complicated story lines they way it did in science fiction shows like ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’. Instead, ‘Falling Skies’ chose to chug along with one story, and the rest of the side stories are essentially useless.
And finally, I come to the last plot point, and that is that Ann and her daughter, Alexis, are not dead after all. I want to be surprised but… well, let’s do a show of hands: Did any of us think she was dead? Yeah, I don’t see any hands raised, and that’s because if we’ve learned anything from ‘Falling Skies’, it’s that the Mason clan is the only people who never die. While I can hope that her capture by the Espheni was for a very interesting reason, I can’t really get over how predictable it was that she came back in the last episode of the season. What wasn’t predictable, though it should have been, was Karen’s death at the hands of Tom Mason, which was really the highlight of the episode. It’s not because I wanted to see Karen go, but rather because as she lay dying, she sounded like the Karen we knew all those episodes ago, and it was a nice touch to hear lose her detached veneer and to see her calling out in fear and pain. It felt like in the last moments, she regained some of herself back, and I have sorely missed old Karen.
So, it’s probably very obvious how I feel about the season finale of ‘Falling Skies’. I went from being excited for every episode because they teased all these dramatic story lines, then disappointed as each story line was abandoned one by one to get us to the finale where climax was a throw away moment on a random boat that the super-technological Espheni didn’t notice going across the bay.
If anything, this series started with a banging 5 atoms of 5, and it ended with a whimpering