It was with great anticipation – and a severe lack of anything better to do with my Sunday – that I patiently awaited the season three premiere of TNT’s alien apocalypse drama, Falling Skies.
During the past two summers, the Steven Spielberg-produced series has proved an entertaining, although often cheese ball, look at how a ragtag group of human survivors continue to stay alive on Earth after it has been taken over and decimated by creepy four-legged space creatures that make even Marilyn Manson look like beauty pageant fodder, albeit barely.
Per the season two finale, the 5th Mass (short for Massachusetts Militia Regiment) and their leader Tom Mason (Noah Wyle of ER fame) run into a whole new breed of alien just as the end credits roll. Sounds like a great cliffhanger, no? I thought the same thing until we the viewers have been informed that current events are taking place seven months after the finale. Actually, we are told roughly 84 times during the opening 15 minutes that everything is taking place over a half year into the future of the finale.
Making matters worse, not only do the writers suggest their audience just graduated Kindergarten, the fact that the characters keep constantly hitting each other over the head with the random timeline tidbit makes it seem like they all just woke up from a seven month alien induced coma.
To be fair, Falling Skies has never really been about subtleties. The X-Files or LOST it is not. Nevertheless, what the show lacks in elusiveness, it makes up for in action. As the series has progressed, the battle scenes have become longer and more intense. For a little sci-fi drama on TNT, the special effects and budget have been improving at a notable pace thanks to its growing popularity.
Through the (wait for it) seven month period off camera, much has happened in New Charleston, including the alliance with the Volm, the humanoid-like aliens mentioned above that were revealed in the season two finale, and the fact that Anne (Moon Bloodgood) has just popped out a fourth Mason offspring. This leads to one of the more intriguing new plot points, where it looks like daddy’s new little girl is developing at such a rapid pace that she may be old enough to pick up a glock and kick skitter tail by this season’s third episode. Of course the most pressing question remains, was Moon pregnant in real life during filming, or did she take in one too many Big Macs in the off-season?
One of the other few bright spots is the new cast addition of House’s Robert Sean Leonard who plays Roger Kadar, a mad scientist of sorts that keeps the lights from going out in New Charleston.
The other added element I enjoyed seeing was Mr. President, Tom Mason, and his backup ride in on horseback. It gave an old west style cowboys vs. aliens feel to the show that I enjoyed immensely. Like that’s a surprise?
Despite all of the above having taken place, we also find out there is a mole leaking 5th Mass plans to the Espheni (the newly discovered name of the evil space invaders from the first two seasons), who in turn now have shiny new sophisticated war machines that are lovingly referred to as Super-Mechs.
If that weren’t enough, President Tom’s oldest, Hal Mason (Drew Roy), still can’t walk, but somehow finds a way into the forest to have sex with his hot ex-turned-alien-leader Karen (Jessy Schram) who is able summon him without his knowing it. Of course, all of this is taking place while he sleeps with new girl, Sarah Carter. Who knew all it took was an alien apocalypse to get some action on a regular basis from not one, but two incredibly attractive women. Excuse me while I pray for an extra-terrestrial invasion. I kid – well mostly anyway.
Believe it or not, all of what I just mentioned isn’t even half of what’s now going on. I feel all of this helps to demonstrate that Falling Skies tries to pour on too much in too short of a time frame, which in turn creates an unnatural sentiment every time we are told it’s been seven months since the Volm landed.
The silver lining is that the time lapse approach advances the plot to an interesting point of the timeline, but inevitably it just forces everyone to play dumb for the sake of playing catchup. The other potential negative – in my honest and factual opinion – is that the missing time allows for the producers to deliver the dreaded flashback episodes.
Don’t take this all the wrong way though, I still plan on tuning in every week to get my fix. Notwithstanding a few of the negative observations above, I’m hopeful that we are now completely up-to-speed and in real-time with the story and that the events (and dialogue) will now have a more natural flow to them. That, and hopefully Hal can convince Maggie and Karen that caring is sharing… at the same time.
Falling Skies airs Sundays at 10/9pm CST on TNT.