Falling Skies: “Hunger Pains” (S5, E2 review)

"Mmmm that sure tastes good! Wait ... wait ... no ... oops there goes my face ..." Diners at the 2nd Mass. Skitter potluck dinners were given BBQ alien and some rather amateur theatre (image via TNTDrama (c) TNT)
“Mmmm that sure tastes good! Wait … wait … no … oops there goes my face …” Diners at the 2nd Mass. Skitter potluck dinners were given BBQ alien and some rather amateur theatre (image via TNTDrama (c) TNT)

 

* THERE ARE SPOILERS … AND SKITTERS … AND SKITTERS … AND MORE SKITTERS AHEAD *

So there goes dinner …

Starving and insanely short on good old edibles after an unexpected suicide Skitter attack, one of many waves of seemingly feral Skitter attacks to plague the 2nd Mass. this episode, wiped out all their food supplies, Tom Mason’s (Noah Wylie) Rage Disciples as we should now call them – why? Because Tom said so dammit! Aren’t you listening to the vision-loving aliens in his head? – decided they had no choice but to raid a giant food warehouse one county north for some much needed vittels.

Oh and in the meantime, seeing as they were neck high in dead Skitters, barbecue one of them too and eat him/her/it/who really knows.

A fine idea until said Skitter, in the mother of all reflux events that not even an ocean of Gavascon could have fixed, made the mouth and throat of good old Richard, this episode’s Ensign Fodder, simply melt away like some macabre Halloween candle.

Lost your appetite Pope (Colin Cunningham)? Sara (Mira Sorvino)? Pretty much everyone else?

Well good, because there isn’t much to eat anyway.

Not at least until Maggie (Sarah Carter), Ben (Connor Jessup), Pope and Sara made it back from the aforementioned supplies run with a truck full o’ food – quite how that much food was around years into an alien occupation of our planet that seems rather fond of good old Scorched Earth tactics is beyond me – a bewildered young lady her Skitter-ised human brother (safe from being barbecued I think we can safely assume).

“Hey the Skitter-ised human followed us home (sort of) …. can we keep him please? Huh? Huh? Pleeeeaaaaase!”

Good old Ben was left to tell the hopeful young sister, who’d been assured by Maggie they could reverse the process – liar liar Skitter pants on fire (yeah, don’t eat it) – that they couldn’t in fact keep him.

 

"And we'll put that Skitter there, and that one there, and ooh that one will look juuuuust perfect ... THERE." Short of flowers to arrange,, the  sentries of 2nd Mass. took to alien ikebana to pass the time (image via Recap Guide (c) TNT)
“And we’ll put that Skitter there, and that one there, and ooh that one will look juuuuust perfect … THERE.” Short of flowers to arrange, the sentries of 2nd Mass. took to alien ikebana to pass the time (image via Recap Guide (c) TNT)

 

Meanwhile Tom was hearing voices and seeing his dead wife again, wife Anne (Moon Bloodgood) was trying to figure out while tending to the sick AND figuring out how the Espheni had managed to manufacture a part Skitter/part other alien with – freaky! – human eyes and squeeze into an itsy bitsy bug form (sans the teeny weeny polka dot bikini alas) and Matt (Maxim Knight) was sort of, begrudgingly falling in love with New Nameless Teenage Girl #102 aka Evelyn (Taylor Russell) at the urging of Treva Etienne (Dingaan Botha) who managed to come up with a Skitter killing drone just in the nick of time.

Phew! A lot going on right?

Well yes and no.

It smacked quite frankly of a bout of faux Shakespearian “Sound and fury signifying nothing” really, with all sort of things happening but no real sense of any tension, build-up or slow climb to some great finale which is supposedly what we’re getting, this being the final season of Falling Skies and all.

It’s all the more odd that the narrative should feel so listless given the show bolted out of the gate, well ran kind of fast, OK ambled with furious intent in the first season 5 episode, based solely on Tom suddenly getting angry with the aliens.

If all that sudden fury seems a tad manufactured and quite of odd cropping up so late in the fight against the Espheni, so too did some overly-staged argy-bargy between Weaver (Will Patton) and Tom over the former’s desire to keep all ship shape and military ready while the latter kept chanting his rage creed over and over like some dilapidated broken record.

It simply didn’t ring true nor did it really contribute much to the show’s narrative momentum of which there really was very little.

Also a tad tacked on was Matt suddenly deciding that falling in love with a newly-arrived girl was a fine idea, especially after she fainted and almost died from lack of food (as did Hal, played by Drew Roy) who made one more attempt to woo Maggie, in deep spike-fuelled lust with Ben – awww so romantic! – while recovering from also falling over from lack of non-Skitter yummies).

It seemed designed to add some emotional weight to an episode perilously short on it – one hallmark of the show has been its Deeply Sensitive Spielbergian Moments though these have thankfully been in short supply over season 4 and thus far in season 5 – but ultimately simply seemed a little limp and pointless.

 

"But Dan I'm supposed to be rage-filled ALL THE DAMN TIME! Dem aliens, the ones you can't see but I possibly can, done told me to be!" "Don't care Tom. It's pissing me off. Stop it." "Yes Dan." Tom and Dan come to kinda blows ... sort of ... yeah, not really (image via cadebordedepotins (c) TNT)
“But Dan I’m supposed to be rage-filled ALL THE DAMN TIME! Dem aliens, the ones you can’t see but I possibly can, done told me to be!” “Don’t care Tom. It’s pissing me off. Stop it.” “Yes Dan.” Tom and Dan come to kinda blows … sort of … yeah, not really (image via cadebordedepotins (c) TNT)

 

As did sadly the whole episode.

Yes there was a big reveal at the end – a valley full of nasty mutant feral alien critters all doing nasty mutant alien crittery things! Oh no! – but “Hunger Pains” seemed perpetually caught in neutral, unsure if it was building to something or simply marking time.

There was no real sense, that with the Espheni on the back foot, and militias around the world taking the fight to them – how do they know to be rage-y? Tom isn’t with them! – of anything momentous in the offing.

All we got was lots of deranged Skitters running lemming-like towards the barricades over and over like shoppers at post-Christmas sales and the Volm rather lamely bleating about how they may be able to fly across the galaxy and have really cool guns but telephones?

Yeah, no, not so much, can’t help you communicate with the other militias sorry guys, or tell you what they’re doing – save for one group in Sydney, Australia – yay local reference! – who managed to get on the Volm’s tin can and string line and get word out of some fightbacks there.

Seriously what are the Volm doing there? What have ever done there?

I seriously love Falling Skies but frankly with just 8 episodes EVER left to go, you have to wander what otherwise brilliant shower David Eick is doing burning off an episode when there is so much promising storytelling telling in the offing.

* Hopefully things will pick up in episode 3 “Hatchlings” …

 

 

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