Falling Skies: “Non-Essential Personnel” (S5, E5 review)

"Hmm that's not good" think Anne and Weaver as gunshots rain down upon them from on high
“Hmm that’s not good” think Anne and Weaver as gunshots rain down upon them from on high (image via Self Rescuing Princesses (c) TNT)



It’s official! Rage Tom (Noah Wylie) is now our Messiah.

(Sorry Jesus, Buddha, and Sponge Bob Squarepants but the aliens have spoken and there’s nothing we can do to dissuade them apparently).

And not just any Messiah either, nosirree Cochise.

He has been anointed by the wacko, cryptic aliens living in his head, which rather insensitively have taken the form of his dead wife Jennifer, otherwise known as the Dornia aka The Espheni’s Greatest Enemy, as the saviour of all alien-besieged humanity.

Hardly a revelation you might think to those us who have watching Falling Skies since the first “family moment” heavy first seasons of the show – a “family moment” is one of those touching, heartfelt Spielbergian interludes where Feelings are Discussed and Meaning Gained, usually but not exclsuively at the most inopportune of times – but the Dornia thought it a big enough deal to stop Rage Tom just as he was about to dash out of hiding and rescue Hal (Drew Roy) from certain death at the hands of a maniacally unhinged Pope (Colin Cunningham).

Not the best timing you might think, what with Pope swaggering around demanding Hal admit his father is a right royal a**hole of intergalactic proportions, but rather typical of the Dornia who are convinced, and why would they not be, that Rage Tom is the only one in the entire universe who can make their awesome new Espheni-obliterating weapon do its thing, and thought he should know before he possibly died.

How little they know.

This is Rage Tom, the most Teflon-coated of alien fighting insurgents Earth has at its disposal, and while it’s entirely possible he might die a heroic European film-esque death in the closing seconds of the finale, the odds of him dying before that are small to black hole-sized.


The Dornia may be the ones the Espheni-obliterating bomb but they have woeful time management skills, interrupting Rage Tom, when he's trying not to die storming Pope's Compound o' Bowling to tell him, um not to die (Image via TV  Equals (c) TNT)
The Dornia may be the ones with the Espheni-obliterating bomb but they have woeful time management skills, interrupting Rage Tom, when he’s trying not to die storming Pope’s Compound o’ Bowling to tell him, um not to die (Image via TV Equals (c) TNT)


Anyway, with their entreaty that he play it safe while dodging bullets from Pope and his henchmen delivered, Rage Tom was left to get, well, rage-like and storm the compound alone which amazingly, or not amazingly if you believe in his messianic abilities, he did with just the odd bullet to the leg, leaving Pope vomiting up blood even as he kept issuing orders.

But it turned out to be all for nothing as Hal and his new pal, Fake Nurse Isabella (Catalina Sandino Moreno) had already loosed Hal’s shackles and were already on their way out of Sociopath Central.

It looked for a second there like it was all going to end up happily ever after with Rage Tom, Hal and Isabella all driving off into the metaphorical sunset – it was the dead of night but a little imagination and a flare and voila! Sunset – until a great big Espheni Hornet dived in, scooped Rage Tom and disappeared.

Not quite what Doctor Dornia ordered really.

And no amount of searching by Hal or Isabella found him, leaving Tom, the Most Kidnapped Man of the Apocalypse in the hands of the Espheni for like the 66th million time in the series.

Weaver (Will Patton), Anne (Moon Bloodgood) and the rest of the 2nd Mass., weren’t faring all that well either on their way to moving to Washington D.C.

Moving isn’t easy at the best of the times, let’s be honest, but even more so in the midst of an alien apocalypse with a crazy lone survivor, who may or may not have a family – he did but not the traditional alive kind if you know what I mean; yup the wife and kids were well dead and in body bags out back – shooting at you from on high.

Weaver, eager to keep moving and to keep the bullets from damaging his flash new ride, strode confidently in to fix the situation – who do you think you are man? Rage Tom or something? – only to get captured, injured and eventually have a heart to heart with the man, who, his bold attempt to take a car and half the ammo thwarted, meekly joined the 2nd Mass. family.


Falling Skies NEP Hal Pope


And that folks was pretty much it for the sixth last episode ever of Falling Skies.

Not quite a wasted episode since the Dornia did drop that whole Messiah/genocidal weapon thing in our laps but not really the sort of episode you’d expect this close to what should be a Big Grand Momentous Finale.

It was no doubt intended as a big character episode, a chance to show, as Falling Skies has admittedly often done, how individuals fare in the midst of such apocalyptic events.

And while small “d” drama has been a hallmark of the show since the start, the fact that it became the WHOLE episode, save for its gripping big “D” drama opening which promised so much, this close to the end of things its predominance was frankly a tad surprising.

Explore Pope and Tom’s rivalry sure, deal with fact that getting to Washington D.C. won’t be a cakewalk but devote the entire episode to it with no real contribution to narrative momentum?

An odd call and one you have to question given the final season should be centred on an inexorable push to the Big grand Momentous Finale, and not spending time tidying up character loose ends.

Fringe is an excellent example of a show that managed to tell a big overwhelmingly intense final season story with the small “d” character dramas embedded within the wider arc.

“Non-Essential Personnel” didn’t get that memo apparently, the sort of episode you would expect to see in an earlier season, and not six episodes out from the end of the series as a whole.

* What’s next you ask? Hopefully some Big Developments worthy of a final season. Check out the trailer for “Respite” …


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