After all the long horse rides in the country, ruminations on life, the universe (pretty much literally in an alien apocalypse) and everything (usually the Masons), and lethargic inactivity of late (with the exception of the penultimate season 3 episode “Road to Xibalba” which bristled with more energy than a fully active Volm weapon), “Brazil” saw humanity and the Volm taking the fight to the Espheni in the sort of fast and furious manner they should have been employing all season.
Well, for the first action-packed, decoy train riding to Chicago, rest of the 2nd Mass. on a barge chugging towards the Espheni tower in Boston ten minutes anyway.
And what a glorious, if slightly massive suspension of disbelief, battle it was.
While Colonel Dan Weaver (WillPatton), a typically mouthy John Pope (Colin Cunningham), fellow Beserker Lyle (Brad Kelly) and Anthony (Mpho Koaho) steamed towards Chicago on a train lit up like Christmas – it looked absurdly implausible they would be that exposed until you realised they were meant to be noticed, dragging a still worm-infested Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) aka The Mole aka Gollum’s wild-haired, crazy-eyed girlfriend – Tom Mason (Noah Wylie), his boys, Maggie (Sarah Carter) and Cochise (Doug Jones), and the rest of the fighting 2nd Mass. chugged purposefully across Boston Harbour towards the Espheni tower on a huge barge, Dr Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard) making the finishing touches to the Volm weapon.
It was the Falling Skies-equivalent of D-Day and everyone naturally looked suitably serious and ready to win the war once and for all (which it all did a little too easily).
Especially Hal Mason (Drew Roy) who was ready to go find a nice house with a white picket fence and settle down once the war was over, which he, of course, expected would be yesterday already.
Free spirited girlfriend Maggie on the other hand was a lot more circumspect, unsure the war really would end, and even if it did, if she would be suited to a life of flower bed tending and carpooling.
There be future trouble brewing at t’ mill I fear.
But for now it was all about blowing up the Boston tower component of the Espheni’s Volm-be-gone shield, which when it finally fell much like that last teetering ten pin that will spell the difference between a strike and a frustrating score of 9, took down the whole grid just like that.
Apparently the Espheni can fly across whole galaxies but forgot to build in redundancies to their all important defensive weaponry.
I sense some fairly poor performance appraisals coming for certain Espheni engineers.
But till that grim day in Espheni H. R. – which is likely simply Karen (Jessy Schram) blowing them all to kingdom come – humanity would make merry as the Volm came whistling down through our atmosphere in a ship so big it squashed several gazillion blocks of Boston’s downtown when it landed (so abrupt and dodgy-CGI-laden was it landing that it did resemble one of those comical animations out of a Monty Python sketch).
The 2nd Mass. is beyond jubilant at the apparent end of hostilities, accomplished in an adrenaline-fueled, full-on ten minutes, and immediately starts loudly and ecstatically partying, expecting the Volm, filled with warm and fuzzy do-gooder feelings, to simply schlepp off to another benighted corner of the galaxy to rescue some other unfortunate invaded indigenous beings.
Wait! Not … so … fast … everyone …
Turns out they are here to help – so the good guy act wasn’t an act at all, with the friendship between Tom and Cochise being every bit as real as it appeared – but only after they pack us all off to reservations in Brazil, which is mysteriously Espheni-free and not worthy of their attention.
It was an odd piece of aliens-only-ever-invade-the-USA retro science fiction and detracted somewhat from the idea that all of humanity was in peril. (Seriously the Espheni war strategists should be joining their engineer compatriots in Karen’s dead-as-a-Dodo HR hell.)
This news of course does not go down well with Tom passionately arguing to the Volm commander, who turns out to be Cochise’s rather pompous dad that humanity has always been ornery and uppity and won’t take being relocated and disarmed lightly, thank you very much.
What looked suspiciously like an intergalactic imperialist land grab by the Volm turned out to simply be their centuries-old way of dealing with the Espheni.
Pack off the locals to a location far out of harm’s way, and get to fighting with the Espheni.
That does beg the question however of why the Volm haven’t managed to take back their own planet, and if the policy is so damn successful, why the war has been going on for centuries.
Yes, according to Karen who meets her maker – God or the Espheni it’s hard to tell – thanks to well placed bullets by Tom and Maggie (thus thwarting a tender goodbye from a still sappy Hal; my lord it takes a lot to make this guy hate you!) – CENTURIES.
Time for a rethink strategy-wise huh Volm?
Which is exactly what Tom, who has been detained in the big Boston-squashing ship, urges Cochise’s patronising, if well-meaning (but again according to Karen, secret-holding) dad to do.
And which he does – can anyone resist the perfect wisdom of Tom after all? Of course not; that’s like expecting the Care Bears or Strawberry Shortcake dolls not to charm your Hallmark-loving socks off – re-arming the 2nd Mass. and urging them to hightail it as far away as they can before all hell breaks loose.
Somewhere in the middle of all this not quite so forward liberating, Karen, who as it’s been pointed out dies thanks to a bullet from an angry can-do Tom who is done talking – except to the Volm with whom he is a regular diplomatic chatty Cathy – turns up and makes noises about how they should all be friends since the Volm aren’t as sweet as they look and might just take your planet and …
Wait that sounds like the Espheni Karen thank you.
How about we just shoot you – BANG! – scoop up Anne (Moon Bloodgood) who suddenly appears in the forest with a now six year old Espheni Spawn of Satan Baby Alexis, whose all too grown up-ish appearance shocks Tom to his core.
Her sudden appearance and new enhanced abilities are however of benefit to a shampoo-deprived Lourdes, who looks like she could do with some basic hygiene products and a nice relaxing soaking in the bath, who is cleansed off her nasty head worms right before the 2nd Mass. hit the road once again, back where they started oh so long ago.
Granted the first ten minutes of the episode, with its fast steam trains, fierce gun battles and tower blowing up, gave the illusion of a great deal happening and in a way, a great deal did happen (even if there were narrative holes big enough to fire a Volm energy weapon through).
But then the pace slowed considerably and the finale, which should have been an action-packed race to a season four setting up finish – a season which TNT has already green-lit and which will air US summer 2014 – began to resemble much of season 3.
Slow, uneventful and underwhelming in the reveals it offered.
It wasn’t a bad episode as such, neatly tying up some of the ongoing story lines and giving the show a good launching pad into what I hope and pray will be an action-packed fourth season – what is Alexis capable of? Are the Volm really a threat? Will Tom be able to go horse riding again? – but it wasn’t compelling either, leaving you feeling a little let down and palpably underwhelmed.
Here’s hoping they let loose next season and give us the down and dirty scrabbling for survival 2nd Mass. we have grown to known and perhaps temporarily fallen a little out of love with, in a fairly lacklustre third season.