After revving things up considerably last week, after a few episodes where Falling Skies almost spluttered to a narrative stop, this week’s episode “Road to Xibalba” (a reference to the name of the underworld in K’iche’ Maya mythology which roughly translates as a “place of fear) put the pedal to the metal and zoomed off to some rather scary and explosive places.
Literally explosive as it turns out.
One after another buildings blew up in spectacular fashion with the Volm facility the first to go nuclear, sending out a shock wave so great that it violently threw a recently returned from Boston Tom Mason (Noah Wylie) and John Pope (Colin Cunningham) who were engaged in one of their vigorous tête-à-têtes (although interestingly one in which Tom, who fears Karen may have bugged him again, asks Pope to shoot him the moment he does anything strange on the possible mission to Boston; Pope naturally agrees immediately ’cause that’s the no b.s. kind of guy he is).
Only Cochise, who rather fortunately can self-regenerate if left alone, survived the destruction of the facility which rather fortunately left the weapon operational (or so the lone surviving Volm believes) ready to be used to take out the Espheni’s grid which if you recall went operational in “Strange Brew”, threatening to fry all life on Earth in three short months.
BBQ’d humanity? Not a particularly pleasing prospect really.
While I am still not entirely convinced that Cochise and the Volm as a whole are on the level – I want to believe I really do but I can’t help suspecting their superficially good motives and wondering if they didn’t blow up the facility themselves using the mole’s activities as a cover – Cochise certainly talked as a man very aware of his own mortality with he and Tom engaging in a rather meaningful West Wing-like walk-and-talk discussion on the nature of fate and why human or Volm do what they do vis-a-vis the Espheni.
Largely it turns out because no one really has any choice, but the sense of taking matters in your own hands and at least having some say in your own destiny was strong, as was Cochise’s stated admiration for the tenacity of the human spirit.
Or was that just Teflon Tom’s human spirit?
Hard to say but it was a deep and personal moment that, unlike previous episodes, didn’t slow the non stop action down one iota, proving if Falling Skies wants to, it can have its deeply engaging action-filled plots and ponder the meaning of life, the universe and everything if it wants to.
Then, the kaboom-a-thon continued with an Espheni bomb planted by Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) taking out the mall that had been centre of the human resistance and trapping everyone from Hal (Drew Roy) and Maggie (Sarah Carter) in the ammo supply room, and Tom, Marena (Gloria Reuben), Jeanne Weaver (Laci J Mailey)Dr Kadar (Sean Leonard) and a whole of others under tons of rubble with no way out.
And unknown to them, a mole still running amuck with a Volm-modified weapon in a bag where only lifesaving meds should be.
But ah, not for long!
For somewhere in the middle of Ben (Connor Jessup) and Matt (Maxin Knight) finding and rescuing a newly re-bonded Hal and Maggie – near death experiences have a powerful way of bringing anyone back to what really matters – and Tom blowing a hole in the wall to free them all (suspect load bearing columns be damned; I am Tom Mason and I am angry!), Lourdes was finally uncovered in the simplest and most satisfying way possible.
She let slip that she knew Tom, and by extension the quite possibly dead Anne (Moon Bloodgood) and Alien Demon Spawn Alexis – hence Tom’s embrace of hate as a motivator over love; well temporarily at least since we all know he’s just not a nasty hating kind of guy right? – had been in Boston, which she couldn’t have known since Tom had only shared the information with Dan Weaver (Will Patton) and Geneal Porter (Dale Dye).
In short order, she was lured from the sick bay where she had been about to lay a rather pointy scalpel into a recuperating Cochise by a fake sick Anthony (Mpho Koaho) – a well played devious luring card everyone! – taken captive by a very angry Tom (raising the issue of why grace and understanding is extended to bugged Masons but not really anyone else) whereupon she began ranting like a mad woman about everyone being doomed and you might as well give up now etc etc.
Even if you know it’s the bugs talking, very angry bugs none too pleased that they’ve been exposed, it’s hard to ignore the crazy, verbally diarrhea-ing woman tied to the gurney, prophesying your imminent destruction.
And she may well be right if Tom and the others can’t get the Volm weapon up and running, and get to Boston to take out Karen, the tower, and the whole Earth-cooking grid.
Of course the human spirit, the self-same one that Cochise spoke so glowingly of will prevail since this is after all Falling Skies, and they have faced great losses before, but even so this action-packed, long overdue episode certainly raised the stakes for what little is left of humanity and bodes well for an action-packed, plot-rearranging finale in which humanity will find out that the universe is even more crowded they thought.
Bring it on! (Yes I am finally excited about season 3 – at last!)