* Aye, there be spoilers ahead me hearties * (I am using a pirate voice because frankly it makes as much sense as much of the writing on Falling Skies of late)
Welcome ladies and gentleman, and stray flower-loving Volm, to another episode of Days of the Masons, a show where we watch one family’s struggle to remain focused on the task at hand in the midst of a planet-scarring alien apocalypse, and in this episode at least, on their horses (which behave like equine floozies allowing pretty much anyone to ride them without complaint)…
When last we saw our intrepid, testosterone-heavy, tightly-knit family unit, who seem to be being put forward as the very last, real hope of all humanity whether we want them to be or not, they were riding, to rather grandiose, soul-stirring music, out of Charleston, enroute to supposedly find Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) and her Alien Demon Spawn Baby Alexis.
That was the intent anyway.
But as “The Pickett Line” begins what amounts to another perilously close to filler storyline, one a show of ten episode seasons can ill-afford, we find Tom Mason (Noah Wylie) and his highly virtuous (alien bugs and harness after effects notwithstanding) boys happily trotting along a country road seemingly without a care in the world.
No, that’s not entirely true since as we know they are on An Important Mission that necessitates many an earnest family discussion, preferably at as leisurely a pace a possible – they act as if the Espheni have made an appointment to torture Anne, and kindly let Tom know, which means that he and his Boys of Perpetual Perfect Intent can take their own sweet ever loving time – even after a redneck family straight of Deliverance Lite (it’s the low cal family friendly version guaranteed to unsettle but not offend) bail them up on a road and steal their horses and supplies … and remaining sense of urgency.
Yes why even then it’s entirely permissible to stroll across verdant fields, past copses of vibrantly green pine trees with bluebirds singing at your shoulders and … wait, no that’s Snow White …
Frankly I think even Snow White and her blessed Bluebird of Happiness may have issued a rather impatient “Will you please hurry up?!” to the Masons who, somehow magically divining the location of the balaclava-clad Bad Men (who turn out to be a family with at least one easily frightened woman, thus setting back feminism a decade or five yet again), set off to reclaim their horses and guns and supply-thingies with all the urgency of home renovators planning on spending the weekend watching paint dry.
Even the confrontation with the Bad People, who turned out to be not so bad after all since this is not, keep in mind boys and girls, one of those godforsaken shows on HBO where truly evil things happen, ends up simply being a case of Masons have guns and horses … Mason get guns and horses back … Masons lose them again … Masons get them back, with all the faux dramatic tension that implies.
Granted there were Earnest Discussions, so many Earnest Discussions between just about everyone about what it truly means to be human – the Deliverance Lite folk seemed determined to hide away and wait it all out which naturally Tom, father of all hope for all humanity could not begin to countenance as a strategy despite giving up the presidency JUST LIKE THAT – and yes Matt Mason (Maxim Knight) done gone and shot a man (don’t worry everyone was suitably alarmed and Matt Learnt a Lesson, I think) but that was about it really.
Lots of posturing but no real connections between anyone and when all is said and done, no real reason for any of it happening at all unless it was to make sure Tom, who in a fit of We Can’t Leave the Picketts, Bad Though They Are – after another Earnest Discussion with his boys naturally – rides back to warn the rednecks that skitters and mechs are on their way to set a spell was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Which he was, and as next week’s promo makes clear, Karen, Evil Espheni Overlord, who seems to be the only one not acknowledging the Masons almost divine status – did she not get the memo?! – had planned all along to take Tom hostage and plunge him into a very poorly scripted online game.
I mean, torture him or something something blah blah and reveal stuff yada yada yada like some two-bit Bond villain.
Surely it would be quicker to just kill Tom? Wait, who said that? Shame on you!
Meanwhile back at The Borgias, I mean Charleston, which as Pope (John Cunningham), who seems to have been designated as the One Who Calls the Bullsh*t For What it is, observed is resembling “less a fledgling democracy than a Roman palace” ripe with plotting and intrigue, and thus far is more fun to watch than Days of Our Masons.
Especially when it is revealed that the mole, who sadly is not a small furry creature prone to burying underground which would have at least given the episode some Cheezburger Lolz cachet especially with a witty and insightful tag line, was not … drum roll please … The Obvious Candidate now president of these here New United States Marina Peralta (Gloria Reubens) but rather Lourdes who, much like now-cured Hal, has a nasty case of teeny-weeny, eye-occupying Espheni bug syndrome.
Which makes her do all manner of dastardly evil things such as, gasp shock and horror kill President Hathaway (Stephen Collins), president of the actual United States thank you very much, and shows no remorse whatsoever.
None I tell you. Not a drop.
To be fair, the manner of Hathaway’s death was rather inventive, using the exact same Volm-modified weapon that did in Arthur Manchester (Terry O’Quinn).
Lying prostrate on a gurney, Lourdes cold-bloodedly shot the weapon up through the floor of the President’s room as he recuperated following his rescue by Cochise from the plane crash they were both in, blasting a big smoking hole through the Man Who Would Be Tom (this cannot be allowed as there is only one Tom thank you).
And it did set off some much-needed actual intrigue as President Peralta, fresh from getting some straight answers from the Volm after inspecting their Very Big Overly-Energised Weapon – or did she get straight answers ? The Volms intentions remain, rather delightfully, quite ambiguous which is one of the few positives of this rather blighted season – had to contend with the fact that EvHal, now just plain Hal Mason (yes I know that’s treasonous talk; none of the Masons are plain anything dammit!) is NOT the mole.
Cue sudden and sharp intake of breath.
Not only that, but if the Volm are to be believed, and let’s face it they’re not the Masons so I think we know the answer to any questions about their trustworthiness don’t we, the Espheni are mere moments away from erecting a giant energy shield around Earth to keep out the Volm and their hordes of troops on great big ships, a shield that will apparently fry all organic life on the planet (but not the Espheni, Volm or skitters handily).
Great dramatic portents of Things To Come perhaps and, all taking place while Pope, and Weaver began, ever so gently – well Weaver at least; Pope believes in the crash or crash through approach with subtlety not being his strong suite as a rather obvious go-slow work campaign made very clear – to contemplate a Volm-Can’t-Be-Trusted-Nor-Can-Peralta-Where-oh-where-is-Tom possible coup.
At least in Charleston, there was drama, intrigue and the possibility of melodrama not seen since the latest telenovela import from Mexico.
But overall, though the plot inched torturously forward and there were revelations of a kind, “The Pickett Line” failed to really spark or go anywhere truly meaningful.
(Yes I know, I know, lightning will strike me moments after finishing typing this review for daring to impugn the Masons, even indirectly. Such is life writing about a narratively off-the-rails tale of the alien apocalypse)
* and in the spirit of the moment, here’s a fabulous take on the overall Falling Skies promo …