Falling Skies: Saturday Night Massacre (S4, E7 review)

Tom, Pope and Tector do their best to prepare for an all-out assault by the alien invaders, one which comes as the result of her personal grudge by the Espheni Pope calls the "Crispy Overlord" (image via Llegaron Para Quedarse (c) TNT)
Tom, Pope and Tector do their best to prepare for an all-out assault by the doggedly persistent alien invaders, one which comes as the result of a personal grudge by the ex-ghetto ruler Espheni Pope jokingly refers to as the “Crispy Overlord” (image via Llegaron Para Quedarse (c) TNT)

 

* Here there be beamers, mechs, skitters and … SPOILERS*

You may not have realised it, what with all the death, destruction and alien invasion going on, but all throughout the harder, darker, grittier, passive/aggressive Lexi-filled season 5, Falling Skies has been apocalypse flirting with us.

With a monstrous transformation and then death here (RIP Jeanne, played by Laci J Mailey), an attempted brain washing there (Matt Mason played by Maxim Knight), and stark privations of liberty, food and missing family and friends, Falling Skies has finally begun taking on the trappings of good old honest-to-goodness, is that a genocidal alien race you have in your narrative or are you just happy to blow me away, full-blown apocalyptic show.

And with its latest instalment, the tension-filled, explosions-saturated “Saturday Night Massacre”, it ceased flirting and went as Full Metal Jacket as the show gets, delivering up a distressingly large body count, noble sacrifices aplenty and Tom Mason in full bristling, mightily pissed-off mode.

While it wasn’t quite as shocking as I was expecting – the promos led you to believe that the loss of people near and dear to your Falling Skies viewing hearts would be considerable, so in a sense the loss of those who did die was nowhere near as bad as I had prepared for; a bizarre relief in a way – it was still far more deadly an episode than the show had ever been comfortable serving up to us before.

While there were still some heartfelt conversations – most notably between Maggie (Sarah Carter) and Hal (Drew Roy) who debated whether love should be jettisoned since it was an achilles heel the Espheni regularly used to thwart humanity’s fightback; for the record Hal said “Goodbye love!”, Maggie opted for killing aliens instead, and between Pope (Colin Cunningham)and Sarah (Mira Sorvino) whose URST is now a palpably-felt and very sweet entity – it was largely an episode devoted to an almighty alien assault on Lexi’s once-invincible Oasis of Love, Mung Beans and Espheni-Free Joy.

 

Sarah's hung-ho determination to take it to the Espheni is dealt a blow in the heat of battle as the reality of war takes an almost immediate toll on her; feeling that she has failed, she breaks down, only to be comforted by Pope who clearly cares for her FAR MORE than he is letting on or willing to admit to himself (image via The Insightful Panda (c) TNT)
Sarah’s hung-ho determination to take it to the Espheni is dealt a blow in the heat of battle as the reality of war takes an almost immediate toll on her; feeling that she has failed, she breaks down, only to be comforted by Pope who clearly cares for her FAR MORE than he is letting on or willing to admit to himself (image via The Insightful Panda (c) TNT)

 

But hark you ask, how did this happen with Lexi still standing in the breach for her human family?

Largely because she wasn’t there to perform that task anymore.

After emerging from the cocoon, dripping wet and naked as the day the Espheni manipulated her DNA – which Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard), who died a poignant, lingering death with Tom and Anne watching over him, postulated was now a heady cocktail of fused Espheni and human DNA after her butterfly moment in the glowing alien chrysalis – Lexi took off for her Espheni family, done she said with the violence of her human one.

Leaving aside the fact that the Masons and Anne were only being violent because, ahem, the Espheni invaded their freaking planet and they had little choice (convenient omission of the facts, young lady, thank you very much), something pointed out to her later by Ben (Connor Jessup) to no avail, her rather petulant. self-serving argument was considerably undercut when in an act of chilling bastardry, she killed Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) on her way out at the very moment the tie-dyed dress-wearing brainwashed hippie-chick soul was pleading for Lexi to take her wherever she was going.

The complete absence of humanity in Lexi’s eyes – when she emerged from the cocoon, staring lifelessly past her concerned family, could hear ben saying “Her eyes … what happened to her eyes”, a sure sign that human Lexi had left the building along with Elvis and Tom’s ability to do what needs to be done – coupled with the horror in Lourdes’ own eyes as she realised Lexi meant to kill her, not take her on the road with her, was truly horrifying.

While  it was a difficult scene to watch, made all the more so by the impotence of Tom’s willingness to stop her in her tracks, and Anne’s naive, dogged insistence that she can be saved, something even Kadar who called Lexi “evil” doubted was possible, it underscored that Falling Skies is not your grandma’s apocalyptic alien drama anymore (yes apparently she did have one; who knew?)

Of course there is still the outside chance that Lexi may turn around and be a force for goodness and not evil, but the odds seem to be shrinking as fast as the body count is increasing (which included 8 or so of Lexi’s followers who stupidly kneeled in front of some of the invading Mechs expecting them to see their peaceful hearts; all they saw were human carcasses to be slaughtered further underscoring the folly of the believing the Espheni are the peaceniks of the galaxy) despite Anne’s warm and fuzzy, near-insane and very Spielberg-ian idea that everyone can be saved.

Certainly while Weaver (Will Patton), who saw in his transformed daughter a glimmer of the woman she once was, and Anne continue to be the true believers of a happily-ever-after moment for Lexi, the alien lovechild herself had no qualms in activating Ben’s nodes and taking him off with her to the skies with her adorable Espheni daddy who stopped by in his shiny new ship to pick her up.

 

While Anne remains doggedly and almost stupidly committed to the idea that Lexi can be redeemed - yes Lexi is technically her daughter and the bonds of motherhood are strong but still her dedication to saving Lexi in face of all evidence to the contrary is less inspiring than dangerous - Tom is SLOWLY, too slowly I think coming around to the idea that they must dispatch Lexi to the Espheni gods (image via ThreeIfBySpace (c) TNT)
While Anne remains doggedly and almost stupidly committed to the idea that Lexi can be redeemed – yes Lexi is technically her daughter and the bonds of motherhood are strong but still her dedication to saving Lexi in face of all evidence to the contrary is less inspiring than dangerous – Tom is SLOWLY, too slowly I think coming around to the idea that they must dispatch Lexi to the Espheni gods (image via ThreeIfBySpace (c) TNT)

 

In terms of further establishing Lexi as the Rosemary’s Baby of the Falling Skies set, the entire go to whoa of her departure was a series of elegantly-executed, admirably emotionally-restrained scenes that understood that less really is more when you’re trying to portray real, malevolent evil.

Too little emphasis on the bad seed element of the character and the threat is almost laughable or easily dismissed; too much and you run the risk of a Bond villain-esque baddy; Falling Skies‘ writers got it pretty much all right and the results were suitably chilling.

Lexi’s absence of course meant the homicidally-vengeful Espheni ghetto overlord, who brought a legion of Mechs, Beamers and Skitters to level his grudge with Tom and by extension the 2nd Mass., was free to do as he pleased and do as he pleased he did, taking out Tector (who died in an act of self-sacrifical Skitter-splattering valour) and Maggie (well possibly; the jury is out as to whether she’s dead or merely knocked out in the rubble) and 70 other members of the 2nd Mass., when the fighting exposed and set alight a ruptured gas main in Lexi’s Former House of Hippie-Chick Hybrid-dom.

The loss of so many of 2nd Mass.’s brightest and finest, admittedly the bulk of whom were anonymous souls we had not had the chance to get to know, was graphic, violent and a sure sign that Falling Skies is no longer flirting, it’s going in for the kill.

Here’s the promo for next week’s episode “A Thing With Feathers” 

 

 

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