Falling Skies tries so hard to transcend its sci-fi classification. Other series (Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica) have more easily made the leap into drama territory, but Falling Skies’s dramatic efforts are so overt, the series often falls short in the areas of creating characters with depth and in depicting realistic, complex interactions between them.
Though this effort to inject the series with more meaningful characters and themes is better than just sticking with alien/human battles and formulaic ‘problem of the week’ procedural adventures. Falling Skies should get credit for not only trying, but succeeding, at least to a certain degree.
Throughout the series the theme of family- its importance and how, as events change, family can also change form, has been hammered home nearly every week. Freedom and one’s right to stand up and fight for what they believe has also been a common theme. Tom Mason, the former Boston University professor, continues to remind us of past lessons learned from our own nations’ history. (Though thankfully, he backed off his historical high horse a bit in Seasons 2 and 3). The series was successful at working in themes like this, but at times it did seem overly forced upon us. That may be what keeps Falling Skies from reaching the level that a just a few other scifi series have achieved – the true drama that has a scifi premise. The finale did assuage my fears of ‘too much crazy;’ the events were rather straighforward and the presence of the Volm ship and leaders did not introduce any conceptually ‘out there’ material.
We learned that physical contact with the Volm is a no-no, as Tom grabbed Cochese’s dad. We were treated to more excellent CGI fireworks this episode as well. Pope continued his role as both the nay-sayer and leader of the raw, name calling (fishheads, bubbleheads, etc.) ‘let’s kill ’em all’ movement. There should be others fulfilling these roles, and there’s much more the talented Colin Cunningham (Pope) can do besides be a pain in the ass all the time.
A few episodes ago I described Falling Skies as having classic western storytelling – this rings true as well in this episode with the increased presence of the Volm. We now have another group fighting on this soil, and each group’s end goals will affect whether, if at all, they can get along.
Karen (Jessy Schram) was great and using her as the spokesperson for the Espheni created a different kind of antagonist; she’ll be missed. With Maggie already pulling away from Hal and his idea of a normal life, Maggie’s ‘extra shooting’ of Karen was a nice exclamation point on the growing division between Hal and Maggie. Lourdes, if we recall, had a crush on Hal long ago, and they hinted at that as Hal promised to help Lourdes survive the, well, simply put, all the worms in her head.
So, it’s August and now we have another reason to look forward to next summer – Season 4 of Falling Skies. Let’s hope things don’t get too crazy and that they add more depth and drama to their characters next year- I’ll be rooting for all of them – rebels, the Volm, even the Espheni.