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Monday, 30 June 2014

Falling Skies S4E2: The Eye.


Not to be confused with the London Eye, which is delightful.

Falling Skies
S4E2: The Eye.


[Spoilers, obviously.]

 In the last episode, most of the characters ended up in a prison camp, except Matt, who turned up in a re-education camp; Anne, who became a guerilla fighter with a band of rebels; and Ben, who ended up on sale and got picked up by a lovely band of cultists with Maggie, led by his sister Alexis.

At this point, the Espheni might just be Nazis. They've certainly stolen their playbook. Their horrible, horrible playbook.

As we start this episode, Tom lobs a brick at the energy field, because sometimes that's just what you do. Down in the streets, a woman with a baby becomes the victim of the scheduled Random Act of Cruelty by a Skitter Guard, and is saved by The Ghost. I was going to make a joke in this review about how it's really obvious the Ghost is Tom, as nobody else dresses like a history professor who got dragged through a hedge and then made a crude mask, but apparently it's a copycat, in this case, so bedraggled-professor-chic plus that particular pattern of scarf must a) Be all the rage in the prison camp, and b) Be widely stocked at their branch of Primark.

He returns to his room and chats with Dan a little, before the Skitters turn up and throw them out of solitary confinement. Tom reunites with Hal, but a bright light interrupts his standard inspirational speech. A pod descends from the ship, carrying a harnessed child to speak for the Espheni dude up there. He has a simple offer: Until the Ghost is handed over, they'll get no food. 

N'aw, Hal.

Tom wants to turn himself in, because of course, and Dan wants to threaten Pope into giving up all the food he's stashed away. Tom agrees to at least trying it, and then turns his attention to Hal, who informs him that the plan has changed. Tom's enraged by this, which confuses me a little, because dude, you were in solitary confinement. You've not really been around to discuss this stuff with. Just listen to the new plan.

We join Anne, who's apparently marching her fighters to death. She's told, gently, by Anthony, that they can't march all of the time, and Denny remarks that Anne keeps giving her rations away to other people. They're rather rudely interrupted by a Skitter attack, though, although it's only one, and they easily capture it.

(Later, Denny translates for the Skitter, who tells them about the New Espheni-Human World Order, led by the hybrid. She shows it a picture of Alexis, but it's reluctant to look, and just says it doesn't know, prompting Anne to threaten it with a knife and then stab it. The dull 'oh no's in this scene really remind me of someone I know, who will loudly bellow that or 'oh dear' in precisely that tone every time they cough. Anyway, what the hell, Anne, at least wait until Denny isn't telepathically linked with it. Harsh.)

Over to Alexis! She's in a much lighter, more brightly coloured filter than everyone else, which in Falling Skies always translates to evil. She's doing a Disney Princess playing with some water thing, with Kadar – or Socially Awkward Wilson From House, if you like – speculating that it's an escape from the people she's responsible for. 

Stop that, and go find yourself a grey filter.

It's really not clear whether Kadar has drank the Cherry Fanta of the Cultists. He seems to still be of sound mind, and not to believe that Alexis is some kind of divine figure – he does note that he can't figure out her growth spurts, though, and that she's dying, or at least he believes she is. He starts talking about nature's unlikely miracles, and somewhere the cast of Orphan Black awakens from their slumber to peer beadily at him.

Kadar can't get close to Alexis anymore, because Lourdes has put out orders to keep him away, as she says he's a non-believer. Poor Lourdes. She was such a sweet girl when this show started, and probably still is: The last time she was evil, she was mind-controlled, after all, so this time is probably no different.

In the re-education camp, Matt is doing a sterling job of pretending to be a re-educated Espheni Youthling. So that's nice. 

The Nazi Playbook angle is working out better for the show than the American War of Independence angle did, because the War of Independence is a pretty small deal historically, a scuffle between two groups of white English people over an issue of, essentially, division of resources, with Parliament under the control of Duke Grafton and then Lord North pushing for greater and often prohibitive taxes on things that were considered essentials (like tea, which formed a massive part of the American diet) in order to keep taxes low in Britain and to bring more money into the Empire's coffers for the expansion of its trade in India and elsewhere.

I feel like the show in its early series fell into the trap a lot of US media did of vastly overestimating how much of a big deal the War of Independence was. For the US, it was obviously an important historical event, but for Britain, even at the time, it was of a lesser political and economical importance compared to the rise of India in imperial estimations.

Also, the Nazis are just a better comparison for the Espheni, who are after all genocidal in the extreme, masters of propaganda, and obsessed with order, which describes the Nazis very well but becomes a little more fuzzy when dealing with Parliament versus the Revolutionaries, as both those groups were genocidal, neither were good at propaganda, and both were kind of so-so on order.

In the prison camp, Dan follows Pope and nearly gets a baseball bat to the face for his trouble. Dan's pretty upfront about being after Pope's stash, but their confrontation is cut off by some men following them down. As they're not main characters, the men's superior numbers do not avail them in stealing the food, but one of them gets a hold of the baseball bat and, after all his compatriots have been knocked out, somehow manages to flail wildly enough that Dan and Pope just leave. 

Tom, meanwhile, meets Serial Prison Escapist Dude, who has a working radio, which makes Tom instantly his best friend, because Tom is a dork. SRED says that to get through the field, they need one thing – to become Kamen Rider. 

Ridaaaaa jump. Ridaaaaa kick.

Um. I- I mean a Faraday suit. Which is a thing, to be fair, people who make music with Tesla coils use them.  
Tom contacts Cochise with the radio, and they joke a bit before Cochise confirms that the Espheni are definitely constructing a new power station. Cochise also says that he believes he knows where Matt is, and after some persuasion by Tom, agrees to leave to free him within the hour. I am going to be so annoyed with Tom if Cochise dies. With Tom, and with the writers.

In Chinatown, Ben demands to see Alexis, and points out to Lourdes that her actions – denying medical care to an ill woman for religious reasons – doesn't really line up very well with the fact that she's a doctor (or, I think, a medical student), and isn't even from Arizona. You're not from Arizona, Lourdes. Lourdes responds in typical-for-this-series fanatical fashion, but Alexis welcomes Ben into her sanctum – she tells Kadar he can't come in, though. 

Nor are you from Texas or Georgia.

Ben and Alexis talk, and she admits in a roundabout way that she brought down the mech. Eventually, Ben snaps at Alexis that she's 'talking like a fortune cookie', and Alexis is clearly upset. There is angry wind. There is snapping back at how clearly Ben knows better than all these people she's researched how she should communicate. It's a nice, sibling-y moment, although most siblings don't have angry wind, and in most sibling pairs one of them isn't an alien hybrid.

He does convince her to see Kadar, though. I foresee this having repercussions: Lourdes is not going to be happy at all.

Hal and Tom begin their plan, and Tom reveals himself as the Ghost. A pod takes him up to the ship, where he meets with the mouthpiece of the Espheni there, whose voice really doesn't match the image of a grandiose overlord, being kind of nasally and whiny.

A lot of interesting plot points come up here. For example, that there is a greater enemy than the Espheni, and that everything they have done has been in service of defeating it when it arrives – they speak of it 'coming', so I assume it hasn't made its move yet, but the reference to a greater enemy always seems to herald the oncoming fall of the current set of villains. He also talks about how they plan to make new front-line troops out of selected human adults, and notes that those who don't come willingly will be brainwashed into essentially drones for the task – and this will happen to Tom's family if he refuses. 

What a lovely fellow.

Other Ghosts start attacking the ship, and while the Espheni leaves to deal with them, Tom takes the opportunity to get the last pieces of information for his map of the camp.

… Oh god, Matt. No, Matt. Don't have a romance with anyone. Look to your brother's example, he had relationships and one of those people became the main villain of Series 3 and the other one is now brainwashed.

It looks like Matt is especially cursed, as one of his resistance crew has 'graduated', which in this instance hopefully means 'killed', but could mean something much worse, and the Team Leader tells him that he'll be keeping an eye on him.

In Chinatown, Kadar takes a blood sample from Alexis. Predictably, this does have repercussions, as Lourdes angrily says that Alexis can't consent, and a conflict starts a-brewin' between her, Ben and Kadar. Alexis is displeased by this, and the angry wind starts, accompanied by sad earthquakes. Eventually, Alexis becomes so afraid that she goes Alien Exorcist on them, shattering her blood on a wall, which then crawls off to places unknown, while producing a shrill noise that hurts the heads of everyone nearby.

Alexis is kind of terrifying.

We cut to her waking up, with Maggie – whose allegiances in this whole thing are very unclear – presiding over her. Ben says that they'll have to keep watch over Alexis and make sure that nobody they don't trust can get to her, and Maggie is pleased to have someone around who hasn't drunk the Kool-Aid.

Maggie, you've drunk the Koo – you've drunk the Cherry Tango. You have drunk three entire bottles of Cherry Tango. You have drunk so much Cherry Tango. The producers of Cherry Tango are out of stock because of yours and Lourdes' excessive consumption of their product. You're a cultist! You were last episode, at least.

Ben and Maggie seem to be sharing a moment, to which I say stop that, Ben, that is your brother's girlfriend, you rake and stop that Maggie, he's sixteen and you're twenty-two. Both of you, just stop that. Stop that right now. 

I FORBID YOU FROM LAUGHING, YOU CADS.

Alexis is gone by the time Ben got back. I guess she didn't want to see you hit on her other big brother's girlfriend, dude. Bros before obviously brainwashed women who probably wouldn't be reciprocating these moments if they were in their right minds, man.

He does find Alexis, though. She's talking to a tall, hooded Espheni, asking him to take her powers away. He apparently refuses, because this would be a very short series if he didn't. Why do I get the feeling that this is a rogue Espheni?

The Espheni's best Grim Reaper costume.

(As this happens, Denny tells Anne that every time she asked about the hybrid, he imagined a great darkness to the West, like a kind of Anti-Sauron. They figure out that's where Alexis is, because ask any mother about her daughter and she will usually reply with 'a great darkness'.)

As the episode closes, Team Prison Camp reunite, and their plan to get out of the camp is ready to go.


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