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Monday, 21 July 2014

Falling Skies S4E5: Mind Wars.


 Sorry this is up so late. It's been a hectic day, as well as being rather ill.

This episode is called 'Mind Wars', which I assume is a lot like game show 'Robot Wars' only with more people squinting at each other and touching their foreheads.

Falling Skies S4E5: Mind Wars.



We open this episode on Matt sabotaging Tom trying to hunt a rabbit, because – I dunno, fuzzy adorableness overcomes hunger? I wouldn't feel too bad, Matt, a rabbit would not have provided enough food for four people, I imagine.

They discover Hal's message, and shortly thereafter the radio broadcast by Lourdes telling them about a safe place, which I guess means they're on their way to Lexi's – oh, dear, skitters. Those things seem to be everywhere, just wandering around on their own. For all your talk about being military geniuses whose troops are absolutely enslaved to you, Espheni, they sure seem fond of meandering off on their own without any back-up.

This case is even worse, as apparently this singular skitter is accompanied by the Espheni Warden, who – apparently didn't bother bringing more than one bodyguard on his Tom Mason hunt, despite the fact their last encounter ended with him being set on fire.

(Hal, Tector, Dingaan and Pope are apparently not having much luck either, as the area they're passing through is a-swarm with Espheni troops, including super mechs, and has a minefield.)

Cochise takes his leave of the group to go search out his reconnaissance team. Don't leave, Cochise, we love you. 

Cochiiiiise.

As this is happening, Anne is interrogating Espheni Gandalf, who insists he's a lone agent protecting Lexi – which we know not to be true, since he's in cahoots with the Espheni Warden. The interrogation has to be cut off abruptly when the connection becomes difficult for Ben, and I – do wonder why that is: He's never shown any trouble with it before, but he's been suffering from a few headaches and illness problems this series.

Tom and company encounter some friendly refugees, who they would've avoided entirely if Matt hadn't imploringly said they had food. So, what we're learning this episode: Killing bunnies for food bad, depriving probably equally hungry refugees of food, good. Zen and the Art of Morality According to Matthew Mason, everybody.

In Chinatown, Lexi is less than happy with Anne taking Gandalf hostage. Their argument goes thus: He protected me, he's kind of from an always-evil species, I don't need to obey you, I'm your mother, just because you're my mother doesn't mean you're right, I have more experience than you, BOOMING DEATH CHOKE VOICE. Some might say that BOOMING DEATH CHOKE VOICE is cheating in a family argument.

Lexi collapses due to overexertion, but before that she shows that she's either unwilling or unable to stop choking her mother to death. Probably the latter: Lexi's control over her powers doesn't seem to be especially great. The fact that she used BOOMING DEATH CHOKE VOICE in the first place, though, suggests that for all that she looks like a young woman, she still very much has the maturity of a child. Which isn't surprising: She's only a few months old, after all, and has almost no life experience. She's gone from being creepy too-mature child to creepy not-mature-enough young woman, because her maturity level hasn't changed with her physical ageing.

This is not how you resolve family disputes, Alexis.

I don't trust these refugees. They're too nice. Nobody is this nice in Falling Skies. The refugees do gain points for bringing up that the Venn diagram of 'Mormons' and 'Lunatic Survivalists Sovereign Types' is practically a circle. The refugees tell their life stories, and to be honest my ears glazed over at this point and I didn't catch any of it.

Dan and Tom apparently agree with me that these refugees aren't trustworthy: Tom seemingly because they mentioned getting their supplies of Mormons, despite the fact that said supplies contain alcohol, and Dan probably just because he saw the Falling Skies title screen thirteen minutes earlier.

(In other news, I really like how the Volm aren't unknowingly alien. For all that they are semi-gelatinous amphibian people from a warrior race with weird taboos over status and physical contact, they're essentially just British people. Cochise and Shaq are so British that they're practically incapacitated, and this is in spite of them both having American accents.)

Sure enough, the two refugees are, in fact, Crazy Murdering Murderfaces, and they proceed to attempt to murderfacedly murder our intrepid heroes. They do keep Tom alive, though, as there's a bounty on his head. Also, unbeknownst to them, Matt and Dan have both survived, as they weren't in the shot sleeping bags. Why neither of the Murderfaces noticed the lack of blood, who can say.

In Chinatown, Kadar comes to check up on Lexi – what is Kadar's doctorate in, incidentally? He seems to be omniscientific, at home with engineering, quantum physics, chemistry and medicine. He also appears to have drank the Cherry Fanta, as he and Lourdes talk about how inspiring Lexi is. I'm wondering right now if one of her powers over people is indoctrination, ala Mass Effect's Reapers. 

Even Lourdes wants to know what your doctorate is in, Kadar.

She's also running an impossibly high temperature, and as she pleads with Anne to help her (Anne, as an actual doctor of medicine, unlike Lourdes who was only a med student and Kadar who seems to be a doctor of literally everything, is probably the best equipped for this, but even she's no miracle worker), she starts convulsing.

(Hal and Shaq's plan goes off pretty much without a hitch. As Pope and Sara are involved, I found it vexing. You know, I'd be fine with Sara on her own: Sara isn't really the problem here, except for her rant at Hal last episode. It's Pope I don't like, and so far Sara just seems like a prop for his character, which is a hell of a waste of an Academy Award winning actress.)

On the trail of Tom, Dan is trying to be reassuring and Matt is going a little bit – well, a little bit evil. Dan gives him a very long speech that doesn't sink in at all. Meanwhile, Tom is pointing out the flaws in the Murderface Brothers' plans. There's a brief scuffle, and then they tie him up while Murderface Senior goes to meet with the Espheni. Tom engages in some prolonged but ineffective psychological warfare.

Dan and Matt are in position to shoot Murderface Junior now, and Matt wants to take the shot as part of his new evil schtick. While Dan lets him, Matt's unable to, and thus that particular character arc is wrapped up.

Matt's actor seems to really be breaking out. Poor guy. Poor make-up team.

As Anne interrogates Gandalf, Maggie and Ben have a – ugh – romantic moment. It's mercifully interrupted by pain, as Anne's torture of Gandalf is transferred to Ben, who screams about a flower. Maggie rushes to stop Anne, who somehow knows what he means by this. 

I approve of this moment being interrupted by torture.

Meanwhile, Murderface Senior returns, and after a little prompting it's revealed that he sold out Murderface Junior's children to the Espheni to save himself. Naturally, Junior shoots him. As he's about to turn his gun on Tom, he's shot from behind by Dan 'Takes His Sweet Time' Weaver.

Hal, Shaq and company are on their way to Chinatown again, having used a computer module from the mech to gets a view of where all the patrols are. Dingaan, who is apparently more genre savvy than Hal despite having been in the series for less than a quarter of the time, points out that the 'safe zone' probably isn't safe. Meanwhile, in Chinatown, Anne feeds Lexi a tea made from the flower she showed her last episode, and Lexi begs Anne not to hurt Gandalf again, something Anne says she cannot do. Ominously, Lexi remarks that she never wanted to choose between the two of them.

Whee, computers.
Tom and Matt share a heartwarming moment where Tom explains that the nature of family isn't one of blood or genetics, but instead looking out for each other. This becomes very shortly relevant, as Anne discovers that Gandalf has been released, and when she asks Lexi why she did this, Lexi explains that Gandalf is also her father. Whether she means in the sense of genetics – although as we know from Anne's flashbacks, that is certainly the case – or also in the sense of 'he cares for me as a father would', has yet to be revealed.

This episode was a bit underwhelming, to be honest. Apart from Tom's psychological attacks on Murderface Junior, there weren't really any of the Mind Wars the title promised us, but more than that, it felt like filler. Nothing was really achieved this episode: Last episode, Hal and company were on their way to Chinatown, and this episode, they're still on their way to Chinatown. Last episode, Tom, Matt and Dan were going to meet up with Hal, and this episode, they're still doing that. Last episode, Gandalf was captured, and this episode, he was freed, but without having given them any useful information or revealed anything about the plot.


So, an underwhelming fifth episode. Not bad, just a bit – slow, and a bit fillerish. But next week, we hit our halfway mark, and with luck they have something big planned for it.  

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