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Monday, 11 August 2014

Falling Skies S4E8: A Thing with Feathers.

What an odd title. There are no feathered things at all here.

Falling Skies
A Thing with Feathers.

It took me a moment to get my bearings in this episode, as Hal and the rest of the 2nd Mass leave their bomb shelter to search for survivors – in the week between the last episode and this one, I'd forgotten that they were in a bomb shelter. Hal finds Maggie in short order, trapped under rubble and saying that she can't feel her legs, but alive. Tom, trapped under rubble, finds a similarly trapped-beneath-rubble Dingaan, and after a little bit of help they get Dingaan out from under the heavy piece of concrete slowly crushing him.

I swear, if Dingaan dies, I will be so annoyed.

Maggie is rushed into a makeshift clinic so that Anne can care for her – it's really nice seeing Anne doing some doctoring, we've not seen her do that for a bit – while Dan organises a group to dig and search for Tom and any other survivors. Pope makes the gratifying mistake of claiming he's dead and being immediately beaten up by a twelve year old.

As this is happening, Tom and Dingaan happen upon the crashed beamer as they explore their – surprisingly spacious rubble home – and Tom has the bright idea of seeing if there's a hatch up into it. Dingaan has the less bright idea of whacking a rebar against the ceiling and screaming, which was never going to help, and seems like an odd departure of character for a man who is calm and collected enough that he'll cheerfully climb energy wall pylons protected only by a flimsy suit of armour.

Maggie's also not in a great shape, having a severe spinal injury and internal bleeding. Hal's distraught, as is Anne, who says that the only thing she can think to do is to make Maggie comfortable. Which makes sense: Doctors with far less equipment and manpower that she has would be unable to do anything in this situation.

Drew Roy is doing an excellent job in this scene, as Hal looks utterly insensible with distress, like he's barely comprehending what's happening. He suggests spikes, as in Skitter-harness-spikes, which – well Anne doesn't say out loud that that probably wouldn't work, but you can see she's thinking it. Anne says that the Volm might have something that can help, and she'll talk to Cochise.


Down with Tom and Dingaan again, Tom has a brief rant at Dingaan about how his power of self-delusion is the strongest power of self-delusion of all, and then sticks his hand into some kind of biomechanical sucker thing on the beamer. More sensible ideas have been put into action, but needs must. The sucker bites him, and he has to struggle to tear his arm out, but on the bright side, the hatch does open.

Elsewhere, Alexis and Ben are going on a tour! There was a scene I didn't mention that established this earlier, where Alexis basically just said they were with the Espheni and a peaceful solution had been put into action. I would guess that we're about to see that peaceful solution. It's basically what Tom had been told before: Humans being turned into human-skitter-hybrid-things, but now we're seeing part of the process, which involves screaming humans being hooked up to giant cocoon-like machines.


Ben protests that it's genocide, and Alexis' response is to take control of his spikes and start – killing him? Trying to control him? It's not really clear. Either way, she lets Ben go, and he decides to leave.

Speaking of spikes, the Volm do have a spike-related idea! They theorise that a bioplasma in the spikes could cause rapid healing for Maggie, but she might reject it or go into anaphylactic shock, or if too much bioplasma is drawn, Deni – the only spiked person they currently have around – might have an epidural haemorrhage. Deni agrees with out hesitation and Hal urges them to do the procedure, but Anne says she won't until they have Maggie's consent.

(Meanwhile, Tom has something horrible inside his arm. Good job, Tom. Dingaan manfully pulls it out of him, but that seems to start the countdown on a bomb, for some reason, and Dingaan proceeds to have a breakdown.)

Maggie doesn't give her consent when Hal asks – which Anne foolishly lets him do alone despite the fact that a) Hal is clearly not thinking straight, and b) When evil, Hal managed to deceive an entire city of people for months. Predictably, Hal returns and says she wants to do it. They take the fluid out of Deni and inject it into a barely conscious Maggie, with the hope that it'll do something wonderful and miraculous.

I love Deni. Deni is great.

To be honest, I'm not really feeling this episode, and I wonder if part of that isn't that this is ground already covered, so to speak. Last series covered a lot of material being covered in this episode: Rescuing trapped survivors after an explosion, risky medical procedures, Espheni biotech wreaking havoc on a Mason, and I feel like it just feels a bit – worn showing up again here.

On the bright side, Hal-Anne interaction.

It doesn't, in fact, do anything miraculous, but Ben arrives moments later – Jesus, is Alexis' mutation centre like five minutes walk from Chinatown or something? He literally just got released – and suggests that they do a full transplant of his spikes into Maggie, for which Anne's main protest isn't 'Okay, she didn't consent to this less invasive and life-changing procedure, I think we can take as read that she wouldn't consent to this one,' but 'it could kill you, Ben.'

This is all feeling very forced, as a way to have Ben 'save' Maggie while simultaneously alienating her from Hal. Ugh, this whole love triangle subplot just seems so forced and – kind of unpleasant.

Alarmingly, the procedure reveals that the spikes, like most Espheni tech, are actually alive. This does not at any point make Anne think this is a bad idea. ~Medical ethics.~


(Meanwhile, Dingaan has a tragic backstory. It's, um. Very paint-by-numbers, to be honest. Tom's response is as well, and it's just not a particularly well-written scene. Anyway, the bomb explodes with them sheltered from it behind rubble, and in so doing exposes them to be found by Dan and Matt.)

The Maggie-Ben situation only makes me get more vexed when they leave some of the spikes in Ben, apparently forming a literal connection between the two. Dear lord, this storyline is forced and tired. Ben wakes up just in time for his father to come in and meet him, and when Hal thanks him, he throws it back with a rather bitter 'I didn't do it for you.'

Go stab yourself in the eye, Ben Mason.

Later, they have a funeral for Tector, Lourdes, and others they've lost. Tom tells Anne that they can't go search for Alexis, since they have too many people to look after – which is true, but Alexis will almost certainly find them, I suspect, so no worries there. Maggie, up and about and completely healed, arrives and slaps Hal for betraying her, before kissing him for saving her life. Hal's quick to point out that Ben actually saved her.

You know, after the canoodling.

I just want to point out here that Ben will snarl and sneer at his distraught brother for doing something like thanking him, and Hal will still, later, urge other people to recognise Ben's role in doing something good. I think it's clear who's the nicer brother here.

Ben and Maggie embrace – and Ben is just getting creepy now, as he seems to cling onto her like a lovesick child – while Hal wanders off, with Tom catching up with him. Suddenly, things beneath the wreckage start glowing, and they both see a green light on the moon, before the episode abruptly ends. 

Oooh, glowy.

So, something's up with the Moon. Probably this Espheni power source we've been hearing so much about. We'll probably find out next week, as Tom and Anne finally get – wait, weren't they already married? Didn't they marry a bunch of series ago?  

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