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Monday, 18 August 2014

Falling Skies S4E9: Till Death Do Us Part.


Last week's title was an Emily Dickinson reference, I realised during the week when someone randomly recited the poem in question on television.

"Hope is a thing with feathers."

Falling Skies
S4E9: Till Death Do Us Part.



Last third of the series, right, yes. I'll be honest, the pace of this series has felt glacial, bogged down with ridiculous and unnecessary sideplots like the Ben-Maggie-Hal love triangle and pretty much everything to do with Pope and Sara, with several episodes that don't really go anywhere. Maybe it's that writing this blog has made me grumpier and more critical, but it feels slower than previous series of Falling Skies, like there's less material packed into more time.

As the episode begins, the gang figures out that the Espheni power source we were hearing so much about earlier this series is in fact on the Moon, and works by, er, by beaming wireless electricity down. The show makes a brief attempt to make this sound less ridiculous by saying that Tesla thought it was possible, but that doesn't really make it sound any less silly. Tom seems elated, however, and decides that they'll just have to go to the Moon and take the power source down, although he doesn't quite know how: He eventually comes up with a vague plan to unearth the Espheni beamer ship buried under the wreckage, fix it, and send it up on a course to the power source, with either them on board or just explosives, it's not clear which.

The next day, while clearing away rubble, Cochise mentions that the Volm have stockpiles including equipment that would expedite the process considerably by breaking the rubble up into smaller parts. He makes reference to the 'Native American Wars', while kind of skipping over the fact that both those 'wars' were actually just genocides, despite the fact that nobody from outside America shares the US' obsession with that particular pretense. Maggie also accidentally injures Sara when her new found superstrength causes her to lob a piece of rubble twenty feet or so, and Ben offers to teach her to control it. To be honest, Ben's entire manner screams 'I have an agenda' here, and he's treading further and further into creepy territory, because every time he does something good for Maggie it comes off as an attempt to get her in his debt, or get her alone, or form a connection.

Tom and Anne are having woes, as she thinks that Tom is letting go of Alexis too easily when she says there's still hope and Alexis is too far gone. Wow, Anne. Wow. After Alexis literally murdered Lourdes to death, Alexis is apparently not too far gone. They reconcile rather abruptly, and decide to just go ahead with doing what they do and decide from there what to do.

Pope and Sara have a scene, so that's – well, they're still boring, to be honest.

Tom, Anne, Dan, Matt and Cochise go to the cache, where they encounter that one girl that Matt knew from the re-education camp. 

Evil. Totally evil.

… She's gone to the dark side. Calling it now. She's been re-educated and she's here specifically to catch them out and report them.

She tells them that she pretended to go along with the camp's teachings until she saw an opportunity to escape, which Matt, at least, seems to accept – it is, after all, what he advised her to do. Tom and Anne believe her a lot less, since the whole situation is very suspicious, and tie her up.

Dingaan and Shaq are bonding over biotech, meanwhile, and Maggie's having her … lesson with Ben. It's not really a lesson, though, as Ben doesn't deign to teach Maggie anything, instead just attempting to manufacture a Magical Romantic Moment with the subtlety of a brick to the face. After that, Ben continues to switch between being condescending and attempting to subtly hint that Maggie should go out with him. Honestly, this is exhausting to watch. Oh, hey, and Maggie can feel Ben's emotions now. Great.

Matt unties Obviously Evil Girl after she complains that Tom tied the rope too tight, and barely moments later she tells him that the re-education camp taught her a lot, pulls a whistle out from her shoe and starts calling for the Espheni, to the surprise of absolute nobody except Matt.

A beamer strike is swift to follow, hitting before they can find the equipment they need. Camp leaders come in and a shootout ensues, with Matt getting sedated and Cochise again proving that he could probably win this war on his own if it came to that. Anne is shot, and Creepy Hitler Youth Leader makes his triumphant return to tell Tom that Matt has been captured. Creepy Hitler Youth sets some spilled chemicals on fire, and while the toxic fumes fill the air, Anne acts as a distraction long enough for Tom to grab a fallen gun and shoot Creepy Hitler Youth Leader. As CHYL is dying, Tom asks him why he betrayed his species like this, but CHYL just trumpets the re-education motto of 'harmony can only be found with our Espheni brothers', and says that he sold his mother out to them, making it clear that he was a re-educated child of a rebel once. Dan and Cochise arrive with Matt in tow, a little woozy but otherwise fine. 

Functionally just the main character.

(Pope and Sara have more scenes. Still dull.)

Maggie does some target practice with Ben watching, and when she's done Ben confesses his feelings for her – and at that moment, their spikes activate (ugh), and they share emotions (ugh), and Maggie approaches and kisses him (graargh). It lasts just long enough for Hal to see, and then Maggie breaks it, saying that ever since the spikes were put in she feels drawn to Ben – but that she didn't beforehand, and she loves Hal. In fairness to Ben, he doesn't take the horribly rape-y option that a lot of characters in TV shows would here, instead deciding that this means that these feelings aren't natural on Maggie's part.

Which is a plus, but still, no, this is exhausting to watch. Hal later punches Ben, and makes it clear in – not entirely un-weird terms – that Maggie is his girlfriend, and bafflingly, Ben doesn't immediately go 'It's a weird effect of the spikes.' Tom, Anne, Dan, Matt and Cochise return in short order and Tom gives the beamer-summoning whistle to Dingaan in the hopes that he and Shaq can do something with it, before trying to do some parenting with Hal and Ben only to be brushed off.

Tom proposes to Anne (after a short discussion on her distraction tactic and wandering out yelling) and the next day they're wed by Dan, although the wedding is interrupted by Shaq, who has urgent news about the beamer. After some technobabble about homing beacons and communicators, Shaq demonstrates the practical side of his discovery with the whistle and the beamer, by using it and a Volm communicator to make the beamer rise from the wreckage, cutting out the weeks of time they'll need to unearth it. 

Aw, happy wedding Anne.

With the start of the next episode we'll be entering the final quarter of the series, heading towards the finale double bill, which will be – well, I'm really not sure what I'm going to do for that in terms of a review. Maybe break it up into two parts.  

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