Is it possible for peace to happen when your best weapon could also lead to your undoing in the end? What happens if you have to make an impossibly choice that could kill someone you love directly because of it? Can you live with yourself or succumb to the guilt? That’s part of the premise behind the fourth season of TNT’s “Falling Skies” as a group of survivors from an alien invasion dealt with another unknown entity: a little girl unlike any they’ve ever encountered. Okay, the idea of a young girl with special powers isn’t foreign concept to Hollywood, but this show managed to make its newest character someone to admire and fear at the same time as the season progressed. If only the rest of the show followed the same pace, the season might not feel so uneven.
“Falling Skies” followed the remaining survivors of the 2nd Mass after they left their cushy life in Charleston for the uncertainty of life on the run from additional alien attacks. Unfortunately, they didn’t encounter their enemy’s newest strategy, which consisted of splitting up the group into smaller fractions as a way to break them for good. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and Captain Weaver (Will Patton) were placed in solitary confinement in a prison type of environment because they were consisted threats and could cause a rebellion inside the camp. Tom’s oldest son Hal (Drew Roy) was slowly filling the void that Tom left as the leader of the group, which will eventually clash with his father’s very different leadership skills when he did eventually escape. While Hal and his girlfriend Maggie (Sarah Sanguin Carter) were separated, she grew closer to his younger brother Ben (Connor Jessup) while they tried to make sense of their strange new environment. Ben woke up from a head injury that sidelined him for a while to only find out that everything changed around him and not necessarily for the better. His younger sister Lexi (Scarlett Byrne) has rapidly aged into a young woman who was growing into the alien side of her DNA, which made her changing moods all the more dangerous. Lexi garnered some admirers after she stopped a powerful alien dead in its tracks, especially Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) who only believed that Lexi’s presence meant peace for the rest of humanity. Ben started to rely on Maggie to the point where he grew increasingly jealous of Hal’s relationship with her. Hal also started seeing signs of Ben’s closeness with Maggie as well, which turn into trouble if anything comes of it. When it was revealed that Lexi might be embracing her alien side, people started to fear the worst and started to come up with some extreme actions to save themselves, including John Pope (Colin Cunningham). Even though Lexi’s family didn’t understand her, she will always have the support of her mother Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) who always had faith that her daughter would never lose her humanity no matter what. Is she right to trust her daughter or wrong to overlook some strong warning signs?
In terms of questions, the show posed quite a few, but the biggest one remained so far. Many fans will likely wonder how the show will end next year; whether it will be on a positive note or a tragic one. The fate of the 2nd Mass remained a mystery at the moment since there were a lot of variables still in play with the biggest one being whether Byrne’s Lexi is a true friend or foe of the group. Byrne’s portrayal of the mysterious character made a positive case for either option as she appeared to bounce around her human and her alien connections often in the same scene. The show also tried to make sense of the character’s complicated origins, but they went about it in the wrong way. Lexi’s story involved people initially believing that she was their savior and then they turned on her when they realized that she wasn’t living up to their exacting standards of what an alien/human hybrid should behave like when only the wrong people were there to guide her. The season should’ve instead built upon the mystery of the girl’s origins before everyone decided whether her character should live or die. The story could’ve been part medical mystery and another part suspense thriller as the tension built about what the character will do next. Hopefully, the Lexi story will now be on the right track with the truth being out in the open and enough tension building to finish out the season. Unfortunately, the show took a few too many detours this season with the cast being in too many separate stories at the same time. The two strongest stories were the fracturing relationship between Hal and Tom; as well as the brewing Ben/Hal/Maggie love triangle. The former story started off slowly and went to a boiling point when Lexi’s origins were revealed with both Mason men responding to the truth very differently. The show should build upon that story to demonstrate how even the strongest of families can break under pressure. The latter story has been brewing for a while now, but it was nice for the love triangle to take shape as Maggie’s alliances between the brothers started to shift when the 2nd Mass was reunited. Fingers crossed that things will come to a head for Hal and Ben sooner rather than later. It should be interesting to see it unfold.
As for breakout performances, Wyle, Bloodgood and Jessup led the pack as their characters forced to be leaders of their own factions for the first half of the season. Wyle’s Tom has evolved from being a bookish History teacher into a danger seeking hero willing to pull out all of the stops to save humanity, including his family. The transformation helped make Tom’s struggle to keep his family safe when the odds were always against him from doing so. He embodied Tom with a sense of strength and sadness as he realized that he might have to choose between his loved ones and the world as a whole. Wyle’s strongest scene came in the most recent episode when Tom told a large crowd looking to kill Lexi that he wasn’t going to allow his daughter to die, unless it was absolutely necessary to do something. He convinced viewers that if something needed to be done that the character wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and meant every word. Bloodgood, on the other hand, played the challenging task of playing a mother aching to be near her child and realizing that her child was no longer an ordinary child. She expressed Anne’s heartbreak that she might not get the chance to hold her once again or tell her that she loved her. Bloodgood’s strongest scene also came from the most recent episode when she realized that her daughter still would choose her family no matter how much alien DNA she had floating through her veins. She also had a comfortable rapport with Byrne’s Lexi that almost made the fact that her daughter aged about 20 years in the span of a very short time seem irrelevant. Jessup’s Ben was another wild card on the show, because his behavior could wreck the family even more if he betrayed his brother Hal by giving into his feelings for his brother’s girlfriend. He expressed Ben’s seething jealousy after he watching Maggie lovingly reunite with his brother without having to say a word. He also revealed his joy in a quiet smile when Maggie sided with him in an argument about Lexi. What made it harder for viewers was that Carter had chemistry with both Roy and Jessup. Only time will tell which brother Maggie will end up choosing.
“Falling Skies” premiered on June 22nd and airs Sundays at 10:00 PM on TNT. It was recently revealed that the show would be renewed for a fifth, and final, season that will likely air next summer.
Verdict: The show that got off to a rocky start was starting to build momentum in season three, but the latest season proved that too many separate stories wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Now that the cast was united, the rest of the season should likely even itself out.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)