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Falling Skies 1.09 & 1.10: "Mutiny" & "Eight Hours" Two-Hour Season Finale Review

A column article, Shot For Shot by: Danny Djeljosevic, Rafael Gaitan
The vaguely-Steven-Spielberg-related sci-fi drama concludes! For this season, at least. In the two-hour season finale, nothing of particular consequence happens, there are a few revelations and a pretty sweet ending. Surprisingly, we make no mention of Mediterranean Olivia Thirlby, whose name we find out is Lourdes. So, take solace in knowing that Madonna's baby survived the alien apocalypse. Where you at, Frances Bean?



Rafael: So it's come to this.

Danny: We're finally done with Falling Skies Season 1.

Rafael: Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Danny: After 10 episodes, I've realized the worst thing about the show is its score.

Rafael: The music? Oh yeah, it's on some proto-Saving Private Ryan shit. Thanks, Robert Rodat, for continuously reminding us that you wrote that movie. But yeah, it constantly, obnoxiously swells and sticks around. It literally feels like a musical APPLAUSE sign, and the only television that tells me what to do is The Situation Workout.

Danny: It's amazingly overwrought. Like a parody of a parody.

Rafael: You know how I feel about scenes where they pipe in music to break the tension. It's just sad. The audience doesn't need to be told what to feel -- we feel.

Danny: We feel bored.



Rafael: So let's begin with the biggest plot point: Will Patton's Weaver is cracking up like wet sidewalk. He's on pills 'n shit, and he's decided that even though the initial assault on the Skitters is unfeasible, that they will take the fight to them anyway. REALIZATION: Falling Skies is a live action Futurama. Weaver is fully absorbing his Zapp Brannigan persona, willing to send wave after wave of men 'til the Killbots (the Skitters) reach their preset kill limit.

Danny: Will Patton's drug subplot was such bullshit. It's introduced and pretty much tied up by the end of Episode 9.

Rafael: My God, you're right. But, to be fair, there were hints of it based on his behavior in Episode 8, but I can't be expected to take this show seriously beyond 39-43 minutes a week. I have a life to misspend, dawg.

Danny: Episode 9 was pretty much "The episode where Will Patton is the villain."

Rafael: GAHHH. Don't we get enough personality swapping in True Blood?!?! This episode just reduces Weaver to an archetype. One of the things the show did right is nail the complexities of these characters. Despite his cold, military logic Weaver genuinely cares about people. If he didn't, why would he put himself through the wringer to help these people survive?

Danny: Yeah, suddenly he just became a crazy dumbass army guy.

Rafael: This episode he flies off the handle and essentially becomes Dale Dye. Sure, it's because Dale Dyed, but c'mon.

Danny: Which brings us to the biggest problem with this two-part season finale -- all the battle happen offscreen. We find out Dale Dye's character died in some sort of alien ambush, and then in Episode 10 we find out Will Patton's soldiers also got attacked in an ambush. We really should get to see some of that stuff. It's kind of why we're watching this show, right? To see humans fight aliens.

Rafael: Budget, man. See, I'm usually a fan of having stuff happen off-screen... but when your show is about a human resistance to an alien invasion, I'm gonna need you to show it, dawg If they have enough faith in this show to renew it for a second season halfway through, then why not enough to give them a proper budget for, I don't know, the skirmishes?!

Danny: You know a show is going wrong when you can feel its budget. I could totally deal with stuff done on the cheap if the writing on this show was about, like, 20 times better. That's why people watch classic Doctor Who.

Rafael: I mean, you can write around it, if you really try. But how much could it cost to put one explosion and have Dai running for cover? That tells us what we need to know!

Danny: Impressively, Dai didn't die. He was our first pick to get killed off since Episode 1.



Rafael: So we have Will Patton going straight George Patton, right? What's going on with Moon BloodGREAT?


Danny: What is going on with Moon BloodGREAT? All I remember is that she finally locked lips with Noah Wyle, finally dispelling episodes of nonexistent sexual tension.

Rafael: Yeah, dude, there's no way that it wasn't going to happen... but I appreciate they waited. If they had episodes of them sneaking around in closets like Hal and his jump-off did, I would have been pretty let down. But then again, Graham Yost episode aside, this show has been nine big let-downs with nine great ideas. They should have called this show "Life is Full of Disappointments." #gothamcentral



That being said, Danny, let's talk Dr. Wily's stupid kid. And Creepy Black Kid. So, Wyle's son Ben finds out that he can receive the Skitters' communication signals.

Danny: So, all that old guy's radio tinkering these past 8 episodes has finally paid off, because he figured out what frequency jams the aliens' signals.

Rafael: This ties in to last week's revelation that the Skitters themselves were harnessed. And we see that creepy, poor man's Chloe Moretz starting to get scalier than music theory, which tells us...



Danny: The kids are transforming into aliens! That was fucking awesome. So our heroes have been blowing away mutated children.

Rafael: Yeah, man. That reminded me a little bit of the perpetually decomposing Griffin Dunne in An American Werewolf in London, which is always welcome. Tthose A.I. aliens, they're behind this all along! But the idea that the humans MAY be killing their own tethered people, that I can abide, man.

Danny: Even so, this show still has no balls. Rick attacks old guy (who may or may not be Frasier's dad) to thwart his alien-signal-jamming efforts and escapes into the woods. Why not kill him if he identifies with the aliens? And don't give me that "they're trying to show that this kid still has no humanity" nonsense. I ain't scared for nobody on this show, and that's a problem.

Rafael: Well, I feel like the kid just attacked him and, yeah, he doesn't need to kill him, he's only part Skitter, sure. But I'm also willing to bet there's a bad plot point in this show's future that hinges on him. Though, seeing his injury caused some serious IRL LOLZ between us.



Danny: Old guy is being examined by doctor types, but they don't show what's wrong with him until he's in the background while other, more important characters are talking, so it's like a Simpsons background gag. Hilarious.

Rafael: Yeah, it was a welcome bit of unintentional hilarity.

Danny: Here's the thing, though -- there's so little danger for anyone on this show that every time somebody doesn't get killed off it just continues not to ring true.

Rafael: But yeah, it's like we noted with Patton's Pill Problem -- it comes and goes. There is almost no reason we need to feel anything for these characters. It's careless front-loading and it's insulting. I mean, with the exception of Mike, we don't fear for any of the leads -- they're going to be okay.

Danny: I didn't even fear for Mike! It seemed like a foregone conclusion that he was done for. "This is now my opportunity to die nobly. Methinks I shall take it."



Rafael: Though I will say the scene where the Mech army advances on the school was dope. The perfect, tense opposition to the shitty Mexican standoff with Patton, Army Guy and Tom. That scene must think I'm a joke.

Danny: Yeah, there was almost a sense that the people protecting the school from the Mechs weren't gonna make it. Though, that also ends in anticlimax as Ben safely brings out the jumper cables to the flagpole to increase the frequency. It's not like he had to brave gunfire -- at least, it didn't seem that way.

Rafael: Definitely not. I also wish there was more consequence for him. I love the idea that he's part skitter now, but that should weigh on him a bit more. But in typical Falling Skies fashion, he has to be the one with no remorse while Rick is on his "<3 Skitters" bullshit. That boy caught some feelings for those aliens. But speaking of convenience, God fucking dammit, that last scene, where Noah Zark goes to relish their bomb victory on the skitters to find…



Danny: Everyone's dead! Except the characters we're already familiar with. First he finds Pope, who explains what happens and gives him a power up ("Press A to open trunk, Hold X to equip RPG"). Then he runs into Will Patton, and they take part in the worst scene in the series. Amidst a conversation about the state of things and how humanity has survived despite the odds, he casually fires his RPG up into the air, hitting an alien ship that crashes into that big alien tower in the distace. And it blows up a lot.



Rafael: I will say, I really do enjoy tough guy sentimentality, as you know. So when this scene started, I was looking forward to it. And I actually really like Tom's line "Let's let 'em know we were here." But too much hinges on pure fucking coincidence. He's never fired an RPG in his life, and as our friend pointed out, their effective range is 200 meters... but those shits go wide.

Danny: Once again, it's a scene with no tension. If this happened amidst a big, climactic battle as a last-ditch effort, it'd be a pretty impressive moment. Instead, coming up at the end of a weirdly casual conversation amongst flaming wreckage, it has all the gravitas of two dudes driving golf balls off the roof of their apartment building in a romantic comedy.

Rafael: But you're going to tell me a history professor coming from the shootout of his life is gonna casually stroll up and shoot down a Skitter ship with virtually any effort? I say fuck that. To quote a vastly superior sci-fi series, that's like "trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse."



Danny: Speaking of history professors, how hilarious is it that Noah Wyle's character will refer to history at any possible opportunity?

Rafael: "We're near the battles of Lexington and Concord, Human Resistance! Can anyone tell me what legendary American conflict those battles are significant to?"

"Battle of the Network Stars? Pros vs. Joes?"

Danny: I wish Noah Wyle would pop quiz the human resistance a little more.

Rafael: Haha, but why? They don't need to know no cotdamn history. They share a simple point and click interface.

Danny: Speaking of which, were there any scenes Noah Wyle teaching the kids about history? Seems like that would be a logical character building scene to have.

Rafael: Not him, but The Old Man. In episode 2, Noah was there while the kids were being lectured about that shit.

Ultimately, I think my problem with this show is that they've cherry picked the importance of characters. As infinitely watchable as Pope is (what up doe, Colin Cunningham), the writers can't stop shoving Tom's importance down our throats. Look, I like you, Noah Wyle -- you remind me of a non-ethnic Benjamin Bratt -- but the writing isn't there! And that brings us to... the ending.



Danny: A.K.A. "the awesomest thing to happen on Falling Skies ever." Noah Wyle and Will Patton run into Hal's harnessed blond girlfriend and a spaceship with one of those A.I. aliens inside! Apparently, they want to talk to Wyle, so he decides to go along with them. It's a great way to end the season, because it promises some advancement in the status quo and the prospect of actually learning something about these aliens.

Rafael: Yes... but why him?! Granted, they use his son against him, and it makes sense.

Danny: Maybe Noah Wyle's some kind of alien construct created as some vague approximation of humanity, but they didn't quite get it right, so they're taking him back for repairs.

Rafael: But you're the cat that hates Close Encounters. Yes, the one. Shouldn't this ending bug the fuck out of you?

Danny: Close Encounters is like two hours, but it feels like sitting through the entire season of Falling Skies.

Rafael: Hahahahahaha, CLASSIC DJELBRO. I gotta agree, though, this ending was pretty rad. As a fan of downer endings, this one satisfies. We see Weaver simultaneously concerned for his friend and jealous that he's not the one they want to talk to.

Danny: Is it even a downer, though? I don't feel bad.

Rafael: Yes! We expected them to win, we expected humanity to triumph. And what we got was "Don't make us angry. Come with us, or you'll make us angry."

Danny: See? That Will Patton's forces got slaughtered doesn't even register for me. We don't get to see the effect of that, so it doesn't feel as bad as it should.

Rafael: Man, I daresay that twist was great, Graham Yost must've thought of it. Though, when Hal's Girlfriend says, " We didn't expect this level of resistance," I thought they were going to tell us the Skitters were fucking benevolent. That they came with good intentions and were rebuffed by humanity And that would have been a downer, because you'd be writing this from my funeral. Where my headstone would read "It Shouldn't Have Been That Serious." You'd miss me if I Dai-ed from raging at Falling Skies, wouldn't you?

Danny: If it meant no more Falling Skies, I'd consider it a worthy sacrifice.



THE BIG SCORE

Rafael:

Fair, and that's being generous. The stuff I liked was great, but inevitably savaged by the bullshit. I compromise enough in my non-Internet life, dawg. I want to either hate something or love it.

Danny:

And that's with all the cool revelations.

Rafael: Understandable. You've subscribed to my idea -- this show has one brilliant idea that it squanders with way too many middling ones. Each episode has had the wonderful crux, and the plummeting rising action and exposition, and the flatlined falling action. But, we finished, Danny. We did it. Overall, how did you feel? Sum those parts, white boy.

Danny: This show, man. This show. It is mediocrity personified. It's like everyone on this show needed to be hired, like laborers in the Great Depression, but instead of digging and then filling up holes for eight hours a day, they're... acting in a completely unsatisfying cable TV drama.

Rafael: Completely unsatisfying? Daniel, if that is your real name, let the evidence show that we both A) loved the shit of John Pope and B) would love to fuck the shit out of Pope's Blond Concubine. The boner I had for Pope and the appreciation for the lovely lady were worthwhile.

Danny: Those were things about the show I liked, but the series at large ultimately doesn't satisfy.

Rafael: I feel similarly. As much as we enjoyed crackin' on this show and writing these reviews, what are we left with? We've become everything we've ever hated: The Internet.



Danny: So, should we rate the whole thing?

Rafael:

Overall, I feel this series was alright. But really, 2.5 is the worst rating I could give. Because I feel no complusion to expound further. At least with something like True Blood, I can hate on it to my amusement, and something like Breaking Bad, I can't find enough words in the language to express my love.

Danny: is exactly how I feel about this show. All the terrible and the awesome balance out to a middling score. I'd love for this show to be good, but quite frankly it's not.

Rafael: It's not good, and hell, it's not even watchable at times. Same Bad-Time, Same Bad Channel, Summer 2012?

Danny: If you think we're reviewing Falling Skies Season 2, you can go fuck yourself. What are you, Hungarian?



For more Falling Skies, check out our reviews of previous Season 1 episodes:

Episode 1 & 2 Two-Hour Premiere
Episode 3: "Prisoner of War:
Episode 4: "Grace"
Episode 5: "Silent Kill"
Episode 6 & 7: "Sanctuary Part 1 & 2"
Episode 8: "What Lies Beneath"




Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his newest comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics.



Rafael Gaitan was born in 1985, but he belongs to the '70s. He is a big fan of onomatopoeia, being profane and spelling words right on the first try. Rafael has a hilariously infrequent blog and writes love letters to inanimate objects as well as tweets of whiskey and the mysteries of the heart at @bearsurprise. He ain't got time to bleed.

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