Falling Skies 1.06: “Sanctuary Part 1” and 1.07: “Sanctuary Part 2” Review
The hit TV show based on the Robert Kirkman comic book series continues! In the “Sanctuary” two-parter, Rick’s sons are in the hands of a distrustful human being and Morgan and T-Dawg fall victim to Hollywood’s vile “black dudes die first” rule. Also, there’s a surprising lack of zombies in this one.
Note: Due to post-Comic-Con scheduling issues, Comics Bulletin’s Rafael “First Impression” Gaitan couldn’t review this episode. I’ll try to make this as painless as possible, but I make no promises.
The episode sets the stage thematically by opening with Dr. Moon BloodGREAT dealing with a young patient while his mom and dad look on. It’s all a big ruse, however, as the parents try to rob the good doctor of all her medicine. Even during an alien invasion, you can’t trust people!
As for the alien attack, while it sounds exciting, is actually kind of silly. Jimmy (the kid soldier) and Parker (a character we’ve never seen before) are chilling, playing chess in a school bus when an the pieces begin to shake, Jurassic Park style. An alien mech shoots the thing up, killing Parker, whom every viewer in America surely expected to die not only because he was a black character keeping watch, but also because we had never, ever met this character before. You gotta develop these guys first for us to care, TV writers.
While there’s absolutely no danger because of this show’s aversion to murdering children, it does feature an alien grabbing a globe and crushing it in its hands. GET IT?
It’s a fairly expected situation — it’s almost a given in these “humanity’s desperate bid for survival” shows that they’ll have to face one (or several) of their own. Still, as a reveal at the end of the episode, it makes for some good drama and certainly increases anticipation for the next episode. Plus, we get Pope back, which is never a bad thing.
We also meet a cute girl with a nose ring whose dad is in on Clayton’s conspiracy. Despite this fact, I consider her 100% innocent of all charges.
While everyone’s cooking dinner, Clayon and Cute Girl’s Curiously Inbred Dad visit Pope in the basement. Pope can’t not comment on the food: “I smell asparagus. Which means you’re boiling it. Which means you’re ruining it.” Welcome back, Colin Cunningham.
Just as we realize that Pope is once again captured by someone and complaining about the food (surely a sign of stagnation in character development), he escapes, knocking out Cute Girl’s Curiously Inbred Dad. He prepares to stab the unconscious hillbilly, but decides to spare him. Which is a weird bit of cognitive dissonance — I thought Pope was supposed to be a take-no-prisoners badass. And, considering he cold snipes a dude in the back of the head later in the episode, he certainly has no trouble killing these guys. I don’t get it — it’s like the writing staff of Falling Skies are afraid that their characters will come off as too mean if they kill the bad guys when kids aren’t at risk.
Meanwhile, Hal and Cute Girl start to get buddy-buddy and Mediterranean Olivia Thirlby (whose name I’ll never learn) gets curious and finds a backpack belonging to the kid who got sold out at the end of the last episode. She points this out to Hal, and they bring it to the attention of Mike, the only adult who isn’t in on this conspiracy, who responds in the most preposterous manner: “I’ve known Terry Clayton since the week after the attack!” R U SERIOUS
Let me put this in perspective: Pregnant Lady (who’s about 9 months at this point), during a scene of exposition where she recounts the story of how she ended up in her position (hilariously, “I had sex” isn’t the explanation here), remarks that she was about a month-and-a-half along when the aliens invaded. So, what Mike has essentially said is, “Clayton can’t be untrustworthy! I’ve known him for nearly eight months!”
ecause the show cuts to the kids reacting with shock at sound of the gunshot ringing through the forest. Even though, y’know, there was just a loud firefight. This, by the way, makes two black dudes killed in the span of 90 minutes during a series where characters who are constantly in danger hardly ever get killed off. So far, this show has taught me that, if aliens invade, you’re probably safe if you’re a kid and/or white. I can’t believe in the year 2011 that the “black dude dies first” trope still exists. I almost want to see Will Patton checking the dwindling racial diversity of his army as a gauge for how safe his men are.
Either way, Mike’s death leads to an interesting (albeit brief) situation where Hal and Mediterranean Olivia Thirlby are the mommy and daddy of the escaped kids, holing up in an abandoned house, coming off like some de-aged version of Wyle and Dr. BloodGREAT. Jimmy once again expresses distrust of Ben (this time at him going out to find the cavalry) while Mediterranean Olivia Thirlby finds a songbook of her favorite church hymn. Which should only fill you with dread.
While there’s some intriguing bits in this two-parter, by the end it all feels cyclical. Mike dies, but otherwise the bad guys are dealt with and everyone is quickly reunited. Wyle’s got his kids under one roof and Pope’s back in resistance hands as a cook. Elements like the kids out on their own could have comprised a really great multi-episode arc, but are so rushed that there’s no time to explore very much of anything.
To its credit, I didn’t really notice the lack of aliens in “Part 2,” so kudos to Falling Skies for at least being engaging enough on a dramatic level to distract me from missing the genre elements.
At this point the season should be starting to ramp up, but I suspect that Falling Skies is going to continue to squander its obvious potential.
For more Falling Skies, check out our reviews of previous Season 1 episodes:
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book writer, 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.