While “Falling Skies” has not had the most promising track record of delivering on its promises since the second episode, beginning with last week, things have been mainly on the up and up. The show has found its rhythm, and with this episode, the plot is beginning to take on a life of its own, moving away from the clichés of science fiction. “Sanctuary: Part 1” improves upon the mistakes of earlier episodes and is a solid hour of a series that is just now finding its footing.
- Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
- Writer: Joel Anderson Thompson
- Cast: Noah Wyle, Drew Roy, Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Colin Cunningham, Henry Czerny
Episode Title: “Sanctuary: Part 1”
Lt. Terry Clayton of the 7th Mass warns the 2nd Mass of a planned retaliation by the mechs and skitters. He devises a plan to defend the school that involves leading the children to safety while the adults stay and fight, but the idea is met with resistance.
- Starting off with a bang: I was surprised to see Anne being held at gunpoint by a civilian within the first two minutes of the episode. What’s more is that I really liked it. It was a compelling start to the hour, provided pretext for the drama and renewed the 2nd Mass’s sense of urgency.
- Word from the 7th Mass: Since the world of “Falling Skies” was becoming increasingly insular with each episode, it was refreshing to see a vestige from the outside world, even if it came in the form of only one person. Lt. Clayton’s arrival makes the story world feel a lot less claustrophobic. While shepherding the 2nd Mass from the high school to a new location would be the ultimate act to accomplish this end, Lt. Clayton’s introduction is certainly a step in the right direction.
- Dissension in the ranks: Prior to this episode, Mason and his team generally followed Weaver’s plans to the T, at least doing so without questioning their competence. Seeing Mason and others put up a fight adds some much-needed color and complexity to the military wing of the resistance.
- Anne, get your gun: A peeve that I have had about this show for quite some time is the lack of women on the front lines. There are dozens upon dozens of science fiction shows out there that have a**-kicking women who know how to wield a weapon. Why is it so far-fetched an idea for a woman to be able to handle combat alongside her male counterparts, especially when there have been young kids doing so since the first episode without anyone so much as batting an eye? Suffice it to say, I was thrilled to see Anne pick up a gun and begin to step into that role that “Falling Skies” has been lacking. She may be no Starbuck or Athena, but she may just be what the 2nd Mass needs to round out its ranks.
- The first major twist: It’s about time that we’ve gotten a sizable twist in the show, and this episode certainly delivers on that front. It does not occur until the very end of the episode, but it is worth the wait. Any added intrigue is beneficial to this otherwise clichéd plot.
- The never-ending planning: Each episode seems to follow the same structure: the brass of the 2nd Mass concocts a plan for a particular mission, and then its combat team executes it. Now that the season is in full swing, this formula is beginning to get tired. I would like to see more variety in episode structure and less of the planning-then-executing to which the writers seem to cling.
- Lack of emotional investment: Admittedly, it’s a balancing act to sustain high-octane action while securing the viewer’s emotional investment. However, it is not impossible, as countless television shows and movies have proved over the decades. “Falling Skies” still suffers from a lack of genuine investment in the individual characters. While there is curiosity in seeing the 2nd Mass, as a unit, survive, it’s difficult to feel for Mason, Anne, Hal, Weaver, and other characters as individuals when they are not well-defined or extraordinary.
“Sanctuary: Part 1” is one more step in the right direction, although the series still has to solve its cliché and two-dimensional character problems. Nonetheless, this episode further proves that “Falling Skies” has plenty of potential; it only needs to dig a bit deeper into its mythos and its writing staff’s bag of tricks in order to unlock its greatness.
“Falling Skies” airs every Sunday night on TNT!
What did you think of last night’s episode?