Tweetable Takeaway: The questions the premiere puts forth are interesting enough to make me hopeful. Tweet
Airtime: Sundays 10 PM, TNT
By: Paul Gulyas, Contributor
This is a brand new Tom Mason.
In last night’s premiere of the fifth and final season of TNT’s Falling Skies, titled “Find Your Warrior,” Tom (Noah Wyle) did just that. We opened oddly enough in Tom’s Boston bedroom before the Espheni invasion. His deceased wife was going through her half of a conversation they supposedly actually had about her breast cancer returning, and her wanting to go after it with multiple treatments, including chemotherapy, in order to squash it once and for all. She tells him to get angry. To “find your warrior.”
And the next thing we know, Tom is coming back to his regular consciousness, head popping out of a body of water. Apparently he’s been dropped back off on Earth safe and sound, and conveniently within walking distance of his beloved 2nd Mass Militia, after being sent tumbling through space on a broken Espheni ship at the end of last season. Who are what is responsible for his safe return, we do not know. But he’s grateful enough to heed their advice. Tom savagely beheads a hornet (type of Espheni, not an actual Earth hornet) and brings it back to camp. He holds it before his entire tattered group of survivors and tells them to not just get angry, but to feel rage. To lose themselves in it and go back to their old selves when they’ve finished what they set out to do: to destroy all the forces of Earth’s intruder. To find their warriors.
This probably sets up the major theme and arc of the final season. Tom is going to have to lose himself a little bit. After being the voice of reason and compassion for the entirety of the show’s run, there is now something a little off putting about his delight in the taking of Espheni life. The writers/director even make a point of showing his wife Anne (Moon Bloodgood) pleading with an enemy skitter to “let go” after she plunges a knife into its head. She means it; she wants the pain she is causing to stop. We see a close up of the alien’s face, eyes struggling, wanting to keep seeing, clinging on to life. For such an ugly face it was a fairly affecting moment.
The point of this seems to me to be setting up what will become a rift between Tom and Anne, and/or the rest of his family/soldiers for this final batch of episodes, and it’s one we haven’t seen before. Anne still maintains her humanity, even against a force that is anything but human (although it occurs to me that some Skitters actually did start out human, though there’s no way of knowing if this one was one of those). Meanwhile Tom will continue to rage wildly (he shoots a cornered Espheni overlord in the head… then goes back for more, firing rounds into its corpse). Seeing our lead man so unhinged is unsettling. Rage is dangerous. Where will Tom’s rage take the 2nd Mass? What price will they pay? It’s an intriguing set-up to say the least.
Also intriguing is the Volm’s discovery of 300 or so other militias around the world. Up until now in the series, the narrative has been strictly on the 2nd Mass. But Cochise tells us the biggest militias are in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Capetown, South Africa, and Tucson, Arizona. It would be a great plot device and very satisfying to see the 2nd Mass somehow lead a worldwide resistance effort. If I didn’t know that this was the final season, I would think this very plot element could breathe new life in the series for at least a season or two to come.
Performances are solid all around, Noah Wyle outshining the troop. It’s been a pleasure realizing that the three Mason boys cast (Drew Roy, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight) have been able to hold their own as actors. It’s always a risk casting young people and hoping puberty treats them well. Pope (Colin Cunningham) and his bad boy schtick, however, is a little stale now that he’s been so entwined in the Mason family and shared their highs and lows for so long–why is he still such a jerk to them? Because that’s his character? We need to see a little change for him to be believable again.
All in all, the questions the premiere puts forth are interesting enough to make me hopeful for a solidly entertaining if not Earth-shattering (get it?) final run.
Paul co-created and writes for SHOWoff, a game that lets players predict what happens next on their favorite TV shows, earn points for what they get right, and see where they stack up against friends and the world (free in the iOS App store). Check out the SHOWoff app at playSHOWoff.com