Tweetable Takeaway: After a lukewarm penultimate episode, I have to say I’m not very hopeful for a satisfying conclusion next week. Tweet
Airtime: Sundays 10 PM, TNT
By: Paul Gulyas, Contributor
Well, there’s only one episode left in the FALLING SKIES series. With the finale next week, you really want to create something suspenseful yet satisfying in the penultimate episode. If anything, you want the best cliffhanger of the entire run to lead into your final hour. Alas, after being on board for most of this season, I have to say I’m disappointed and not very hopeful for a satisfying conclusion next week.
For one thing, one of the strengths of this season, and I’ve been saying it in these reviews, is that they focused less on fighting silly Espheni obstacles all year and more on the conflict between the characters in the principal cast. The most notable of which was the Pope vs. Tom Mason conflict that gave us perhaps the best scene of the season, and which I had high hopes for a fun, satisfying conclusion. Spoiler ahead on how that turned out.
Okay, here’s the verdict: it was perhaps the worst handling of killing off an original cast member ever on television. It’s got to be up there with Tara from True Blood dying OFF CAMERA in the COLD OPEN of its final season. In the middle of the episode, the 2nd Mass gets word that a new infantry is joining them in their camp, and they have wounded people that need taking care of. When Tom goes to greet them at the gates, Pope pops off a gurney revealing himself, and immediately opens fire on the 2nd Mass/14th Virginia. Yet somehow doesn’t hit anyone.
There’s a small exchange between Tom and Pope. It wasn’t enough to be the end of this story, and it didn’t ring true besides. Pope was originally upset with Tom for wasting others lives, yet never putting anyone he cared about in true harm’s way. When Tom points out to Pope that there are too many innocent people between them for them to have a shoot out to the death, Pope basically says he’s here to kill everyone. Where did this sudden lack of respect for life come from, when he’d been ragging on Tom about it just episodes before?
At any rate, Tom and Weaver shoot some conveniently placed barrels of gasoline, blowing them up and causing a building to collapse on Pope. The end. It all played out in about three minutes, maybe less. Now, we never saw Pope’s body so there is still a chance he’ll pop up in the finale. But they are going to have to pull some major tricks to make that believable. So many fans of the show were looking for Pope to have his redemption, to give himself up for the cause. But if not that, at least have him go out in a blaze of glory. Not drum of fuel collapsing some rock on him after a subpar exchange with Tom.
Anthony, the other defector of the 2nd Mass just seemed to stick his tail between his legs and apologize sheepishly. He ALMOST KILLED Anne at one point. The whole thing was just so out of character for him, but having him come back to the 2nd Mass with just a simple verbal apology makes it ring especially false.
Other disappointing turns this episode: the alien race that has been appearing to Tom all season give him this secret weapon able to take out the Espheni queen and the rest of the Espheni on earth. If this isn’t Deus Ex Machina, I don’t know what is. Although it’s kind of cool–somebody having to bring the weapon to the Queen herself feels like Frodo’s march into Mordor–it just doesn’t feel like this should be the set up for the final epic battle. It seems like once every season the 2nd Mass were introduced to a “game changer” secret weapon or tactic, so this device seems tired. What’s more is the episode ends in typical fashion–the 2nd Mass looking up to see an impending air raid.
Don’t give me another air raid, and don’t make that the cliffhanger before your final episode. Put a character I care about in grave danger. Hell, even kill them, and let the other characters truly go into battle in the finale to avenge their loved one.
At this point it doesn’t seem like one final hour will lead us anywhere we haven’t been on Falling Skies nor end in a suspenseful and meaningful climax. I don’t see any of the Mason family being killed off–if anything I’m calling Weaver’s death. Let’s just hope they give him a better send-off than Pope.
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