Film and TV

Falling Skies: "Grace"

"Grace" may have been the weakest episode of Falling Skies to date, and that's almost entirely due to a small number of scenes. The first were those in which normally (mostly) rational characters go temporarily insane (see also Mike going after Rick), because that's the only way the writers have figured out how to advance the story.

The second is the apparently now-obligatory "emotional send-off" we have to end each episode with. Last night, it was the saying of the titular "grace" before a meal. In the latter's case, I'm hoping for an as-yet unseen payoff (that I'll get into more later), but for now the regularly recurring very special moments are going a long way towards weakening any sense of danger.

Finally, if the actions of the characters last night are any indication, mankind is doomed because they are too stupid to live.

Admit it, you've always suspected as much.

The moment we've all been waiting for since, well, two weeks ago finally happens: Pope joins Tom on a mission. They're off the get more motorcycles. In the course of their quest, they come across a group of sleeping skitters, who sleep upside down bat/possum/Lost Boys style. Tom elects not to engage, so as not to attract the attention of nearby mechs. Pope disagrees. Fortunately, he's able to get his revenge anyway when he's left temporarily unattended and gets the drop on Dai (Peter Shinkoda), escaping with a bike and blowing up the skitters.

Just in case that wasn't clear, the guy who kidnapped a bunch of Tom's people and threatened to kill them all was brought along on a mission and ignored long enough to attack Dai and escape. Sure, he wasn't armed, but the argument that they needed to bring him along to find the bikes rings hollow: they were at a dealership, not stashed in a cave.

In response to Pope's attack, the aliens send a bunch of harnessed - and armed - kids back to the dealership. They take the "skitter control unit" out and escape, but now that human shields are in play you can be sure the soft-hearted humans will be reluctant to do what's necessary to win.

Sorry, channeled Curtis LeMay there for a minute.

In other news, the hypno-slug seems to have eliminated Rick's cystic fibrosis, which is certainly what we would refer to as a cure with serious side effects. The trick to ridding the child of the harness is providing enough drugs to counter whatever crap the harness pumps into the kids.

Unfortunately, when little Ricky wakes up, he no longer remembers Dad.

Dr. Harris doesn't approve of Glass' attempts to communicate with the captured skitter, because she demonstrates empathy. Just like a woman. Harris prefers the direct approach, and so does Mike, who's a bit...incensed his boy doesn't recognize him. Luckily for him, everybody leaves the captured alien alone, in a building full of civilians, without guards, so Mike can play Bud White with the skitter, shoving his M-16 in the thing's mouth and jarring a nerve cluster.

Rather than have negative repercussions, Mike's second annoyingly unthinking act in three episodes yields the knowledge that the aliens communicate through radio frequencies, which we assume is how it convinces Rick to reattach the slug.

How do these people assume this alien understands English? Or sees in the same light spectrum (to recognize pictures)? The invaders must be speaking Rigelian, like Kang and Kodos, which by coincidence sounds exactly like English.

The episode ends with Lourdes leading everyone in prayer over the bread Pope thoughtfully baked before bugging out. Her incessant piety after she conspicuously tried to interpose herself between Hal and Karen is suspect, so I'm hoping the constant stream of touchy-feely endings is leading to a) the discovery that Lourdes had something to do with the aliens taking Karen, or b) she's going to eventually lead a fanatical religious movement within the resistance.

Next week: Tom and Hal have grown tired of waiting to go after Ben.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar