Well, what a relief. The 2nd Massachusetts, after long months fighting aliens (and each other) and slogging through New England, has finally reached Charleston, site of the new United States provisional government. Things will be going smoothly from here on out, right?
Right. Let's not kid ourselves. As happy as everyone's going to be to get a hot meal and a bed, the odds that everything is groovy down South Carolina way are pretty slim. Tom Mason and company are about to get a reminder that man's worst enemy is himself, even when surrounded by bug-eyed monsters.
So Charleston is largely subterranean, which -- given South Carolina's climate -- is actually a good idea. The 2nd Mass enters the common area to a standing O, Old Glory displayed prominently for all to see, as if fundamental concepts of representative democracy haven't been pitched out the window in what is essentially a guerrilla military state.
But who cares? There's electricity, hot food, and...Jeanne Weaver (Laci J. Malley)? Daddy and daughter enjoy a hug-filled reunion, and the captain is doubly happy that Diego appears to be out of the picture. Meanwhile, Pope and the rest of the Berserkers aren't too keen on sticking around. What a shock.
Tom (Noah Wyle) also experiences a blast from the past in the person of his old American History mentor from Boston University, Arthur Manchester (Terry O'Quinn). He's also the current "majority leader" of the new government. "Charleston can use a man like you," he tells his former student. I guess Tom deals in human fulfillment.
Col. Porter (Dale Dye) introduces Weaver (Will Patton) and a newly gung-ho "Gunnery Sergeant Aloysius Murphy" (aka Tector) to General Bressler (Matt Frewer). After dismissing Weaver's offer of intel, Bressler tells him Manchester has no intention of picking fights with the aliens and threatening their relatively peaceful existence. On top of that, it looks like the 2nd Mass is about to be broken up, disarmed and spread out. A potentially violent confrontation (between Tom and some jerk-off Sergeant whose name I didn't catch) is defused by Weaver, who says they'll play by Machester and Bressler's rules. In other words, they're taking their guns from their warm, live hands.
Manchester asks Tom to stand with him during a pending confidence vote, while Tom wants Manchester to consider allying with the rebel Skitters. That's a big no-go, dude. Also, Jeanne is going to be one of those standing up to confront Manchester at the vote (she's unhappy he didn't agree to send patrols out to look for her boyfriend), and there are other signs not all is as it seems.
Anne (MOON BLOODGOOD) and Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) are put on hospital detail, which seems logical enough. This goes poorly thanks to a confrontation between the snotty heart specialist in charge (he's like Charles Winchester without the manners or wit) and Anne, a baptized-by-fire combat medic who isn't gonna take any guff, consarn it. It soon becomes apparent that all is not hunky-dory in Charleston. Jeanne mentions the cramped living situation for most of the "non-essential" survivors, for example. This is starting to sound like Cowslip's warren all over again.
The soldiers of the 2nd Mass are chafing, too. The Berserkers and Hal (Drew Roy) especially. Matt (Maxim Knight) gets in a fight over another kid's assertion that Tom made a deal with the aliens, and then Pope (Colin Cunningham) and company are busted trying to steal weapons, along with Maggie (Sarah Carter), who was actually trying to stop them. She's got "wrong place, wrong time" down to a science. At least this time she didn't get pregnant.
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Tom goes to Manchester, who sort of kind of promises amnesty if he stands with him against the no-confidence vote. Hal goes to talk to Maggie, who's still annoyed he didn't react correctly to her kid disclosure. I like how, even in the throes of an alien invasion holocaust, people still have time for overwrought relationship bullshit. This is why you don't allow governments to form.
Next up, Jeanne is speaking at the vote. Manchester counters by bringing Tom up to talk. This goes...somewhat less ideally than planned for him. His stirring speech is interrupted by Sgt. Jerkoff letting everyone know a de-harnessed boy has a message for Tom. Could it be...? No, it's not Ben, just some kid delivering a meeting request from Red Eye to Tom. Manchester balks, putting the kid in lock-up and ordering everyone to hunker down. He's not pleased with Tom, though seemingly ignorant of the fact his military wing could seize control at any time.
So Manchester does what any craven would do, he approaches Pope. To the Berserker's credit, he tells Manchester to get stuffed. Meanwhile Hal frees Maggie while delivering a stirring speech about fresh starts. Surprisingly (or not, depending on your opinion of Maggie), it works. Bressler still gets the drop on them, and Manchester orders the imprisonment of the entire 2nd Mass. But what's this? Bressler doesn't see it that way, detaining Manchester and declaring military takeover of Charleston. Congratulations Tom, it's your first coup.
On one hand, being part of a real-life governmental overthrow has to be pretty exciting for a history professor. On the other, military control of civilian governments rarely turns out well. With one episode left this season, it seems unlikely that this will be resolved before next year. More likely there's going to be some big reveal in the much touted "final five minutes" of the season finale. Guess we'll know next week.