Film and TV

Falling Skies: "You Think Roosevelt And Churchill Wanted To Work With Stalin?"

Remember when you were in school and summer vacation would end and you'd spend the next few weeks trying to re-remember everything from the previous year because you'd spent the last three months systematically emptying your mind of all knowledge? Because that's how I feel every time a new season of Falling Skies starts.

I knew they'd made it to Charleston, and Locke from Lost was there, and some new aliens showed up at the end of the season. Certainly they'd iron all that out in the season premiere, right?

Yeah, not so much. Not only do we have to deal with the natural ramp up coming from almost a year of series down time, we find out season three starts out seven months later. I think I broke my rewind button last night.

The action opens with Weaver (Will {Patton) leading a raid on a harness facility, which seems to go pretty well (they even got Diego, Jeanne's boyfriend, back), until a couple of giant goddamn mechs ("Mega-mechs?" Is this a Pacific Rim tie-in?) pop up. Things look grim until Tom (Noah Wyle), the rebel skitters, and some X-Files grey alien show up and blow the mechs to hell with their fancy ray guns. Weaver calls it an ambush and Tom agrees, suggesting there's a mole somewhere in the Resistance. Weaver is uncertain about teaming up with the Volm, leading Tom to make a comparison to the Allies in World War II. OH WERE YOU A HISTORY PROFESSOR I TOTALLY FORGOT.

Seven months have passed since the 2nd Mass made it to Charleston. Tom Mason is now President (of what remains of the human race, I guess), Ben (Connor Jessup) is some kind of alien hybrid ninja along with his girlfriend Penny, Hal (Drew Roy) is ... paralyzed(?) and having nightmares, and Matt (Maxim Knight) is a demolitions expert with a terrible haircut. Pope (Colin Cunningham) is still an asshole, and certain aliens have joined the fight. The resistance also has a state of the art harness extracting gizmo, doubtless provided by friendly aliens, that Anne (MOON BLOODGOOD ... main, I've missed writing that) operates with lethal efficiency.

The identity of the alien on horseback is "Cochise" (Doug Jones), of a race known as the Volm (I'm going to go ahead and assume "Cochise" isn't his real name). And through a meeting with the rebel skitters, Tom and Weaver learn of a new overlord. "Karen?" Weaver is leery of the alliance, though it's clear the Volm are helping the humans turn the tide against the invaders (the Espheni).

Tom tasks Arthur Manchester (Terry O'Quinn) with rooting out the mole, who enlists former cop Anthony (Mpho Koaho) to help. Huh, I could've sworn Anthony died. Anyway, Manchester doesn't get much further than narrowing down a list of suspects before a mysterious assailant shoots him with a ray gun. The news is relayed to Tom by his new assistant, Marina Perlata (Gloria Reuben ... it's an ER reunion!), who tasks Anthony with taking over the investigation. This is what's colloquially known as "the hot seat."

Hal has a dream (an awesome dream) in which new overlord Karen tells him she "planted a probe" in his brain, which at this point just means he gets to have dream sex with her. But was it a dream? The next morning, Hal's boots are in the closet, covered with mud. Pretty neat trick for a paralyzed guy to sneak out to the woods undetected by either his paranoid girlfriend or military sentries.

Alexis, Tom and Anne's new daughter, is suspiciously advanced for a one day old: talking, tracking, and generally creeping Anne the fuck out. And yet she downplays all this to Tom. On the plus side, looks like those Vanguard tests will be a breeze.

The second installment shines some more light on Hal's sitation: Hal's not *really* paralyzed, like Freddy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Neither Weaver nor Pope trust the Vohm. But then, they doesn't trust anybody.

The episode is more concerned with the destruction of a nuclear reactor the Espheni are using to fuel their mechs. Specifically, destroying it without contaminating everything around. Enter Dr. Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard), Charleston's resident agoraphobic nuclear engineer (every town should have one). Devising a decoy attack led by Weaver to throw off the spy, Tom, Anthony, Maggie, Lars (a false flag for Maggie's affections) and Dr. Kadar enter the plant and -- after a few hiccups -- successfully destroy the reactor.

I may have skipped over Matt's delinquent shenanigans (blowing up an abandoned warehouse with some friends, these are the risks you take when you give a kid high explosives), because both it and the "super baby Alexis" plotlines don't really interest me. The mole thing threatens to get tiresome if they don't resolve if fairly quickly (it's Marina, right? It has to be). Still, Falling Skies remains a fairly solid Sunday night viewing option. I, for one, will continue to chart Noah Wyle's beard growth with interest.

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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