TV Recap: Falling Skies, ‘Journey to Xibalba’

fallingskiesheader

Plot: Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) has found his way back to Charleston and is filled with hate towards the Espheni over the apparent death of Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) and their daughter Alexis. To do the most damage, Tom decides that the New United States Army must use the Volm weapon on the Boston tower to both destroy their defense shield and eliminate Karen (Jessy Schram). However, plans are quickly put on hold when the mole blows up the Volm compound and collapses Charleston upon itself.

22727_008_0337_R

The best phrase to describe Tom in “Journey to Xibalba” is that he’s “mad as Hell and not going to take this anymore.” After seeing what he believes to be the dead bodies of those that he holds most dear, Tom is all ready to go full-on John Rambo against the Espheni. Chances are if he had nuclear capabilities, Boston would be a leveled mess at this point. Instead he has a Volm super weapon which needs to be discreetly brought up North to save the world from imminent doom. Seeing as this episode is leading into the Season 3 finale, I absolutely didn’t expect the Volm weapon to actually be used this week. Sure enough, it wasn’t! Last night’s episode decided to focus on bringing the mole story to its inevitable conclusion. That’s right, “Journey to Xibalba” saw Tom discovering that Lourdes is the mole and taking necessary action against her. Outside of the mole search and the Volm situation, this episode was almost completely uneventful and rather dull in comparison to previous high octane episodes.

Lourdes has been screwing with Charleston for almost a full season now, including killing multiple people and sabotaging tons of plans. This week was easily her at her absolute most dangerous as she set out to completely destroy the New United States and the Volm for good. In the course of a few moments, Cochise (Doug Jones) became the only Volm currently on Earth and a large chunk of Charleston was crushed underground. An undisclosed amount of people died in the rubble while every survivor was in a race against time to get out before oxygen was depleted. From what I’ve seen it was easily her most sinister action to date. Quite a “grand finale” to her possible final run as the mole, provided she doesn’t escape, die, or someone heals her somehow.

22727_008_0120_R

Tom’s actual discovery of Lourdes as the mole was really exciting as well. It was one of those “sheer luck and connecting of seemingly unrelated statements to find a possible truth” moments. When Lourdes was trying to act normal by being all upset that Anne and Alexis are gone, she unwittingly revealed that she knew they were in Boston despite no one telling her. Tom didn’t realize it until Anthony (Mpho Koaho) casually declared that the collapsed Charleston has brought them back to the start, as in back to how they were before the Volm showed up and they had a fighting chance. At that point a light bulb appeared over Tom’s head and he figured everything out.

His plan to capture Lourdes was great, but it didn’t seem like anyone was particularly shocked that she was the mole other than Hal (Drew Roy), who if you recall Lourdes had a crush on in Season 1. We never saw anyone question Tom’s logic or why innocently sweet Lourdes would want to destroy the human race. They just went with it. This is the exact opposite of when Hal was bugged and we got an entire episode dedicated to him. Perhaps we’ll get through the shock stage next week for everyone else, which would make sense considering this episode’s sole purpose was to reveal the mole. I guess time couldn’t be wasted wondering if Tom was about to point a gun at someone completely innocent. As Lourdes herself said at gun point, “This is exactly what the mole would want.”

22727_008_0043_R

Outside of the mole situation, the rest of the episode was a bit “meh.” The entire story of Maggie (Sarah Sanguin Carter) and Hal being trapped while losing oxygen really went nowhere. It was just Hal trying to dig out, completely sucking up their precious oxygen like a fool. You might as well grab a few candles and light them up while you’re at it! Maggie was the voice of reason by saying they needed to conserve breathable air but did little to actually enforce that until it was seemingly too late. We all know that Hal and Maggie are too important to die like this either, so the thought that they wouldn’t make it out of there never crossed my mind. That just made the whole thing play out without too much excitement or real interest. Sure enough, Ben (Connor Jessup) and Matt (Maxim Knight) found them and Hal and Maggie can breathe easily once again.

We got little above the surface action as well which would have been strange in any normal circumstance, but actually worked in favor of the show this week. Despite the fact that Colonel Weaver (Will Patton) and John Pope (Colin Cunningham) are both major characters and they were on the surface helping the dig effort, I’m glad they didn’t get much spotlight. The real action was below the surface with the mole situation after all. Any extra shots outside of what we had of Pope helping pick up rubble and Weaver organizing the rescue would have felt like filler in comparison. Plus we got to see Pope being uncharacteristically good once again. That’s always nicer than “asshole Pope!”

22727_008_0232_R

Lastly, this episode did do a great job humanizing Cochise for the first time since the ill-fated trip to visit President Hathaway (Stephen Collins) back in “At All Costs.” I’m sure losing a large chunk of your race can do that to you. You could really see the full gamut of heartbreaking emotions in Cochise thanks to excellent CGI and Doug Jones’ acting. Now it seems more likely than ever that the Volm aren’t out to take over the Earth either. The sheer amount of casualties the Volm took this week make proceeding with that possible plan extremely foolish. There’s also now an extremely deep connection between Tom and Cochise that I hope is cultivated beyond Season 3. I do however find it a bit odd that Tom’s response to Cochise saying that all of his Volm engineers are dead is for him to use Dr. Roger Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard) to work on the gun. How does Dr. Kadar know everything about everything? First he is able to MacGyver explosives to reach the surface and now he’s the go-to guy for substitute Volm work. Granted he’s probably the most scientifically inclined person in all of Charleston, but there has to be a limit to his skills.

“Journey to Xibalba” is most notable for both Tom discovering who the mole is and for the almost complete destruction of the Volm race, but outside of that the episode really didn’t move the story too far forward. A lot of focus was on Hal and Maggie, which went nowhere, and everything is proceeding as planned despite the best efforts of Lourdes to stop them. At least there was a limited focus on what didn’t really matter (the surface excavation) and the greater attention on Cochise was welcomed. Overall “Journey to Xibalba” was a decent episode that, while not really going anywhere at some parts, did actually succeed in setting us up for one hell of a finale next week.

Rating: 7/10

photo credit: james ditiger/tnt