TV Recap: Falling Skies, ‘The Eye’

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Plot: Desperately seeking answers to his plight, Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) willingly goes into an Espheni ship to search for a way out of captivity. Ben Mason (Connor Jessup) meets with Dr. Roger Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard) to learn more about what is happening to Alexis (Scarlett Byrne). Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) continues her hunt for her daughter. Matt Mason (Maxim Knight) hits a complication with his plan.

44-46 minutes is not a lot of time to present several different stories in equal measure. It’s a reason why most network or cable dramas choose to keep their sizable casts mostly together. The past several seasons of Falling Skies followed this exact model, especially when Tom would go off on his own. He’d get entire subplots dedicated to his personal adventures while his family generally remained in the same areas. Now that every Mason member is separated, the show is forced to explore many different storylines all at the same time. It’s not easy for this to happen with the time available, so trying to cram in too much leads to two outcomes: lopsided coverage and rushing. We ended up seeing both of these in “The Eye.”

Credit: TNT
Credit: TNT

Even though this season features disparate but eventually reconnecting stories, the main star is still Tom. Obviously most of the season is going to revolve around him and his quest to bust out of the Espheni version of a concentration camp. Seeing as we’ve only just started, it shouldn’t be a surprise that last night’s episode was predominantly Tom trying to find answers. He needs to learn all he can about the fences, how to communicate with Cochise (Doug Jones), where his family might be, etc. His investigation brings him back together with Hal (Drew Roy), who continues his personal journey of becoming the leader he always wanted to be.

Perhaps there is no better example of rushing than right here in Tom’s investigation. In literally one episode, Tom practically finds all of his answers. Most of these were thankfully done in completely believable manners. I can totally see Cochise and the Volm stumbling upon a camp that might contain Matt. Anne herself is heading there now (presumably). The same can be said about newcomer Dingaan Botha (Treva Etienne) who has produced a Faraday suit which will allow someone to exit the fences. It’s quickly explained that this guy has done all of this before, so having a special suit makes perfect sense. What doesn’t work is how Tom was able to casually walk around an Espheni ship to learn what is powering the fences. Really? That extremely helpful information is just sitting wide open? I can understand not wanting Tom to wander an alien ship for an entire episode, but they didn’t have to make it so damn easy.

Credit: TNT
Credit: TNT

It’s through dialogue with an Overlord that Tom learns why humans are being kept in captivity. Long story short: A more dangerous force of evil is coming from space and the Espheni need to recruit adult humans to convert into an elite hybrid army. People can either willingly go to them or be forced to participate in an “unconscious form.” This quick bit a dialogue easily explains why children are being taken away as well. Little is revealed about this evil force other than it not being the Volm, but I do like the potential radical shift it brings to the show’s formula. I do find it funny though how space is basically the ultimate plot device. Need a new conflict? Space is infinite so let’s just create another alien race. Why not?

Ben’s story was a close second in terms of coverage. Whatever is happening to Lexi is easily the big mystery of the show now so Ben is a character representation of the audience. He too wants to find out how his little sister has blonde hair, looks 21, and has supernatural abilities. Ben recruits Dr. Kadar to get answers but runs into heavy complications with the extremely devout Lourdes (Seychelle Gabrielle). It’s through Lourdes that we see Lexi being viewed as some god. The show isn’t shy about this metaphor, placing awkward silence between Lexi and Ben once she asks him if he’s looking for answers with his own Christian god in mind. It’s engrossing to watch Lexi learn more about her powers and I’m really excited to see where this story goes, especially with the revelation that she’s meeting with an Overlord in private.

The one element that really bothered me about Ben’s story was how we’re getting a force fed relationship between him and Maggie (Sarah Carter). Honestly, it is absolutely not necessary to shoehorn in a romance between these two characters who have barely interacted in the past. There’s nothing believable about it! Ben spent the past four months in a coma so it’s not like they could have been flirting during the time jump. What is this, a reversal of Sleeping Beauty? What makes this even worse is that we already know this will all happen. There’s a brief clip of Ben and Maggie making out in the teaser following last week’s premiere. So not only do we have to deal with this, we have to sit here and watch it unfold. Unbelievable.

Credit: TNT
Credit: TNT

Anne’s story last night was brief but, once again, continued being the high tension segment of the show. With sights on a possible location of her missing daughter, Anne has no issue marching her little group to the point when people collapse of dehydration. Once she sees a single Skitter, she unloads an entire magazine into its chest and forces answers out at knife point. In truth, the only notable inclusion this brought to the story was how the general Espheni forces are straight up terrified of Lexi. Anne riding the rage train is just too cool to ignore though.

Peppered in throughout all of this is Pope (Colin Cunningham), Dan Weaver (Will Patton), and Matt making their own little discoveries. After a small scuffle with thugs, Pope and Weaver discover a little tunnel that might go under the fences. Nothing is done with this last night but clearly it will have an effect on Tom’s story. As for Matt, he learns that his rehabilitation camp/Nazi metaphor leader is suspicious about his actions. Again, nothing is done with this, but it does set the stage for a nice conflict for Matt to deal with.

With this season taking all of our main characters elsewhere, there really isn’t a lot of time to give everyone equal attention. Last night’s “The Eye” presented both negatives of this in full force. It would’ve been cool to have more attention on Anne but naturally Tom gets precedence over everyone else. There was clearly a desire to rush through some events too with Tom easily finding answers and Maggie and Ben awkwardly flirting at a stupidly quick pace. At least there is excellent setting up for something bigger. Hopefully there really can be an epic battle with the Espheni, humans, and Volm all working together and not some overused deception cliche.

Rating: 7/10

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Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.

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