Plot: Things are not getting easier for Tom Mason (Noah Wyle). After Lexi (Scarlett Byrne) leaves her pod and commits murder with her newly evolved powers, the burned Overlord from the ghetto launches an assault. Already weakened from their recent ordeal, the 2nd Mass makes a desperate stand for survival.
Falling Skies has very dark subject matter. Obviously it does, it’s a show about an alien invasion. Yet things have gone generally well for our main protagonists despite their absolutely crappy situations. As Pope (Colin Cunningham) himself said last night, the Masons have survived despite the odds being stacked against them. Why would anyone risk leaving on their own when the Masons apparently have a golden ticket to keep living? However, now that the show is officially ending next season, that golden ticket and the rewards it bestows on others might run out fairly soon. While it is a bit too early to feel the effects that a final season will bring to the series, that’s not stopping the writers from giving us a little taste. With three notable character deaths and a completely failed plan, “Saturday Night Massacre” was an incredibly bleak hour.
I admittedly can’t remember a time when this show willingly dove into painful territory and completely stayed there. Sure, we have brief moments like Dan Weaver (Will Patton) recently losing his daughter, but emotions picked up fairly quickly. I can’t imagine that being the case after last night. Despite Tom’s usual planning, which typically ends in either a victory or minimal losses, everything goes to shit fairly quickly. It’s easy to see why these survivors were so confident. Somehow, by sticking with the Tom, they always lived to fight some more. Reaching Charleston, South Carolina? That’s possible. Destroying a massive shield generator? Consider it done. Busting out of prison? Complete cake walk. But this is war, and it’s impossible to plan for every scenario in conflict. That was especially evident when, despite successfully killing several mechs, the humans are nearly obliterated by a ruptured gas line.
It’s almost the cruelest form of irony. Despite completely adequate preparation from years of survival, the humans are brought to their knees by something they actually need to keep going. You don’t see who shot the pipeline, it could very well have been a stray mech bullet when all those worshippers were massacred, but it doesn’t matter. The gas is noticed too late and it explodes, killing several nameless soldiers and causing Sara (Mira Sorvino) to have a mental collapse. Though not caught in the blast exactly, we can assume Dr. Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard) was stabbed by a glass shard when the shock wave knocked him over. Kadar, despite being a very important character for finding answers, wasn’t around long enough for us to feel some real sadness. I was honestly indifferent to his death because, since he somehow had all the answers to Espheni biology, he always had a death sentence. I’m surprised he made it this long.
The gas explosion obviously leaves everyone in disarray. They all turn to Tom for answers, but the normally collected leader is not in a good place. He couldn’t protect the people he cared about and now death is knocking on their door. In a rush, Tom crafts a plan that is all about deceiving the enemy. His reasoning is that, if the Espheni believe they are all dead, they’ll stop attacking. Is it risky? Absolutely, but it’s all they have left. Tom however is filled with rage and wants to kill the Overlord hunting them. Unfortunately this was his second mistake as it leads to the death of longtime 2nd Mass solider, Tector (Ryan Robbins). Tector has been in a supporting role since Season 2 and he received enough attention for us to really care. His death is a huge loss, though it was great to watch him go out in a literal blaze of glory.
While the Espheni assault was clearly the big event, “Saturday Night Massacre” opened up by advancing the fairly interesting story of Lexi evolving. Lexi wasn’t in the episode very long, but her clearly evolved powers were pretty cool. She also straight up murdered Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) which I was totally fine with. Despite being with the show since the very beginning, Lourdes has always been an uninteresting side character. Her spy story last year was a welcomed change but now she’s back to being a completely pointless addition. I’m glad she’s gone solely because she doesn’t have to waste anymore space. As for Lexi, killing Lourdes was the last straw, and now even Tom believes she needs to be stopped. Unfortunately Lexi disappears for most of the episode, which was disappointing. I really wanted to see more of her in action. Her taking Ben (Connor Jessup) away was a nice twist however. Ben too has become a pretty wooden character and going back with the Espheni just might make him interesting again.
Lastly, “Saturday Night Massacre” continued the apparently season long trend of mishandling Maggie (Sarah Carter). Ben continues to be awkward around her and her relationship with Hal (Drew Roy) is, once again, tense. That all changes when the pipeline explodes and Maggie goes missing. Hal desperately tries to find her but ultimately fails. Whether or not she lives is open to question once the credits roll, or it would be if the next episode teaser didn’t have Hal finding Maggie alive and then us hearing that she is paralyzed. Is it a spoiler if the show ruins it for you? Even though this isn’t happening until next week, I’m already not a fan of this paralysis story. First Maggie becomes a shameless flirt, and now she won’t have use of her legs? Does someone behind this show just hate her character all of a sudden?
I can only imagine that next week’s episode will be about our characters picking up the pieces. It almost has to be after everything fell apart to such a magnitude, and Tom himself is even buried underneath rubble. With only a 15 episodes left(?!) though, you can likely expect the tone to be like “Saturday Night Massacre” for quite some time. Eventually we’ll reach that point where no one is safe and the people who do die aren’t those on the side. Perhaps someday in the future Tom won’t actually wake up when he’s buried under rubble or one of the Mason children will be caught in an explosion. While Tom has done a great job keeping the 2nd Mass going, his luck is bound to run out eventually, and last night showed that might be sooner rather than later.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor 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.