TV Recap: Falling Skies, ‘A Thing With Feathers’

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Plot: After a devastating accident during an Espheni assault, the 2nd Mass is in recovery. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is buried under rubble and no one can find him. Hal (Drew Roy) finds Maggie (Sarah Carter) but discovers the attack has left her paralyzed. Ben (Connor Jessup) has been taken away by Lexi (Scarlett Byrne) and learns the truth behind her peaceful claims.

Last week was one death filled hour. What would you expect from an episode called “Saturday Night Massacre”? Of course, with every catastrophic event that befalls our heroes, there must be fallout. That’s exactly what “A Thing With Feathers” was. It was a relatively somber hour that replaced the alien/human skirmishes with personal physical and moral conflicts. There were absolutely no epic set pieces or any adrenaline pumping battles. Recovery episodes can be a little boring at parts, yet they can work by using the opportunity to really dig into what makes a character “tick” while also laying the groundwork for the future. As expected, “A Thing With Feathers” contained all of this, but was anchored by a certain questionable story.

Photo Credit: James Ditiger
Photo Credit: James Ditiger

If Falling Skies was a more popular show, a handful of articles would pop up concerning Hal’s desperate attempts to save Maggie. It was a clear cut example of “no means yes” after all. Yet it isn’t so this will likely fly under the radar, which is a shame because it continues this absolutely garbage representation of a popular character. If there is one thing Maggie hates the most, it’s the Espheni. She wants them dead ten times over. So when Hal suggested she borrow some spinal fluid from Deni’s (Megan Danso) spikes, like a stem cell transplant, Maggie justifiably refuses. Even though it could cure her paralysis, she has that personal boundary she refuses to cross. Hal’s incredibly selfish though so he makes the procedure start regardless, and is later joined by Ben as they essentially experiment on Maggie’s body. The whole process ultimately gives Maggie full movement again but now she has some Espheni biology within her, something that she should absolutely hate. She doesn’t though and gives Hal a big kiss for completely ignoring her and saving her life (though Ben did the heavy lifting).

The idea of Maggie with some spikes can work really well for her character. We’ve seen repeatedly in the past how both Ben and Deni are super powered because of their experience in Espheni control. If Maggie can get even a fraction of that power, she could become an Espheni killing machine. Yet the entire process leading there is irksome. Maggie doesn’t want this at all. She doesn’t want Hal and Anne (Moon Bloodgood) to inject her with anything Espheni related. She specifically tells Hal “No. Don’t turn me into one of them” or something along those lines. Obviously her wishes are flagrantly ignored, and by episode’s end, we see that she’s apparently accepting of it. No one even bothered to explore the moral ramifications of Hal not giving a shit about Maggie’s choices. Maggie’s characterization this year is complete trash but this takes the cake. The previously strong willed heroine is now okay with her worst nightmares. Plus, we’re still getting this Ben/Maggie/Hal love triangle which is awful. Just awful.

Photo Credit: James Ditiger
Photo Credit: James Ditiger

Tom’s story was the most subdued it’s been all season and I enjoyed it quite a bit. After being buried underneath several feet of rubble, Tom must find a way out. He runs into Dingaan (Treva Etienne) and the two come across an Espheni ship the Volm shot down last week. The Espheni ship was really nothing special, but it did give us one of the most emotional scenes all season. After a bomb starts beeping within the vicinity, Dingaan has a meltdown because it reminds him of his son’s heart monitor right before he died. It was an incredibly tense several minutes as Dingaan relays to Tom exactly how broken he is as both a father and a husband. In a way, you can see Dingaan as what Tom would have been if Matt (Maxim Knight), Hal, and Ben didn’t survive. And when Dingaan saw his deceased wife and son waving him through the rubble leading to society, it was a powerful capper to an already intense story.

Unfortunately Lexi’s story contained little new information and was a general waste of time. Throughout this season, we’ve seen three proposed plans for peace. The humans and the Volm want the Espheni either eliminated or off Earth forever. The Espheni want to control the humans either through “biological evolution” or indoctrinating them in schools. Up to this point, Lexi was a supposed middle ground. Her mix of human and Espheni DNA makes her the perfect person to create a peace that widely benefits both sides. Yet last night revealed that her “peace” plan is exactly what the Espheni have wanted all along: evolution. According to Ben, Lexi is now full Espheni and will do everything that they want. Instead of turning Lexi into a deeply conflicted character using her mixed DNA to find a middle identity, she’s now entirely evil. Not only is this totally predictable, it takes away Lexi’s benefit of being a bridge between species.

Photo Credit: James Ditiger
Photo Credit: James Ditiger

Lastly, I’m quickly becoming a fan of this Moon mystery. Last night had Tom and Hal both notice a blue light on the lunar surface and witnessed some crazy light show on the ground. What could this mean?! Considering how much this is being built up in the background, the future Moon revelation should be huge.

“A Thing With Feathers” was all about the next steps. The burned ghetto Overlord has brought his forces upon the 2nd Mass and now they’re desperately putting themselves together. It was a decent hour that basically fell into the typical formula of a “fallout episode”. There were no battles or random Espheni assaults. Characters like Matt and Pope (Colin Cunningham) literally spent the entire time walking around. What we got instead was a mixed bag of both good and terrible things. Dingaan’s emotional speech to Tom was gripping and the positive potential behind a spiked Maggie can’t be ignored. Yet how we got to the latter especially frustrated me, and Lexi essentially becoming full-on evil was a disappointment. Hopefully she can dance on the always interesting middle ground again.

Rating: 7.5/10