TV Recap: Falling Skies, ‘Drawing Straws’

Falling Skies Header

Plot: With the Beamer safely above rubble, the 2nd Mass must answer a very important question: Who will lead this possible suicide mission to the Moon? Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) believes he’s the best pick but not everyone is convinced. Meanwhile, Hal (Drew Roy) and Ben (Connor Jessup) hash it out regarding Maggie (Sarah Carter).

It’s clearer than ever that next week’s Season Finale is supposed to be a major event. Not only is it a two hour finale, our protagonists are going to space in a clear Hail Mary for humanity’s survival. This is the mission to end all missions. Major events like the 2nd Mass liberating Boston and the destruction of the energy shield are nothing by comparison. If this small band of humans can successfully pull it off, this trip to the Moon will give all of humanity a legitimate chance of victory. And as last night proved to us in a Spanish radio transmission, the 2nd Mass is one of the few fighting forces still remaining on Earth. Their major role in this conflict is now undeniable. With so much at stake, it’s clear that “Drawing Straws” was a “preparation episode” to get us ready for the events next week. Any and all excitement and action is being saved for the big finale. Unfortunately it looks like too much excitement was being saved as “Drawing Straws” was a fairly dull and lazy hour of television.

Photo Credit: James Ditiger
Photo Credit: James Ditiger

There are a lot of reasons why this episode just didn’t work. The biggest of all is right in the episode title. In order to decide who goes on this extremely integral mission to the Moon, the 2nd Mass decides to randomly pick two names from a log. Sure they didn’t actually draw straws in the literal sense, but we’ve officially left humankind’s fate in the hands of chance. This decision making process is so mind-numbingly dumb I’m still baffled that it actually played out. It really shouldn’t be a shock then that Matt (Maxim Knight) was the one to think of it. Tom has a brief moment where he’s so flabbergasted the decision is even happening that way, but he quickly drops his argument and goes along with it. People are literally so adverse to Tom going on this mission, they will use the exact same method family’s use for Secret Santa to decide humanity’s savior. Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall.

Completely predictably, Tom rigs the drawing so he’s the one who goes. Why is Tom the one flying the Beamer you ask? Well, there is absolutely no reason for this outside of him being the main character. As the show so clearly wanted to point out, Tom is unequivocally not the best person for this job. If anything, Dingaan (Treva Etienne) is the best pick since he actually has flight experience. Instead of letting a raffle happen, the 2nd Mass should have lined up to slap Tom against the face to make him realize he’s being selfish, and then unanimously pick Dingaan. But we’re now stuck with Ben and Tom, two picks that were dictated by Mason’s Law, something I literally made up right now. Mason’s Law states that if something major is happening on this show, a Mason family member must be behind it, likely Tom. If you look back at the history, everything was dictated by Mason’s Law. The Beamer is no different.

Photo Credit: James Ditiger
Photo Credit: James Ditiger

But what really gets me the most about this Beamer situation is how it’s now lost that extra bit of tension. Even though the show is ending next year, I’m not convinced that the writers are ready to craft something where Tom gets killed. Can this show have a successful season if Tom does die on this mission? Absolutely! I’ve said before that we’re entering territory where Tom might not survive, and that will be a huge twist. But I don’t think we will make that jump, simply because this isn’t the type of show to do that. It’s not Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. With both him and Ben on this mission, you can bet that it will at best succeed, or at worst fail with them getting captured alive. If someone like Dingaan, Weaver (Will Patton), or Pope (Colin Cunningham) went, it’d be a totally different story. Pope especially had an amazing moment last night where he openly questioned his place. His abrasive attitude has alienated himself from everyone, including Sara (Mira Sorvino). With nothing left to lose, he wants his final act to be heroic. It was an emotional moment that makes me wish it was him on the Beamer with Dingaan.

Anne (Moon Bloodgood) was the only other person besides Pope who actually had her head on straight. She continuously chastised Tom all hour and openly called bullshit on him going on the Beamer. If the show is really willing to part with the Mason patriarch, Anne should become the new leader. She’s done more than enough to hold that title.

The Ben/Hal/Maggie love triangle of garbage continued last night, which I’m sure you can imagine was a ton of fun. Ben and Maggie try to blame their actions on their spikes, but Hal (and the viewers) know that’s total bullshit. All of this flirting began well before Maggie’s spine broke. Their half-assed excuses reminded me of a teenager claiming they’re “holding it for a friend” when their Mom finds the weed stash. And as if we weren’t sick of it already, Ben and Maggie kiss again with Hal looking on from a distance. It was just comical by this point. The show tried to salvage this with Ben and Hal making up later, but it was too little too late.

Photo Credit: James Ditiger
Photo Credit: James Ditiger

Lexi (Scarlett Byrne) returned last night after a one episode absence. Her powers have evolved to insanely high levels and she can now obliterate matter with her mind. Clearly this girl is the magic bullet who can decide ultimate victory for whichever side she’s on. As we saw last night, she might be with the humans completely now. After discovering that the Overlords want to kill her, Lexi completely disintegrates her former handler and returns to Tom. Next week’s preview shows that she might double-cross them, but I sincerely hope this isn’t the case. While her are powers are cool though, I can’t wrap my head around the Overlords are speaking English.

In summation, “Drawing Straws” was just a lazy hour of television. It hit every expected beat and did absolutely nothing to deviate from the normal formula. Tom is going on the mission because “reasons,” the choice was left up to a raffle because having a logical debate would be too much work, the Ben and Maggie subplot was exactly the same as last week, and the Overlords are speaking English with absolutely no explanation. Lexi flexing her stuff was cool but she didn’t do that nearly enough times to make a world of difference. I’m still very excited for this Moon mission, because it’s a freaking trip to the Moon, but “Drawing Straws” did a horrible job getting us there.

Rating: 5.5/10

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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.