Plot: When Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) learns where his son Matt (Maxim Knight) is, he immediately grabs Dan Weaver (Will Patton) and Cochise (Doug Jones) to rescue him. To keep the escaped humans safe, Tom leaves Hal (Drew Roy) in charge, which brings the ire of John Pope (Colin Cunningham). Anne (Moon Bloodgood) learns the truth behind Lexi’s (Scarlett Byrne) sanctuary.
The sons and daughters of our adult main characters have always had a significant presence on this show. A huge story for quite some time was the Mason family attempting to rescue Ben (Connor Jessup) from indoctrination, for example. However, few episodes in the past have put as much spotlight on the kids as “Evolve or Die.” They continued to be the same driving force that we’ve seen prior, but last night put much more power into the hands of youth. It was an engrossing update to a season that, despite still moving at a generally quick pace, has justifiably given more attention to the leaders of tomorrow.
As you might recall from my review last week, I commented on how Tom was perfectly set up to rescue his son Matt. The Volm were able to confirm the youngest Mason’s location and naturally Tom wanted to go there as soon as possible. Did it happen a bit sooner than I previously expected? Yes. However, after Tom surprisingly busted out of the Espheni camp last week, it was the only logical step forward. At least the infiltration and rescue mission was a rousing success. Matt is out, Tom now knows where this indoctrination school is, and Matt’s Nazi-like leader got his ass kicked by Tom. Also, Tom openly compared the school to the Hitler Youth movement, so now we have proof that the writers were legitimately going for that tone.
What struck out to me the most about Tom’s mission was how much it lived or died on how these young kids act. Sure, this isn’t the first time a Mason child needed to be rescued. It is however the first time Tom has witnessed how much of a wild card a child can be. When Tom and Weaver reach a bunk room, they rightfully believe its time to take those children away. Clearly that’s not the actual case though. All the kids began to blow whistles and alert the facility to Tom’s presence. Previously a harness was the surefire way to find a brainwashed child. Now Tom doesn’t have that luxury. It’s also Matt’s “girlfriend” Deni (Megan Danso) that attracts the attention of the Espheni guards so they can escape.
Unfortunately the mission wasn’t a flawless endeavor. While Tom is rescuing Matt, Weaver decides to investigate this creature that is hunting them down. After he comes face to face with it, he learns a horrible truth: the creature is both a product of Espheni “evolution” and his missing daughter Jeanne (Laci J. Mailey). It was an very emotional way to answer two mysteries at once, though the actual scene with Jeanne dying was basically a blip. At least this is bound to turn Weaver into a ruthless killing machine. Now that is going to be awesome.
Hal is given a far larger leadership role than you’d ever expect, though that unfolded is a pretty predictable fashion (he didn’t do a super job). While Tom is off rescuing Matt, Hal is left in charge for what he believes will only be 48 hours. That changes though when he learns of an impending Espheni attack. He then has to choose between waiting for Tom to return or taking the people away on his own. It was this personal plight that both helped and hindered Hal’s story. His indecision based on fear was perfectly understandable, but it was painfully drawn out. We all know that Hal is busy living in Tom’s massive shadow. We don’t need extended dialogue of him staring at the moon and impromptu motivation sessions with Dingaan (Treva Etienne) to really learn the difficulty of his situation.
Last night continued the trend of Pope both being the group’s savior and resident asshole. Am I the only one growing a little tired of his consistently rebellious demeanor? Pope has been a mainstay of this group since Season 1. He’s clearly an important and valued member. So why do the people on this show still want to make it seem like he doesn’t want to be there and/or the people freaking hate him? I believed Pope was going to leave the group for all of 2 minutes last night. I am eagerly awaiting for when the show just makes Pope the heroic character it clearly wants him to be and not someone to fight the Mason family at every step. Perhaps bringing in this new character Sara (Mira Sorvino) will do that.
Anne’s story was almost a re-hashing of last week’s events. You remember when Maggie (Sarah Carter) learned from Ben (Connor Jessup) about Lexi’s late night meetings? Anne reacts in the same manner. Ben, taking a page from the Tom Mason Handbook for Heroism, tries to make peace but obviously it doesn’t work. Lexi did some impressive display of her powers and we got some hard dialogue between an Overlord and Anne about what is going on. Outside of that though, we didn’t exactly strike new ground. Lexi’s story by far is the most plodding. However, what really worked was our discovery of what the Overlords are actually planning, which is turning Lexi into a weapon. This was done through a crazy mind meeting between Tom’s former captor and Lexi’s handler. Surprisingly, this is the first time all series that our main villains actually got some further background. It’s clear that this season will give these Espheni leaders a big role and I love that. Leaders who, for whatever reason, speak English to each other. What?
Children have always had a big role in Falling Skies. “Evolve or Die” however updated their standing from helpless victims to aspiring leaders. Hal was literally given the keys to the kingdom while Ben tried to handle Anne’s response to Lexi’s leadership. Tom also learned the unfortunate truths behind how dangerous impressionable children can really be while Weaver experience a living nightmare. Since Dingaan received a radio transmission from Lexi’s camp, it’s practically guaranteed that the final Mason reunion is coming soon. Will it happen next week? I wouldn’t consider that an impossibility right now. Hopefully when this does happen, we can still get some excuses to give the kids the spotlight. I can really get behind that.
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.