Following the failure of fellow alien invasion shows V and The Event to gain a fan base sufficient to galvanise their existence, the presence of a show like Falling Skies, in which the potential to run and run is sky high (no pun intended), is reassuring indeed.
Kicking off three months after Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) willingly left with the alien invaders in an attempt to discover their secrets, he returns to a 2nd Mass almost as much at war with themselves as they are the alien Skitters: sons Hal (Drew Roy) and Ben (Connor Jessup) are at each other’s throats, Captain Weaver (Will Patton) continues to face his demons, and Sawyer-from-Lost clone Pope (Colin Cunningham) wastes no time in voicing his suspicions of the very-much-alive Tom.
Add to this a possible conflict among the invaders themselves, and you have a show that’s not afraid to move the chess pieces in any way it sees fit.
That being said, the changes this season are more subtly shifting than anything else. All the character deaths are of supporting characters rather than the main ones, thus lending itself to a lack of immediacy and high stakes that perhaps should be present in this type of show.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as given the chance to keep its characters together, their relationships are able to develop a new kind of significance that isn’t always possible in the Game Of Thrones era of wiping out major characters on a regular basis; you become accustomed to them, and knowing that it’s unlikely they’ll be offed any time soon is a good thing in this regard.
It can be argued that Falling Skies needs to push on and pull up some trees if it wants to become truly memorable, though. But with the barnstorming season finale setting things up nicely, those wanting a truly memorable sci-fi thriller could be about to get its wish.
Ben’s alien-augmented evolution shows no sign of abating, and with Hal looking very infected (strongly evoking the cackling, mirror-smashing final scene of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks), there’s fertile grounding for much potential conflict. Coupled with a last-minute reveal that looks to up the stakes further, and you sense this could be the moment where things finally got urgent.
In the meantime, we have a show that is straightforward and inoffensive, and at the same times seems almost happy to be there.