Entertainment Magazine

Review #2355: Falling Skies 1.10: “Eight Hours”

Posted on the 12 August 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Mark Verheiden
Directed by Greg Beeman

One of the best episodes of television I have ever seen about a military organization coup or mutiny was “The Oath” from the final season of “Battlestar Galactica”. Again, I hate to bring up that comparison for the umpteenth time, but that episode was an example of how to build suspense from an internal conflict between the main characters. Here, “Falling Skies” was biding time for the assault on the Boston structure by spending a lot of time delving into philosophical differences between Weaver and Tom. The entire conflict felt rushed, uncoordinated until the very end, and lacking in tension.

Review #2355: Falling Skies 1.10: “Eight Hours”

They covered Weaver’s mental breakdown well enough in the previous episode, yet it had to be addressed again in “Mutiny.” Only, it was enhanced this time by some hallucinogenic drugs to explain why Weaver is acting so irrationally. The writers push it so far that you have to side with Tom’s more reasonable explanation by the end. “Battlestar Galactica” had enough time to develop the mutiny so that you could see from both points of view. Each side had its pros and cons so the actual mutiny had tension and merit. Here, Weaver is so in the wrong that it’s not a surprise he would cave by the end of the hour. So what was a splintering of philosophies at the beginning of the hour turns into a coordinated attack strategy. Like I said, setup. The first hour is all setup for what happens in the second hour.

“Eight Hours” takes a different tack from what “Mutiny” did. It pays off a lot of what has been developed in recent episodes. Pope’s bombs for the assault, Tom protecting the civilians with Pope’s mech ammunition, expanding what had been going on with the radio signals and the skitters. Rick’s brief escape from the 2nd Mass. early in the episode proved crucial. He apparently is so willing to be one of the aliens that he sells out the humans to Karen, who then takes the information up the chain to the tall aliens we met previously.

The finale had a ton of exposition and more parts moving to certain places. Once every piece was in place, Weaver’s bunch assaulting the structure while Tom’s group defends the school from mechs, the action begins. It’s a welcome sight to see some of the civilians from Tom’s group in action. The mech bullets prove useful in knocking out one mech and with some jamming brilliance from Ben, they force the ensuing mech force to withdraw. Small victory though, because once the civilians catch up with Weaver’s squad, it’s immediately apparent that they have been decimated. Pope and Weaver and some stragglers barely survive. I personally would have liked to have seen the assault and why it failed. Perhaps the aliens knew they were coming after using Rick’s inside information?

The final images of the episode prove to be the most wondorous and frightening sights since the season premiere. It’s clear that the last couple of episodes were budget-savers for the show to put on the special effects show in the final act. It’s a whopper, too. Tom puts an RPG into the structure and Weaver and he make a run for it to follow up on the destruction. They’re stopped literally in their tracks by Karen. Karen has an offer for them. An alien ship slowly descends to the ground. Personally, it invoked a “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” feeling and demonstrated a level of ambition that hasn’t been seen on the show since the very beginning.

Karen’s offer is intriguing: The aliens are seemingly puzzled as to why the human resistance is doing what it’s doing and wants to talk it over. Tom and Weaver’s initial reaction is understandable. The aliens have slaughtered mankind. They have kidnapped and enslaved human children. What is there to negotiate? The aliens personally appeal to Tom, who agrees to see what they want from humanity in order to protect his children (it’s always about protecting the kids with Tom).

Where do they go from here? Can Tom successfully negotiate a way to get the aliens to leave the planet and spare what’s left of humanity? Or will the result be a new world order where humans and aliens co-exist? I would have to argue that these questions should have been asked earler and developed throughout the season, but since we know the series will continue in 2012, there’s apparently time to explore the answers to a lot of these compelling queries.

I’m hoping it doesn’t stall and shift focus to something else. That would certainly squander whatever wonder and goodwill has been built throughout this short season. This is one of the few remaining television shows that is part of a purely science fiction genre. There are things to improve about the show and the end of the season finale does show that there is potential for ambition. The writers need to act on that ambition to garner success.

Grade: 7/10

(Season 1 Final Rating: 7.2)

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