Entertainment Magazine

Review #2581: Falling Skies 1.4: “Grace”

Posted on the 06 July 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: J. M.

Only four episodes into the series, the writers have established a clear pattern. This helps and hurts the series, because the status quo has some significant issues. The first is characterization: outside of the father-son dynamics, there aren’t a lot of compelling characters on the show. The show simply has not done a good job of creating characters that we care very much about. This particular issue derives from the second, which is the rather sub-par dialog. This is particularly disappointing because of the pedigree of the people involved with the series and the fact that by all appearances they have crafted a fascinating narrative and a compelling universe.

Review #2581: Falling Skies 1.4: “Grace”

Noah Wyle has done an excellent job of selling us on the understated nature of his character. It is clear that this is a man who is trying against all odds to rebuild some of what was taken from him when the skitters invaded. He bears the weight of the death of his wife and the loss of his son, but is doing his best to move on and serve as best he can. His most direct foil is (or was) Pope. A man of equal intelligence who thanks to different life circumstances who chose the wrong path, and the path of violence. But we learn that this episode that Captain Weaver lost his family in the attack. It makes a great deal of sense given his actions, and it was nice to see his actions given some perspective. It’s also nice to see some legitimacy given to his restrictions placed on Tom and his team. Weaver has the big picture in mind and isn’t trapped by the need to rescue his children.

The depth given to Weaver is unfortunately not extended to the rest of the crew. Anthony is the one-note panicked parent, who simply has not been given anything else to do. While this is television, it simply was ridiculous that he was allowed anywhere near a weapon after his little escapade. That he hasn’t seen any consequences or shown any guilt could easily be transformed into something particularly heart-rending. But instead it just falls flat. Likewise, Lourdes’ scenes were just painful. It’s one thing to write an earnest character of faith, but for whatever reason the writers were simply tone deaf regarding her character. Pope’s criticism of Dai ironically mirrored my own.

All of this is pretty surprising given the writer’s credentials. The writer of this episode wrote “Ab Aeterno,” one of the best episodes of “Lost”. One of the executive producers is Graham Yost of “Justified” fame. Mark Verheiden, the showrunner, was a writer and producer on “Battlestar Galactica”. All reason would seem to dictate that if anything, this show would have amazing dialog and characters and haphazard plotting.

The plot gets a good push forward, with the relationship between the skitters and mechs clarified. It now appears that the skitters control the mechs through some sort of radio transmissions. My theory is that the skitters communicate through radio, naturally. The fact that Harris mentioned that they may not speak in frequencies audible to the human ear, the lack of radio transmitter, all point to that being their natural method of communication. They also demonstrate a capability of understanding human psychology and the place of children in their hierarchy.

“Falling Skies” is showing a lot of potential. The plot is well constructed and the mystery surrounding the aliens is compelling and the pieces are being revealed naturally. This is pretty strongly contrasted with the stilted dialog and hobbled characters. The show is almost halfway through its short, ten episode season and doesn’t have much time to improve on its flaws.

Rating: 6/10

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