Note: Episode review contains minor spoilers.
Second Mass prepares to endure a harsh winter with the Skitters in this episode of Falling Skies. Tom (Noah Wyle) still harbors self doubts about his loyalties while Captain Weaver (Will Patton) claps him on the back in support. It’s quite obvious that Weaver has a real desire to be in a fatherly role again. While the comradery between Tom and Weaver is admirable, it like many of the other relationships in Falling Skies feels forced. Of course the Mason boys rivalry is played out throughout this episode. We see Hal (Drew Roy) keeping a vigilant watch over his fellow Second Mass residents and Ben (Connor Jessup) continuing his late night Skitter hunting escapades. So all seems hunky dory and we’re up for yet another predictable episode of Falling Skies – or so I thought!
No this does not mean I am surrendering my current dislike of the show but I will concede that this episode of TNT’s alien invasion drama had some welcome surprises. Pope (Colin Cunningham) finally doesn’t rely on sarcasm alone, and we see him do what he does best, taking matters into his own hands. Ben’s Skitter hunt goes incredibly awry and he has to deal with the grave consequences of his actions. A visitor rolls by bringing a glimmer of hope concerning the state of affairs in the rest of the continent. All these turn of events make for a much more palatable episode and allows me to swallow the contrived plot much easier.
However, with every refreshing change comes more of the same. Skitter battles are constantly devolving into the main characters walking away scot-free and the rest of Second Mass feeling the hurt. Even when the Mason family appears to be walking into a spider web, some sort of torch mechanism goes off burning away any threat of harm. I really do not buy that Tom is a “walking time bomb” – where are the crucial shots of the metaphoric “ticks”? His Skitter afflicted son Ben just seems like your typical angsty teenager and not someone who is fighting an alien infection. In short, the writers need to bring the pain. I’m far from a sadist, but seriously, the Masons are just faring the crumbling of civilization much too healthily.
Another opportunity for improvement is the budding romance between Tom and Dr. Glass (Moon Bloodgood). Yes, I admit that I was first booing these two lovers and felt it was an unwelcome romance. Now however, I’m starting to see the substance and basis for it. The problem is that the base is still watery and runny. We see Anne tending to Tom’s wounds and then going in for tender kisses a millisecond later. I have rarely seen a “love at first sight” maneuver work successfully. Anne and Tom need to pump the breaks and take things slower in order to marinate the relationship better. Let them exchange cautious flits of the eyes, show little curls of the lip turning into smiles, cut to a quick shot of one of them turning slowly to watch the other as they leave – we’re pretty much running short on the subtle gestures. Subtlety can make for a way spicier romance then the quick bear hugs and lip locks.
At least “Compass” ended on a high note when Second Mass decided to change up their game in order to get their fighters “back into the war.” Hopefully seeing Second Mass embrace their second wind will pick up the problematic plot. Unfortunately, I’m still a member of the “Resisting the Resistance Camp.”