Note: Episode review contains minor spoilers.
Episode 5 chalked up some pleasantly surprising moments. Ben (Connor Jessup) is really starting to come out of his shell and finding his own way of dealing with the Skitters. His brother Hal (Drew Roy) naturally continues to look after the camp and dig up the necessary medical supplies for Dr. Glass. Interestingly enough, each of these life or death missions provide him plenty of time to try and put the charms on Maggie (Sarah Carter). Oh and the Second Mass walk right into a mass of Skitters defeated for them by none other than the Skitters themselves. Convenient, wouldn’t you say?
While “Love and Other Acts of Courage” bears just as many cringe worthy moments as any other episode of Falling Skies, I am not above giving credit where credit is due. The plot direction became much less black and white thanks to the discovery of a certain rogue Skitter, a more freethinking Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), and a much feistier Dr. Glass (Moon Bloodgood). I breathed a huge sigh of relief to finally see leader-who-could-do-no-wrong Captain Weaver (Will Patton) get challenged on his authority. Second Mass does need a strong commander to guide them to safer harbors but they have been following Weaver to the point of sheer blindness. Perhaps having them do so is more realistic but I cannot tell you how much it was grinding my gears that there wasn’t the slightest of notes of freethinking since rabble-rouser Pope (Colin Cunningham) left.
My waning interest in the series however, was best held by the developments with Ben. Those glowing spikes on his neck somehow add to his charisma. The new Ben is a great link between the highly misunderstood Skitter enemy and the resistance movement of the Second Mass. For the grand majority of Falling Skies, I have never really rooted for anyone. Decent sci-fi productions usually manage to encourage you to cheer for one side or the other. If the heroes showed utterly no magnetism, you get drawn to the enemies and cheer on their ruthless destruction of the human race. With Falling Skies, neither the enemies or the protagonists were pushing those buttons for me. Well, sign me up as Team Ben now, if there is anyone who I believe can save Second Mass it is him.
Episode 5 was not all hits though. We still have the awkward dialogue between Tom and Anne or Hal and Maggie. In Hal and Maggie’s case, I found myself facepalming through 99% of the dialogue. Hal, seriously, you had me at “jazz pants” – and not in a good way. If only the filler in the romantic exchanges was cut out and left to the most pertinent and character developing of lines. The only glimmer of hope in the writing was when Hal discussed Maggie’s battles with cancers. If only the writers had left it at the one exchange. This would have easily been a 5 star episode if they had.
Regardless of the missteps, I personally found this one of the strongest written episodes to date. It was refreshing to finally get some well deserved answers. If Falling Skies could manage to pump in more plot movement and less filler in the episodes to come, Sundays would be a much more exciting night of television to look forward to. The key is that from here on in, rather than leave us in the dark or bombard us with discoveries, give us the fragments one by one. Heck, Tom’s biggest realizations came from a meager little eye bug…food for thought.