Note: Episode review contains minor spoilers.
Looks like we have some trouble in paradise. Episode 6 opened with the unsettling shots of Captain Weaver (Will Patton) collapsing to the floor as his veins began to bulge in violet canyons across his body. I really have to give it to the effects and makeup team for the job they did illustrating this alien infection taking over him. Lo and behold that is not the only violent surprise that crashes in on the camp. The lovebirds Hal (Drew Roy) and Maggie (Sarah Carter) stumble upon Hal’s old flame Karen (Jessy Schram) de-harnessed and clinging to life. To top it off, Pope (Colin Cunningham) and loyal companion Anthony (Mpho Koaho) are discovered incredibly worse for wear.
Psychological manipulation was a strong theme running through this episode. In the past, much of the show’s attempts to one up the audience felt weak and lacked compelling enough writing to convince us. For example, the frictions between Pope and whoever he had issues with often were much too predictable. Of course you always have the Skitters, whether rogue or enslaved attempt their own brands of manipulation. The enslaved Skitters would pass off a rather lackluster, “getting harnessed was the best thing that ever happened to me,” spiel and the rogue Skitter appealing to Tom (Noah Wyle) came in with, “we have no choice but to follow orders, you’re our only hope!” After much waiting, we have Karen return to Second Mass and offer us an interesting cocktail of mental trickery. For once I found myself biting my lip as I tried to assess her motives to manipulate.
Another segment that I also found well executed was the makeshift hemodialysis machine used to save Captain Weaver. The constructing and implementing of this machine caused the “lover’s spat” between Tom and Anne (Moon Bloodgood) I was always hoping to see. Their relationship has been more of a road block than plot oiler in Falling Skies. To see them disagree on something as fundamental as Tom’s authority in calling the shots brought a smile to my face. The whole “we’re lover’s and we’ll take on the end of the world” routine always bothers me in films and television. Would any of us really be that calm and even keeled with our loved ones if such a thing was occurring?
Moving on, I am really pleased by the direction that the writers of Falling Skies are taking with Ben (Connor Jessup). Ben is just the right dose of complication that the poor souls of Second Mass needs. Now I know I constantly harp on this show for it’s predictability but the way that Ben throws a wrench in the works does not come across that way. I just wish they would devote more time to showing the effects of the harness glowing on him and less time filming every painful second of Hal and Maggie’s on-again off-again relationship. What’s awesome is that they have Karen tagging along with him. This leads us to questions of whether she seeks to help the rebellion or to harm it? Even if she is to help, perhaps it’s not the kind that Ben and the rest of Second Mass will appreciate.
“Homecoming” did not hit as many right chords as the prior episode had done but still came through stronger than the majority of episodes Falling Skies has offered up so far. The romance seriously needs to be dialed down as it is becoming an intolerable filler that is spoiling otherwise decent episodes of Falling Skies.