Falling Skies: 207 “Molon Labe” Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
The last episode finished with Karen and Ben’s departure from the 2nd Mass, in search of safety within the ranks of the Skitter rebellion. Her deception was obvious, and thankfully this episode wasted no time in revealing it to Ben. However, the nature of the reveal does raise some awkward questions about the aliens’ intellect.
Karen’s master – the aptly named ‘fish head’ – ambushes Ben, in an effort to enter his mind and find out all that he knows. The problem is this: Surely allowing Ben to simply lead Karen to the rebellion’s location would serve as a more effective method to find and destroy their disobedient servants. Especially since, from what he said mere moments before the intrusion; he doesn’t actually know where the rebellious forces are residing, and was hoping for them to make contact with him as they have in previous episodes. I’m not certain how much could be learned from his mind either, bar a few minor details about the rebellion, but likely nothing that would compromise them too much. I’m sure they’re more than aware of the Overlords ability to invade the minds of harnessed children, so they’re unlikely to have left information of there whereabouts inside Ben’s head.
Luckily, while the episode’s beginnings are fairly flawed, it’s all over pretty quickly, so that the crux of the story can get rolling. As I predicted in last week’s review, it doesn’t take the 2nd Mass long to realise Ben’s absence and come to the rescue. Heavily fortified in the tree lines, they take their shots at the group surrounding Ben. This is where the most interesting occurrence takes place.
During this shoot out – in which the Mech’s continuingly varying levels of accuracy are still a blatant problem – the Overlord overseeing the operation (excuse the pun) stumbles across Tom’s path. Upon having a gun pointed at its armless self; it takes a sinister glance at the Mech accompanying it, which immediately shuts down in response. This demonstrates the extreme importance that the Overlords possess within the invading forces and, for most of the episode; we see the extent of that importance through Karen’s relentless and brutal attempts to rescue her ‘master’
Jessie Schram was virtually anonymous in the role before she became harnessed, but since then; her appearance within any story has stolen the show. She perfectly conveys the lifeless, sadistic nature of her character. She has a sense of authority and sinister mysteriousness that creates an uneasy tension whenever she appears, and is unmatched by even the Overlords themselves for sheer screen presence.
The horror elements explored in previous episodes this series have been somewhat minimal to the storyline. On this occasion, though, it took up a deservingly large portion of the story. It seems the aliens have new creatures at their disposal, and if the harnesses crawling on the backs of children left you uneasy, these scorpion-like parasites eating their way through Jamil will have you shielding your eyes for certain.
I’ve never much cared for Jamil, nor his partner and their fairly unimportant relationship. His inclusion at the beginning of this series set the tone for a character that would only be called upon to solve any mechanical issues for the resistance, and nothing else, but the writers obviously decided to give him some meaning beyond that and threw together a sketchy romance between him, and the most annoying character in the show, Lourdes.
However, due to the dramatic and gruesome nature of his death, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. With the writers surely taking inspiration from the likes of, Alien; what with Jamil being painfully consumed from the inside, then having his face ripped apart as the little buggers made their exit, they succeeded in shocking like the show has never managed to before, and continued the strides towards abandoning the soft storytelling that has blighted previous entries in the series.
The biggest positive in this episode, though, is the undoubtedly significant character development of Tom. His rash, anger-induced shooting of the imprisoned Overlord, driven by sentimentality – which, as the Overlord pointed out, makes him weak – presented a less-than-perfect side to his character, which has rarely been touched on.
It was also of benefit to see his struggling with the issue of Ben’s presence among the group, and the danger that it poses. We saw him go from defiant against the necessity for Ben’s departure, to acceptance that it’s not just what’s best for the 2nd Mass, but what’s best for Ben himself. Their heart-to-heart at the end of the episode was extremely touching, and pulled off with real conviction by both parties. It also left some significant questions for the few remaining episodes to pick up.
Ben cited that as the Overlord tried to force its way through his mind, so too did Ben push through the alien’s. He says he saw what they were all about and that they have to be stopped. The Overlord itself told Tom that they were not interested in genocide, but rather, a form of planetary correction – something they’ve done before. So, what more did Ben learn? And how bad was what he learnt? More to the point, why was Tom so disinterested with what Ben had gleaned from the Overlord’s mind?
Best Scene – Boon’s Death
Much like Jamil, Boon has never been a hugely important character and has only had a handful of appearances to date. However, his importance to the series is not relevant in my appreciation of this scene. It doesn’t matter who it was they did this to, it was the message they were sending to the group that mattered.
After Tom and the gang fail to release Karen’s master, she ushers an injured, captured Boon over to her side. She gestures for him to head back towards the group with an evil glint in her eye, and then steps aside. One of the Mechs then marches forward, and proceeds to slowly shoot Boon as he desperately tries to get back. In a fashion not dissimilar to that of Platoon’s Sgt. Elias, Boon’s body falls slowly, as he flails with every bullet that strikes him. The eerie silence that follows his slump to the ground, complimented by the wintry back drop, only serves to strengthen the poignancy and impact of this scene.
Verdict – 9/10 (Brilliant)
Falling Skies continues its exceptional run of form with this instalment, by delivering an episode high on drama, tension, excitement, action, horror and tragedy. It ticks all the boxes following the slightly awkward, nonsensical opening sequence of events. It introduces some strong character moments, and significantly furthers the development of others. It manages to slow down at times, whilst never feeling like its disturbed the overall pace.