Falling Skies: 208 “Death March” Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
With the finale fast approaching, it was exactly the right time for the long journey to Charleston to finally conclude. That it did and, along the way, we saw certain characters struggle to hold on to the hope that has gotten them where they are, and others reveal parts of their past that they’re less than proud of. This was definitely a filler episode and, rather unfortunately, it never managed to escape feeling as such.
The shifting between characters, and their various and revealing discussions, was enjoyable, at first. However, when it began to take up the bulk of the episode, it became extremely tiresome. I’m all for the exploration of certain character’s depths, but most of what we found out was unnecessarily dramatised and borderline uninteresting.
Maggie’s revelation that she took drugs, robbed houses, was sent to prison and had her child taken away from her, for example; felt a little thrown together, and unimportant in the context of the show. Sure, in the real world, this news would be fairly significant, but in a world that’s been ravaged by alien invaders; where you’re fighting to survive every step of the way, it’s just trivial information, and has no real impact on the series itself. What’s more, Hal’s little sulk over it lasted all of ten minutes, before he threw her a reassuring smile and all was forgiven. So, what purpose did this plot element serve, exactly?
Far more interesting, was Tector’s much deserved step in to the spotlight – with the revelation that he is not simply a ‘hillbilly’, but a Marine who has suffered through a traumatic ordeal. The exchanges between him and Weaver, and how he comes to terms with, not only his leadership mistake in Afghanistan, but his belief that Boon’s death was also his fault, which later leads him to aid and console Weaver himself, was extremely touching. While this part of the episode wasn’t the most riveting or inspiring storytelling either, his character’s difficulties, unlike Maggie’s, have a genuine bearing on the current situation and were far more heartfelt.
Away from the episode’s primarily character focussed moments, there was an extraterrestrial presence in the story. Unfortunately, rather than being a part of the plot that improved the episode, it just dragged it down further still.
Jenny, a young harnessed girl, who is rundown by one of the resistance’s vehicles, is promptly collected and looked after. You have to question the decision to keep her onboard, considering the recent calamities that were caused by Karen, another harness victim, and wonder if the 2nd Mass ever really learns their lesson. They do seem to make the same mistakes over and over, yet, miraculously, emerge unscathed almost every time. Apart from that, though, there are further issues with this particular element of the plot.
The whole thing feels quite scrappy; no sooner has she arrived, than her presence becomes an obvious danger – in the form of her similarly harnessed brother, wishing to retrieve her – and, not long after that, she’s gone again and appears to have had no impact on the overall story, at all. It’s obvious what the purpose of her involvement was; to instil some excitement in an otherwise dull episode, but it just didn’t work.
Sadly, it’s only in the dying moments of the episode that it really delivers. After discovering the ruins of Charleston, and seemingly realising that the ‘paradise’ did not exist, they get a surprise visit from a character they believed to be dead. Porter, who disappeared after the calamitous events of season one’s finale, suddenly reappears and assures them that Charleston, is, in fact, real.
Best Scene – Charleston’s not real.
There wasn’t much memorable to choose from this episode, but this scene stands out above the rest for one, possibly unorthodox reason. As the 2nd Mass all huddle to the edge of the destroyed bridge, and look out at the horizon to see Charleston’s ruins, the camera pans across to focus on all the character’s reactions, but, lo and behold, it catches an extra that’s not doing his job properly. While Tom, Weaver and the rest all stand there with teary eyes and a mixture of shock and disbelief etched in to their faces – this guy’s clearly seen something funny, ‘cause he’s grinning like a buffoon. I’m unsure exactly how it was missed by the production team, but I’m rather glad it was. Even though it disrupted what should have been one of the most important scenes in the entire series, it was genuinely laugh out loud funny and was one of the few attention-grabbing moments of the entire episode.
Verdict – 4/10 (Below Average)
This episode was a severe disappointment, especially after the excellence of last week. It meandered far too often and for far too long, on revealing relatively unimportant character details. Even worse, the only effort made to induce some excitement in the entire episode, fell completely flat.