Falling Skies: 306 “Be Silent and Come Out” Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
Can we get a round of applause? Falling Skies has finally remembered that it’s a programme capable of some decent output. This being the sixth instalment out of a mere ten, following the five drab ventures that made up the season’s disappointing first half, means it’s difficult to get too congratulatory, but the series’ sudden upturn in form is nonetheless promising as we head into the final run of episodes.
“Be Silent and Come Out” is all about Hal Mason’s struggle to maintain control of his conscious mind, as Karen’s Espheni bug positions itself in the driving seat, enacting a stratagem to uncover the details of the Volm’s top secret machine housed in the depths of Charleston, which entails the covert (or not so, as it happens) kidnap and interrogation of soon-to-be abdicating President of the New United States, Tom Mason.
Hal’s really stolen the limelight from his younger brother this year. Ben’s hybridisation, and his various dilemmas surrounding that, has rightly occupied so much of the narrative over these last two seasons that it’s strange to see him confined to the sidelines all of a sudden. It’s doubtless been done as a means to more exposure for his two siblings, who’ve often been dealt the occasionally paltry leftovers of ‘Mason screen time’ after Tom and Ben have had their fill.
One can’t help but feel it’s a bit of a drawback for the viewers in regards to Matt, who at times comes across as nothing more than a tool for instilling insufferable melodramatics, and one that recurrently brings with him the worst of Falling Skies’ trite and maudlin melodies.
On the flipside, Hal’s aforementioned occupation of Ben’s former spotlight this season is proving both the character’s and actor’s credentials. Drew’s performance here is a real tour de force; he conveys elements of Karen’s persona bleeding through the repressed consciousness of Hal Mason with some adroit nuances (the banality of his evil acting in “At All Costs” is nowhere to be seen here). It’s demonstrative of his thus far unexploited acting ability that in the first instance of Falling Skies giving him some truly challenging material to work with, he has stepped up to the plate and thoroughly delivered.
The purging process Hal is later forced to undergo – though questionable in its necessity when past events are taken into account (Tom’s own Espheni bug was removed with nothing more than a pair of tweezers in Season 2’s “Shall We Gather at the River”) – is yet further proof if needed that the writers of Falling Skies flourish when the show delves into the more mature territory it frequently, irritatingly abstains from.
Meanwhile, Pope running bets on the likelihood of two Masons, one Mason, or no Masons surviving the episode’s ordeals is somewhat at odds with the Pope of just one episode ago, whom was so peculiarly determined to keep Tom alive. That’s no slant against “Be Silent and Come Out” (if anything, it’s this episode that gets him right), but the complete turnaround from the previous episode really highlights the adverse lack of consistency in characterisation this season.
What this episode has – which has been sorely lacking elsewhere in the season – is honest to god, real drama. Falling Skies so often tries to shoehorn sickly, superficial drama into proceedings that don’t warrant it to begin with (i.e. the overly dramatic burial of anonymous Anne Glass lookalike 1.0), forgetting that it will come naturally with storytelling that actually merits it. And whilst this episode only teased the possibility of one or more Masons biting the bullet, that possibility felt palpably real for once.