Falling Skies: 307 “The Pickett Line” Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
“The Pickett Line” sees the Mason clan depart Charleston on a quest to find the missing Anne and Alexis, and on the road confront the dangers of travelling on their lonesome.
Falling Skies has often tempered any potentially damning portrayal of humanity with enduring optimism, and indeed that’s sort of the case here as well. There are moments of exculpatory exposition, wherein the familial robbers’ actions are rationalised as acts of primarily good intent, and it is revealed that they’ve been victims to theft and threat themselves. It’s an interesting angle that challenges the outlook of the high-horsed Masons, who’ve known nothing of life in this world outside of the gargantuan 2nd Mass, and what it takes to survive in such small numbers.
There’s still a sense, though, that the writers would be better served following the examples of The Walking Dead, The Road etc. in depicting the ignoble tendencies of the human race in these circumstances. The optimism of Falling Skies feels somewhat disconnected from the reality of our instinctive will to survive above all others.
“The Pickett Line” doesn’t avoid this notion entirely: Duane Pickett (Christopher Heyerdahl, who has a strange resemblance to Woody Harrelson), father of the household, stations a firing line with the Masons as the would-be victims up for slaughter, and his own children as the shooters. All he does is done to prolong his own family’s survival, but it’s done very obviously, reluctantly. Any and all immoral behaviours are justified as simply decent intentions gone awry.
The sideshow to the Masons’ rural misadventures is President Hathaway’s arrival at Charleston in the arms of a staggering, exhausted Cochise (*sniggers*). The episode sort of squanders its gambit of who the mole in Charleston has been all along (not so much a surprise in and of itself anyway, because as I pointed out in my review of the premiere, the timeframe of the group’s attack on the Mega Mech factory effectively ruled Hal out right from the very start). Lourdes spends her portion of the episode basically walking around with the metaphorical equivalent of a big sign pinned onto her back that reads: “IT’S ME! I’M THE MOLE!” (I guess now we know how Alexis came by that alien DNA). Her actual reveal is then rather ineffective, even if it is an eerily well shot sequence, and her assassination of the President not quite as subtle as you’d expect for someone who’s gone this long without a shred of suspicion coming her way.
It is nonetheless satisfying that Falling Skies has gone the sensible, but still surprising (I didn’t suspect Lourdes prior to this episode) route. Lourdes’ identity as the mole makes perfect sense, but has been concealed effectively for most of the season.
Not quite the full package that the preceding episode was, but nonetheless a solid outing that just about betters the rest.