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Falling Skies: 307 “The Pickett Line” Review

falling-skies-307

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.

Verdict: 7/10

Not quite the full package that the preceding episode was, but nonetheless a solid outing that just about betters the rest.

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  • ShalkaDoctor

    Love your reviews James, but please can you get them out a bit quicker if possible. I saw these episodes ages ago and it would be easier to talk about them when they air.

    • http://cultfix.co.uk/doctor-who-is-she-23563.htm GoodYear92

      Cheers! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying them. Your issue with the tardiness of the reviews, I understand. I was originally intending to do them in time with the US broadcast schedule, but coming by a reliable source for the new episodes each week proved problematic for me. Quite recently, I’ve had a lot on my plate, which has meant some lengthy delays, but I’m trying to sort out my workload so this isn’t too frequent an issue in the future.

      • ShalkaDoctor

        OK. I just think that more people will get talking if they were released around the time most were watching them. While I’ve been reading these, I haven’t felt the need to comment as they seem like a distant memory and I know the outcome of the series meaning speculation and stuff is kinda pointless. I think others may feel the same.

        Anyway, keep up the good work regardless! You’re probably my favourite reviewer here. (Also took pleasure in seeing you slag off The Following each week – negative reviews of bad shows can be fun to read too!)

        • http://cultfix.co.uk/doctor-who-is-she-23563.htm GoodYear92

          Yeah, I agree, hence my original intention to follow the series on US time. I’ll try to do better next time!

          Thank you very much! I’m glad I’m someone’s favourite! The Following was equal parts fun to deride, and a chore criticising the same things all the time.

          • ShalkaDoctor

            Any ideas what future shows you’ll be doing? Or is it hush hush?

          • http://cultfix.co.uk/doctor-who-is-she-23563.htm GoodYear92

            Well, the admin is curently arranging who’ll be covering some of the shows that are coming up. I’m lobbying for a few, but there are no guarantees I’ll get all of them.

            Misfits, I will be doing, as I reviewed last series. But The Walking Dead and Orphan Black are among those I’m after. There are others I’d like to do, like Sherlock, but I’m fairly certain they’re headed elsewhere. I’ll also be reviewing the film, Rush, when it comes out, and I’ve a feature about the 2009 film Moon in the works.

          • ShalkaDoctor

            I love TWD! I hope you are allowed to do it.

  • http://cultfix.co.uk/da-vincis-demons-103-the-prisoner-review-22559.htm EternalDoctor

    Another brilliant set of reviews, James. And (…surprise!) I agree with you entirely. I was relieved when these two episodes came along as they put an end to what I deem the most extensive streak of deficient stories of the entire series. The remaining three are also an improvement, but I’m regretful to inform that I felt that not a single one comes close to the best of Series 2…

    • http://cultfix.co.uk/doctor-who-is-she-23563.htm GoodYear92

      Cheers! They were a bit rushed (and a bit short), due to the lateness of me getting them in, but episode eight’s should be somewhat improved.

      Yup, it’s nice that things appear to be getting steadily back on track. And I’m not surprised that all of the remaining episodes still manage to fall short of the bar Season 2 set. It speaks volumes that the best instalment thus far, “Be Silent and Come Out”, is still a good way off some of the third season’s best outings (and miles off its absolute best, “Molon Labe”).

      Out of curiosity, what would you rate the finale out of ten?

      • http://cultfix.co.uk/da-vincis-demons-103-the-prisoner-review-22559.htm EternalDoctor

        Hmm… I find that one very strenuous to rate, but I’d probably give it a 6.5. If I’m a bit more lenient then I could stretch to 7, but it’s quite a bit behind the last series finale.

        Have you seen it yourself?

        • http://cultfix.co.uk/doctor-who-is-she-23563.htm GoodYear92

          “Compass” was the one with Jimmy’s death, was it not? That was another favourite of mine as well (as were most of that season, to be honest).

          Interesting. I think I rated the previous finale about an eight out of ten, and had I been reviewing the first season, that finale would have got a nine. So, it seems the finales are geting progressively less impressive each year.

          No, I haven’t yet seen it. I encountered so many problems trying to find workable copies of Season 3 episodes that I’m no longer bothering, and instead waiting on their UK broadcast.

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