Falling Skies finally returned to TNT last night – or sooner if you watched online. Though despite being the first episode of their fourth season, there were many moments that made this episode feel like a return to square one. Either way, this episode set up for a lot this season – some good, some bad, and some potentially very creepy. So let’s take a closer look at this episode and see what this season has in store for us.
Unlike past seasons where the entire group was together and mounting a combined offensive against the Espheni, this season we find the group divided in many unexpected ways. Characters that wouldn’t otherwise associate with each other will have to band together and forge new relationships if they want to survive. This is strikingly similar to what happened in the second half of The Walking Dead’s fourth season, which is ironic since The Walking Dead and Falling Skies have so many parallels as it is – but that’s an article for another time.
So using The Walking Dead’s fourth season as a guide for this fourth season, we can expect the following episodes to be more or less divided in focus. As it stands, there are five groups of survivors; but some of their paths are guaranteed to intersect very shortly.
Group 1 – Life in the Slums (Hal and Pope):
The group has returned to Charleston, the place where all the action started seasons ago; but they haven’t returned in the way they wanted. When we meet up with everyone again, four months have passed. The first group we’ll discuss composed of Hal, Pope and a bunch of other prisoners from the 2nd Mass and other places. With people fighting over food drops provided by the Espheni, things are looking bleak.
After being a puppet for most of last season, Hal has stepped up to become a leader and is currently working on a way to overload the Espehni Obelisk towers that are creating a force field to keep them in. This leads to a couple of confrontations with Pope who has returned to being a loner – not that he ever really stopped – in order to obtain a generator to aid in their escape.
Along the way Hal and company draw the eye of a newcomer from – apparently – Johannesburg. I’m not entirely sure I trust this guy. Between him being from Johannesburg, South Africa, and being constantly caught by the Espheni for escaping, he seems way too out of place. Johannesburg to Charleston is a long trip, and there’s no way he’s not in solitary as well for being that much of an escape artist. I also didn’t like the way he way eyeing Hal. It was almost as though he was seeing him as a worthy ‘pawn’ – or test subject – rather than an ally. We’ll have to find out more about him; but for now, let’s move onto the other group living in this hell hole.
Group 2 – Solitary Confinement (Tom and Weaver):
The next group of importance – and actually the first we meet – is composed of Tom Mason and Dan Weaver who are currently being held in solitary confinement above the slums of Charleston. Once again, we start off a season with Tom Mason being captured by aliens – Season 2 Déjà vu much?. Though unlike last time, Tom is in more control than the Espheni think. They might think he’s just writing the Gettysburg Address and other historical documents on the wall; but he’s actually been detailing an escape route and the location of all Skitter sentries.
Through a very elaborate escape plan, Tom has been sneaking out of solitary and has been doning the disguise of ‘Ghost’ – a masked vigilante who has been keeping the peace in the slums and causing trouble for the Espheni. How he keeps losing the pack of Skitters I don’t understand, but Tom’s definitely still kicking; and is waiting for the right time to spring his attack. Though Tom can’t be hasty. He needs as much info as possible and as much help he can get with the Espheni having a constant ‘Eye in the Sky.
The Eye in the Sky is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a giant ship anchored high above Charleston where the entire slum is under surveillance by an Espheni Overlord – who is no longer CGI but an actor in a costume which leads to his more realistic look. Tom might be keen on the Espheni and their new tricks; but he doesn’t understand why they are still all alive and lucid.
“Its not about killing us anymore, think about it. Ive been in solitary for 2 months, they know I’m a threat, and yet they continue to feed me” – Tom Mason
We also learn that the Espheni are not using eye worms anymore. Do the Espheni have a more sinister thing planned than eye worms? I’ll talk more about my theory on that a little later; but for now there’s a more immediate question: WHERE are the Volm?
Where Are The Volm?:
Soon after Tom and the rest of the 2nd Mass was split up, the Volm left the planet and haven’t returned until now – yet still in a small forces as recon. When Tom meets with Cochise, he learns that the Volm left to protect their own families. While the Volm fighters were battling the Espheni, their young and families were hidden away. Sadly, the Espheni found them and attacked. Had the Volm not left, their species would have most likely been wiped out.
Cochise is the only member of the Volm who seems to actively care about the humans while the others don’t consider them that much. What this means for human Volm relations is too soon to tell; but with the Espheni supposedly building a “new power source” that could wipe out any chance of liberating the Earth, human/Volm teamwork is needed more than ever. But with these human detainment camps all over the globe and the Volm merely doing recon work, is there anyone left to take the offensive?
Group 3 – On the Offensive (Anne and Anthony):
With the 2nd Mass basically gone, an unlikely leader has risen up to take control of what remains and take the fight to the Espheni: Anne Glass. From pediatrician to full on medical specialist to military leader, Anne has quite the resume. Though as we find out from her interactions with Anthony and the other members of her team, she is quite the difficult task master – but can you blame her? There is nothing stronger than a mother trying to find her child; and the Espheni are in trouble. Or is it Anne that will find herself in trouble?
During one scene, we find Anne awaken from a dream in which she remembers stuff that happened on the Espheni ship while her and Alexis were captured. Anne doesn’t reveal what happened to them just yet; but she does say that it feels as though Karen is still touching her – on the inside. This is a very discomforting thought especially since we still have no idea what happened to either of them while on board.
These repressed memories of Anne’s will have to wait because her and her team have stumbled upon something just as bad. What they thought was a ammo convoy was actually a convoy of children without harnesses. Where were they being shipped off to; and what were the Espheni planning on doing with them. It’s unthinkable that ‘human collaborators’ could so willingly sacrifice children just to save themselves – a thought we first came face to face with in season one. After Anne brings the kids back to their base camp, she will lead a team to wherever these kids were being sent – where she might just find a familiar face, and a group of fighters to aid her in her cause.
Group 4 – Re-education Camp (Matt):
After three seasons of being kidnapped, helpless and Skitter distractions, Tom Mason’s youngest son Matt is finally in a leadership role of his own. Sadly, I wish it came under better circumstances. Matt is just one of hundreds of kids who have been relocated into a re-education camp. Similar to what happened during World War II, kids have been taken hostage and are being brainwashed – think Rolfe from The Sound of Music.
The entire set up and situation also has a very Hitler-youth feel to it; although it can’t compare to just how disturbing this scene is as a whole. From the girl overzealously proclaiming a bright and glorious world with the Espheni to the crowd of chidren who in a second start blowing their whistle to report someone who is “out of line”, there is so much creep-factor in this scene it’s hard to imagine how you’d be able to hold up in that setting. Thankfully – or maybe not – we don’t have to imagine, because we have Matt.
I really have to commend Maxim Knight on his acting in this scene. Watch his face as he’s listening to the other children talk and especially when that girl starts freaking out about how wrong this all is. You can see the pain in his eyes and well as the rage he is trying to hold in. He a very smart kid – as we saw all the way back in Season One with the radio work and suspecting the Skitters weren’t the real aliens due to the Mech’s humanoid shape – and he knows what he has to do here. He’s slowly building a resistance and is waiting for the perfect chance to strike just like his father is currently doing.
Matt doesn’t know why the Espheni have stopped harnessing kids either; but he knows it can’t be good. Hopefully his plan can work and they all get out safe; but I suspect there is something more sinister going on – as I will explain in greater detail later. One final thing to note her is their Team Leader. Its hard to tell if he’s good or bad. He’s most likely bad; but his conversation with controlling outbursts and that look of recognition could be taken as ‘keep her quite and help her join the resistance’. I’m not putting much stock in him being a good guy since we didn’t see him later at their room meeting; but its important to just keep an open mind since this is only the first episode.
Group 5 – Sanctuary or Trap (Ben, Maggie, Lordes and Lexi):
While Matt is dealing with one mind game problem, his brother Ben might have just stumbled into another. Ben wakes up to find himself in an apparent sanctuary that the Espheni can’t or won’t attack because they refuse to pick up their guns. His younger sister Lexi is apparently the prophetess behind all this and her words turned to truth when an Advanced Land Mech found them but was struck by lightning before anyone could be hurt. Add in a very lax and calm Maggie and you have the makings of not trusting any of this.
Before all of this, Ben apparently suffered a “frontal lobe coma” while trying to protect Lexi. Honestly, I’m not buying it. From the overall cult feel to the fact that he seems to be coming in and out of lucid states, I won’t believe that ‘frontal lobe coma’ stuff until I actually see a flashback of it all happening. This seems like one big dream; but you have to wonder who’s pulling the strings.
Maggie is definitely under its spell as well; and Lourdes is back to being creepy – remember when she was just really nice and cute. Though all of these ‘off’ things don’t compare to the massive ‘WHAT’ vibe we’re getting from Lexi.
Who/What Is Lexi?:
From the day she was born and peering out of her crib, Alexis always seemed to have a higher creep capacity than most. Her time with the Espheni certainly haven’t helped that as we find Alexis saying “We don’t all have to die here” right before the Espheni fighters attacked. And now she’s a 20-something year old blond. HOW?!?!?!?!
She seems innocent enough and seems to be just as shocked by her abilities – which includes reflecting moonlight and playing it like a piano – as others. Though we don’t know what happened while she was on the Espheni space craft, so we can’t be sure if they were just examining her … or something else. How does a girl who is the product of a brunette man and a brunette woman go blonde? The child Lexi looked like she could be Anne and Tom’s child; but this Lexi looks like neither. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Scarlett Byrne taking on this role. I just don’t know why she had to go blonde … unless. It’s time for some Theories:
Theory #1: The Bridge Between The Species
Unless the Espheni did something to Tom while he was with them, Tom and Anne’s child is the product of two human parent. The only room for interference comes with the fact that Anne used the Volm harness removal machine while pregnant. Perhaps radiation from that affected the unborn child. Would that make her part Volm or just special? Considering we’ve never seen the Volm use any of her abilities, not likely; however, Lexi did remove the eye worms from Lourdes much like how the Volm healing machine was able to harmlessly extract the harnesses.
If Lexi is part human part Volm science, then where does the Espheni come in? We’ve seen the Espheni use crazy science and biological engineering before, so who’s to say they could have emplanted some DNA into Lexi; but whose? My idea is Karen. Between Karen also being blond and that girl NEVER staying down, it makes sense she’d return in some way. Does that mean Lexi is Karen, no. Not necessarily. But it would make sense since Karen was part human part/Espheni science – just as Lexi was originally part human/part Volm science. And there lies the bridge that could combine the three species.
As for her allegiance, worst case scenario she’s Espheni. Best case, she’s good. Most likely case is that she has no allegiance. Her earlier words ‘we don’t all have to die here’ could have been meant for the Espheni. This could have been a plea to stop this war and have the Espheni, Humans and Volm all live in peace because otherwise this war will kill them all. If her gift of prophecy is in fact true – as it was with the lightning rod Mech – then perhaps they should listen to her.
One final thing to note is her necklace of 3 interconnected rings. These rings could stand for each of the species at war here. Although it also reminded me of another symbol we saw – the mark on the tree in ‘The Enemy Within’ min-webisodes. The points where the rings intersect look like an ovals. The mark on the tree could be the points of intersection on the ring. So does that make the mysterious cameraman a member of the unifying force or just the opposite – since the symbol is inverted. I honestly don’t know what to make of this since Lexi is seemingly the first of her kind and has no way of starting a movement while she was still with the 2nd Mass traveling. Coincidence or not, its still something we should keep an eye on.
Theory #2: Don’t Eat The Food!:
After watching this episode, I have one other theory; but it’s not about Lexi – though its possibly even more disturbing. Throughout this episode there was constant reference to food – specifically food provided by the Espheni. Tom’s mentioned being fed by the Espheni. The residents of the slum fought over the food dropped by the Espheni. Matt and the other children ate food at a Espheni brainwashing camp. Do you see where I’m going with this?
We’ve seen the Espheni create harnesses that can slowly inject people with hormones and enzymes that slowly turn them into something else – just like how all of the Espheni’s weapons are other alien species they’ve conquered and mutated. We’ve also see the Espheni control people with eye worms. So who’s to say they can’t put something in the food.
There’s an upcoming episode called “Evolve”, which also happens to be one of the tag lines of this season. As I mentioned in my Falling Skies Primer for Season 4, there were some photos of Hal with fangs and other shots with people in cocoon-like structures. Whatever the Espheni have planed doesn’t look good; and spiking their food with something would be a chillingly efficient way of experimenting on the large scale. This could spell trouble for whatever escape plans Tom and Ben might be crafting. Hopefully whatever evolution helps out the Humans and Volm more than the Espheni.
Plot Hole Explained:
One final thing to take note of happened at the start of the episode and didn’t make sense to me. With no tree coverage, a lax attitude and broad daylight, it seemed like the 2nd Mass was doing the exact opposite of what they had tried to do in seasons past. They were completely exposed to the Espheni – who have always shown their affinity for air superiority. Though after watching the entire episode twice and reading between the lines, I think I have an idea.
As we learned from Cochise, the Espheni found the Volm nesting ground and attacked it, which led the Volm to leave Earth. This could all have been to distract the Volm so that the Espheni only had to deal with one nuisance at a time – which is very much in line with their ‘divide and conquer’ strategy via the Obelisks. The 2nd Mass have been traveling for almost a month since they killed Karen. That’s enough time for the Espheni and Volm goose chase to happen.
With the Espheni seemingly being much more lax – since they were actually focusing on something else – the team might have become too relaxed with the lack of attacks. This could have lead to their overall ‘blow off some steam’/’we’ve already won’ attitude.
As for the episode and season as a whole, it’s still too soon to tell when everyone will be all reunited. It honestly depends a lot upon just who’s side Lexi is on, the Volm’s reappearance, the whole ‘evolve’ thing, etc. If we listening to Tom, I guess we’ll find out soon when the gloves come off. This episode was jammed packed to set up stuff for this season; but hopefully the rest of the progresses at a better pace. A shorter 10 episode season format is great sometimes; but if it’s going to have a crazy complex story, then it might be better to have a longer season span to convey these complexities. Either way, I’ll be here to ‘Examine’ each episode along the way!
4 thoughts on “Examined: Falling Skies – “Ghost In The Machine””
Um, Johannesburg, South Africa – not California. Liked the rest of it, though.
HAHAHA No joke, I actually was trying to figure that out. I know of Johannesburg SA from the Avengers 2 filming; but i was like “nah, he couldn’t have traveled THAT far. The 2nd Mass traveled like what, across 2 states in 4 seasons? So I was thinking I was missing something so up Johannesburg’s in the US. Should have gone with my initial gut; thanks Lori! I’m glad you enjoyed my article and I’ll fix that location up top. 🙂
I think we’ll have twelve episodes this time not ten, isn’t that right?
Yup. There will be twelve this time around. I was simply referring to the difference between regular class shows (18-22 episodes) versus these smaller season runs (8-12) range