‘Falling Skies’ Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Campfire Stories

Published 2 years ago by

Noah Wyle and Colin Cunningham in Falling Skies Search and Recover Falling Skies Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Campfire Stories

Every now and then, when a large-scale series like Falling Skies dedicates an hour (or parts of it) to telling a smaller, more personal story, it proves to be a benefit not only for the characters, but the storyline as well. One of the more effective scenarios is to give one or two characters a clear objective and see how it all plays out. In the case of ‘Search and Recover,’ that object is the survival of Tom and Pope.

While it doesn’t carry with it the same affecting melancholy as ‘Clear,’ the recent and memorable bottle episode from The Walking Dead, ‘Search and Recover’ serves the same purpose: To remind viewers of a relationship that’s been placed on the backburner, while the series services the needs of the plot. ‘Clear’ was remarkable because it brought back Lennie James, and through him the audience was treated to an enjoyable dynamic between him and Andrew Lincoln. Although they’ve shared far more screen time, the same can also be said for the relationship between Noah Wyle and Colin Cunningham‘s characters – which has been one of the more enjoyable aspects of the series since season 1.

And while it would have been ambitious for Falling Skies to focus the episode completely on the predicament Tom and Pope must face after their plane crashed in the wilderness (RIP Gen. Bressler), there is still plenty going on in the background; namely, Gloria Reuben’s Maria Peralta tasking Dr. Kadar with figuring out what the Vohm are building simply by looking at a few photographs, and Weaver’s search for Anne and Alexis with the rest of the Mason boys in tow.

Will Patton in Falling Skies Search and Recover Falling Skies Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Campfire Stories

So far this season, Kadar has proven to be a valuable tool, a sort of fix all for any difficulties in the plot, as his character seems designed specifically to illuminate others on what’s going on, or to get the writers out of a particularly tricky bit, as he did in ‘Collateral Damage.’ While it sometimes feels like too much of a stretch – like his DIY DNA sequencing kit – Kadar’s presence has managed to push subplots along before they wind up completely dragging down the season’s momentum. Here, Kadar kills two birds with one stone. First, he lets everyone who needs to know about Alexis’ alien DNA in on the secret – which also alerts everyone to the fact Anne has gone missing – and he provides a few speculative, but tantalizing details about the Vohm’s secret weapon.

The emphasis on whatever it is the Vohm are constructing brings a few dormant subplots back to the surface, as concern and suspicion over the aliens’ true intentions is addressed again, but, more importantly, the secretive actions of Maria suggests the writers are leading the audience to believe she may be the mole – which would support the claim made by Tom that Pope’s precious plane had a tracking device hidden onboard. Still, this seems as though it might be a deliberate bit of misdirection, as Maria’s suspicions about the machine and surprise at the information granted to her by Dr. Kadar could prove to be nothing more than a device to create some tension between President Tom Mason and his VP.

Meanwhile, the search for Anne only manages to uncover some clues leading Weaver and the Mason boys (Hal excluded) to surmise what we already know of her whereabouts. This section was as much about giving Ben and Matt something to contemplate about their deceased mother, as it was letting Drew Roy take the new Hal personality out for a little test-drive. Thankfully, he plays it mostly understated and resists the temptation to mock whenever something resembling a sincere human sentiment is uttered – which, on this show would result in Roy’s face being twisted into a permanent sneer. The concern, however, is how long this subplot can maintain itself before becoming tiresome. If the welcome (albeit temporary) absence of Alexis’ creepy CGI face is any indication, the less time Falling Skies keeps elements like this in the shadows the better.

Noah Wyle in Falling Skies Search and Recover Falling Skies Season 3, Episode 5 Review – Campfire Stories

And yet, even with everything going on in the background, it still feels as though the episode delivered what it intended in terms of Tom and Pope rehashing their differences. The unlikely duo’s traipse through the woods with a pack of skitters on their tail served up a series of quality action sequences and nice character moments – like Pope’s admission that he preferred life in prison to that of trying to be a father, which paired nicely with Tom revealing something about his painful childhood.

But it also put the focus of the next few episodes on a clear path that can hopefully maintain the momentum seen here. It’s unfortunate that the show had to sacrifice Matt Frewer – who I was really hoping would develop into a significant character this season – but if the result is a focused and entertaining episode like ‘Search and Recover,’ then its not all in vain.


Falling Skies continues next Sunday with ‘Be Silent and Come Out’ @10pm on TNT. Check out a preview below:

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  1. This show is falling apart for me.

    After some reflecting I have to wonder why a race powerful enough to control humans through covert little devices hasn’t done so on a mass scale to eliminate the threat or at least ALL of the key personnel (but they can apparently create alien/human hybrids?)

    Those probes are cool and all but just too damn powerful.

    Then I have to question why our alien buddies can provide us with advanced weaponry and high tech med beds to remove harnesses but don’t have a way to screen for those pesky enemy probes and neutralize them?

    Really getting hard to watch with those glaring plot chasms.

    • oh AND they killed off Max Headroom not to mention John Locke last week!!!?

      • and the bike chick..for christsake

    • And that’s just the stuff that pops up if you think really hard about it.
      Other things are so obviously dumb that i have to cringe at times.

      Pretty much all of the sub-plots suffer from illogical and out of character behavior, for the sole purpose of driving the story somewhere.

      Anne struggles with her sanity because Alexis is behaving strangely, but nobody believes her. Yet when she finally has solid scientific evidence for her claims, she suddenly starts actually acting insane!

      It makes no sense at all, why knock out Kadar? If she’s so concerned about people finding out, she could just have lied to him and said the sample is from some random family.
      Why drug Lourdes, when she had been more or less on her way out anyway?
      And where did she intend to go with Alexis? There is nothing rationale about her behavior, she could have just unveiled Alexis alien DNA to a selected few and researched in that matter.

      Maybe she’s also controlled by some new “super probe” just like Hal..

      Another annoying thing about this whole scene: Does Charleston not have any kind of perimeter security at all? People seem to be wandering off and into that place like it’s a mall. The wife of the President, with his baby, just strolling out of the last check point not ringing any bells for anybody? “Where you going lady? Picking flowers? Oh that’s okay, go on ahead!”

      Heck people obviously are able to sleepwalk out and into that place, as Hal has obviously demonstrated a couple of times. That whole subplot between him and Margaret also turned dumb pretty fast. Margaret had been the first one to point out that dirt on boots can’t be the result of bad dreams, she was also the one to actually find him walking around in the woods.

      At this point pretty much every main character in the universe should know of the mind-controlling capabilities the Espheni posses. So she did the right thing, trying to push him to tell his father in a private environment.
      Yet when Hal turns “evil” she readily accepts all his cheap reasoning’s and justifications without doubt or questioning.

      Another thing i constantly have to wonder about, what happened to the awesome Volm rifles from the premiere episode? I guess having a couple of those while playing “decoy” during the Reactor assault might have saved more then a few lives?!

      Too bad there is basically no decent sci-fi on TV right now, so in a pinch the devil gotta eat flies..

  2. I get it’s a summer time show so it’s not going to be as tight as some other shows, but a lot of the plots and story points are starting to become a bit cliche and predictable. For all the progress it feels like they want to be making, they aren’t getting very far and I’ve had that same problem with a lot of shows like this. The Event definitely comes to mind as a show that you’d spend an hour watching and after that hour you don’t feel like any significant progress has been made in the overall storyline. It just feels like they put a plot in and then leave it hanging, like the “real” president reveal, what has that really done for the show other than turn it into (what I’m guessing will be) a find Cochese(?) plot and not really anything to do with the president still being alive.

    On a side note, anyone else feel it was out of character for Tom to flip out the way he did over a practical joke? For someone who’s been established as a calm and reasonable person in tense times, he sure jumped from zero to beat-down pissed in no time flat.

    • @chiguy: I agree on Tom going barmy on Pope, a bit out of character. I however, scarcely believe anyone real or fictional would behave normally after experiencing a horrible plain crash that strands them with someone they dislike miles away from home. The nerves tend to turn on end in moments of distress, so if anything his quick temper was realistic; though pulling out the knife was of a strange sort.

      As far as the show as a whole goes: I watched seasons one and two over the weekend with my brother, and we’re entertained enough to just let season three run it’s course without criticism until it’s over.

      @mongoose: I’m not going to call Yost, Taylor, and the other writers out on the probes until we know more about them. For all we know it could take months to breed a probe, a timetable not easily affordable for a “mere resistance group”.

      Remember the stated reason for not deploying the Mega Mechs was that the humans were a species too primitive for them, a waste of resources if you will. The Espheni are overconfident, and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the threat of humans, though with the arrival of the Volm and their seeming trust in Karen Nalder’s leadership abilities this fact may have changed substantially.

      A fun show in my opinion, well worth the watch.

    • “he sure jumped from zero to beat-down pissed in no time flat.”..and a history professor beating up on a guy with 100 tattoos…lmao

  3. I’m done with this series.

  4. Please stop with Matt stories….one story he makes friend with a person dying, now he cares about some stranger..please stop with Matt…oh..don’t get him into battles either..BTW..why don’t we have some more battles, zap guns and adult firefight..

  5. Get the 2nd Mass out of Charleston asap, before this thing goes to pot. President, hot showers, good medicine etc etc is what is making it bad

  6. This show is falling apart I agree. It’s getting so sappy, nothing is happening. It feels like they only have a finite amount of plotline and they are trying to stretch it out to last the whole season. Season 1 & 2 moved so much more quickly and had a lot more action. I don’t know how much longer I can hang with all the reminiscing and tender moments background music.