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.
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.
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: