Tom Mason’s run as president has come to an end, and considering the decisions he’s made while in office, perhaps that is the best thing for Falling Skies and for the New United States the Second Mass is so desperately trying to keep alive. Naturally, the biggest problem with Tom leaving office, to go off in search of the missing Anne and Alexis, is he’s guaranteeing a position of significant power to one of the likely frontrunners in the subplot asking viewers to guess the identity of Charleston’s mole.
That’s the biggest takeaway from ‘Be Silent and Come Out,’ an episode that seemed tailor-made to deliver some interesting conflict in the form of another season 3 subplot surrounding the bugging of Hal, but instead it wound up burning through that development with startling speed and found resolution in a fairly rote manner. So far this season has been a little inconsistent in its approach to storytelling, either shoveling too many subplots into a single episode so none are given the opportunity to develop into compelling arcs on their own, or they’re resolved too quickly in favor of getting the storyline back on track in regard to the massive alien weapon that’s being built and the growing concern it, too, will spell doom for the human race.
A lot of this can be attributed to some of the subplots simply feeling out of place or not aligning properly with the nature of the show – i.e., Alexis’ talking baby stuff and Anne’s subsequent irrational decision that landed her in Karen’s custody. It’s not that introducing alien DNA into a newborn is uncharacteristic for Falling Skies – in fact its part of the creepiness that the show has executed fairly well over the last two and a half seasons – but rather the manner in which it was handled that seems to have created a storytelling sinkhole for the season, making moderately successful episodes like ‘Search and Recover‘ seem more significant than perhaps they really are.
The problem has to do mainly with the decision-making process of any given character; one that too often acts as filler for the overall plot of the episode, season or series and results in the individual in question repeatedly coming to a hazardous or flat-out wrong conclusion, but there seems to be little in the way of fallout regarding his or her choice. Most of the time, this falls on Tom Mason – who continually puts interpersonal struggles above the larger issue at hand and seems to do so without repercussion – but as the series progresses it’s becoming more and more a trait of anyone in the Mason clan, so when Hal reveals his internal struggle by taking his father hostage and nearly killing Weaver and then himself, the intended dramatic tension doesn’t necessarily strike the right chord.
Instead, ‘Be Silent and Come Out’ plays out as most hostage crisis episodes do, with people attempting to connect with the aggressor on an emotional level that more or less opens a window of opportunity. This time, though, the writers are afforded a rare chance to examine the sometimes-strained relationship between Hal and his father. While this could have delivered some stimulating drama between characters who spend a great deal of time with one another, but rarely interact on a personal level, it instead deflates as quickly as the hostage situation itself, given that the issue hasn’t been addressed since sometime last season.
The saving grace of the episode once again proves to be Colin Cunningham’s Pope, who has developed into not only one of the most enjoyable and reliable characters on the series, but also seems to be the only voice of reason for anyone in Charleston by asking why it is the Masons are repeatedly given a free pass when it comes to risky, self-interested behavior that puts the lives of other people at risk. So incensed is he that Pope begins taking odds on how the whole Hal situation is going to play out, putting 150-to-1 odds on both Masons getting out alive – with the added bet that Hal will then walk away scot-free. It’s good to see the show addressing this issue, and although it hasn’t yet manifested in any true sense of consequence for the characters, it does lead to a nice scene where Weaver quietly saunters into Pope’s bar, orders a whiskey and informs him, “If anyone tries to affect eh odds on that boy, one way or another, I will personally mount your head on the wall of this establishment.”
Although it feels like Hal’s subplot fizzled when it should have shined, placing all the excitement on a medical miracle afforded him by the rebel skitters, there is the possibility of more stimulating adventures to be had, now that the Masons have hit the road in search of Anne and Alexis. Additionally, this will leave Weaver and possibly Pope to deal with Charleston’s mole, whomever it may be.
Falling Skies continues next Sunday with ‘The Pickett Line’ @10pm on TNT. Check out a preview below: