‘Falling Skies’ Season 3 Finale Review

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Noah Wyle Falling Skies Brazil Falling Skies Season 3 Finale Review

Throughout much of season 3, Falling Skies has had an issue when it comes to building and delivering on the tension generated from the arrival of another alien race in the closing moments of season 2. Much of this had to do with the leap forward in time during the premiere, a move that shuffled the getting-to-know-you stage of the human/Volm alliance to a series of quick, expository statements that pinned the season’s focus on a shaky mixture of the promise of a superweapon and a nearly season-long game of guess-the-mole.

That’s not to say that either plotline was unsuccessful; in fact, both managed to efficiently drive the storylines toward their respective conclusions in an efficient manner, but, overall, in its hurried effort to get to the destination, much of Falling Skies season 3 felt as though it overlooked (or undercooked) the journey.

Much of the reaction to what’s transpired over the course of the season has to do with the expectations put in place at the end of last season. Aside from the surprising, game-changing arrival of the Volm, the finale also introduced a potentially devastating dramatic challenge in the reveal that Hal Mason was under the control of Karen (and the Espheni) via the silver worms that’ve recently become a major (cost effective) component of the series’ depiction of the ongoing conflict between the humans and the invading alien force.

The Volm Falling Skies Brazil Falling Skies Season 3 Finale Review

The season premiere even set it up to look as though Hal might have been the one to assassinate Vice President Arthur Manchester, which presented several interesting dramatic possibilities. Initially, all of this was well and good, as both a potential character arc for Hal and mystery subplot for the season where the vice president could be murdered as an early and potent demonstration of just how high the stakes were going to be. And yet, as the story progressed, instead of generating considerable apprehension and pressure in regard to Karen’s battle to control Hal and all the narrative possibilities that could have stemmed from that, it became a short-lived expansion of that Hal/Maggie romance, and an even shorter confrontation between Hal and his father. This accelerated pacing of what could have been an important and dramatic leg of the season’s overall story, wound up being ostensibly swept under the rug and chalked up as an unpleasant fact of life for the characters and a missed opportunity for the narrative.

As it stands, the hasty tempo of key moments and the eschewing of dramatic tension prior to their arrival also sums up a great deal of what transpires in the season 3 finale ‘Brazil.’ The episode begins with the much-ballyhooed Volm superweapon being transported to its intended target, and while the opening moments cleverly interweave two separate locations – i.e., Weaver and Pope driving a train straight into an Espheni ambush, while Tom, Cochise and the superweapon appear to be on one of the train cars – the sparkle from the reveal is momentary at best, as the Tom’s naval assault on the Espheni tower powering the energy grid boils down to a few moments of apprehension and a brief skirmish involving two alien aircraft.

The decoy headed by Weaver and Pope certainly does a lot to explain why the assault on the tower only faced a few minor and easily dispatched foes, but placing a small verbal or visual patch over a potential plot hole before it becomes too noticeable shouldn’t be a substitute for actual compelling and driven dramatic storytelling. Moreover, now that the sum total of their forces have successfully landed on Earth, the framework of the episode was clearly designed to introduce the Volm’s plans for shipping humankind off to Brazil, rather than focusing on the larger issue of the Espheni/human conflict. And while the continued presence of the Volm and their confusion with regard to humankind’s unwillingness to sit out the fight poses an interesting challenge for the future of the series, the actual delivery of the revelation – along with Tom being reunited with Anne and his rapidly maturing and seemingly powerful daughter Alexis – feels like a more compelling story was glossed over to better accommodate the season’s sprint to the end.

Brad Kelly Will Patton and Mpho Koaho in Falling Skies Brazil Falling Skies Season 3 Finale Review

As Falling Skies plans to bring in David Eick as the new showrunner for season 4 (replacing the outgoing Remi Aubuchon), ‘Brazil’ feels more like an effort to wipe the slate clean and prepare for that transition than a truly significant chapter in the Falling Skies saga. And after more than a season of the resistance being cooped up in Charleston, the suggestion that Tom, Weaver and rest of the Second Mass may once again be hitting the road is a good sign for the storyline that lies ahead.

The more successful or inventive episodes this season – namely, ‘Search and Recover‘ and ‘Strange Brew‘ – offered a glimpse of what the series is capable of when the storyline operates beyond the confines of a single space. With any luck, season 4 will capitalize on that realization and the future storylines won’t feel so confined and claustrophobic.

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Falling Skies will return for season 4 in the summer of 2014 on TNT.

Photos: James Dittiger/TNT

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  1. I just have 2 simple questions:

    1. Weren’t the worms removed from Hal, why couldn’t they do it for Lourdes?

    2. Is the little girl Moon Bloodgood’s real life daughter? She looks just like her.

    • they didnt want them removed because they wanted karen to track her and assume they were attacking chicago. Thats why they had her chained to the train cabin.A bit stone cold really

  2. My only real problem with the overall premise was the fact that we humans are always labeled as somehow different, resilient, curious, etc. than the rest of the universe that is somehow always made up of seemingly nothing but sheep.

    It’s of course nice to be so self-centered all the time but are there really no other races out there that would fight back and give a damn about defeating the enemy? Would be nice to know we aren’t the only perpetual weaklings who have some backbone and spirit.

    • It was balanced out nicely with Mason admitting humanity’s shortcomings to the Volm, I thought.

    • It’s the John Campbell “Humans are exceptional” strand of SF. It’s a bit lazy these days but common in TV as it creates a more compelling storyline. The alternative is that humans are not special so they are all packed off to Brazil, end of series.

  3. The season finale was nice but it just for some reason didn’t live up to last season’s finale. Tom’s daughter has me curious though if she is another enemy taking over Karen’s spot. If so that seems pretty weak and predictable. Maybe next season will improve because this season, although good, could have been better

  4. A few things:

    1. If a superior fighting force came to you with an advanced weaponry and said, “We’ll fight for you, you don’t have to put yourselves at risk and we’ll protect you until the war is over”. What do you realistically do? Continue to risk your life and the lives of your loved ones when you are ill-equipped to do so only because it’s “your home”? I’m divided on that.

    2. What did the Volm Cochise mean when he said “They would die in captivity”? Is Brazil more than what they are saying? A feed camp? Heh.

    3. What alien DNA does the daughter have in her? From what I remember, the brain worms are controlled by the Skitters, is she part Skitter?

    To answer DMC’s questions:

    1. They got that “dark mist crystal/egg” thing from the Rebel Skitters and it was Lourdes who performed the procedure on Hal. They either a) Did not have any more of those crystals b) did not have someone to perform the procedure or c) there were too many for one dark mist crystal.

    2. I was thinking the same thing, she looks quite a bit like MoonBlood. Maybe a relative?

    • 5 Comments
      Post a Comment
      DMC 3 hours agoI just have 2 simple questions:

      1. Weren’t the worms removed from Hal, why couldn’t they do it for Lourdes?

      2. Is the little girl Moon Bloodgood’s real life daughter? She looks just like her.

      Reply
      mongoose 2 hours agoMy only real problem with the overall premise was the fact that we humans are always labeled as somehow different, resilient, curious, etc. than the rest of the universe that is somehow always made up of seemingly nothing but sheep.

      It’s of course nice to be so self-centered all the time but are there really no other races out there that would fight back and give a damn about defeating the enemy? Would be nice to know we aren’t the only perpetual weaklings who have some backbone and spirit.

      Reply
      JaredDac 1 hour agoThe season finale was nice but it just for some reason didn’t live up to last season’s finale. Tom’s daughter has me curious though if she is another enemy taking over Karen’s spot. If so that seems pretty weak and predictable. Maybe next season will improve because this season, although good, could have been better

      Reply
      BigNerd 1 hour agoA few things:

      1. What do you realistically do? Continue to risk your life and the lives of your loved ones when you are ill-equipped to do so only because it’s “your home”?

      I know they didn’t go out and say it but I think it has to do with patriotism to our country. I think the underlying tones is that we are Americans fighting in and for the United States…. leaving the country is not an option.

      2. What did the Volm Cochise mean when he said “They would die in captivity”? Is Brazil more than what they are saying? A feed camp? Heh.

      … right now I don’t think they meant as in camps….. but basically they want to relocate them to brazil to do what? they are not going to fight, they just going to live untill they die with no hope of ever leaving the country..that is the captivity part of that sentence…… that is what I think he meant with that.

      3. What alien DNA does the daughter have in her? From what I remember, the brain worms are controlled by the Skitters, is she part Skitter?

      I don’t think they have explained that yet

    • To big nerd…

      Sorry I posted this twice and copied/ pasted too much the 1st time

      1. What do you realistically do? Continue to risk your life and the lives of your loved ones when you are ill-equipped to do so only because it’s “your home”?

      I know they didn’t go out and say it but I think it has to do with patriotism to our country. I think the underlying tones is that we are Americans fighting in and for the United States…. leaving the country is not an option.

      2. What did the Volm Cochise mean when he said “They would die in captivity”? Is Brazil more than what they are saying? A feed camp? Heh.

      … right now I don’t think they meant as in camps….. but basically they want to relocate them to brazil to do what? they are not going to fight, they just going to live untill they die with no hope of ever leaving the country..that is the captivity part of that sentence…… that is what I think he meant with that.

      3. What alien DNA does the daughter have in her? From what I remember, the brain worms are controlled by the Skitters, is she part Skitter?

      I don’t think they have explained that yet

  5. Finale had kind if a whimper, not a bang, feel to it. Liked seeing more of the Volm, and that they are sincere in their goals. The tower scene went too quickly without too much opposition from the enemy? What, they can’t supply more ships to protect this vital machine?

    I’ll still watch next seaon.

    • well apparently they all went after the decoy

      • Plus the Esphani forces were low on energy after their power plant was destroyed so they had to concentrate their defenses where they THOUGHT the attack would take place. They didn’t have the resources to spread out their assets to all of the grid tower locations. Remember they said one site had mechs just sitting there unused?

        • Which is why they were SO adamant on learning where the attack would take place while holding Tom captive. They’d need to focus their remaining forces productively.

  6. the best season yet
    a brilliant build to to a stunning conclusion
    seems like the volm are being written out of it
    and the 2nd mass will be fighting on there own again.
    The only worry really is that the hint they’ll
    be back on the road next season
    put me in mind of the awful 2nd season
    one long boring road trip
    why take such a backwards step when the show’s going so well

  7. Enjoyed the show very much, along with the whole season. Whats up with it being only 10 eps? budget problems? Anyways I cant wait for season 4. I think mason’s daughter will end up being the person accountable for winning the war. And seeing the gap between season 1 and 2, she might be around 14-16 years old, if she cont. to grow rapidly, so i wounder how there going about it? Happy Lourdes did not have to die. her character is likable. I see Hal and maggie shifting away from each other as well.

  8. Finale SPOILER…

    ABSOLUTELY loved Tom’s one liner and kill shot. That was done VERY well I thought. It’s so easy to make something like that campy and generic… but I thought that scene was just superb. A real arm raising moment from the couch. And an interesting truth of the times as it really went against Tom’s moral compass… though it was completely deserving and really the “right” thing to do. “I’ve got a gift for you”. NO HESITATION. Bang.

    • @travis:

      It didn’t surprise me because at the time, he thought Karen had killed Anne and Alexis.

      If Karen would have brought them out before, I think Tom would not have shot her.

      With Hal and Maggie looking on the outs, I wonder if Lourdes will become the new love interest (since they share that whole brain worm affliction).

      Did Ben’s harnessed girlfriend die? I don’t remember that and she hasn’t shown up in the last few episodes.

      And if all the Espheni forces were focused on Pope and Weaver, there was no way they survived that, even with the Volm Calvary because of the time difference.

      It will be interesting to see what they do next season if they do a real time jump again. They only keep doing this Resistance fighting for so long so I assume there will be some Volm deceit in the mix.

      • Definitely didn’t surprise me either… I was waiting for it. I was just happy it happened the way it did and I thought they handled Tom’s line well. I do wonder if he would have pulled the trigger had Karen had the chance to deliver her gift before Tom went all “f you” and gave her his first. I’d like to think that Karen had reached a point of no return status with Tom’s camp… like great, you gave me back my woman and child, but you still took them in the first place and you’re a total psycho who has proven herself to be nothing but evil and HELLO, is hell bent on the complete destruction of the Human race. I hope he would have pulled the trigger anyways, literally just days before she had put into motion an attempt to radiate the entire population of earth. There really isn’t any going back from that and I think Tom had become aware to the reality that kill or be killed is rule he has to live by with the Eshpeni.

  9. So..lets see..
    . ship approach Boston..no detection.
    . what happened to hot blond warrior a while back.
    . how about the other hot girl hanging around Ben for a while.
    . where is the Army…the continental one.
    . why kill the biker chick if no one else dies.
    . what Karen wanted with a white flag in her hands.
    It seems that every episode had a different writer..follow up from one episode to the next is like 10 minutes.The thread is lost and another little plot starts.
    Why get rid of the other family surviving in the woods.

  10. 2 ships came out to defend the all important Boston tower.2..I think the Esphani has gone to Canada.

  11. Wasnt the greater season finale. but still pretty good. excited to the the second mass back on the road and moving. those where some of the strengths of season 1 and 2 i thought. I also read that season 4 is gonna be 12 episodes? thats gonna be interesting. hopefully they can use it to flesh out some of the story lines that have been a little rushed at times.

  12. Definitely agree with most comments here… Other than the fact I really thought this season was subpar overall. It had some good moments, but overall did anyone feel like it just kind of missing shock and awe the other two seasons gave us? And that constant uncertainty of everything?

    It’s almost like they just wanted to clean slate… I mean lets face it, the writers killed off Karen (other than the obvious reasons, and how awesome it was) because its time for a new villain. The whole Karen thing was getting old. The rebel skitters ran off and disappeared.. Prob won’t hear from them soon. And on top of it all, we heard the Volm speaking in candid with one another about how they must always protect the indigenous species of the planets they go to… So like we know they really aren’t bad guys, albeit possibly misguided, but they are sincere in wanting to help.

    So it’s like… This season didnt really throw many surprises our way, or cool new developments. The Volm dont excite me much, and how lame did that “huge” gun end up being?? And why the big jump in time between some episodes, especially between the ninth and the last episode. All seemed very thrown together.

    I hope they go back to the roots of the show in the next season, back to the days of multiple mysteries surrounding the narrative, and constant fear of what might happen to our beloved characters, not thinking anyone is safe, and exciting new enemies and aliens that make us constantly want more!!

  13. I was disappointed with the finale in fact was disappointed with season 3 as a whole. Lacked momentum, felt repetitive there was little tension. Karen who at first appeared to be a formidable foe sort of disappeared into the background and was dispatched extremely quickly at the end. Also finding the character of Pope, who I used to like, tiresome, he’s not growing as a character and that’s a sign of very poor writing. The finale felt rush, the relocation to Brazil hardly seemed like a viable option or one the humans were ready to contemplate, the sudden apparition of Anne and her daughter failed to generate any sort of dramatic, climatic moment. It was more in the vein of: “Hey Anne you’re back and wow Alexis has sure grown.” WTH, a little more emotion would have been welcome. Replacing Al with Lourdes was a serious mistake. I never bought it myself, it was just thrown in for lack of a better thing to come up with. Sick and tired of so much lazy writing on t.v. Hire good writers please, hire me. LOL

    • I agree on Pope as a character. I thought the missed a golden opportunity when Tom and Pope were in the forest to grow him a bit. I’m not saying the two should have become best friends, but it was like ‘okay we were in the forest together and survived, now we just go back to disliking each other like it never happened’. They could have bonded them a bit more I thought.

      Overall, an interesting but not earth shattering finale, which summed up the season. Season 4 has some great possibilities though.

  14. So two of Masons kids are alien made X-Men now, that is going to make everyone trust them more. The daughter’s rapid growth deal means we might see another tween/young adult character next season. Didn’t they do something like this in the original V series ?

  15. The last episode was “ho hum”. The series offers no surprises whatsoever. The best part was Karen getting popped.

    The super smart and fast growing daughter with powers…. Anyone remember the 4400??

    The whole show revolving around the Masons is a bit boring, especially since they keep causing or getting into stupid situations. I keep wanting the writers to pull a “Game of Thrones” and off one of them.

    For me, the finale ended with a whimper. My wife expressed it better than I could with “That’s it???”

  16. I thought this was a very weak season. Everytime they build up to something big and then it’s an anti climax. Does it have to due with the budget? V series of the eighties had a lot more drama and action than this…and that says a lot.It was unforgivable that we were denied the first encounter with Volm.The show feels very generic. It’s like the characters of Falling Skies,Revolution,Walking Dead,Defiance,Supernatural,Teen Wolf and Vampire Diaries,are all running around in the same Canadian forest. I’m surprised they don’t run into eachother. :) And did any of you guys notice in episode 2 , when young Matt went to apologise to Anne,he said to her,” Hi Moon…sorry about what I said.” Ha! ha! ha! And lastly…was Moon Bloodgood pregnant in real life during season 3 and is that why she was written out,for most of the season?

  17. I think the show is losing its way. the first series was good i liked the idea of seeing people trying to survive in the aftermath of an invasion, then season two added the fishhead aliens and that seemed to add mythology to the series but finally this third series for some reason has let me down. the stories aren’t as interesting.

    does anyone know of a similar premise for a book or short story or even a comic that i could read rather than watch the show?

  18. The entire series has become more and more disjointed. It appears the writers don’t actually know what to do and keep trying more and more stuff… then drop it. As such, nothing makes sense and they are presented with more plot holes which are never explained.

    If the Volm are even a hundred years more advanced than humans… what is the point in having humans fight? That would be like the captain of a nuclear submarine appears in 1914 and says… “Umm… excuse me… I’ll handle this.” Why is it that aliens can cross vast distanced of space and they can’t defeat firearms? Why were invaders building ‘defense grids’? Why couldn’t the Volm destroy the towers from space or did the invaders just happen to activate the defense grid days before the second Voln ship arrived? After the first freed harness kid went nuts… why does everyone ignore this with others? Why did they arm the hardness kids only once? Why does an advanced race able to cross stars need scrap metal and child slaves? Why don’t the bad guys just nuke Chicago rather than spend weeks/months with some ‘spy’ to find out what towers is to be attacked?