Despite the continuous dialogue problems wrapped in marginally acceptable acting, drawn out storylines and enough deus ex machina for an instructional video on convenient plot progression, the Falling Skies season 1 finale finally highlighted the sometimes overreaching charm that millions tune in for week after week.
With an animated film from the '70s presented to an auditorium full of Falling Skies characters looking to take their minds off of the less than encouraging events, the double-length Falling Skies season 1 finale begins with a hint at the convolution that’s yet to come. In the first half of the feature length episode, viewers are presented with an artificially-lengthened storyline mulled within a stagnate episode that takes twice as long to accomplish even the most menial task (15 minutes of story packed into 45 minutes of “drama”).
As the previous episodes in Falling Skies’ first season have shown, many barriers – both proverbial and literal – are not only quickly resolved, but are done so without any visual penance to those that were impacted by it. The first episode, entitled “Mutiny”, presents Tom Mason’s attempt at overthrowing the suspected drug-riddled Captain Weaver’s control over the 2nd Mass. After a short imprisonment and flavorless “gun show,” the episode closes with grins of misunderstanding (he stopped taking those drugs a while ago - silly), and a returned focus to the task at hand: bringing down the Skitters' structure.
Continuing into its concluding half, the Falling Skies season 1 finale undoubtedly shines in as many ways as it falters. The long-awaited showdown between the Mechs and the few awaiting members of the 2nd Mass. was interesting at best, but was not at all as fulfilling as any typical purveyor of television would have wanted. That being said, the showdown presents itself in such a way (literally integrating so many characters) that it becomes almost impossible not to simply enjoy it.
Providing even more fuel to the proverbial Falling Skies fire is the lack of reasonable executions and reality-based repercussions. The symbolic sight that has served as the driving force of this season – the Skitters’ structure – was easily destroyed by a well-fired bazooka shot, which caused a crashing spaceship to set-off a series of explosions within the massive towers. Even if one would simply ignore the literal one-minute timespan that it took for all of the scene to awkwardly unfold, this quick moment of revolution hardly felt like underdogs finally asserting against Earth’s newfound overlords. And, with that, one must mention the events that close the Falling Skies season 1 finale.
If a general interest in following the story of Tom Mason and then 2nd Mass. wasn’t enough to entice you to watch next year’s Falling Skies season 2, the jaw-dropping cliffhanger surely will. No matter how laughable or awkward the season 1 finale closure appears to be when looked at under close inspection, the notion that the producers are willing to introduce a storyline that brings the aliens together with one character’s arc must certainly be applauded.
After blowing up their towering structure, a harnessed Karen serves as the vocal chords for the landing space shuttle. As the lanky alien waddles his way out, he quickly begins to speak about the impressive resistance that the 2nd Mass. has shown. This resistance was so impressive that the aliens would like to discuss it with Tom Mason - and help for his son Ben was certainly implied.
As Mason and Weaver stare down their alien foe, their tune quickly turns – as it usually does in Falling Skies – from that of anger to understanding and acceptance. As Tom joins the alien aboard his space craft, the first season of Falling Skies comes to an end.
The signs of a Roman pantomime, whether intentional or not, are overwhelming – and, yet again, this is all part of the charm that Falling Skies brings to the television landscape. For all of the series' glaring inadequacies, Falling Skies presents a new form of captivating televisual preposterousness that has only been presented in the US on BBC America (or on PBS in the late '80s, early '90s).
American television is riddled with a sort of narrative conservatism that prevents us from exploring additional avenues of storytelling. Compared to the rest of the world, we have stunted ourselves within familiar genres that produce television series much more similar than they are divergent and original. While it’s a bit specious to say that Falling Skies will serve to shift the ] level of narrative diversity in television, one has to admit that for the 4 million viewers that tune in each week, it certainly has.
Yes, Tom Mason walking into the spaceship of the creatures that he’s been trying to destroy is ridiculous. Yes, the alien coming to them after getting their structure blown up is preposterous. But why not? Thanks to Independence Day and a myriad of other alien invasion stories, we’ve seen what the story of the revolutionary humans typically leads-to. Falling Skies was definitely not typical in the execution of its finale.
Even if the level of convolution continues to rise, there’s something to be said about Falling Skies wanting to tell this story. And, as a self-described fanatic of television, I can honestly say that I'm interested in watching what comes next.
…whether I’ll enjoy it is a completely different question.
Falling Skies season 2 airs summer 2012 on TNT
Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio
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