With a title like 'Love and Other Acts of Courage,' it was clear from the start that this episode of Falling Skies had something other than the eradication of the skitters and their overlords on its mind. With the blossoming romance between Tom (Noah Wyle) and Anne (Moon Bloodgood), not to mention the constant "we're just partners" kind of flirtation going on between Hal (Drew Roy) and Maggie (Sarah Carter), one could say the human race doesn't let something like their pending extinction or enslavement stand in the way of having a good time.
Thankfully, however, 'Love and Other Acts of Courage' also manages to introduce a rather intriguing notion, but through the return of an ultimately unwanted source. When some of 2nd Mass arrive at the scene of a battle, they're more than a little curious as to why all the casualties seem to be a mixture of mechs and skitters – not just put down, but also burned to a crisp. Weaver (Will Patton) is the first to suggest (albeit in a half-joking manner) that perhaps the skitters have begun shooting at one another – a scenario that would definitely have positive implications for the human resistance.
The team's questions are answered soon enough, though by means no one would be capable of trusting. To begin the episode, we saw Ben (Connor Jessup) responding to what appeared to be an alien call to arms for all the harnessed kids. Just as he's done all season long, Ben keeps quiet about his harness lighting up and the attraction he has to the aliens as a result of his temporary enslavement. Ben's ongoing struggle and inability to entrust his secrets in anyone has put him on the fringe of the 2nd Mass, but even so, as Tom's son, they rally to try and find him.
Instead of Ben, however, Hal finds Rick (Daniyah Ysrayl), a similarly harnessed boy who disappeared last season after becoming such a liability folks from the 2nd Mass were actively calling for Carl from The Walking Dead to join them instead. As if the arrival of Rick weren't bad omen enough, the squad comes to find Ben protecting an injured Red-Eye – pleading for them to help the creature rather than slay it.
Since Rick's post-harnessed role seems to consist of creeping people out and acting as translator for skitters, his words confirm what many viewers had expected from the beginning: there is more to Red-Eye than being a mere skitter. After the episode seemed to work so hard at setting up a great reveal for Red-Eye's (supposedly) true nature, it only does so by presenting it in nearly identical circumstances as the last time a skitter was questioned under incarceration. Tom's willingness to speak with Red-Eye alone is somewhat justified as an act of trust toward his son, but the situation already feels played out to the extent the audience can see where it's headed almost immediately.
At any rate Red-Eye reveals himself to also be a former victim of harnessing. The difference being he, and apparently an unseen faction of skitters, are able to resist to the degree they can stage some kind of rebellion. After a century's worth of imprisonment, Red-Eye sees in the human race the chance to finally combat the overlords effectively – but only if they work together. Subsequent to seeing the aftermath of what we are meant to believe is a skitter on skitter battle, there is evidence Red-Eye has access to the kind of firepower needed to pose a significant threat to the aliens. The cost, however, has yet to be determined.
Of course, one skitter with a gooey red eye isn't exactly a good salesperson for the idea of a team-up – especially when using Rick as a mouthpiece. Still, Red-Eye warns Tom about a death squad headed his way – which Weaver immediately interprets as "he led them right to us." Amidst the sounds of an attack, Weaver summarily orders Red-Eye's execution, which, naturally is defied by Tom and Ben, allowing the gooey-eyed one to escape and resulting in Rick taking a Berserker shotgun blast to the chest – essentially trading one liability for another.
Meanwhile, as Falling Skies is apparently building some intrigue of alien rebellion to go with the promise of Charleston, it's also taking a break to include some developments in the long-developing romance between Hal and Maggie. While on a supply run, the two have a heart-to-heart on the steps of a hospital where she shares with him the story of her three surgical procedures to remove brain tumors – the last of which caused her to almost welcome death. This was Maggie's way of apologizing for directing the prior evening's conversation to Hal's now-harnessed girlfriend Karen. Taking a conversation about brain tumors as a romantic signal, Hal moves in for the kiss only to be rejected by Maggie's insistence they remain just partners.
After rescuing her from a mech attack in which she sustained injuries, however, Hal apparently earns enough brownie points that he is allowed to watch Maggie fall asleep while recovering from her injuries. The examination of Hal and Maggie's feelings for one another may not be the best use of time for Falling Skies, but at least it gives the most likeable of the Mason children something to do other than yell at, and subsequently be overpowered by, his little brother.
Tom, in the interim, finds time to apologize to Weaver – who is recuperating from an infection caused by the harness attack in last week's episode – and try to get some answers from Ben. As usual, Ben is less than forthcoming and once more blames his secretive nature on fear of feeling even more like an outcast. Those feelings, he later reveals to Matt (Maxim Knight), may now be strong enough that the call of Red-Eye and his alien faction is too much for him to continue resisting.
Falling Skies isn't quiet at the level where pausing for an episode about love and loyalty is a good idea, but the addition of a possible skitter rebellion helps raise it above the maudlin tones seen in 'Compass.' As the 2nd Mass marches toward Charleston, hopefully the show will keep to what it does best: shooting aliens.
Falling Skies will continue next Sunday with 'Homecoming' @9pm on TNT. Check out a preview below: