After the somewhat inert nature of last week's episode, Falling Skies hits the ground running by picking things up in the middle of the Espheni invasion that capped off Charleston's commemoration of the Liberty Tree.
Beginning an episode with a firefight seems to have a positive effect on the rest of the episode, regardless where things actually go from there. As far as season 3 is concerned, there have been a multitude of subplots that feel rather disconnected from the central storyline right now, and by getting several character together, fighting the same foe, the transition into those subplots begins to feel a little more organic – even if it's just a bi-product of the show creating drama through visual appeal of conflict, rather than characters speaking to one another about concepts like love, death and faith in humanity.
Falling Skies is one of those programs that operate better when its characters and the episode's central storyline are occupied by a task or a conflict placing everyone in a specific moment. And, so far, engaging aliens in combat seems to have worked out pretty well for the series. The attack at the beginning of 'At All Costs' is rather brief, however, but it does allow the characters an opportunity to interact with one another without having to first explain why. Most importantly, it gives Lt. Fisher a front row seat to the Vohm and why Tom Mason is so eager to have aligned Charleston's resistance with them.
Once Earth's new buddies dutifully dispatch a few Espheni beamers and the troops on the ground bat clean up with a small force of mechs, Fisher is convinced that Tom and his army are worthy of an apology and a direct line of contact with President Hathaway. This leads to a hasty decision by Tom to not only meet with Hathaway on his grounds, but also to bring along Cochise, as a means by which he intends to sell the President on the notion of a group of aliens who are supposedly dedicated to eradicating the Espheni and then leaving the Earth alone. Naturally, those around Tom feel the decision may not be the best he's had since being elected, but as far as Tom is concerned, if spreading the message of hope and the belief that the war can be won with the help of the Vohm will unite the various pockets of the resistance, then the trip in Pope's rickety old plane is worth the risk.
This idea of a drastic, but seemingly necessary choice permeates the episode, and about half of the time the choices made by the characters seems to venture into the realm of head-scratching disbelief. On one hand, a plausible argument can be made for Ben not wanting to have his spikes removed, or for Tom to venture far from Charleston, taking along a mysterious, but seemingly trustworthy ally that will undoubtedly set off all sorts of alarms with the brass wherever he lands. On the other hand, however, there doesn't seem to be much of a convincing argument for why Anne would clobber Dr. Kadar with a giant wrench after he deduced the child with the anomalous alien DNA was her and Tom's newborn daughter Alexis.
So far this season, Alexis' creepy talking baby antics and Anne's uncertainty of her own sanity have been the odd man out in terms of the season's overall story, as the subplot has pretty much isolated Anne, forcing her to act as a woman tormented by the thought something's not right with her child that only she can see, or having her become an object of pity for those around her – i.e., Lourdes, who winds up unconscious after drinking a spiked glass of wine for her troubles.
Naturally, Anne's foolhardy attempt to escape with Alexis is cut short once she runs into a harnessed child, a skitter and Hal – who has undergone a personality shift after a lengthy conversation with himself in his bedroom mirror. This development certainly perks his character up somewhat, since at the end of season 2 it seemed like Hal's "bugging" might have been the major thrust for the story in season 3, but it hasn't really manifested into a serious threat until now. Exposing Hal to Anne does help to bring the two subplots together in what could be a meaningful way (more evil Jessy Schram wouldn't be a bad thing), as it will hopefully put an early end to the disconnected sensation of Anne's arc.
'At All Costs' ends on a cliffhanger, which sees the plane carrying Tom, Pope and Gen. Bressler being shot down after an Espheni attack separates them from President Hathaway and, more importantly, Cochise. As long as everyone survives the crash, that means the next episode should be chock full of colorful arguments between Pope and Tom that will, in all likelihood end in the sort of fisticuffs we've seen between the two before. It may not be a new take on their relationship, but watching the two duke it out does make a nice substitute for an all-out mech assault in a pinch.
Falling Skies continues next Sunday with 'Search and Recover' @10pm on TNT. Check out a preview below: