TV review: ‘Falling Skies’ S3 EP2 “Collateral Damage”

This review contains SPOILERS


Starring:  Noah Wylie as Tom Mason, Moon Bloodgood as Anne Glass, Will Patton as Captain Daniel Weaver, Colin Cunnigham as Pope, Drew Roy as Hal Mason, Connor Jessup as Ben Mason, Maxim Night as Matt Mason, Sarah Sanguin Carter as Margaret, Doug Jones as Cochise.

Series created by:  Robert Rodat

Episode Directed by:  James Marshall / Written by:  Bradley Thompson & David Weddle / aired in the UK:  23/07/13

What’s this episode about?

As the 2nd Mass plan an assault on a nuclear power plant which the Espheni are utilising for fuel, Tom and Anne’s newborn daughter begins to exhibit signs of advanced intelligence…

In review

In “Collateral Damage”, the plot thickens in more than one instance.  Maggie questions Hal about his mysteriously muddy boots whilst inadvertently stoking the flames of jealousy as she jokes around with “battle buddy” Lars (Jared Keeso), the true intentions of the Volm are once again debated and we witness more unsettling moments as the week-old Alexis begins to display developed behaviour far in advance of a newborn child – fully mobile, never crying and even basic speech (uttering the word “Mama” in one scene, much to the disturbance of Anne)!

The story opens with Ben and new pal Deni (Megan Danso) observing activity at the power plant and provides one of a few shocking moments during this episode as we see the enemy using harnessed kids as slave labour (much as was shown in the season premiere), discarded like a broken tool once they succumb to radiation poisoning – carelessly tossed away on a pile of corpses (another World War II analogy?).

As Weaver lays out the 2nd Mass’s plan to take out the plant, Tom’s aide Marina (Gloria Reuben) recommends enlisting the expertise of the eccentric (aren’t they always?) nuclear physicist Roger Kadar (Robert Sean Leonard) to ensure that they can safely destroy the nuclear reactor without risk of fallout.  With the mole still a concern (and the identity of who is once again teased) the details of the plan are kept tightly under wraps so as to retain the element of surprise.  This results in a small team lead by Weaver (unbeknownst) being used to draw fire from the enemy as Tom leads the attack on the reactor, facing off against mutated harnessed kids – another of the episode’s shocking moments.  With heavy casualties (and Lars among the wounded) dissent grows amongst Pope and the Berserkers, angered by the execution of the ‘plan’ and the loss of life so that it could be achieved.  Although Pope has always been a thorn in Mason and Weaver’s side, which ordinarily would become repetitive, there is a real sense that this time it’s building somewhere – could there be mutiny on the horizon?

It also seems that Matt Mason is approaching his rebellious teens as we see him fooling around with dynamite and refusing to go to school – even losing his temper with Anne reminding her that she is not his mother (which leads to reconciliation and a promise from Tom to be a more active father).  So, some nice character development and an opportunity for the young Maxim Knight to develop some acting chops hopefully beyond just being the token “bratty” kid.

As the episode comes to a close Cochise congratulates Tom and Weaver on the success of their plan but warns against complacency divulging his belief that the Espheni will stage a massive retaliatory strike on Charleston.  With Weaver’s continued trepidation towards the Volm we’re left uncertain as to whether they can be truly trusted…we shall have to wait and see (strangely there’s no mention of the rebel Skitters but that will no doubt be another story as the season progresses).

It’s often cited as an unwritten rule that shows really start hitting their stride in their third seasons and Falling Skies happily joins the ranks of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Ronald D. Moore’s reimagined Battlestar Galactica in this respect (it’s interesting to note that this episode’s writers were writers and producers on the latter).  “Collateral Damage” leaves you with no doubt that there is much more to come.

The bottom line:  Falling Skies continues to build in quality and scope, it looks like this is going to be another exciting season and a trend that will hopefully follow in the show’s fourth season and – further renewals permitting – beyond!

You can read the episode 1 review here

Falling Skies Season 3 airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Fox (UK).  Seasons 1 and 2 are currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.

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