TV review: ‘Falling Skies’ S3 EP4 “At All Costs”

This review contains SPOILERS

Starring:  Noah Wylie as Tom Mason, Moon Bloodgood as Anne Glass, Will Patton as Colonel 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:  Greg Beeman / Written by:  Heather V. Regnier / aired in the UK:  06/08/13

What’s this episode about?

The resistance, with the assistance of the Volm, repels the Espheni attack on Charleston and Lt. Fisher helps Tom Mason establish contact with President Hathaway leading to a face to face meeting…

In review

There isn’t currently anything negative I can say about Falling Skies, easily sitting at the top of my must watch list above the likes of Arrow, Person of Interest, Revolution and Continuum (all of which are thankfully due to return for further seasons).  If there was any criticism I could offer it would be that ten episodes a season is too short, so I more than welcomed the recent news that season four has been expanded to twelve.  The series continues to build upon its ongoing premise, held together well by the writers and cast as they peel away more layers of the characters.

Picking up from the closing events of the last episode, “At All Costs” opens with all guns (literally) blazing as an intense battle ensues in an attempt to hold back the Espheni assault on Charleston.  Cut to HQ below ground and things move at a brisk pace as ceilings crumble and orders are being frantically relayed by General Bressler (the presently underutilised Matt Frewer) and Colonel Weaver.

Of course regular viewers will cite that many episodes of Falling Skies open in this manner and once the credits roll the pace becomes more settled allowing the story to unfold.  Understandably at this stage, with all of the developing plotlines this season the focus needs to remain on the dramatic details as much as possible.  The writers seem fully aware of this and provide the right balance of action and intrigue and “At All Costs” is an excellent episode and a prime of example of how this can be achieved.

Through Lt. Fisher (Luvia Petersen, reprising her guest role from “Badlands”), Tom Mason establishes contact with President Hathaway (an authoritative turn from Star Trek: The Motion Picture’s Stephen Collins) and enlisting the reluctant help of Pope (and the use of his plane), arrange a rendezvous to discuss the efforts of the resistance and their alliance with the Volm.

Accompanied by Bressler and Cochise, the party head out on their secret mission much to Weaver’s unease.  Upon arrival, Mason is greeted by General Donovan (a slightly type-cast Michael Hogan, best remembered as Colonel Tigh in Battlestar Galactica) who’s reaction to Cochise is to have him detained.

We get to see a lot more of the enigmatic Cochise this episode then, as Doug Jones (through all the prosthetics) gets a chance to provide some levity as he questions the viability of Pope’s plane and delivers – soulfully – some poetic dialogue in a speech reflecting on the reasons for the Volm’s crusade against the Espheni that manages to win over Hathaway.  There’s’ still an overall smattering of distrust towards the Volm and their plans, it seems all too good to be true that victory is just a grasp away and they may have a hidden agenda – could this all be too obvious?

Back at Charleston, Lourdes explains to Ben, Deni and the other deharnessed kids that the Volm technology would allow for the remnants of their harnesses to be removed but makes the choice difficult as it would mean sacrificing their enhanced abilities.  There’s certainly more of Ben and Deni (Megan Danso) again this episode not only giving him a contemporary to interact with but as it seems, a burgeoning romance.

Meanwhile, Hal is even more troubled giving Drew Roy more meat to chew on and the revelation that there is another ‘personality’ fighting for control (one particular scene reminding me of that classic Twilight Zone episode “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room”).  What’s left ambiguous is whether Hal truly is the mole, again is this an all too obvious option?  Perhaps the writers have some other twist in store?  Either way I have faith that they will satisfy.

Sinister events continue to unfold with the strange behaviour of baby Alexis as Anne takes a DNA swab along with samples from the deharnessed kids to Dr. Kadar (a role which Robert Sean Leanoard handles with skilful eccentricity) for analysis – revealing her daughter’s alien genes.  This is enjoyably to Moon Bloodgood’s benefit as we see Anne Glass become more and more unhinged by the situation as motherly despair culminates in her assault of Dr. Kadar and drugging of Lourdes as she flees Charleston in desperation, only to run into a harnessed kid with a Skitter companion…and Hal!

Another superb episode comes to an expectedly exciting close as Donovan warns of incoming enemy aircraft, grabbing Cochise and fleeing with Hathaway as Mason, Bressler and Pope have no choice but to escape separately – only to be shot down…

The bottom line:  Falling Skies season 3 continues to grip, excite and intrigue in equal measures and ranks as no less than essential viewing for fans of good science fiction television drama.

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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