TV review: ‘Falling Skies’ S3 EP7 “The Pickett Line”

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, Seychelle Gabriel as Lourdes, Doug Jones as Cochise.

Series created by:  Robert Rodat

Episode Directed by:  Sergio Mimica-Gezzan / Written by:  Jordan Rosenberg & Heather V. Regnier / aired in the UK:  27/08/13

What’s this episode about?

The Mason’s search for Anne and Lexi is interrupted by an encounter with a family who have managed to avoid the war with the aliens…

In review

“The Pickett Line” opens with Tom Mason and his sons ambushed and robbed by a masked band (thankfully there are no cries of “stand and deliver!”).  The Mason’s return the gesture by tracking them back to an out-of-the way farm house and taking them by surprise only to learn it’s a family headed by Gil Pickett (Christopher Heyerdahl).  Pickett explains that they’ve been isolated from the war and have only observed the aliens from afar.

Back at Charleston, Pope continues to shun authority (even with the change in Presidency) as the newly installed President, Marina Peralta (Gloria Rueben) has “Popetown” moved to make way for refugees.  It all falls flat as he soon finds himself jailed for urging disruption of work relating to the Volm weapon.  Pope’s persistent rebellions never become tiring, with the 2nd Mass largely an extended family, it naturally leaves the human conflict to be served via the outlaw and his band of ragtag Berserkers and is always enjoyable given the witty quips and put-downs are always delivered well on the mark by Colin Cunnigham.

The absent Cochise returns with the injured President Hathaway (Stephen Collins) and addresses the concerns of both Presidents and Weaver about the lack of clarity about the Volm weapon – namely that the excess of power will be used to destroy the entire Espheni energy field which although will allow the Volm reinforcements to arrive, could destroy all life on Earth should things go awry.  For this reason and the breach of security in Charleston it was decided between Tom Mason and Cochise that the full details should be kept under wraps.

I have to admit this all sparked radical thoughts as I found myself pondering if the Volm have struck a secret arrangement with the Espheni – a wild notion, surely?  Viewers in the States will no doubt have (at least) some of the answers since the season finale has already aired there and I look forward to seeing what the writers have in store as the dénouement approaches for UK viewers.

With the inclusion of Skitters, Volm and Mega-Mechs in this episode it made me realise something to admire about the production of Falling Skies is the collected use of CGI, puppetry and prosthetics to create the various aliens proving that as great as CGI is, equally inspired results can also be achieved via practical elements.  Of course CGI is still welcome and I wonder if we’ll see the Espheni “fish-heads” again soon, easily one of the best alien creature designs seen on screen (both big and small) in recent years.

As always there are plenty of strong character moments in this episode, Ben’s regret that the Masons may never return to Charleston just as he’s finally being accepted, we see Matt shoot a man and dealing with the consequences and further interplay between Pope and Weaver as the two strike a secret pact given their mutual distrust of the Volm (Weaver clearly not settled with Cochise’s earlier explanation).

Most significant of all these moments though is a shock turn of events with Lourdes as she murders Hathaway, identifying herself to the viewer as the true mole (skin crawling parasites and all).  It’s a welcome decision as it seemed to have been so easily resolved last week and not only allows Seychelle Gabriel her chance to tackle some character development but also offers a tantalising twist at a moment least expected from a character you would never have had reason to suspect.

This week’s proceedings come to a close as Tom heads back to warn the Picketts (following tense exchanges and face offs with the group) of an approaching alien patrol, leading to Tom being cornered by Skitters and a Mega-Mech…

The bottom line:  Another thrilling instalment of the ever thrilling Falling Skies, hopefully the stakes can be maintained at a high level through to the season finale.

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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