TV review: ‘Falling Skies’ S3 EP8 “Strange Brew”

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:  David Solomon / Written by:  John Wirth / aired in the UK:  03/09/13

What’s this episode about?

Tom Mason awakes to find himself in a very different world where the alien attack never occurred, but is all as it seems?

In review

Those expecting a direct pick up from the closing of the last episode should have rightly been surprised when “Strange Brew” opened with Tom Mason waking next to his wife, Rebecca, from a dream where aliens invaded.  It’s approaching Christmas, the whole Mason family are together, did Tom awaken from a dream or is he living it?

It’s always a welcome change of scenario when a show does something like this (I found it very reminiscent of that Stargate Universe episode, “Cloverdale”), breaking from the usual format or expected set-up that comes with an ongoing series.  It keeps viewers on their toes by serving up the unexpected and this is certainly the case with “Strange Brew” – although it never really expects you to believe that this alternate scenario is in anyway genuine (why would it be?).

It was interesting to see all of the various main characters in slightly different guises – Weaver as a homeless man warning that “the end is near” (hauled away by Karen, here a Police Officer), Pope as a professor of philosophy (on the face of it a hilarious proposition but well within the realms of his character, his regular cynicism at times bordering on the philosophical), Ben as a bookworm and Lourdes and Maggie as avid students (Doug Jones also gets a reprieve from the prosthetics albeit in a very small ‘cameo’ moment).

Events start to take an odd turn as Mason finds a present left for him back at his office from someone named…Anne Glass.  Dai (Peter Shinkoda) drops by and accuses Tom of having an affair with his wife who just happens to be this Anne Glass, who Mason has no recollection of.  It seems he IS having an affair though, the evidence being brochures for four different cities – New York, Chicago, Boston and Jacksonville.

Things begin unravelling when back at home Tom sees a flash of himself post-invasion in the mirror and further when he receives a text message from Anne to meet her at a coffee shop (a brief welcome back to Moon Bloodgood).  All our suspicions appear to be revealed when the scene cuts to Tom with an alien probe attached to his face.  It’s all a ploy by Karen (the reliably wicked Jessy Schram) to find out which of the four cities the Volm will be attacking.  Weaver, together with Pope and the Mason boys conveniently burst in at the rescue, Karen is shot.  After being out for two days, Tom wakes up in hospital and reports to the war room to advise Weaver that Karen has moved up her schedule to activate the Espheni grid (preventing the arrival of the Volm reinforcements).  Of course, once Weaver asks Tom to identify their target he realizes it’s another deception and an almost Groundhog Day like scenario as the probe is once again pulled off of his face.  Tension mounts and Karen’s determined to get the information she wants and we see Anne and Lexi in some sort of cocoons – are they dead or is this just desperation from Karen?  No doubt we’ll find out for sure very soon.

As all this unfolds, back at Charleston, suspicions hang over President Peralta as the investigation into Hathaway’s murder reveal that she is the only one without an alibi.  There’s further woe as the communications shack is decimated by an explosion.

As the episode reaches its climax, Tom is aghast as he watches the Espheni grid become active – he’s high above the ground in one of the alien structures.  He escapes by jumping using a skitter as a landing ‘cushion’ and begins walking, only to pass his home before the invasion.  Bringing proceedings to an apt close is Mason’s heartfelt hallucination of his dead wife who urges him to move on…

The bottom line:  “Strange Brew” is an interesting and inventive (albeit “done before”) interlude for Falling Skies that leaves viewers in anticipation of what might be in store as the season fast approaches its dénouement.

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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