TV review: ‘Falling Skies’ S3 EP9 “Journey to Xilbalba”

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:  Jonathan Frakes / Written by:  Bradley Thompson & David Weddle / aired in the UK:  10/09/13

What’s this episode about?

Tom Mason returns to Charleston as Project Orange is ready to get underway…

In review

So, with “Journey to Xilbalba” we see Tom Mason return as the loose strands of the season begin to tie together.  Weaver and President Peralta make preparations for the activation of the Volm weapon (although with the continuing paranoia surrounding the mole he doesn’t disclose the target).  It’s make or break time for the human race, as we know from previous episodes the Espheni defence grid will not only prevent Volm reinforcements from landing but will make Earth uninhabitable for humans.

Aptly, Pope is the one to ‘greet’ Mason as he chides that “the prodigal son has returned”.  The Mason boys are of course glad to see their father back safe and sound but painful news is delivered as he believes that there’s no doubt Anne and Lexi are dead (we’ll see).  It’s one of those key little character scenes that Falling Skies delivers regularly with, sometimes, varying degrees of success but works well here highlighting the bonds of clan Mason and a sense that not all hope is lost when they still have each other and a pledge to get even with Karen.

There’s also an enjoyable exchange between Mason and the ever wise Cochise who offers his condolences.  The friendship and trust between the two characters has grown throughout the season much as that of Weaver and Mason in the first season, made all the more legitimate as Mason has stood by Cochise all the while where others have been wary.

Naturally, Pope believes that Mason may have another alien bug in him and makes it known he won’t hesitate to deal with Mason should his suspicions be true.  Proceedings are – literally – shook up as there’s a massive explosion – it’s the Volm complex.  Pope and Mason investigate and find a badly wounded Cochise.  Cochise tells Tom not to give up hope and we learn that the Volm have the ability to regenerate if left to rest.

It’s at this point (and by the close of the episode) that any trepidation toward the Volm the writers have been seeding is unfounded and since they’ve given us an intriguing and likeable character in Cochise, I hope that they won’t be pulling the rug from under our feet in the finale.

As Lourdes plants an explosive device, all hell breaks loose and Falling Skies enters 1970s disaster film territory and a lot like The Towering Inferno and Earthquake citizens of Charleston in the wrong place at the wrong time become trapped (allowing some character building scenes between Hal and Maggie).  There’s a display of the growing trust and understanding between Pope and Weaver (could this spark tensions with Mason?) above the surface as Pope helps to dig people out.

Back below, Dr. Kadar (the always welcome Robert Sean Leonard) is found and with him hopes to blast out to the surface.  Lourdes is discovered with a supposed concussion – she’s left next to Cochise.  The moment we’ve expected nears and something she said to Mason earlier dawns on him – namely that Anne died in Boston.  Luckily Lourdes is caught before she can kill Cochise…the mole is outed.

With Lourdes restrained she taunts Mason about the deaths ‘she’ believes he’s caused by making the wrong choices.  How Lourdes will be dealt with is left, no doubt, for next time as Mason uses her Espheni weapon to blast the way to the surface.

With Cochise fully healed the episode draws to a close as Mason returns Coshise’s earlier gesture by offering him hope that they’ll rescue the Volm trapped in the collapsed facility.

The bottom line:  It seems most of the shocks and surprises of this season are being left for the finale but “Journey to Xilbalba” still offers up some treats leaving anticipation levels for the finale feverishly high.

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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