Falling Skies (Season 4)

Falling Skies is a post-apocalyptic science fiction television series created by Robert Rodat, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and broadcast on the TNT television network.

Tom Mason (portrayed by Noah Wyle), who was before the invasion a history professor at Boston University and now is the second-in-command of the 2nd Mass, and his partner Anne Glass (played by Moon Bloodgood), a former paediatrician and now the unit’s doctor, are two of the main protagonists of the show.

The setting for the series is the Earth in the aftermath of a global alien invasion. The war was swift and devastating. In just a few days the technologically vastly-superior alien invaders overcome the militaries of all the world’s superpowers, destroyed all the major cities, neutralised the power grid and communication, and killed over 90% of the human population.

The main alien attack force consists of huge bipedal robotic attack drones called ‘Mechs’ and six-legged, oversized-insect-like creatures known to humans as ‘Skitters’, who seem to be the foot-soldiers of the alien invaders. At the top of the alien hierarchy are the enigmatic Espheni a.k.a. ‘Overlords’, the masters of the Skitters, and the actual masterminds of the invasion.

To consolidate their hold on power, and at the same time form a local blindly-obeying front-line army, the aliens round up all the children and attach biomechanical mind-control devices onto their spines. The invaders then use these so called ‘harnesses’ to control the children’s minds. The ‘harness’ fuses seamlessly with the spine of the child and any attempt to remove it generally results in the death of the host.

The show revolves around the exploits of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment (a.k.a. 2nd Mass), a makeshift unit of former military and civilians fleeing post-apocalyptic Boston following an alien invasion that devastated the planet and wiped out over 90% of the humankind approximately six months before the events of Season 1. The 2nd Mass rallies the remnants of the populace and with the help of the Volm (another alien species at war with the Espheni, that bears a strong resemblance to humans, bar the reptilian-like skin, who made their first appearance at the very end of the final episode of Season 2) try and fight back the alien invaders.

Shortly after arriving back in Charleston, the members of the 2nd Massachusetts find themselves under a surprise Espheni attack.

The main characters of the series are: Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) – a former Boston University history professor who, because of his leadership qualities, soon becomes the second-in-command of the 2nd Mass; Colonel Dan Weaver (Will Patton) – a retired military officer who served during the Gulf War, and now is the commander of the 2nd Mass; Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) – a paediatrician before the invasion, Anne now serves as a doctor for the 2nd Mass, she is also Tom’s lover; Hal Mason (Drew Roy) – Tom’s eldest son and a scout for the 2nd Mass; Ben Mason (Connor Jessup) – Tom’s middle son, Ben was captured by the Skitters and implanted with a spinal harness, which was later successfully removed, leaving Ben with some leftover spikes in his spine as well as extrasensory abilities which he uses to 2nd Mass’s advantage; Matt Mason (Maxim Knight) – Tom’s youngest son, mostly protected by Tom and his older siblings and kept from the actual fighting; John Pope (Colin Cunningham) – a maverick leader of a post-apocalyptic gang who ambush Tom’s squad, Pope reluctantly joins the 2nd Mass to fight the common enemy; Maggie May (Sarah Carter) – once an unwilling member of Pope’s gang, Maggie quickly earns her new place in the 2nd Mass as a tough fighter and Hal’s love interest; Alexis ‘Lexi’ Glass-Mason (Scarlett Byrne) – Tom and Anne’s daughter, who due to genetic manipulation of the foetus by the Espheni during Anne’s pregnancy grows from infancy to adulthood in just over a year and possesses telekinetic and other assorted psychic abilities; Due to her upbringing by the Espheni, Lexi’s allegiance swings between her devotion to her biological parents and loyalty to her Espheni ‘adoptive father’; Lourdes Delgado (Seychelle Gabriel) – former medical student, Lourdes is deeply religious and assists Anne as a nurse; and Cochise (Doug Jones) – Volm ambassador and an ally of the 2nd Mass.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Humans and Volm fight side-by-side for the common cause.

At the start of the first episode of the fourth season, the 2nd Massachusetts eventually arrive back in Charleston, but their celebrations are cut short when they find themselves under a surprise Espheni attack. The 2nd Mass is split apart by the fierce attack, many people die (though, conveniently, all the main characters survive), scores are injured and many more, including Tom and Hal Mason, Colonel Weaver and John Pope, are captured by the invaders and confined to a shabby ghetto.

In absence of Colonel Weaver and Tom Mason, Anne assumes the charge of the 2nd Mass and leads the remnant of the unit on an attack against an Espheni convoy, expecting it to contain a shipment of weapons, but is surprised to find children inside the truck instead. After Anne learns that the children know nothing of Lexi, she decides to take a chance and travel in the assumed direction of the truck.

Ben and Maggie in the meantime wind up in the Chinatown, and after finding out that the place is a safe haven, for whatever reason untouched by the Espheni, Ben meets now grown up Lexi. Meanwhile, Matt, alongside other children, is placed in a Nazi-like Espheni re-education camp.

Back at the ghetto, the captives concoct a plan to scale the force-field fence surrounding the compound in a Faraday Suit, disconnect the fence from the power source and escape, while Anne leads the 2nd Mass to the Chinatown, where she reunites with Ben, Lexi and Lourdes.

Matt Mason is placed in a Nazi-like re-education camp, where the Espheni collaborators teach the children to blow the whistle on their parents (literally!).

Tom and the rest of the escapees regroup at the Volm hideout where they are met by their Volm ally Cochise, who reveals that they have managed to find the location where the Espheni keep Matt and other children. Tom, along with Weaver enters the Espheni re-education camp and rescues Matt.

After a series of mishaps, the Mason family, as well as what is left from the 2nd Mass, reunite in the Chinatown, where Lexi, encouraged by devout Lourdes, runs a religious cult that preaches that humans and the Espheni can live alongside each other in harmony. Lexi unexpectedly cocoons-up, causing Maggie voicing her concerns about Lexi and her supernatural powers, and Pope suggesting that they kill her.

Lexi eventually emerges from her cocoon and reveals to her family that she is leaving them because of her doubts about human nature. Lourdes begs Lexi to take her with her, but Lexi, desensitised by her Espheni traits, instead kills Lourdes out of pity and leaves to live with the Espheni. Soon after, the 2nd Mass are faced with the news that a large Espheni force is assembled just outside the Chinatown ready to attack. Members of the 2nd Mass erect barricades and lay traps around their position in preparation for the assault. During the attack, Maggie uses Thermite to destroy some Mechs, but then a tragedy strikes when a ruptured gas pipeline explodes and kills most of the 2nd Mass. With the Chinatown in ruin, Tom orders the 2nd Mass survivors to retreat to an underground shelter, telling them that the attack won’t end until the Espheni believe that they are all dead.

As the remnants of the 2nd Mass come out from the underground bunker and search the rubble for survivors, they find Maggie who is seriously injured and paralyzed. When an injection of spine fluid from a previously harnessed individual has no effect on Maggie’s condition, Ben suggests to Anne that she implants some of his harness spikes into Maggie’s spine. Anne, though initially concerned for both Ben and Maggie, eventually agrees, uses Volm technology to perform the operation and Maggie is soon walking again as if nothing happened. That night, Tom and Hal notice a strange, out of place, green light on the Moon.

Lexi Glass-Mason’s allegiance swings wildly between her devotion to her biological parents and loyalty to her Espheni ‘adoptive father’.

Analysing the strange light on the Moon, Tom and Cochise realise that it is a laser beam emanating from a power hub, beaming the energy down to Earth, and that the energy source that powers the entire Espheni war machine they were looking for the whole time here on Earth, is in fact on the Moon. After some consideration, they decide to fly to the Moon aboard the small Espheni spacecraft they have discovered under the rubble previously, to try and destroy the power generator.

Tom takes matter-of-factly that it will be him who embarks on, clearly suicidal, mission, but the rest of the 2nd Mass demand that he offers them a vote on who should pilot the Espheni craft on the mission to the Moon. That night, with the whole 2nd Mass gathered, Tom draws Ben’s name, and then his own. Anne believes that he rigged the draw, which Tom admits, reasoning that as a father he couldn’t let Ben go alone. The following day, the members of the 2nd Mass find themselves under a renewed Espheni offensive, but are unexpectedly saved by Lexi who comes to their help and destroys the assailants with her supernatural abilities.

Lexi, seeking redress for her wrongs, offers to join Tom on the Moon mission. Her suggestion is initially met with mistrust and scepticism, but Weaver likes the idea and gradually persuades the rest. Notwithstanding, Hal still doesn’t trust Lexi and gives Tom a powerful poison to use on Lexi as a last-resort measure. The Espheni craft eventually departs with Tom and Lexi aboard.

Creepy-looking ‘Skitters’, six-legged insectoid alien race enslaved by the Espheni, are the foot-soldiers of the invading force.

Just as Tom with Lexi approach the Moon, and the power hub finally comes into view, their vessel is intercepted by an Espheni ship. In an ensuing skirmish, Tom manages to inject the poison intended for Lexi into the Overlord, killing him, but not before the Overlord destroys their ship’s autopilot. Seeing no other alternative to destroy the power hub, Lexi decides to manually pilot the Espheni ship on a collision course with the hub. Tom and Lexi say their farewells and Lexi prepares for her kamikaze-style mission, but they are ambushed by a squadron of Espheni ships. Fortunately, a Volm battleship arrives just in time and takes the Espheni attackers out, giving Lexi the opportunity to finally destroy the power hub, but the resulting explosion knocks Tom’s vessel into deep space.

In the meantime, the 2nd Mass spreads their decimated forces to defend their position, when an Espheni craft drops a new model of harnesses which are able to attach themselves onto human hosts without the need for a dedicated facility (as was the case with the original models). The members of the 2nd Mass put up a defiant yet hopeless fight against the live-like harnesses. When everything seems to be lost, the energy supply from the destroyed power hub on the Moon suddenly ceases to flow and the harnesses, and all other Espheni technology, lose power.

The next morning, Cochise reports the success of the Moon mission, but also breaks the sad news about Tom lost in the depths of space. Hal rallies the remnants of the 2nd Mass to go on a decisive offensive against the weakened Espheni. Elsewhere, Tom awakens aboard an unfamiliar spaceship and is greeted by an alien who he seems to be acquainted with...

Mechs, Espheni bipedal robotic attack drones, make an imposing and formidable foe – luckily, they are also really terrible, terrible shots.

Although riddled with cliches (brave Americans kicking arse of alien nasties), right up to and including Season 3, Falling Skies was a fairly entertaining show. Since Season 4 though, the series started going downhill. The plot is becoming increasingly more and more naive and the showrunners seem to be running out of ideas, often resorting to sloppiness. (Some examples could be the captured Espheni spacecraft which, just like Tardis, is clearly much smaller on the outside than it is on the inside, and paralysed Maggie, who miraculously recovers after an impromptu implant of three spikes from Ben’s harness into her spine. Also, considering that this is an end-of-civilisation scenario, all the main protagonists are suspiciously well made-up (save perhaps for Pope and always scruffy-looking Colonel Weaver) with the make-up sets and lipsticks seemingly aplenty in this post-apocalyptic world.)

Last, but not least, the Espheni seem to be very dim-witted for a space-faring civilisation and conquerors of the worlds, being outwitted time and time again by Tom Mason and the 2nd Mass, and their Mechs, bipedal robotic attack drones, are really terrible shots, frequently shooting left and right of their intended targets. Perhaps it is really about time to wrap this show up.

Falling Skies was renewed for a fifth and final season, consisting of 10 episodes, returning in June 2015.