August 31, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Falling Skies’


It’s already been announced that next season will be the fifth and final one for TNT’s FALLING SKIES, and that seems best for all concerned.  The series, under new showrunner David Eick (probably best known as a producer, although not creator, of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica), took a wrong turn both creatively and in the ratings this summer, and putting the series on the road to one last confrontation between humans and evil alien Espheni has the potential to wrap things up in better form.

Tonight’s two-hour Season 4 conclusion (Hour 1 written by Consulting Producer M. Raven Metzner and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi; Hour 2 written by Eick and directed by house director Greg Beeman) unfortunately spent much of its time on the season’s worst trope.  In Season 3, Anne (Moon Bloodgood) had given birth to Lexi, who simultaneously had the paternal DNA of Falling Skies‘ hero Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and an Espheni.  Lexi was just a girl at the end of that season, but with one of those leaps that demon children make in horror movies, she was a full-fledged adult (Scarlett Byrne) when we met her a few months later in Season 4, complete with witchy long ash-blonde hair (perfectly coiffed at all times, proof in itself of her mutant superpowers) and a never-wrinkled long red robe.  She spent most of the season as a sort of cult leader, promising “peace” to all who would follow her while controlling the elements, spending some time in a mysterious cocoon and killing her most loyal acolyte Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) along the way.  Last week she’d finally realized she was being used by the Espheni, and showed up to lend a hand with her human parents.

Her timing was good, because Tom and Lexi’s half-brother Ben (Connor Jessup) were about to head to the moon to disable the main Espheni power source, despite the fact that they barely had any idea how to power the enemy ship they’d acquired, where to find the power source, or how to survive the mission.  Lexi volunteered to do all of that, and the finale’s first hour was largely a two-hander between Tom and his… half-daughter?  The hour indulged in what’s become a increasingly tiresome cliche, the extended everything-is-just-perfect sequence that’s soon revealed to be a fantasy, an illusion or an implant.  The one on Falling Skies wasn’t even as clever as Revolution‘s was last season, and degenerated into a touchy-feely opportunity for Tom to realize he really did love and trust Lexi, just what she needed to hear.  There was a bit more action in Hour 2, but it also went down a road of predictable sentimentality, as Lexi nobly sacrificed herself (or at least appeared to) for the good of humanity.  For his part, Tom ended up in the Ramada Inn version of the suite at the end of 2001, where he saw some kind of blurry new alien that he pronounced “beautiful.”

Eick’s three other cockeyed innovations for Season 4 also played a part in the finale.  There was the deeply ick-worthy love triangle between Maggie (Sarah Sanguin Carter) and two of the Mason boys, Maggie’s longtime love Hal (Drew Roy) and his younger brother Ben, to whom she was drawn because they shared glowing Espheni feelers.  (After Ben and Maggie saved Hal’s life, they were all buddies again.)  While Tom and Lexi were busy in space, the humans were fighting some new kind of Espheni creature that would literally turn them into monstrous “skitters,” or alien slaves, a much less interesting notion than the original one that had the enslaved humans keep their own forms.  And then there was the puzzling presence of Mira Sorvino’s Sara, who showed up midway through the season to do rom-com banter with John Pope (Colin Cunningham), abruptly left in a huff a few episodes ago, then returned in the last 15 minutes of the finale to save his life.

Falling Skies, despite the stalwart presence of Wyle, Bloodgood and Will Patton, lost a lot of its appeal this season (Tom and Anne spent the first chunk of the season separated, then once they were back together they mostly bickered about Lexi).  The show has largely abandoned its Revolutionary War parallels, and although it seemed to be exploring World War II themes early on (there were ghettos, and the Espheni equivalent of Hitler Youth), those were dropped too after a while.

In short, the skies weren’t all that were falling this season.  Hopefully the fact that the series is now headed toward a definite destination will help focus its writing, and the show can exit with an absence of magic mutants and some of its entertainment value restored.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."