Falling Skies "At All Costs" Review: All the President's Men (and Aliens)

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Jun 24, 2013

Falling Skies S03E04: "At All Costs"

Once the Volm demonstrated just how willing they were to blow the Espheni to smithereens, the Lieutenant who claimed to be following orders from the real president of the United States was impressed and offered to take everyone to her leader. Her leader happened to be the dad from 7th Heaven (Stephen Collins), and I guess for now he's the real deal and we're supposed to trust him. I think he seems kind of icky, but that might just be the residual ickiness from the 7th Heaven connection. 7th Heaven is a creepy-ass show.

After some initial apprehension—especially considering that conveniently timed attack—Mr. Real President decided to trust Tom on how awesome it is to be besties with the Volm, and sent Tom on a mission to display Cochese like an intergalactic Elephant Man, so as to get the other rag-tag surviving communities to join in on the fun. Ugh.

I like what Falling Skies has done lately with Charleston—making the city and its inhabitants increasingly self-sufficient (except for how they all would've been blown up ten times over if not for the Volm keeping an eye out for them), transitioning fairly smoothly from on-the-run conflict to the kind of bickering that arises when a bunch of different people are forced to essentially rebuild civilization together, and the the various ways humans have adapted to their messy new world.

So of course we're going to toss Tom back out on the road. Because it's not like we haven't already essentially had two seasons of Tom wandering around a devastated landscape looking for allies.

Back in Charleston, the situation wasn't much better. Hal continued to struggle with his mole/not-a-mole status, or his brainwashed/not-brainwashed status, or whatever his increasingly sketchy status is. After arguing with himself in the mirror, Hal went full-evil and I stopped taking this episode seriously. It looks like we're gearing up for an equally alien-programmed Anne after her encounter in the woods and I'm just... I'm beyond words. I genuinely laughed because I genuinely found the whole situation funny. I don't want to say that Falling Skies is entering Glee territory with its ability to entertain me by accident because Glee is in a class all its own, but Falling Skies is certainly carving out its own niche.

So enough about what was amaze-bad. "At All Costs" wasn't a total wash. Ben's B-story, which involved confronting his true feelings about his "freak" status when Lourdes revealed that the children who'd been un-harnassed the old-fashioned way—by leaving them with their spikes and their superpowers, minus all the brainwashing and human puppetry—could now be de-spiked with ease thanks to the Volm's machine. It would be an incredible opportunity for Ben to return to normal, and his friends and most of the other spiked kids seemed eager to ditch their hardware... but not everyone, and not just Ben. That the spikes, even with all the bad stuff that's associated with them, enable Ben and the others to do a lot of good... it's a perfectly valid argument in terms of Ben's personal view of himself, not to mention a tactical standpoint. The kids with the spikes are the most immediate link to the rebel Skitters and, for me anyway, their relationship offers a more believeable rationale for the aliens to ally themselves with the humans than anything Cochese can cook up about long-lost flowers.

However, in the end, I was still genuinely surprised when Ben and the others got to keep their spikes. It seemed obvious that Ben would want to keep his, but with all the anti-alien sentiment among the Charleston population—even with their Volm alliance—I just kind of figured the pressure to ditch any ties to the aliens would be intense.

I also enjoyed Anne and the anti-social doctor in the basement (before she knocked him out). One of the things that Falling Skies has done well throughout its entire run has been to humanize even the fringe characters by giving them detailed pasts and motivations that breathe life into even the most rarely seen background folks. I enjoyed the resident super-genius the last time we saw him, and I didn't even mind the continuation of that heavy-handed approach to his backstory. We get it—he had a kid. The kid died (probably). Now he hates everyone. Except children.

After watching so many of her closest contacts turn against her last week, I was more than okay with Dr. Grumpypants possibly becoming a new friend to Anne and possibly even one who could help sort out Creepy Alexis, since he did discover her alien DNA... but I don't think that's going to be the case. It could be the case and I'm certainly crossing my fingers; after all, they have to do something with Alexis and I just don't see the show conveniently offing her. I'm just sorry he had to get bonked on the head so that Anne and her monster baby could get caught in the woods by Evil Hal and the worst welcome committee ever. Great, more moles/not-moles. It' not like anyone in the city seems terribly concerned about the prospect of one, anyway.

Overall, this was a lukewarm episode for me. I liked half of it. I hated half of it. I'm not terribly excited with everything that was set up, but Falling Skies has pleasantly surprised me in the past, so a nice precedent has been set. What did you think?



NOTES

– "You don't know how to fly the plane." "I'm reading a book!" <3 Pope.

– Cochese questioning the airworthiness of the plane was great, especially the dirty look he gave the loud engines.

– It was awfully convenient that the Espheni attacked the president's compound almost immediately after Tom and his entourage arrived—was the mole on the plane? Who are your main suspects?

– Do you trust President Hathaway?

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  • MsMeka87 Jun 27, 2013

    I don't expect anything from FS more than what they give. Whatever happens on the show that seems odd or out of place, I just take it and watch. I don't watch FS for perfect plot points and well thought out writing. I always enjoy the episodes and that is what I like about the show. What more can a person ask for. I just think some people are over thinking it. Saying that, I don't hold it against anyone who stops watching the show though.

  • ZeroCals Jun 26, 2013

    Anne hitting Dr. Kadar was probably the stupidest thing I've seen on a television show in quite a while. I mean, if she's a scared mother who just wants to protect her child, or if she's just freaked out by the baby/results of the DNA test, he'd make a great ally either way (e.g. he's a genius, he's obviously very pro-children, and he has proof that Alexis is part alien).

    Soooooooo, why did Anne bash his head in again? I'm still in shock from what she did. I thought the two were going to pair-up and figure this whole Alexis thing out together.

  • ltcomstella Jun 26, 2013

    annie is the mole.

    explains her odd behaviour why alexis is a hybrid (ok so tom may have had something done to him as well)

    as for how the tom and the president where tracked... they flew a noisy old plane.. they used a short wave radio...and they had a volm with them.. gee i wonder....

  • JetixMasterDan Jun 25, 2013

    I know some people are complaining with the Anne/ monster baby story, but this episode kind of tied it in for me. Anne is a mother trying to do anything to protect her child. Isn't that what any loving mother would do for their offspring. It doesn't matter to her that Alexis has alien DNA and is evolving faster than she should be.

    I also really enjoyed Mirror Hal. Talk about a clash of multiple personalities. I still don't buy that evil Hal is the mole, though I suppose he could be if everyone was asleep at Anne's bedside awaiting Alexis's birth. Mirror Hal is a lot more outgoing and ready to fully express himself.

    But the best part of the story was Ben and the ability to remove the harness. Now personally I'm worried that the Espheni are going to brainwash all the kids with spikes since they can still hear those EM waves, but the decision to remain a fighter rather than turn back into a nerd really gave him character. It gave us a little bit of the envy he had for Hal, and it showed us the pride he now has in being stronger.

    Oh yeah, and then there was the President Collins story. Now personally I don't trust President Collins. Where is the proof that they are uniting the rebel groups together? Isn't it much more likely that they want to capture Cochise so they can hold him hostage? Yeah, I don't trust him one bit.

    And as for the spy, all along I've thought it was Pope or Bressler. Wouldn't it make much more sense that Bressler wanted to kill the rebel Skitters to protect the Overlords? Wouldn't it make much more sense that Bressler informed them of where the so-called President is, especially if he has a head-implant as well. I haven't trusted Bressler from the start, and nothing he has done this season has brought me any closer to him.

  • tnetennba Jun 25, 2013

    Ben should definitely *not* remove the remaining parts of the harness. If we had been talking about a person in the real world, in the kind of situation *we* are in, then the argument about how we don't know what the long-term effects are would have made sense. But in a world invaded by aliens, where his survival chances depends on his ability to fight and run, I'd say that his life expectancy is lowered more by removing it. What's the life expectancy for a teenager who needs an inhaler in a world invaded by aliens?

  • tnetennba Jun 25, 2013

    A lot of people have posted about how absurd Anne's behavior was. I agree, but there's one explanation that makes it sort of alright: Anne is the mole. She doesn't even know it, but they're controlling her in some way. How else could they be waiting for her when she left?

    Maybe the baby has never talked to her. Maybe that was just part of what they did to control her.

  • smorbie Jun 27, 2013

    Can't say that you're wrong; this is Falling Skies we are discussing after all. However, wasn't Ann in labor surrounded by Mason men when O'Quinn was killed?

  • HugoDuarte1 Jun 25, 2013

    I personally find this review effin nuts, and keeps getting a constant "ugh" from me whenever i read them. I find the Hal/hybrid baby story lines actually great, it shows that whatever weapons or allies the humans may find, the Espheni have something that really makes things a lot more complicated, they have intrusive technology, genetic warfare, abductions, brainwashing and mind control.

    Their practices are insidious, they use our own fears and weaknesses like the creepy overlords that they are, and they do this in the background, between the lines, it wouldn't surprise me if everyone at the top of Hathaway organization are mind controlled as well, it seems like this was all a ploy to capture Cochise.
    Some people forget that parents will do whatever it takes to protect their baby, so Anne running away to protect her daughter is just human instinct, and its something the Espheni exploit all the time (they use children as slaves, shields, tools if you hadn't noticed before!)

    For me this season is the best FS has ever been, the awkwardness in the acting is gone, even Hal whom i always disliked turning evil is a stroke of genius if you ask me.
    But i guess to each his own.

  • funnyl3unni Jun 25, 2013

    "After arguing with himself in the mirror, Hal went full-evil and I stopped taking this episode seriously." --- SAME! I've been disappointed a lot this season, but this, this did it in for me. It was the obvious choice, making Hal the mole, but I was hoping they wouldn't go this route. Each week I try to stop myself from being so critical, but it's hard when I remember what this show used to be. This season took a turn way out into left field and I hope it steers back on course. Even my husband, who has loved the season thus far even when I complained (though, he was disappointed in the huge 7 month gap in time) laughed and pretty much gave up after the Hal's mirror-mirror moment.
    I could go on about Anne's storyline but at this point every scene she's in I just know it's leading to Moon Bloodgood's maternity leave so I find myself apathetic.
    I'm also not going to ask questions like how does Pope have plane (even though I love that he has a plane!!) - I'm just going to start expecting this kind of stuff.

  • Writerpatrick Jun 25, 2013

    This episode actually put me a little off this series. I'll probably watch the rest of the season but I may wait until the season is nearly over. If it wasn't airing during the summer I wouldn't waste my time with it.

  • xheroesx110 Jun 25, 2013

    *sigh* I honestly just watch this show now to kill time and nothing much to see on the summer...

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