Falling Skies Season 3 Finale Review: On the Road Again
What a long, strange fina— actually, it wasn't all that long and it wasn't terribly strange. All things considered, despite being a pretty watchable hour of television, Falling Skies' Season 3 finale left us with quite a bit of the same as the season closed. Trading one alien overlord for another, the 2nd Mass struck out for freedom on the surprisingly well-maintained post-apocalyptic highway, sort of how we all assumed they would. In the wake of last week's setback, courtesy of Lourdes the Mole, human and Volm worked together to unearth the Super Cannon and blow the Espheni's Boston tower to smithereens, deactivating the planetary bug-zapper and clearing the way for the Volm's backup ships to swoop in with the victory. Tom got to shoot Karen, it turned out that Anne and their alien baby were alive after all—emerging from the woods as though simply returning from a brief commune with nature—and Cochise and his crew confiscated everyone's guns and herded them into camps to be shipped to Brazil for their own safety.
After letting that particular plot point digest, I'll concede that sure, okay, Tom and Weaver and the others were justified in their complete and total lack of enthusiasm for the idea. But can we talk about some of the inflammatory terms getting thrown around by the 2nd Mass leadership, though? Weaver in particular seemed fond of using "prison camp" and "concentration camp" to describe the Volm's plans to ship humanity off to Brazil, regardless of the fact that the Volm continued to be presented as genuinely altruistic in their plans for humanity, sincerely thought that offering people a safe haven of sorts would be a welcome gesture, and, most tellingly, backed off of the idea completely when met with opposition.
Or maybe not completely, given Tom's plan to return to Charleston and "warn" everybody.
It just seemed like Tom and his followers were making a mountain out of a molehill purely to justify another season full of blowing up rubber-masked aliens and CGI space ships. The role of humanity in the wake of the Volm's arrival on Earth and the dynamics of two allies with vastly different philosophies is a deliciously complex concept that could've carried the show into its new season without reviving that tired "us vs. them" mentality; it also would've worked just fine when it came to the humans vs. the Espheni, who were very clearly aggressors with no good intentions for Earth's native population. But it seems forced when it comes to the humans and the Volm.
No, it wouldn't be right for the Volm to just herd the poor, defenseless humans into ships and plunk them down in Brazil with a pat on the head and a promise to beat up those mean Espheni on the humans' behalf. However, given that Falling Skies made a point to show Cochise and his hardass father discussing the human race's "special snowflake" status, a discussion that ultimately led to Papa Cochise changing his mind about sending the 2nd Mass to Brazil after all, it just seems like a stretch to suddenly play up the Volm as our new planetary threat, with a few asides from Tom and Weaver. I just feel like the issues that we've been presented with in the name of conflict could easily be handled in a boring-ass discussion between intelligent adults. If the Volm were truly malicious on the level of the Espheni, then why bother giving in to the 2nd Mass's demands at all? Particularly after everyone surrendered their weaponry; all the complaining in the world shouldn't have mattered.
The autonomy issues raised by the Volm's "for your own good" stance on humanity is definitely worthy of further exploration, and they've earned a place on my list of "stuff I want to see in Season 4," but Tom's quickness to make broad decisions on behalf of the entire species is also on the more Orwellian side of things. In earlier seasons, particularly in episodes that took place pre-Charleston, when the 2nd Mass had no idea what the world outside of Boston and their own little troupe looked like, there were often clashes between the "military" and the "civilians" in their charge. That whole debate over people not "pulling their weight" and the frustration on the part of seasoned warriors like Weaver being forced to deal with terrified non-combatants who were either incapable of or uninterested in engaging with the Espheni provided seemingly endless fodder for underlying B-stories. Even in Charleston, the domestic concerns surrounding food, shelter, and cultural concerns for an entire population of regular Janes and Joes touched on those early conflicts and were never completely resolved. I'm sure that at least a few civilians—maybe even more than a few—wouldn't mind moving farther away from the active war zone left in the wake of the Super Cannon's discharge, but Tom isn't giving them the option to go, as far as we know. Forcing people to stay in one place out of some sort of symbolic rebel gesture (that not everyone may want to be a part of) is just as bad as forcing people into a "safe zone" that they may not want to be in.
I'm also willing to entertain the possibility that I'm giving the Volm too much credit. The episode certainly dropped hints that they aren't the bobble-headed saviors they claim to be: The rebel skitters fled when their ships landed, Karen seemed sincere (for Karen) in her truce, Papa Cochise was a real dick about the relocation at first, and Cochise himself looked like he was sentencing his friends to death when he delivered the news of their relocation. I can easily see the Volm becoming something worse than the Espheni when Falling Skies returns, but I don't believe that the show did a good job of making that threat seem real in this particular installment. Sorry, show.
On the plus side, I was really glad to see that the horrific laser background that we all wish someone had talked us out of on class photo day in middle school is still getting work. Also, Karen is D-E-D dead and as much as I hated the magical baby storyline earlier this season, magical adolescent messiah Alexis could be interesting, which brings us to my Season 4 wants:
1. A more complex storyline for the Volm and the humans than "ALIENS BAD. HUMANS GOOD."
2. The 2nd Mass finding Hathaway's group. The fact that this wasn't made a bigger priority—like, as soon as it was revealed that there was an entire other functional U.S. government out there somewhere—always seemed kind of odd to me.
3. Some sort of Former Worm Hosts Anonymous club. Those crazy kids are gonna need it.
4. A magical baby story (well, I guess she's a tween now) that isn't awful.
5. The return of the Rebel Skitters. Miss them. <3 them.
What's on your list? What did you think of this season as a whole? Will you be returning for Season 4?
Thanks for reading, kids! Bye!
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