Falling Skies Season 4 Finale Review: Strange New World
Lexie was redeemed! The humans blew up the Espheni moon base! Win, win, and... well... Lexie is presumed dead and Tom is missing in action, so of course, the 2nd Mass's celebrations will be tinged with just a little sadness. I say "just a little" because we all know that Tom is alive and well(ish) with some alien rescuers that he apparently knows(?) and while Lexie's kamikaze routine was convincing enough, I'm personally just not buying that she's a goner. After all, she can manipulate atoms and blow shit up; I bet with a little practice, she could probably put stuff back together too.
I'm also totally selfish and I like Lexie and I just plain don't want her to be dead. So there.
Of Falling Skies' two finale episodes, "Spade Oddity" had the most meat to its story, even if Tom's adventures in a perfect dreamland were predictable from the moment he woke up back on "Earth." Throughout Lexi's arc this season, the show has made every attempt to cloud our perception of her—and along the way, produced some believably organic family drama within the Mason-Glass clan. The concept of "unconditional love" gets thrown around a lot during discussions of family dynamics, but sometimes someone can do something that's really effing bad, that manages to crack that foundation and severely compromise the strength of the family bond. Pope put actual numbers to the destruction that Lexie brought to the 2nd Mass: Once over 200 strong, their ranks have been decimated to a few dozen survivors. Lexie herself admitted that she wasn't entirely under Espheni control when she acted against her kin. She was confused, and like so many regular, human-flavored teenagers, she thought she knew what was best.
Unfortunately, murdering your No. 1 fan and causing the deaths of countless others is a little bit different than stealing your dad's soccer-mobile for a joyride. The debate within the 2nd Mass and the Mason family throughout "Space Oddity" raised painful questions that resonate even outside of a slightly-above-average sci-fi series, and like many of Falling Skies' strongest episodes this season, the first half of the finale restricted its purview to a very tight cluster of characters, allowing the narrative to remain focused at all times.
That precision was lacking in the second half of the finale, "Shoot the Moon," which alternated between standard "humans vs. aliens in space" fare and the actual horror film that was taking place planetside. Everything concerning the 2nd Mass fighting the cement-fog and those things in the mist could've been a creepy and, even though Falling Skies never airs in October, delightfully Halloween-y. Can't you just imagine an entire episode devoted to the insanity, fully allowing the monsters to terrorize their targets a la Stephen King's The Mist?
When Falling Skies was forced to split time between the horrorshow downstairs and Tom wrestling with a dude in a rubber mask on his stolen spaceship, neither story truly got the attention it needed. The scorched-face overlord has been Tom's No. 1 nemesis for quite awhile now; paired with the dude's recent influence over Lexie and his newfound determination to totally kill her dead, Tom and Two Face's boss battle could have—and should have—been the culmination of a season spent dogging each other at every turn.
Instead, we ultimately saw something along the lines of the end of Return of the Jedi, where as soon as the fight between Vader, Luke, and Palpatine was getting good, we were whisked back to the teddy bear picnic below—except in this case, if done well, the teddy bear picnic could've been a pretty good episode on its own. Both of the stories presented in "Shoot the Moon" could have been great as standalone adventures, but they were both weakened because they had to share a single, oh-so-important episode.
Like so many two-hour finales that came before it, Falling Skies' "Spade Oddity" and "Shoot the Moon" suffered from the fact that one episode was, well, just a lot better than the other. However, as a whole, the Season 4 capper left us in a good position us for Season 5.
The Espheni were, for all intents and purposes, defeated at last in "Shoot the Moon." However, as Weaver pointed out, there are still remnants on the planet, and even without their celestial wi-fi, they're still pretty dangerous on their own. This presents an honest look at what life on Earth in a post-Espheni era will look like: remarkably similar to a post-Empire galaxy far, far away. I know, I know, the Star Wars extended universe is no longer considered canon now that Disney is driving the Millennium Falcon (thanks for retroactively transforming everything I read in middle school that wasn't assigned by a teacher into a waste of time, Mickey!). And the Empire didn't end at the end of Return of the Jedi. Its limitless power ended. Its galaxy-wide influence ended. But there were still vestiges of the past, and the occasional fanboy/girl out to rebuild the glory days for, well, forever.
I've touched on this in previous reviews: Earth can never really go back to what it was. The survivors can't just ignore the crashed spaceships and alien carcasses littering the ground and return to school plays and Little League. There will always be the threat of hidden factions, waiting for a chance to re-enslave humanity. There will always be the threat of a strong Espheni force returning. There will always be the threat of other threats: other aliens, even other humans. Falling Skies has only briefly touched on this in the past, but with communication so decimated and human leadership so scattered, there are probably other groups like the 2nd Mass out there, and there are also probably leaders who aren't as genuinely good as Tom and Weaver. With the Espheni having been the ultimate threat for so long, I think it's going to shock many survivors when they're reminded that humans can be bad guys, too—and that not all of them are secret good guys like Pope.
Knowing that Falling Skies' fifth season will be the show's last opens up the opportunity to definitely end the story in a place where an ending feels natural and right. I was so worried, as the series progressed, that we would never actually get to see what the post-invasion world looks like—a trope that tends to get overlooked in favor of swashbuckling space heroes and lots of laser guns and explosions. Revolution actually did "life after the disaster" thing kind of well (it was everything else that was awful), and Defiance does a decent job with it, too, but lots of shows don't even touch it. I might be in the minority here, but I've always found the idea of evolving and adapting to be more interesting than blowing all the stuff up, and the fact that Falling Skies has given itself an entire season to explore that idea is genuinely exciting.
– I love love love that Sara came back and saved Pope's ass. <3<3<3
– So does Ben and Maggie saving Hal mean that the love triangle crap can just be dripped when we get back? PLZ?
– Got any theories about Lexie, or Tom's new/old alien besties?
– Cochise and his daddy issues awww.
– What's on your Season 5 wishlist?
What'd' you think of the finale, and of Season 5 as a whole?
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