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

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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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