Falling Skies "Badlands" Review: Will the Real President of the United States Please Stand Up?

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Falling Skies S03E03: "Badlands"


So, after (safety-consciously) blowing up the Espheni's fuel depot/nuclear power plant, the 2nd Mass and the people of Charleston hunkered down and waited for the inevitable retaliation—except for Jeannie Weaver, who thought it was a great time to weld a giant metal tree in the middle of the night, in the middle of town. I would have been okay with being wrong about the Espheni showing up during the Freedom Tree's dedication because that whole scene was actually very lovely and tender and I hated to see it interrupted—but sadly, I wasn't. I hate to say "I told you so," Jeannie Weaver, but I totally called it. 

In addition to the Espheni crashing the tree of life—well, death—party, some humans interrupted Crazy Lee's bathroom break on behalf of the formerly-believed-to-be-dead President of the United States, Ben Hathaway, because they'd heard rumors about a bunch of humans working with the Skitters. Hey guys! It was Luvia Petersen from Continuum! And she was PISSED. 


I actually love the idea that there could be another leader out there, presiding over his own little band of leftover Americans. However, the fact that the one Falling Skies is going with is supposedly the president from the pre-alien days is kind of annoying, because it eliminates the potential for some interesting conflict. If Ben Hathaway is revealed to be the real deal and his decision to send his soldiers out to eliminate the "traitorous" people of New Charleston was truly just a misunderstanding and Hathaway is actually a respectable leader, then judging by Tom and Weaver's response, chances are that Tom will acquiesce. I guess this would be better than the alternative: Ben Hathaway is the real Ben Hathaway, but he's a douche, seeing as we already sort of had a variation of that with Manchester last season.

What I was hoping for—what a small part of me is still hoping for with regard to the idea of multiple presidents—was a situation where different clusters of survivors with different leaders each declared themselves the "New United States." Given that communication is generally unreliable and survivors are scattered all over the country, it just seems like the most plausible possibility in the wake of the Espheni invasion, and the nuanced behavior that such a scenario would require from Tom and the "other" presidents in order to form alliances would make for some thoughtful television. 


Whatevs. This could still get interesting. Just not as interesting. 

And it's not like Tom doesn't already have his hands full. Pope was unhappy about losing yet another one of his people in what was, essentially, a pointless battle. BYE CRAZY LEE, MISS YOU. He reminded Tom that nobody knows what Cochise and the Volm are actually building, and this blind trust thing Tom has going on is totes going to get everybody killed. 

Speaking of blind trust—or a lack of trust—are we actually going with the Creepy-Alexis-is-a-normal-baby-and-everyone-thinks-Anne-is-crazypants storyline? For real? How did these people survive for two seasons? I get where Tom is coming from (sort of); Lourdes did blood tests on Alexis and everything came back "human" at birth. Demon Baby has been careful not to do anything questionable when anyone else is around, but when has Anne ever, in the past, been portrayed as some kind of unstable, shell-shocked civilian who can't handle her situation? 

Regarding Lourdes' diagnosis of postpartum depression, sure, I guess when you aren't witnessing Alexis do her freaky shit, then Anne's issues resemble postpartum depression, but everyone just jumped on that as the explanation really fast. I don't think that anyone even tried to take Anne seriously—which, coupled with Tom's eager trust of the Volm, is fairly indicative of a population that really doesn't want to have to think too hard or critically about their surroundings. 

If this is an intentional decision and not just an unintended side effect of slackerish writing, then I'm really impressed with Falling Skies and eagerly await the repercussions of New Charleston's la-la-la-can't-hear-you epidemic. These people have been running and fighting for a long time and, questionable decision-making aside, their lives are better than they've been in a long time. It's understandable that anyone would want to believe, wholeheartedly, that not only will life continue to be okay, but that it will get better and better with help from their handy allies, the Skitters and the Volm. No one wants to entertain the idea that the Volm might not be as altruistic as they say they are. No one wants to consider the idea that the Espheni are somehow able to possess human ladies' unborn babies, or alter them in the womb, or whatever Alexis's deal is.  

Please, oh please, let the writers be doing this on purpose. 

And please, let's not drag out the alien baby storyline. I'll take Hal the Reluctant Mole over Alexis the Monster Baby and be happy about it. I promise. In fact, the mole storyline got less annoying this week with Hal panicking about his connection to Karen and trying to be proactive about it. Admittedly, running away from Charleston probably wouldn't do anything anyway, but good effort. At least he's not in denial about what he might be. 


Unlike pretty much everyone else. 

So, in conclusion:

– Luvia Petersen? Awesome. 

– Another president? Possibly awesome.

– Proactive Hal? Misguided awesome. 

– Sad tree? Reluctantly awesome. 

– Angry Pope? Vintage awesome. 

But seriously, that baby has got to go. 

Byeeee!



NOTES

– "Who are we waiting for?" "Godot." YESSSS.

– Is anyone else either amused or annoyed by the fact that even though it's basically the end of the world, Tom's assistant still manages to wear nicely tailored office casual shirts and pants? It just seems kind of silly. 

– Oy, Alexis. What are your theories? I'm eager for her to start growing insanely fast so that hopefully she's an "adult" by midseason and I can openly advocate for someone to just end her already because I'm pretty sure that TNT isn't going to let Falling Skies waste a baby—evil or not. 

– Seriously, why do we need the weird baby storyline? Why couldn't she have just been a normal baby that gets kidnapped now and then for the sake of drama?

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