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Falling Skies: Poor Planning

I apologize for kicking things off with a giant, intimidating block of text, but I need to get a few things straight. We spent the first half of Sunday's fourth episode of Falling Skies, "Silent Kill," trying to come up with a strategy for rescuing some harnessed kids from a hospital overrun by aliens. Hal and Tom argued about who should be the one to go in, and Hal suggested that he pretend he was one of the kid-zombies by wearing a fake harness. Tom said, "No way, dude, you're my son!" Then Hal said, "Aww come on, pops, this might work!" Then Tom said something along the lines of, "Well, if we can find a way to kill the aliens quietly, then maybe"—but it seemed like he was just making excuses to to keep his son from executing such a ridiculous plan. And then, Anne—who just a few minutes earlier had made a HUGE point to save the imprisoned alien's life—apparently changed her mind and stabbed the alien in the back of the throat to show Tom that Skitters can be killed without a peep (never mind the alien's blood-curdling screams of agony). So Tom let his son march on into Alien Hospital wearing a fake harness. But Hal took too long, so the whole team went after him, thereby making the whole 20+ minutes of coming up with the plan in the first place a complete waste of time.

Did this piss you off, too, or was it just me? The writers clearly had only one goal in mind for this episode—rescue Ben—and spent the hour chasing their tails. Unfortunately, we're the ones who got dizzy. If the plan was going to go bad, why not at least have them shoot their way out? Give us a nice firefight with some mechs, kill off a few redshirts, and leave us satisfied. That's why we're watching the show in the first place. Whatever you do, don't just let the characters crawl out the window—where's the danger and suspense in that?

In addition to that mess, "Silent Kill" featured some really bizarre character flip-flops that totally negated any progress we've made in getting to know this wily band of freedom fighters. Are we really supposed to believe that Anne suddenly flipped and turned into Sweeney Todd the alien tonsil doctor? I just can't buy that learning what happened to her family changed her mind about keeping the alien alive, thus opening the door for her to go Norman Bates on the Resistance's prized prisoner of war. And what happened to Tom's opposition to his kid leading the charge against Alien HQ? Wouldn't a dad who'd already lost one son be more protective than that? Finally, what was up with Dr. Harris's unceremonious departure? He spent a few episodes talking about how dangerous the alien was—and then tonight he started treating the thing like as if he was running a bread-and-breakfast. "Ooh, a new sound! Are you feeling alright, sir? Let me just open this—ARHHHHHRHGHHHHH!" I guess Steven Weber had a Wings reunion to get to.

After three episodes that registered better-than-expected to okay to not-that-okay on the do-we-like-it barometer, "Silent Kill" was the kind of stinker that clears a room. The episode's name makes a lot more sense now. I'm sorry to get so upset on such a pleasant Sunday, but it irks me when a TV episodes puts a ton of emphasis on something and then totally disregards it. Even for a show that's supposed to be a light summer distraction, that's inexcusable. Now someone flip a table over in anger for me!

After putting Falling Skies to the scientifically-proven TV.com four-episode test, the prognosis isn't looking good for Falling Skies to be anything more than a passable sci-fi action series. That said, the show still has aliens and Moon Bloodgood, so if that's enough for you, more power to ya'.

Notes:

... Obviously Pope is coming back, but the show really suffers without him around. And with Harris now a goner, there are no jerks left to root for until he comes back. Now the best character is Margaret, who can't open her mouth without bitchiness or a sad story flowing out. Ms. Sunshine!

... Oh, so Captain Weaver is popping pills now? Not really looking forward to the addiction/detox episode.

... The amount of convenient coincidences in this show is staggering.

... What came first, the bad dialogue or the bad acting? The good news is that this is a fixable problem, so cross your fingers.

... If you're going to rip off the scene from The Great Escape where Steve McQueen throws a ball off the wall, you better do it with someone who's worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as McQueen's Captain Virgil Hilts. Hal is not that character. Respect the classics, please.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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i've just started watching this show and am trying to follow the plot. the robo cop looking things look kinda cool, i like pope and the doc. i'm not so sure of the others some i liked they killed off . they are showing a marathon sunday maybe if i see it from begining to season final i'll make some sence out of it.
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I just figured out the problem, well one problem I have with FS. I just don't care. I don't care about the characters the way I should. The main story arc so far has been to get Ben. Ben, a boy I know nothing about and haven't seen for more than a few seconds. Honestly, give me one reason I should care about him other then Noah Wyle is kind of a nice guy and he would like him back. I have more then enough characters on TV to worry about....so please FS, give me a reason.
Other then that, it is my believe that a race of aliens that travels thousands of lightyears to other planets in giant spaceships, can count!
Moon Bloodgood was so Badass when she killed that alien, that was one hell of a scene, also watching her giving CPR isn't so bad either. Though one may ask why she fights with this colonel dude for days to keep this alien alive just to kill it a few moments later. Finally, i still think the characters are too cliche. Every. Single. One.
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This show sucks. Why do the suits let garbage like this and 30rock stay on the air, and then they cancel gems like Terriers and Detroit 1-8-7?
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I can't believe they renewed this show. Projects in the works must be pretty bad if they feel the need to continue pushing this.
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Sorry, but I didn't see the connection between the great escape and throwing a tennis ball against the lockers!
even though I read it beforehand, just didn't make the3 connection, ur a nitpicking MF.
There are worse shows, let it slide and develop.
So, we cancel it and put what on? Jersey shores 2?
Rythmic pool syncronization???

Gimme a break~!
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This show is absolutely horrible. The faster it dies, the better. I hold out hope for Terra Nova.
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The worst news regarding "Falling Skies" (not for those involved in the show)? A pickup for a second year. Just when I thought there would be a show with a nice beginning, middle and end arc (what used to be called a mini-series). Now the producers and writers will have to go all "Lost-al" on us, diluting the story, adding distracting sequences all to spread it (thinly) into another season.
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Excuse me people it is science fiction, it is for your fantasy enjoyment. I would imagine the father ripped off the harness for the same reason, people during the height of the Cold War, said "better dead than red."
It has just started and there is suppose to be a plot, like the General says, we have to learn more about them.
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@etrouskie - Uuhhh, what makes you think this is season 2? Because it didn't start with the obvious invasion itself? Can't they be just a little creative (at least somewhere in the show) and start up months afterward?
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I am amazed that people are still watching this disaster. When did they air Season 1, because this sure looks a lot like season 2. To make matters even worse, the network renewed it for another season.
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Does anyone else write reviews at tv.com? I am getting tired of listening to Tim hate most everything he writes about. You know what is more ho-hum than this episode........this article.
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I think we might have just encountered a new phenomenon! A black hole in story line or plot. This series even forgets what it has shown us 2 episodes before, like the information of children dieing when the harness is simply ripped off of them! Why bother in this episode with this surgical approach (which takes a lot more time) if the fathers approach of ripping off the harness did succeed? And no explantion why the kid survived, nice too. Then the stupid plan of wearing a fake harness. The skitters commune mentally with the kids wearing a harness. The first alien "seeing" Hal would surly notice that there is no "uplink" to the kids brain, especially if it tries to soothe the kids into sleep. This series is really Failing Heights...oh...and just add poor acting, blurred characters to the list. If a horse would be so lame.....
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@smithinjapan
In the pilot they mentioned that the aliens destroyed all military bases, ships, subs, and all military with there spaceships. Thus no one left to fight them. There were millions of aliens that landed. Also the 2nd Massachusetts is pretty cut off from the rest of the world, just because they haven't captured a skitter before, doesn't mean it never happend elsewhere. They also stated in the pilot that they need to keep splitting up in smaller groups to not be spotted, thus the reason why they went on the move.

I think this answered all your holes.
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Yeah, the show is off to a rocky start at best, and that's not good in terms of securing viewers. I'm quite sure the only reason I'll stick to it is because there's nothing else on, really. The dialogue is garbage and some scenes pretty unbearable as a result. What's more, there are a LOT of holes in the story. Why is it so easy to kill these guys that supposedly wiped out much of the earth's population and have 'never been captured before'? Even the mechs are wiped out with relative ease, and how is it they are never caught/killed when they are marching en masse outdoors or having big cook offs? Anyway, one thing the show DOES have going for it is potential. We've no clue yet why the aliens are really there, and the kid having his asthma (or whatever it was) cured through the harness could lead to an interesting story line. The radio thing is also interesting and the fact that they've kind of found a way to communicate. On the whole, though, the show is getting tired, fast. Pick it up with a good, solid story for episode 5 (and more fighting!).
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Oh, that's why Bloodgood hasn't had any emotional scenes up until now, because she can't do them. Seriously that scene in front of the bulletin board was painful to watch -and not in the way that it was meant to be- more so even than her other scenes with Tom in this one. Show is falling apart quickly, not that it started off at a 10 or anything either.
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I suspect a 5th grader could write a better scrit, that episode was awful, how can something with Spielberg\'s signature, be so damn awful!?! This was supposed to be the best episode so far in the season, however, it was a snoozefest with all the cliches and sentimental stories combined with really subpar performances, the worst of all was from the actress that played doctor.

People that are criticizing are just shooting the messenger, the real message is that this show is going downhill very quickly...
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@withoutcanseco ME TO!!! For crying out loud this is ridiculous If they hate it so much why on earth do they bother?? I think they just like writing pompous titles and lets face it failure sells better than success!..
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this guy(tim ) is true jhakkass i never seen him written any gud on any shows
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i hope this show lasts for 10 seasons just to make the haters mad.
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I am amazed at how many people actually think this show is good. Its watchable but just barely and getting worse. I'm not sure how we're suppose to believe these moronic aliens conquered earth. They let bands of 300 people walk around, camp in a meadow, set up shop in a school complete with arm guards on the roof and of course the kids can still have recess time every day in the courtyard. It feels more like these guys are on an extended field trip rather then the remains of a conquered race. Even if you can suspend belief and let the above slide you are still left with boring storylines, wooden, one dimensional characters and sappy, cringe worthy moments.
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Anyone can be a critic, as Tim exhibits well. But I wonder if he could write a better script, or if, as I suspect, he can only bash someones elses.
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This show had so much potential. Silent Kill was better than the previous episodes, but still not good enough. I'll keep watching it simply because there are no other shows to watch... it might get better. And, I'm not really picky when talking about acting and writing but, omg, the acting's not good. Really.
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great episode. love this show and i hope it continues to prove you wrong.
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Are you kidding, This was probably the BEST episode of the series so far. Shame Steven Weber's character got killed off like that.
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So the skitter can't count 7 kids! Are they retarded?
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Wow, CBS needs to get a grip. I know this is a TNT show, but this is a CBS owned site. To bad, because TV.com used to have better articles, now they're only good for episode listings
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Silent Kill was about getting to the Skitter silently. Remember when Tom presented Captain Weaver with his plan about making a diversion causing the skitter to wake up? Then sneaking in after the skitter ran out after them? Captain Harris said they needed to do it silently.
Silent kill is named because Hal went in "silently" and not to waken up the skitter to make the kill. Not because they needed to kill the skitter silently

Oh it's obvious that the author only writes these stories to get comments. if you haven't figured that out yet, then his plan is working brilliantly.
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Boy Tim you sure don't like too many of the shows you write reviews for anymore do you? This episode was very entertaining, and I find your review of it very disdainful and inaccurate. Maybe you didn't really watch it, or if you did maybe you just don't understand the concepts of television shows as well as you think you do. Clearly you don't like the show at all, as nothing you say in the review hints at any kind of satisfaction from a show that is better than, or at least as good as, any science fiction content produced in the last few years for television. It's still barely getting started, we barely know the world they've created, the characters, and the overall plot direction of the show...and your shooting holes in it left and right.
First off your complaint of "wasting half the episode planning a breakout of Ben". What would you propose they use the airtime for instead? They are moving the plot along, and letting you get to further know the main characters, of which Ben is a part because he is the son of the show's main protagonist.
Moon Bloodgood didn't just find out that her family died, or got alien kidnapped, go watch the episode again man.
She said she could go "all postal like that" whenever she THINKS about her family and what happened to them. Couldn't you imagine doing that to an alien that has invaded your planet and killed most of your family too? A lot of people are like that believe it or not....fine and normal, nice and sweet...until you cross a line, like hurting family. Totally believable what she did, especially since the main general said "that thing is dying, you've got 24 hours to find out what you can and then I'm coming back to kill it myself". So she decided that if it's going to die then she should at least learn if the so called "soft spot" on the inside of the mouth is in fact an easy way to kill the thing silently....for the upcoming raid to get Ben. I found the episode to be better-than-you-give-it and I don't agree with your blanket statement of "okay to not-that-okay on the do-we-like-it barometer, "Silent Kill" was the kind of stinker that clears a room. "
Your comment should say "on the do-I-like-it barometer", not we. my do-I-like-barometer for the episode was 7 out of 10. Not "the kind of stinker that clears a room".
Maybe try reviewing a show you actually like, as I only seem to read about the dislike you have for shows Tim. All of which I like and watch faithfully.
Hey tv.com...if you want a writer who will write an insightful, intelligent and fair review of falling skies...I'm available.
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@ VConn, I'm going to preface the following by saying, ''you're insane.'' I'll go down point-by-point. And hell, I'm bored and a bit buzzed, I don't mind wasting my time. First: it's Tim's article. He can voice his opinion just as freely as you've done and I'm doing. His, and mine, only crime is not agreeing with you. Shame on us. Second: If you're so hell-bent on the idea of 'don't like it, don't watch it.' Then I got another one for you, 'don't like it, don't read it.' Once you realized it was anti-Falling Skies, you should have turned away. Least of all posting anything. And if you think that's absurd, then I submit to you 'don't like it, don't watch it' is equally so. How can we learn from mistakes if we don't observe them? Third: Anne's turnaround was NOT "easily" explained. It was a plot device to support Hal's ridiculous plan (more on that in a minute) at the cost of Anne's character development. Moreover, you posit the idea that Anne's motivation to break established character was Harris' death and to preserve Hal's life. She says, not one minute later, "all I had to think about was my family." HER family. Sure, they needed a way to kill them silently, but to ACTUALLY break character was a wholly different reason...a bad one at that. Fourth: Tom not stopping Hal...his son. Not stopping HIS SON from danger. HIS SON. Apparently I have to repeat this because you don't have a ghost of a chance of understanding what it means to send your children out to die. Whether it's for your other son or not. Tom should not have allowed Hal even the room to breathe with his idea. You go in your damn self. Which segues to point five: Did you not notice how Hal "sneaked" into the building? Very much like ANYONE without a harness would have. Hal's only apparent advantage was being able to lay down with the other kiddies. Without forgetting how LOUD a skitter is when stabbing it in the throat (which, in and of itself, defeats the entire premise of this episode), Tom was just as easily able to shoot it, then have the throat self-destruct system severed. Who's to say Tom couldn't have gone in himself, lucked out (as Hal did) with a sleeping skitter, and do all of this himself. Which also begs the question, what warning could it have given? The skitter was sleeping. It's called bad writing. And if you can't identify this yourself, then you have no business calling out other people for their opinions. Especially those who actually get paid to watch TV. I'm wondering if you watched this episode at all. I tried to like this show, but Tim's points are valid. And you're entitled to yours, but wow...I still stand by the mystery of how Anne and a med student would deem a stethoscope placed over a woman's clothing to be the optimal method of listening to in utero heartbeat. For a mother, you want a clear sound. Lift that shirt!
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@ Escobar1987, I speak for myself and many of my friends when I say I don't care for the foul language and the sex content in this particular show; but if a Network is going to sell a series as a SciFi-adventure- action-drama I expect to watch at least 20 minutes of SciFi, adventure and action out of the 45 mins it lasts on screen; but for the past 3 episodes I have found myself thinking I'm watching a soap opera from Univision!! FAILING SKIES has tourned into more drama that I care for, and yes, I want to see gore.. at least some Alien gore, some brains scatered around or a few good shooting and fighting scenes, enough with the emotional crap... But all these guys saying "if you don't like it then stop watching" are absoloutely right.. After the first episode I had great expectations, big names, big plans, huge reputations... some how I feel robed, series hasnt delivered, acting hasn't beed totally convincing and the script has ovbiously been written in toilet papper.. that said, cheers mates....Failing Skies has collapsed and I have left the place >:)
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Its getting really boring
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Its getting really boring
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Oh my God, I used to enjoy reading Tim Surette's articles but sadly this latest one is just another fine example of why he should slowly fade away into retirement, I've noticed it a lot lately and it's heavily illustrated here - His opinions are biased to the point of bigotry sometimes and his reviews of certain elements make me wonder if he even watched the episode or if he wrote the article entirely based on someone telling him what happened. Anne's "turnaround" is easily explained - The Skitter just killed Harris and Hal needed a way to kill them silently for the purpose of the mission so she found a way, After playing it cool for so long she simply snapped but apparently Tim was unable to figure that out - See what I mean about writing a review without watching it. As for Tom not stopping Hal going in to rescue Ben what would you have had them do send in an adult or some other random kid? Hal knew what he was doing and it was his brother they were rescuing after all. And as for the complaint about Tom and Margaret barging into the hospital to assist Hal exactly what the hell was wrong with that, The plan had been going well up to that point but if they hadn't come in when they did Hal would be dead and Ben would still be a prisoner not to mention Anthony and Dai would have been massacred by the Mechs and Skitters that would have come in a rush once the Skitter "nurse" had gotten a warning off and the whole mission would have failed. I agree with what "hotbabe_101" said if you don't like it then fine don't watch it . Leave the review to someone who actually wants to watch it and can give a fair unbiased opinion.
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If they can power an entire stereo system to play records and have lamps left on all night. Then why does the youngest son have to sit there and manually spin a tiny radio to listen to static???
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i actually REALLY, REALLY like the show.
it has become one of my favourites.

why do people like you have to pick apart everything and make it sound crap. If you dont like it, dont watch it. PROBLEM SOLVED!
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Think falling skies is falling short of expectations considering the prominent figures behind the shows creation. This may also be the reason why viewers are being so hard on the show. That said I think i will accept the the show for what it is a light and little less than over the top alien show, which allows it to reach a wide audience due to its lack of gore, foul language and sex which apparently what a show needs the days to be considered great.
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To me this was an okay episode. The Skitter's almost loving affection for the kids was indeed quite intriguing ... 7/10
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I feel this episode did some things right and some things wrong. Tim did hit the wrongs. The whole silent kill plan was stupid. Not only did the adults still barge in, but the Skitter still made very loud screeching sounds, a time kill in the episode to reach the end result: rescuing Ben. Other stuff, the dad just let Hal go. Really? He didn't even put up any resistance outside the hospital, like he had a complete emotional flip. Speaking of emotional flips, what about Moon? She was actually getting friendly with the alien and then just turns around and kills it. Really? I'm starting to feel like Seth Meyers right now. Really? Why don't you make a bond and try to escape with the thing? Really. What it did right though, it gave us some development in not only the characters but the aliens. Sure, every time Margaret opened her mouth I wanted her to shut up, but it wasn't as in your face and as some, all, of the other attempts. It gave the colonel in charge some development, yes we have seen it before, the drugs, the sappy story about how he and his love used to have a special song, but again it was something. The most intriguing part of the episode, which happened to have the most flaws too, was how the Skitter was motherly towards Hal and the rest of the kids. Let's explore the aliens some, this is why we are watching it, right? But with the aliens comes the flaws. These things just took over the word yet they can't realize that there is an extra human being taking a nap under them? And radio signals is there communication? That is so ridiculous and ridiculously convenient I was genuinely mad when that statement came out. So looking back over my wall o text, I realized that this episodes had many, many more wrongs than rights, but hey, this is basic cable programming over the summer, how much can one really expect?
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@Tim ,I read all your articles, there I said am a fan.
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Another point, what's with checking the child's heartbeat with a stethoscope over the mother's clothing? Both her and the med student didn't seem to think to lift the shirt? I don't claim to be an expert, but I imagine you'd want the clearest possible sound if you're gonna hear your kid's heart for the first time...
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who cares?? I only care about seeing sarah carter :D

Ok, now that i said that, i think this show won`t get big than a SCIFI situation just in USA. They don`t go abroad, and that`s the problem. They should watch shows like doctor who or torchwood, they don`t have afraid of going to another pklanets if they needed, or to the past, future etc etc

They just need to find a Scifi TV show that breaks that ugly rule... "V" didn`t make it, The Event didn`t make, etc etc, so please just be more ambitious and show the f***** Alien planet NOWWW
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Oh YAWN!!!!! Failing Skies is off my list....
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It was so bad I sleep trough it! (Tank you TIVO) And it was kind of hard trying to see it today... It's starting to get boring. SORRY...
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Agreed. This silent kill was extremely lame. This show is a deception, like Camelot was. Except that Camelot was luch worse: with Camelot, I was bored to death, the storyline was a shame, not to talk about the acting: I stopped after episode 6. Here, I think there is hope but I'm already fed up that is each episode there is this supposedly emotional passage in the school. Enough of that crap ... We are supposed to see people surviving. But what do they do ? They remain in a school, chatting like everything is normal, riding motorbikes. And the aliens seem to be easy to kill: chop off their legs, put some electricity on them, introduce a knife in their mouth. How is it that they won the war against the armies and decimate billions of people when a teacher, a woman and a teen can kill them so easily ?
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@DuoMaxwell007, My theory is that it's because Ricky's Skitter was still alive, and able to control him for a period of time after his harness was removed. However, they killed the Skitter of those six kids before they took the harness off, so that is why they were crashing so rapidly, and why the last kid that Anne took the harness off died. I think that is why Ben was able to remember his Dad. If they don't use that, they can always reference back to the convo between Hal and Dad saying that Ben is "stronger".....
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I agree Falling Skies is becoming a waste of time. The situation and characters make some very unrealistic decisions based upon their current situation. Surviving creates survivors. The storyline is weak and unbelievable.
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I don't think I'll be watching the next episode ; I'm done with this. The first three episodes were barely watchable : nothing new in the genre, lame action and stories getting us nowhere. FX are good ... not awesome, but good enough ; I don't think acting is at fault either.

But the storyline is hollow; it looks a lot more like "Falling Void" than "Falling Skies"
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This episode, like the previous episodes, was just "blah" or average. I thought the acting was better this episode, but the dialogue still stinks, and the tone of the show is still too "safe." I do commend it for trying to be more of a thriller, having characters that the audience might think will be around for a while be captured (Karen) or killed off (Dr. Harris). The problem is that the execution is poorly done; it might make the show seem more "dangerous" in theory and on paper, but on screen, it just looks as corny as everything else they do. Also, as was briefly mentioned by Tim and some of the commenters, the focus on killing the skitters silently was so pointless when the skitters screamed and screeched extremely loudly as they died.
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Staff
@tryptz I think this is the first time I full-on called the show out, because this episode asked for it. We don't do straight recaps here, we offer analysis and open up discussion points from the author's point of view. If it sounds like I really hate it, it's because I'm disappointed and don't think the show is living up to its potential. I'll tone it down in future write ups now that we know what the show is.
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Staff
@JustinJohnson - I have been known to drink the Haterade, it's true! But I did think this episode had too many inconsistencies. Definitely got the hate on for this episode.
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