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'.
... 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