Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? Why, Falling Skies, why? I haven't been this bummed about a TV character death since James Dempsey shot himself in the head on The Event. "Compass" will forever be known as the episode where we lost Jimmy, the greatest bag of incompetence and floppy hair who ever convinced someone to give him a big-ass mofo'ing sniper rifle that can also serve as a flamethrower and please someone get me one of those for Christmas because I have a raccoon problem.
One of the complaints (yep, there's more than one) I've voice about this show is its lack of significant character deaths, so I suppose I should be happy that the series finally manned up and buried someone who wasn't just around for a guest role. But I'm not. Exact opposite. They killed Jimmy! You bastards.
That's serious business, you guys. And it comes at the expense of our unintended enjoyment over watching some idiot kid make mistake after mistake and put the whole group in jeopardy on a regular basis. I loved Jimmy because he made for good television and reminded me that no matter how many blows to the head I take, there will be someone out there who's dumber than I am. True, he improved a lot in recent episodes, but it seems like it was just yesterday that Jimmy was almost getting everyone killed by trying to save a dog. I can still see him bringing his bad mojo to a late-night patrol that killed everyone... except for him. And we'll fondly remember the time he cowered in a corner and ran out of bullets while fighting a Skitter, only to be saved by Weaver and crumpling into an ocean of tears. I will miss you and your hair, Jimmy. It's a wonder you made it this long.
Credit where credit is due though, killing Jimmy by impalement took a combination of balls and scouring the internet to determine who held the honor of being Falling Skies fans' least favorite character. Honestly this dense kid probably would have died slipping in the shower or microwaving tinfoil in real life, and there's no way he and Ben should have been going all Rambo and hunting down Skitters by themselves. This is Falling Skies' way of demanding to be taken seriously, and in a way it works. Not only did the show kill a character, but it took a page out of The Walking Dead's book and killed a young character! The writers are telling us that no one is safe. Except for Tom, Anne, Ben, Hal, Matt, Pope, Lourdes, and Margaret.
Aside from that monumental development, "Compass" slowed things down a lot in the aftermath of the first two episodes and introduced what will likely be one of the main plots of the season: the existence of the Continental Congress in Charleston, South Carolina. We don't know much about the establishment down South beyond what the pretty, biplane-flying bad actress told us. There are about 3,000 people there, there's electricity, there's hot water, and if you want to kick some alien butt (or whatever the equivalent alien body part is), that would be a good place to start. At first, Weaver was reluctant to go, preferring to hunker down in the Catskills and freeze everyone to death over the winter, but he changed his mind because he wants to do it for Jimmy.
I hesitantly buy into this storyline because it's a nice step toward humans rallying together against their alien overlords, but it also takes away from the "2nd Mass vs. the world" setup that looked so strong in the first two episodes. Didn't we all enjoy the feeling of danger that came with Weaver and everyone having to pack their bags and move every few weeks? And moving to Charleston will probably give us more situations where the dramatic tension comes from humans arguing with each other instead of killing aliens. I think I speak for everyone when I say we came here to watch some aliens die, not to witness military state chest-thumping. We'll see how things shape up; for now, at least we have purpose. But if the 2nd Mass gets stuck on Hershel's farm and mills around there for five episodes, count me out.
There was also more talk about Tom possibly being a sleeper agent for the aliens, but I'm still skeptical of that story, not because it isn't plausible but because of the way it was executed. I'm still looking for proof—let's see Tom make a questionable decision before we posit that he's being remote-controlled by aliens, eh? But Pope doesn't feel that way, so he refused to wait around for evidence and made the unwise decision to jump Tom and demand that Tom leave. But in your face Pope, Ben and Jimmy bum-rushed you and turned the tables (how embarrassing), and later Tom decided that he would join Pope's gang. I was a little bit unclear on the logic behind this development; Tom admitted that he may not be safe from alien control but said he should also have a weapon, and on top of that he should join Pope's group to keep an eye on Pope. But who's going to keep an eye on Tom? There's some flawed thinking there, but this isn't the sort of show that's concerned with stupid things like making sense. After a fight over Jimmy's compass, Pope decided to leave camp...again...and took Anthony with him. Does that leave Tom in charge of the rest of the Berserkers, or now that Pope is gone does he get to go back to being a gun-toting, possibly dangerous threat to the rest of the 2nd Mass? This could be one of those "what was the point of that?" moments, or it could lead to Tom having his own gang of cast-offs. Either way, I say it's time to kill off the Berserkers because I don't really see the point of having them around.
It's boggling that Falling Skies isn't using Pope the way it did to great effect in Season 1. When he was the anti-hero helping out the 2nd Mass, he was easily the best character on the show. Right now he's just a dick. Why regress with him after striking gold before? I see similarities to The Walking Dead's Daryl, who dazzled in the first half of Season 2 before drifting back to asshole territory in the second half. Pope seems destined to get stuck in a cycle of throwing a tantrum, leaving, and coming back. Pope as a semi-trusting rogue is much better than Pope as an angry jerk-face who wants to do nothing but cause problems.
Once again, the best part of the episode was saved for Ben. Tom's middle child had a pair of run-ins with Captain Red Eye, a super-Skitter that has some form of control over Ben and the LEDs on his spine. It's the same Skitter that received Tom's eye worm at the end of last week's episode and it looks like he's stalking the 2nd Mass, or maybe just Ben and his boyish good looks. Of course Ben didn't tell anyone about it. Bad idea, Ben!
I'm still waiting for Margaret, Anne, and Lourdes to step up with some form of storyline. Does this show hate women? Right now they have no purpose except to flirt with the guys, stitch the guys' wounds, and cry on the guys' shoulders. After a strong first season, Hal has also been very underused. Ensemble dramas need to nourish all their characters; otherwise they wither and die, and the women (and Hal) are starting to wilt.
"Compass" was a transition episode, bridging the first two "welcome back!" episodes with the main story (Charleston or bust!) that we'll follow throuhg the rest of the season. The combat was small-scale compared to what we saw in the first two episodes, which will likely be disappointing to some, but that was to be expected after all the bullets and Skitter guts that filled the opening 120 minutes. Another middling episode of Falling Skies, as it lacked the action of the first two but didn't make too many huge missteps. I have a feeling I'm going to be saying that a lot this season.
– Boy, you commenters did not disappoint last week! I opened last week's review with a discussion of how sci-fi fans tend to either love or hate Falling Skies, and it showed in the comments. This show is more polarizing than a magnet (I think that makes sense)! Some of you agreed with me, some of you wished a painful death on me. Seven more weeks of this after today, guys!
– Where did Pope and his gang get all that beer? And how are 176 people getting fed now that the 2nd Mass is moving around all the time? Just wonderin'. Especially about the beer.
– I know Pope saved Anthony's life, and going with him would allow Anthony to keep an eye on Pope to make sure he doesn't come back, but Anthony's reasons for joining Pope were pretty ridiculous. This show thinks that if characters say things convincingly, what they do will automatically make sense. Heading out into the woods with one lunatic because you think you owe him something versus staying with the group and having safety in numbers is an easy decision.
– How about Weaver's eulogy at Jimmy's funeral? Talking about how brave of a soldier he was. Haha. That was great.