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Falling Skies: Trust Issues

Falling Skies S02E06: "Homecoming"

What in Skitter God's name was that? "Homecoming," the official first episode of the second half of Falling Skies' second season, was all over the place tonight, and if there's one rule of television, it's this: Nothing slows down the momentum of a series like a storyline about invisible pathogens that have made someone very, very, very sick!

There was really only one point of "Homecoming," and that was to bring Hal's ex-hottie Karen back to the 2nd Mass to cause some trouble. Along the way, Weaver got sick from the harness bug bite he got two weeks ago (but don't worry, by the end of the episode he got better!), the hospital came dangerously close to running out of gas (but don't worry, by the end of the episode they found a lot more!), and Pope returned to the group (after pointlessly leaving in the first place... though we'll probably learn more next week about where he's been).

Karen being back with the humans is zero surprise, but that's not really the problem with her return. My beef with it is the way she was used. This season, there's been so much to do with the concept of who you can trust. If the survival elements of Falling Skies' first season resembled those of The Walking Dead, Falling Skies Season 2 is borrowing from the paranoia of the excellent early seasons of Battlestar Galactica. Tom's been under the bright light, Pope is obviously one cheap domestic beer from cutting everyone's face off, Ben's glowing spikes are a constant reminder that he's part-human-part-alien-Radio-Shack, and Pink Eye the Skitter Rebel Leader really changed the idea of "aliens = bad, humans = good."

So in comes Karen, and there's a lot the writers can do with how much we trust her (or don't) because she's Hal's ex and a cute blonde, but she's also been the voicebox for an alien leader and watched Tom almost die. However, these ideas were barely addressed and the tension was never built up and everyone's first instincts were right: She's no good. In fact, "Homecoming" didn't even give us a chance to trust her in the first place so we could be fooled later on, taking all of the potential bite out of the story. Whether we could trust her was the big question in this episode, right? So why didn't it give us enough time to ponder it? If we don't doubt ourselves, it doesn't work. Falling Skies needs to learn when to give its audience information and when to withhold it (in related news, please give us more information on Ben because his story is dragging and there's been way too little time spent on him over his season-long arc).

But it's the bizarre treatment of these ex-harnessed kids that's probably the worst. Karen came back from nowhere and was immediately cordoned off in a room so everyone could decide whether or not they can trust her. Rick came back, even after the group last saw him JUMPING OFF THE SIDES OF BUILDINGS AND KILLING AN OLD MAN, and everyone's reaction was to put him on the table and save his life and let him roam around camp like it was nothing. All the while Ben, who suffers from the same condition Karen and Rick do, was walking around freely with a giant frickin' gun and guarding fellow ex-harnessed-and-possibly-alien-controlled Karen, BY HIMSELF. If Falling Skies is going to be this inconsistent, it could at least show us the coin flips that go into these decisions.

The only thing I got out of Weaver's blood infection was learning the term "extracorporeal hypothermia," and I don't even think the show got it right. I'm no blood scientist doctor man, but "extracorporeal" means "out of body," and hypothermia is a case when the body's temperature is too low. Extracorporeal hypothermia would indicate that the blood would be pulled from the body and cooled, and pumped back into the body to induce hypothermia (Lourdes was right, the technique is used in cancer treatment and some surgeries). But Anne and Lourdes were doing the exact opposite; Weaver's blood needed to be warmed to kill the pathogen. It sounds like someone got left and right mixed up. Perhaps the term the show should have used is "extracorporeal microwaving." If you want to toss around fancy medical terms, it might be best to get them right. (P.S. I hope I'm right about this, but I'm not totally sure. Perhaps a doctor can sort it out in the comments section below? You are all doctors, right?) [UPDATE: My claim has been debunked by user Mate, who has better ears than I do. Dr. Anne said "extracorporeal HYPERthermia," not hypothermia. Now it makes sense. I should just erase this paragraph from the Internet but I gotta own up when I'm wrong.]

On top of that, Weaver was cured by the end of the episode, and only a gasoline shortage scare provided any drama. Except it wasn't really drama at all. It was empty drama. Beginning of the episode: Weaver is sick! End of episode: Weaver is okay! Beginning of the episode: We're low on gas and we're all going to die! End of episode: Hey, we just found a shit-ton of gas lying on the side of the road, more than we need! Falling Skies loves to present problems and solve them quickly with little or no hurdles, which are the backbone of good drama. Drama = Present a problem, introduce an obstacle to solving that problem, watch the hero find way around obstacle. It's not, "Present a problem, cut to the problem being solved by guy in a mullet off-screen." Remember the heat issue the 2nd Mass had with their engines in the first episode of Season 2? Put some insulation on them! Problem solved. This kind of thing s about as exciting as watching someone try to figure out what they they want for breakfast and then realizing that they want pancakes because they're kind of in the mood for pancakes so they order pancakes.

And in case you are keeping score at home: There were absolutely zero aliens in this episode.

As we've discussed before, Falling Skies' weakest component is its writing, but that can be forgiven and forgotten with a couple badass alien shoot-em-up scenes. "Homecoming" didn't have those aliens—or any aliens—to bail it out, and it really suffered as a result.



Survival Notes

– Captain Weaver is proving to be a horrible leader. He made sure people didn't know about his deadly infection AND he gave the go-ahead to use up all of the gas to keep generators running? Could he not pull himself away from playing Skyrim or something? This is an alien invasion, not a spring break road trip. Resources are everything! Weaver was right about everyone doing too much chillaxin' and not enough worrying about the legions of alien overlords all over the place that want them dead. But let's be honest, that's Alien Invasion Resistance Leader 101 stuff. Using up almost all the gas is inexcusable. Weaver needs to go.

– Hey everyone, please stop bludgeoning us with what you miss from the old days. Thank you, The Management.

– I'm still confused about the Mags-Hal relationship. I guess the obvious thing would be for them to get together, but they're not getting together. Or are they? Can't tell if this is good, unpredictable writing or pointless time-wasting.

– How will Karen's return affect 2nd Mass? And how can Karen's eyes be THAT blue? And did they ever explain that pile of dead harnessed kids a.k.a. the necrophiliac pedophile's dream? Was it just an elaborate plan to get Karen found? Because that was super complicated. If I've got this right, the aliens put a pile of dead kids in the woods and hoped someone from the 2nd Mass would trip over them and find Karen.

– Another loose thought on Karen, and how her quick reveal as an alien plant affects the psychology of the viewer over the course of the season (or at least how it affected me): Karen as an alien spy takes away a lot of doubts we might have built up about the rest of the 2nd Mass with regard to trust issues. We should be looking over our shoulders constantly, questioning the intentions of everyone, but we're not. That leads to an in-group/out-group situation, where everyone who's part of "our group" (the 2nd Mass) is good, and everyone who's not is bad. Karen being an alien plant only reinforces this. Falling Skies is a Steven Spielberg production, so I don't expect any major character double-crosses from the main cast we've spent all these episodes with because Spielberg has very clear ideas about good and evil. But when large portions of the first episodes of the series were designed to make us question who we could trust among our buddies, having Karen put on the weakest "I'm innocent" face for about five minutes only to be exposed as a covert op trying to extract Ben into a trap was hecka weak. You could argue that Ben's intentions make him a questionable ally, but the show has solidly sold him as a supporter of the alien resistance, which makes him "enemy of my enemy is friend" good. What this season needs is a mole.

– Dr. Anne: "I'm not your wife, Tom. And we don't get the luxury of having a lovers' spat in this stupid wasteland of a world. All we get to do is survive." Audience: "Grooooooooan."

– But you know what WAS awesome? That girl fight between Karen and Mags. Plus the episode had lots of Margaret, which means lots of Sarah Carter! And since we're all getting scary obsessed with her (no, I never watched Smallville), here's a video of her music group, because of course she's in a band and can play guitar because she can do anything because she's just the most perfect precious little thing in the entire universe.



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

Comments (63)
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Am I the only person that thinks you all need to shut the hell up with your constant complaining?!

Either watch the show and keep your pathetic views to yourself or don't.

It's because of people like you lot that good shows get cancelled.

Get over yourselves!
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Just like season 1, this show is sure taking it's time to pick up it's pace, it's been 6 episodes in, and not very much happened, then they will surely have something big happen ih the last two episodes, or worst, the last episode and leave us with a big cliffhanger.



Explain to me, how an extremelly advanced race, can't find a resistance living in the open with nearly 200 people, cars, motorcycles and a lot more in a relative small area.



So far this show doesn't have my interest picked, I usually watch it, after a few days it aired.



PS: Maggie hilarious sucks trying to be a badass, it's always funny.
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LIKE I have been saying this whole time that the 2nd mass. is inconsistant on how they treat ppl who have been abducted, or are harnessed i.e. Rick. I am just glad someone else sees the poor writing.
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I felt like the whole point of the Karen story line was really just to get the 2nd Mass to believe in the skitter rebellion, so now we can start seeing the humans and skitters team up to take down the overlords.
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Agree that the side stories such as the Captain's blood infection lacked any real drama. We knew he would be cured...

But...the return of Karen and Ben's interaction with her was the most interesting storyline in this series. I would not compare Karen with the other harnessed characters in the series. She was front and center with the aliens, unlike the other harnessed children. I hope that they don't cut this storyline short by wrapping it up in the next episode.

I hope that the writers will use this episode as a starting point to create a series that is aimed at adults rather than the soft Spielberg approach to TV Sci-Fi.
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My favorite part of the episode -- and by favorite, I mean most hated -- was Anne taking a look at Pope and saying: "... but I don't see any critical wounds, which is a good thing." Really? Thanks, Anne. Nobody would have known that NOT having critical wounds is a good thing without your confirmation.



As for the rest of the episode, the lazy and childish writing is really starting to annoy me. Again, if this was airing during the fall, I would've stopped watching... but it's summer, and I don't mind having a high-potential-but-currently-below-average show in my schedule.



Also, they've managed to turn Weaver into a complete idiot in one episode, most of which had him passed out. Congrats.
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Yeah, I think the only reason people watch is because of the weak summer slate. This would get slaughtered in the fall. I just wish it wasn't ok to offer shows like this regardless of the time of year...
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What gets me in the show is there is no sense of Urgency or danger, in the previous episode they fall back to a Hospital, so what's the first thing they do ?? Turn on all the Lights. Why are the Aliens not finding them when a Normally Dark building becomes suddingly Illuminated, well it makes no Sense, and the show is full of these situations
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I love the first season of the show, and the first episode of the second season. but since then nothing has happened, it feels so streched out, the same things with Ben are repeating over and over again. Hopefully all this streching out of the story leads to something good in the upcoming episodes.
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why is it in all there post apocalyptic shows-Walking Dead and what not, that people use the most gas guzzling machines around? There is no gas any more except what u siphon from other vehicles!!!! So everyone drives a '74 Suburban or hot rod??? And using their lights at night when they are being hunted? Just send up a flare and tell everyone where u are for craps sake!!!!

This is just common sense!

hey, can I write for this show?????
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I enjoyed karen and meg and that was about it. Ive been on the fence since the beginning and lazy writing is taking its toll. Where are the big ideas? Whats the driving force behind this show? bottom line, why should i care!

I think ive only got room for 2 or 3 more boring episodes
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I actually liked this episode? But i can see the points presented in the review and most of them are fair.
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TIM quit writing review you simply can't I have told you this before , this was the best episode of the season period "Homecoming was awesome!!!
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What episode did you see? Even for a weak and slow season so far, this episode was weak, predictable, and just plain lame. Tim was even restrained in his review, because this episode sucked!
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"Best episode of the season" still isn't saying much.



The best part of a turd is still a turd.
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Tim is capable of putting together a legitimate English sentence, which makes him a better writer than you. That's just the tip of the iceberg of reasons why Tim is writing reviews we read, and you aren't.
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Your not reading reviews from me because, I can do them in 20 words or less, which does not meet the sites critea!! oh look an legitmate sentence!!! my above comment was too!! @stanking
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You're*
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The episode actually made sense to me, at least most of it. Yes, Weaver made disastrous decisions, but he was under the influence of that infection, so he didn't seem to be in his right mind. Actually it's not the first time something like this has happened. I fear for Weaver's stability. The bigger question is then why would Dr. Anne let Weaver have his way if he wasn't in his right mind? She should've reported him to Tom at least, and relieved him of duty.



To me it seems that unharnessed kids behave in different ways. The aliens have different degrees of control over them. The black kid (I forget his name) was totally under the control of the aliens because he surrendered, and felt he never fit in except with the aliens. Ben seems to be much stronger, and he only falls into the control of the aliens when his spikes glow. The aliens also controlled Karen completely in spite of her will, proving in some cases removing the harness makes no difference.



I don't think Ben started to trust Karen all of a sudden. He was protecting the 2nd Mass by taking her away from them. He was dealing with the problem the best way he knew how, and he believed he was the only one who could handle her. It seems to me he has a plan to deal with her, and this is why he left with her.
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For any tiny step this show makes forward, every once in a while it makes a giant leap back. No that's not true. It turns around, hijacks a plane and fly and crash in the same place it was one and a half season ago. A show filled with charcters i couldn't care less about. With no backstory, no development in any fashion, charcterwise or storywies. Theres just a bunch of people walking around aimlessly. There are show on which this works, but it's because you care about the charcters. And the reason you care is because you came to know them, watched them as they overcame obstacles and weird bunkers and smokemonsters.

I, for instance, care a lot more about the charcter on Once upon a time, which is by no accounts a good show, then i do care about Tom and Anne and whatsherface.
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Weird, it's like every episode Tim likes of Falling Skies I dislike. Every one he dislikes or is somewhat apathetic about I like.
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Karen was brought back in order to "connect" with Ben, which seems to happen very quickly between razorbacks, then use him to find the rest of the skitters involved in the alien rebellion. Ben had already told brother Matty that he was gonna have to leave, so the long con was never in the cards for Karen. Not too complicated or creative, but, meh, at least that implies more Karen!



And speaking of cute blondes, the only thing I can figure with the Mags-Hal relationship angst, is that Mags either know she has, or expects to get another brain tumor. We know that she had to have surgery several different times in the past, so the cancer is clearly recurring. She's trying to "save" Hal from that hurt (cuz next time surgery/treatment ain't an option) by keeping him at a distance. That's obviously going really well.



It was a letdown to have 0 alien sightings this week, but hopefully the emerging "Karen, Ben, and the alien rebels" storyline will sate that thirst, and maybe give us more details on the different races and their backgrounds...
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strike 2. weak episode man. Feeling a lil battered by the shitty dialog, weak plot points and lack of aliens. Starting to feel a little AMC's "The Killing"-esque
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The Killing is a great show, whereas this is a mediocre show. There are just as many good episodes as bad episodes. Round abouts. lol
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i thought they were finally gonna grow some balls and kill someone, hopefully weaver. it's so depressing watching this thing knowing that no one will die e everything will be just fine. except for the raggedy clothes (what's with the no fingers gloves all the time??) you'd never know the earth's been attacked and this is a group of survivors. by the way, what kind of group of survivors
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am i the only one who thinks that Ben should die? i would give the Masons a hell of a motivation to fight (wich we haven't seen that much) and also, no more Ben and his love/hate towards the skitters.



p.s. for beeing the rebellion in a world invasion from what appear to be aliens with limitless resorces, everyone is pretty lay back.
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I don't know what it is, but I keep liking Falling Skies more and more. Maybe it's just my TV-addictedness latching on, so whenever I go further into a story I just want to see more, but I'm really enjoying it. It's not a perfect show, it's not even great, but I like it. Also, Margaret is great, she needs to be on screen 90% of the time. And I DID watch Smallville, and I never understood why Clark didn't go for Alicia, she was bad ass and Lana was a whiny little bi**h!
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I'm right with you. It's not a great show, but it's the best damn summer show I've ever seen. This show is one of the few I have to look forward to in summer.



This episode wasn't great and then I read the director's blog and was a little stunned at what he wrote. He thought that they kept Karen's motives secret for the whole episode, and that the idea that a bunch of unharnessed kids left to find by the 2nd Mass was gold. It makes me worry that the show runners are totally clueless.
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I'm with you on Weaver. When Tom said they needed him for the 2nd mass to survive, my initial thought was "Hmmm..... Do they?". I don't feel the show has done a good job of making him essential.



This show is also terrible at building relationships. I agree with you on that line form Dr. Anne. It was said out of context with their relationship and the situation they were discussing. The writers seem to force dialogue where it doesn't belong a lot on this show.



I also don't see why everyone is so psyched about Pope all the time. He's a poor mans antihero.
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eh i guess I still enjoy this showing, watching it realizing that everyone is stupid and easily deceived. I just remind myself that this is pretty much a family show, although the 2nd season has shown more blood of both human and aliens, dead bodies, and scenes of destruction than the first season. I fully expected Weaver to recover by the end.



My favorite part was the exchange between Karen and Mags, Karen jumping on on the wall and throwing Maggie was pretty sweet.



I wish they would have different story lines without the characters intersecting so conveniently. The Pope could show up randomly to save the day, etc.



I've come to embrace the show even though there are groan worthy moments, might as well try to enjoy something I spend an hour watching.



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Meh..!
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Okay, I have to admit the show isn't living up to my expectations. But, I'm sticking with it. At least it's not Terra Nova or whatever that stupid dinosaur show was.
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Even though I didn't like the episode, I'm with you. I'm invested in the show and I still think Season 2 is a lot better than Season 1. But I'm also mentally prepared for it to continue to sag.
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I can't believe how dumb Ben was. The whole time he was talking to her I kept thinking, "He knows it's a trap, he's gonna lead her somewhere and make her monologue and then they'll finally kill her" but nope, he just runs along with her to take her to his pinkeye skitter's secret base so she can destroy the skitter resistance. Well done, Ben.
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Yeah, how ridiculous was the exchange...

Ben: You can't trust her.

Hal: Why not?

Ben: She is just going to manipulate you, Hal.

Hal: How?

Ben: SHE ALREADY IS (evil dun - Dun DUN music plays)

Hal: ok, lets make sure she is ok and take her to be with our injured because she is no threat what so ever.

Ben: She is evil. It's better if we take her far away. It's also smart if you let me guard her alone. Nothing bad could possibly happen between the only two people in the group with back spikes. This is not a recipe for disaster that a 3rd grader could see coming...

- LATER -

*Ben gets close enough for spikes to glow*

Ben: Karen, I totally trust you now, we have to leave.

Karen: Ok, It's awesome how this is even your idea and I didn't have to suggest it!

Ben: Well it's not like you could be manipulating me in exactly the same way I warned everyone else about.



ME: *BRAIN ASPLODE!*

Note to the writers: How about you actually TRY one of these episodes?
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Haha, I was going to say something similar, but you summed up the exchange very well. It was incredibly poorly written how quickly Ben forgot his own warnings and beliefs.
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Funny, but I don't think Ben fell for her. He pretended to believe her to take her away from the 2nd Mass and protect his family and friends.
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I'm pretty sure this would be the first time the show did something that wasn't on face value. I hope that's true...but I won't hold my breath.
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Keep in mind that he lied about where they are going to her. There is no way in hell that all the time he's spent around everyone that he wouldn't know there destination. So in that he didn't trust her.
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that was hilarious. And so true.
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Ha ha ha ha ha this made my day.
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dear tim ur hilarious recaps are about the only good thing about this show. heh, poor poor sucky show. i seriously hope they start sucking even worse so i can start seeing it as a comedy
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I so don't get the writer's obsession with Margaret. I didn't even know her name until I started reading his reviews. I just called her two-tone hair. I don't care about her or her relationship with Hal either way.

On the other hand, I have to agree that character development is somewhat lagging in this show. It makes it hard to care whether anyone other than Tom and his sons is killed.

BTW, what happened to the red-eyed skitter? Did I sleep through someone killing him?
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He escaped - almost certainly because someone acted stupid...I assume that's where Ben and Karen are headed now.
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Thank you! That was bothering me
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have to admit was expecting more, even i saw karen was a fake the moment she open her mouth, the only good thing was that pope coming back maybe now we can have a little more action. i know the resistance must rest and get supplys and the captain is sick, but they are also fighting for the rest of mankind.
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They should have killed Karen instead of Jimmy.

Stupid episode all around.
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They should have killed Maggie instead of Karen.



Or, better yet, they should have never introduced Maggie to begin with. She's Karen 2.0, with the addition of Houseian Doctor Pretty Doctor characterization by scattergun.
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Don't you dare say they should have killed Maggie! Maggie is the BEST, it is known!
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Oh, you and your subtle GoT references!
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Nay, not at all.



Especially now that she's been tapped as "Hal's love interest", and now that's all she is.



But seriously, Jessy Schram. Jessy. Schram. With the exception of, say, Will Patton and Colin Cunningham, she is most certainly the best actor this show has got. Which makes knowing that this show will inevitably throw her away on some kind of stupid kinda disappointing.
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It is known.
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I was so pissed at how quickly they revealed Karen. This show is awful.
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Right? Why not build her up, let us get sweet on her, and then blindside us! The problem with Karen is that none of us cared about her in the first place because she was taken away so long ago and before we got to know her.
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Hey Tim. What they were saying is that weaver was hypothermic. Which is odd because a virus almost always heats up your body due to the white blood cells fighting it. But weaver was hypothermic so ther plan was to use a technique called extra corporeal hyperthermia. Which you got correct is to take the blood out of his body and heat it up to around 108 Fahrenheit to I suppose counter or defeat the virus. Because it supposedly works on aids patients and cancer patients. The problem with that is that it has extremely limited succes in cancer treatment. And even less in aids. I believe it was used in Europe in the 90's with limited success but it was and I think still is banned in the US mostly because it can cause well death. It would be dumb to use it in their setting because if the blood is heated up to 111 it kills everything. Not to mention it is being done by a pediatrician and a nursing student.



As for the state of weaver. His decisision making could have been compromised due to the hypothermia. As it can cause Mental confusion. Or Skyrim, I hear it is addicting.





As for the rest I agree with your assessment. It was a mediocre episode and kind of lame. But lots of Sarah Carter. Always good
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Ah! Thank you. My point is now invalid and I'll make note of that and give you credit. I swore she said "extracorporeal hypothermia." This makes sense now. Apologies to the medical staff of Falling Skies.
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Well she did kind of stumble through the wording of it. But it was still kind of silly to use that. I mean I know we need Anne to do something, anything. But come on, do a risky procedure that she is unqualified for and generally ends up with it not working and the people dying anyway. I would have preferred if they would have expanded upon red eye and have him? her? it bring some type of vaccine to save him. It would have furthered that plot line. This season, though better than last season, is rather sporadic. And the explanations and glossing over points has kind of become silly. Like the whole Ben and Karen thing.
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I feel like so much of this show is predicated on people acting stupid...

- Weaver and the infection/gas situation...

- Everyone being so trusting of Karen

- Everyone except Ben who doesn't trust her at all until it's clear he shouldn't, him not realizing he's being manipulated is really weak.

- ANYONE allowing Ben to guard Karen alone

- Margret being so careless while alone in the same room with Karen



Except when they have ESP...

- Hal knowing to go STRAIGHT to the roof to catch up to Ben and Karen right before they could go away

- Tom knowing to go STRAIGHT to the roof to fine Hal



And then there is the inconsistencies like Hal not trusting his brother at all, but still trusting Karen FOR NO REASON.



...Oh and how groan worthy is it that Pope returns and he happens to have that one crucial bit of information everyone needs but doesn't know it except he's conveniently unconscious to satisfy the story and wakes up just in time to give everyone on the show a reveal that the viewer has suspected for half the episode and known for the last few minutes.



This show is laughable.
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Wow, I had the same exact thoughts while watching the episode. I distinctly remember thinking that the "drama" wasn't very dramatic. "Oh no! It's Karen, is she good?" 30 seconds later, nope, she's a plant. "Weaver's sick, how are they going to build the machine to --" oh, they found it. "They're running out of gas! Is Weaver going to die?!" Nevermind, some character found gas while we weren't watching. At least it looks like it will start picking up next week.
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Hey first comment! Anyways I'm just popping in here to say that this show is much better watched on a DVR and with a smartphone in your hands. You can easily zip through the commercials and then zone out until any scene with Doctor Glass in it ends. Ah well. If anything the little trailer for next week's episode looks promising, and hopefully a bigger step will be taken with Ben's story seeing as he is going to be running into plenty of aliens. And then as a side note, why haven't they given Dai any sort of development? He's always just kinda there.
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Re: Dai... I ask myself the same question all the time. He's always just hanging around with a gun in his hands. But now that it's been this long, I hope this show never develops him, because that would be hilarious.
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