Episode Title: "Silent Kill"
Writer: Joe Weisberg
Director: Fred Toye
Previously on "Falling Skies"
A few days ago, Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and his oldest son, Hal (Drew Roy) were on a mission to rescue Hal's younger brother, Ben (Connor Jessup) from the alien Skitters when Mike (Martin Roach) scuttled the operation to save his own son, Rick (Daniyah Ysrayl). In the aftermath, Tom was able to capture a Skitter and Dr. Harris (Steven Weber) successfully removed the alien harness from Rick during surgery. However, the captive Skitter was able to exert its influence over Rick and it guided him back to his harness. Harris and Dr. Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) barely stopped the Skitter from escaping before Mike ripped the harness from his son once again.
Before making another run at Ben, Tom reluctantly brought John Pope (Collin Cunningham) on a mission to recover some badly needed motorcycles. Pope took the first opportunity to escape and kill some sleeping Skitters nearby, alerting the aliens in the process. Tom and his crew soon found themselves surrounded by armed children. Unwilling to harm the kids, Tom and his team barely made it out alive.
In the high school serving as the 2ND Mass base, Tom, Hall and Weaver (Will Patton) go over the plan to rescue Ben and the other kids from the alien controlled hospital. Weaver warns the Masons that stealth is the key to their successfully surviving the mission. Outside, Hal bonds with Margaret (Sarah Carter) as she shows him how to use a crossbow, Margaret also turns out to be very familiar with the hospital where Ben is being held and she points out a better entry point. Back in the makeshift lab, Dr. Harris antagonizes the alien Skitter over Anne's objections.
However, the Skitter is able to lure Harris closer and it soon begins to choke him. Despite the intervention of Anne, it's too late. Dr. Harris is dead and Weaver is livid. He gives Anne 24 hours to get what she can out of the Skitter before they execute it. Around the same time, Anne is pressured by her Uncle Scott (Bruce Gray) to put a picture of her dead son on the bulletin board of the missing children. But Anne seems reluctant to deal with her loss. Elsewhere, Hal approaches Rick, who still seems traumatized by his ordeal. But Rick is lucid enough to give Hal some details on living with the aliens, which gives him an idea: to take Rick's harness and infiltrate the hospital directly.
Weaver likes the plan but he won't implement it until they figure out a way to kill the Skitters quietly. Fed up with her entire state of existence, Anne takes the opportunity to test her theory on the Skitter's vulnerability and she violently stabs it to death in front of Tom and Hal… much to their shock. She then angrily slaps her bloody hand against the missing children bulletin board. Anne explains to Tom that she has no pictures of her son to share and she finally breaks down. Hours later, Tom and his team put the plan in motion while Hal sneaks in. He finds surprisingly little resistance as he wanders the corridors of the hospital.
Hal locates Ben's group of harnessed kids as they are overseen by a Skitter. Hal mimics the group as they fall to the floor to sleep. To his surprise, the alien Skitter crawls on top of them and begins petting the children with affection as it prepares to sleep as well. The minutes tick away before Hal finally takes his chance and murders the Skitter. Ben and the other harnessed children collapse, allowing Tom and his team to rush them back to the high school. Ben is the first child operated on and Anne successfully removes his harness. But the other children are on the verge of dying.
While performing several surgeries in a row, Anne manages to save all but one of the harnessed kids. However, it's the one that she couldn't save that haunts her. As they wait for word about the kids, Margaret confesses to Hal that the reason that she was so familiar with the hospital is that she was a patient there while she was being treated for cancer. Hours later, Tom, Hal and the youngest Mason, Matt (Maxim Knight) gather around Ben and wait for him to wake up. When Ben finally does open his eyes, he recognizes his father and the surviving members of the Mason family are reunited at last.
"Falling Skies" isn't a perfect show, but it is clearly one of the best series currently running. And that would have been true even if it had launched in the fall.
Despite John Pope's MIA status this week, the rest of the cast delivered uniformly strong performances that helped make up the difference. However, this was Moon Bloodgood's episode to shine. It would have been reasonable to assume that Anne was going to form a connection to the Skitter to get it to open up and communicate. But who would have guessed that Anne was going to murder the creature in one of the more shocking moments of the series?
If that was all that she did, it would have still been a memorable moment for Anne. And yet it was her emotional scene at the bulletin board that finally defined her character. Anne makes sense now; which is to say that her actions are suddenly a lot more relatable. The bloody hand on the bulletin board is probably going to become an iconic moment for this series.
Margaret also got some much needed character development this week… although it is a little hard to swallow that Hal is putting the moves on her so soon after his girlfriend, Karen disappeared in alien custody. On his own, Hal did get one of the most intense sequences of the episode while waiting to kill the Skitter. That scene was particularly well directed and the subtle use of sound helped build up the tension.
Harris' death was a surprise because he went out without ever getting a real character arc. Steven Weber was good in the role that basically cast him as one of the last a**holes alive, but that's a part that he can play fairly easily. Usually a series will further establish a character like Harris before disposing of him. Or at least the writers try to give their victims a redemptive moment. But not Harris. His murder was so sudden that it actually seemed more real within the world of the series.
Another admirable thing about "Falling Skies" is that it is forcing its audience to ask questions about what we're seen. In previous episodes, it's been pointed out that the aliens came a long way to get to Earth and it doesn't seem logical that they would enslave the children just to have them scavenge for metal. In this episode, we witness a Skitter treat the kids with genuine kindness and affection. Are the kids like pets or children to the Skitters? They've shown a willingness to kill the kids or put them in harm's way against the resistance, so that means on some level the aliens consider the kids to be expendable.
Now here's a theory about that: what if the Skitters aren't the slave masters? They could very well be slaves themselves to another race we haven't even seen yet; which could account for some of the inconsistency in their behavior… and the fact that all of the mechs have two legs and the Skitters have six legs.
It's fortunate that the Ben subplot has been put to rest at the middle of the season instead of dragging it out the entire year. "Falling Skies" has managed to cover a lot of story ground in its first five episodes. If the rest of the season is this good, this show could pave the way for a long run on TNT.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.