Episode Title: "Sanctuary (Part 2)"
Writer: Melinda Hsu Taylor
Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Previously on "Falling Skies"
Terry Clayton (Henry Czerny) arrived at the 2ND Mass and warned them of an impending attack from the alien Skitters and Mechs. To protect the children, he offered to escort all of the Skitters' potential targets to a Sanctuary where the Skitters wouldn't attack them. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and the other parents were extremely skeptical about the plan until an advance alien scout attacked their high school encampment just as Clayton predicted that they would. With little other recourse, Tom consented to Clayton's plans and his oldest son, Hal (Drew Roy) escorted his younger brothers, Ben (Connor Jessup) and Matt Mason (Maxim Knight), as well as Rick (Daniyah Ysrayl) and his father Mike (Martin Roach) along with the other children to their temporary home.
On the road to Sanctuary, Hal became somewhat suspicious when Clayton led the group from their agreed upon route. But his reluctance faded away when he saw that the Sanctuary was seemingly as good as Clayton said it was. But that night, Clayton visited Eli, one of the 2ND Mass kids whose parents fled the camp just prior to his arrival. He escorted Eli to a young girl who was controlled by an alien harness and left the young boy in alien custody. Afterwards, Clayton went to the basement and congratulated his prisoner for leading him straight to the 2ND Mass. And his prisoner was none other than John Pope (Colin Cunningham).
At the Sanctuary, Jimmy (Dylan Authors), Hal, Ben and the other older children play a game of soccer with the kids already living there. Hal even has another girl interested in him by the name of Tessa (Sarah Stunt). For those of you keeping score at home, that makes FOUR love interests for Hal this season. He must have the last bottle of Axe Bodywash… Anyway, Tessa's dad, Mr. Greene (J. D. Nicholson) warns her not to get too close to Hal, since he and the 2ND Mass kids are just there as collateral for the Skitters. That night, Clayton visits Pope once again and offers him one last chance to join them.
Pope refuses to side with anyone who works with Skitters, so they decide to kill him. But Pope has already cut himself free and he knocks out Greene and makes his escape. As he leaves, he comes across the bodies of the 2ND Mass escorts who were supposed to return to their camp. Back at the 2ND Mass controlled high school, Tom is worried that their promised reinforcements haven't shown up nor have the escorts returned. He butts heads with his commanding officer, Weaver (Will Patton) before Tom and Dai (Peter Shinkoda) head out on bikes to find them.
At dinner, Rick's strange and alien behavior shocks the kids and their hosts, leading to a rebuke from Mike. As Tessa continues to flirt with Hal, Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) discovers Eli's backpack and she alerts Mike and Hal. As they meet in secret, Hal notes that the guards seem to be more interested in watching the kids than in looking for alien attacks. Mike doesn't believe that Clayton would betray them, but he decides to look into it. He soon finds proof of Eli's former presence and he comes face-to-face with Clayton; who tells Mike how the arrangement with the Skitters was made and he tries to convince Mike to go along with it.
Mike doesn't act immediately, but he does eventually alert Hal and Lourdes to wake the kids and sneak out. Tessa catches them in the act and she starts yelling for her father before Hal can stop her. Mike lays down covering fire to allow Hal and the kids to get away and he insists that Hal take care of Rick. After the kids are safely away, Clayton gets the drop on Mike and murders him offscreen. Back at the 2ND Mass camp, Tom returns with Dai and he angrily relates to Weaver that the Sanctuary isn't where Clayton said it was. He goes back out soon after.
Hal and the kids take refuge in an abandoned house and Ben volunteers to run back to the 2ND Mass alone since he isn't tired anymore. Along the way, he spots Clayton's forces heading towards their direction. He also finds his father and Dai and alerts them to the situation. Back at the house, Hal is the lone defender against Clayton's forces, until Pope reappears and starts firing on Clayton's men. Pope takes a shot to the leg before Tom arrives. Pope tells Tom that he's up for a gunfight alongside him, but Tom disarms him and claims that Pope is dead so he can approach Clayton.
To prevent Hal or the kids from being harmed, Tom convinces them to surrender and he turns himself in as well. After being marched back to Sanctuary, Clayton finds that Weaver and his men have already taken over. Clayton tries to take Hal hostage or kill him, but Tom shoots him dead first. Tom admits to Weaver that he wasn't sure if he would come and Weaver says that he almost didn't. Back at the 2ND Mass, Pope is treated in the infirmary and he is once again a prisoner. The rest of the camp gathers for Mike's funeral as Tom gives the eulogy. However, Rick is not moved by the display and he alarms Ben when he seems to identify himself as one of the aliens… and therefore superior to humans.
No TV series can be expected to hit a home run every time out, but "Sanctuary Part 2" might be the first single of the season.
John Pope is easily the most dynamic character on "Falling Skies," but it seemed like this episode was softening him up for a hero turn. It actually started fairly early in the episode when he didn't kill Greene when he had the chance and it continued when Pope came along to save Hal at a convenient time. That may have been born out of Pope's hatred for the Skitters and anyone who works with them, but it seems like the writer forgot that Pope's appeal comes from the fact that he's not heroic. If Pope had simply tried to save the kids to get the 2ND Mass to forgive him for his earlier transgressions, that would have been a lot easier to accept.
Tom's solution to the gun battle was effective because it didn't take the usual route of the heavily outnumbered heroes somehow outgunning a superior force. That said, Weaver's sudden appearance at the Sanctuary with the 2ND Mass already entrenched was a little hard to swallow. It's like the episode couldn't make the first resolution work without pulling a Weaver out of its hat. This must have been Weaver's episode to act as the magical plot device. He just happened to be in the right place earlier to help deliver a breached baby; which he conveniently had experience with.
Mike's demise was handled well, even if it wasn't shown on screen. He's only the second main character to die so far in the series, but his exit was memorable and his funeral was moving. Rick's ongoing heel turn is also pretty obvious, but it was a good moment when even Ben was stunned by how Rick identified himself with the aliens. That must be one of the aftereffects of the alien harness. It corrects all physical flaws and it makes its victims side with their former captors. The only question now is if the harness actually physically transforms the kids into Skitters after being on long enough.
People make stupid mistakes to move the plot along all the time in fiction, but it was shocking that no told Lourdes what an incredibly bad idea it would be to play the piano in an abandoned neighborhood as armed men were stalking them. That stood out as an especially stupid decision here.
Overall the episode was still enjoyable and it was interesting that the Skitter forces apparently have their own quota system to meet regarding captive kids. It's been hinted that the Skitters may not be the real power behind the invasion, so I'm curious to see where that leads.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.