“Falling Skies” season 3 continued Sunday, July 28, with episode 9, “Journey to Xibalba,” and the penultimate episode had everything it needed to and more to go into the big finale of what has easily been the best season yet.
“Journey to Xibalba” recap
Oh, Lourdes, Lourdes, Lourdes, what damage have you done now? Yes, Lourdes the mole was still at it, responsible for not one, but two explosions in this “Falling Skies” episode, with the first taking out the Volm complex and seemingly leaving only Cochise alive, and the second burying Charleston underground while friends and family could only dig from up top. (It was a good thing Ben never got rid of those spikes; his hearing certainly came in handy. And can we only assume Denny was doing the same elsewhere? She’s been MIA in Charleston for a while.) Fortunately, Kadar found his way to the others and was able to come up with a way to blow their way out (but first, get him peanut butter—he’s hungry!), and while they had to put those plans to a brief halt due to a crack in a beam, Tom finally had enough once they caught Lourdes and took her Volm-modified weapon and blasted their way to fresh air.
Out in the open The explosion left Lourdes seemingly unconscious, so she was put to rest next to Cochise as his body regenerated itself, but she slipped up and mentioned how sad it was that Anne died where it all started. Sure, it took Tom a few minutes longer to realize what she had said, but thanks to a comment from Anthony, she was caught, and they set a trap—and nothing she could say was going to change the fact that they knew Lourdes the mole. With that, she was restrained.
Project Orange is a go, but to where? After what Karen did to Tom, of course he wanted some revenge and that influenced his input about where they should head with the Volm weapon. He wanted to go to Boston, he wanted to take down Karen once and for all for what she did to Anne and Lexi, but Weaver and Porter had to consider the possibility that he had an eyeworm in him. Still, strategically, it did make sense. If they took out Karen, they’d disrupt the enemy’s work in the east, so it did leave Porter with something to think about (and nothing Tom was going to say was going to change his mind, even when telling Weaver to put a bullet in his head if he acted strangely).
“Falling Skies” 309 review
Like we said above, this episode was everything it needed to be to kick off the end of what has been a very strong season. All season, we’ve had callbacks to previous episodes of seasons 1 and 2, and that continued in “Journey to Xibalba.” As we’ve said many times before, what makes this show work is that right balance of action and heartfelt, human drama, and once again, they showed they have that down with this episode. We had explosions, and because of those explosions, we had a couple of touching conversations, a compassionate moment from someone we didn’t quite expect, and so much more to discuss.
First of all, finally everyone learned what the audience did a couple of episodes ago: that Lourdes is the mole. Like we said above, it took Tom a few moments for what she said to him to connect, but given the situation, that was to be expected (and it’s not like we expected him to suddenly lunge at her going, “You’re the mole!” right that second), but what did work was that Tom mentioned the reasons why she was the mole—she handed over Anne and Lexi and she gave him that med bag when he left for Keystone. Just like it was a bit of a surprise to (some of) the audience, it was a surprise to those in Charleston, and while there are clearly many questions that need answers regarding her mole-self, that was not the time to get them and fortunately, they didn’t even try.
Meanwhile, upon returning to Charleston at the beginning of episode 309, Tom had to tell his sons that Anne and their sister weren’t with him (though again, we do have to wonder if we missed something off-screen since being in that pod-thing didn’t necessarily equal dead and Karen never used the word “dead”). As we’ve said before and we’ll say again, the Mason family is the heart of the show, and their conversation highlighted that. It also served as another reminder that while Matt has become quite the soldier this season, he is still just a kid, and nothing showed that more than the way Maxim Knight delivered the line, “They’re okay, right?”
But the best part of that conversation may have to be the way it recalled a previous conversation between Tom and Ben (from “Shall We Gather at the River” in season 2). This time, it was Ben who advised Tom: “You told me that if all we had left was hate, they already changed us.” But this time there was really no reasoning with Tom. He had lost too much and he wasn’t about to lose anyone else. “I know, Ben, but that was a long time ago. Right now, all I’ve got is hate. I don’t plan on wasting it.” There was no getting through to Tom, and that was also true as his desperation came across while talking to Weaver and Porter. “What we want and what we need are two different things!” He argued, even telling Weaver to put a bullet in his head if he started acting strangely. That desperation was understandable, and unlike previous times, there was no getting through to him, something that we did like seeing. There is only so much one man can take, and Tom is nearing that point.
However, there was a voice of reason for Tom, and it came in the form of his newest friend, Cochise. Despite Cochise clearly not being human, they shared a couple of very human conversations, and while their friendship has changed the Volm leader, it looked like it was also one way to change Tom back and bring him back from the edge he was teetering on ever since Karen showed him Anne and Lexi. Cochise understood loss and regret (his brother), but while Tom began to question what loving meant in a time of war (“I used to think that love gave me an edge. Maybe it’s just an impediment that clouds our thinking.”), Cochise argued for humanity, for love (“What then is the alternative? Not to love so we never have to grieve?” and “One day, I hope we may restore each other’s hearts”). And just as Tom could be giving up hope as explosion after explosion rocked Charleston, it was fitting to see the alien among them believing in humanity (“The human spirit remains the most powerful weapon on this planet. That is a gift. If you do not allow it to be extinguished, it will carry you to victory.”). However, Tom had to return that favor to and restore that faith in Cochise as they stood looking at the destroyed Volm complex, and we have to admit, their dynamic has been one of the most refreshing (and strongest) parts of the season.
While some things do change, others don’t, and of course Pope filled the latter category (and the former, but we’ll get to that in a moment). Upon Tom’s return, Pope being Pope didn’t waste time letting him know he hadn’t forgotten about the plane he still owed him. “You can have the boat,” Tom told him of the sailboat he returned in to Charleston. But it was the very brief conversation they had before the explosion that hit Charleston that stood out. Both acknowledged that Pope could have easily shot Tom upon his return and no one would’ve known, and while he didn’t, Pope was still the one who would not hesitate if Karen put another eyeworm in him. There didn’t need to be any more to that conversation (in fact, any more and it would’ve likely ruined it), and that explosion came at the right time.
Now, moving on to the moment of surprising compassion, Pope showed just that as he tried to reassure Weaver that his daughter was likely safe in the cafeteria as they dug from above. But while it was a surprising moment from the Berserker, it also made sense after the more recent conversations between him and the Colonel. With Tom out of Charleston, they only had one another to watch each other’s backs with the identity of the mole still uncertain, and while Pope may never have been a father you would write home about, you can see that he recognizes those familial bonds.
This season has also been a good one for Ben and Matt conversations while Hal has been busy being Evil Hal and then dealing with the aftermath, and that continued with their conversation in the tunnels as Ben tried to hear those trapped better to help free them. In case you forgot, the Espheni designed the grid so their harnessed slaves would survive. With Ben still having those spikes in his back, it is entirely possible he could survive, and Matt knew that no matter what happened, he’d be there in the end. “You’re the only one she can’t kill, you realize that?” He asked his brother. Signal the “aww” moment when Ben told his younger brother, “If you’re not there, I don’t want to be there.”
As for Hal and Maggie, being trapped together in the armory, running out of oxygen, gave them some time to hash through some things, with both ultimately agreeing that Karen had to pay. In any other situation, there could be some worry that they were too focused on getting Karen, but in this case, it was extremely justifiable. However, they probably could’ve done without Hal worried he set the bomb since he knew there was another mole. Why would he think he set the bomb when there was another mole to do it more recently? We can understand the guilt that Hal is feeling, but it did seem like a bit of a waste of that oxygen they were so concerned with not wasting. We also have to point out that Hal’s “Wherever you go, I’ll find you,” was a bit reminiscent of Charming and Snow’s “I will always find you” in “Once Upon a Time.”
Also, randomly, we got some Anthony backstory—his brother locked him in a dark closet for hours as a kid and ever since, he hated tight spaces—and it seemed a bit random. Sure, they didn’t have a way out anymore, but it didn’t seem like all that tight of a space where they were. Hopefully they can figure out a way to work in some more backstory for Anthony in a better way in the future. (It’s almost like how they killed two birds with one stone and gave two characters who hadn’t had much to do something with one storyline—Anthony as head of the investigation for the mole and Lourdes as the mole.)
“Falling Skies” season 3 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on TNT.
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