When Falling Skies first debuted on TNT three years ago, it depicted a whole new world: aliens had invaded, tearing apart families, destroying communities, and kidnapping the youth for their own labor purposes. But humans are nothing if not adaptable, relying on survivor instincts and their own, even if limited, intelligence and technology to get a handle on what the aliens wanted and which ones could even surprisingly be trusted. They rebuilt and restored—maybe not physical structures or cities but infrastructures and social order. So when the third season starts, it’s something of a brand new world again.
Gone are the days of trekking across the country. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is now President, and he and his boys have settled into a new community, still leading the charge against the aliens that are determined to enslave and kill them. But for every leg up they seem to have gotten (rebel aliens giving them technology that safely de-harnesses kids, for example), there seem to be two more threats banging them back down the evolutionary ladder. Most obviously those include “Mega Mechs,” a huge and seemingly indestructive breed of alien that can lie in wait and hit you when you’re most vulnerable, but more importantly, there is a mole within the group, someone who has long worked alongside this new world army but is now using the knowledge against them. And it goes beyond just plying the aliens with intel to get the upper hand to include actually taking out their own. It’s a bold move to make, to say that some of the aliens are worthier of trust than some of the humans, but it speaks to the core of human nature in a way the show has only tiptoed around before.
Personally, we’re a bit surprised it took so long for one of their own to begin working against them, but we’re more cynical than most. In truth, Falling Skies has always been a positive, surprisingly hopeful tale of extended and often unlikely family getting through even the most unimaginable together. But season three promises to be much darker than that. It’s easy to stay positive in the early days, but after time wears you down, and battles see too many losses, it’s easy to become jaded with the new way of life that clearly isn’t going to revert anytime soon, if ever. The tension builds, and soon information only doled out on a “need to know basis,” but of course there will be issue taken with who “needs to know” and who isn’t taken into such confidence. One little rip in the fabric of this “new America” is all it takes to ruin the recent unity and add an extra threat on top of the aliens.
Season two left off with some minor mysteries, and season three just explodes those while piling on more. How Anne (Moon Bloodgood) will be able to raise a baby in this world is far from the forefront, though that has obvious complications lined up already. What exactly that alien is doing inside Hal (Drew Roy) is another. Wheelchair bound, Drew has a drive to get back to true fighting shape, though he is still able to ride out in tanks and shoot machine guns at the mechs, but at night, he dreams he is up and mobile again, meeting his first love Karen (Jessy Schram) in the woods for rendezvous while Maggie (Sarah Sanguin Carter) sleeps. But very quickly it becomes apparent there’s something more to these occurrences; the alien probe within him allows him to transport and connect to her telepathically and permanently.
Of course who the mole is, is set up as a season-long arc, as everyone is talking and therefore beginning to cast suspicious glances, if not pointing outright fingers (yet). Pope (Colin Cunningham) may be the obvious choice, but the reclusive Roger (Robert Sean Leonard), who is squirreled away, working on a secret project, warrants uncertainty, too. Not to mention the recently de-harnessed kids who may still feel more connected to their alien brethren than the Volm technology can show, and the fact that there is still discomfort around the fact that Tom is willingly working with alien general Cochise (Doug Jones), while the rest of his trusted cabinet, so to speak, are made up of the traditional old white men. Again, we don’t quite trust the Volm the way Tom does; in the short-term, they are allies, but we wouldn’t put it past them for their long-game to use humans as allies (and the frontline) for help with wiping out their common enemy, only to turn on them later.
Additionally, though, Anthony (Mpho Koaho) is even given new responsibility in getting to the bottom of things, but the way in which he is asked to do so is eerily reminiscent of infringing upon basic rights. Tom was a history professor, and yet he is now in charge of a new world order that seems doomed to repeat the mistakes of those previous lessons, rather than learn from them and build as better a world as possible with extraterrestrials breathing down their necks.
The subtext in season three clearly cuts much deeper than the ramifications of typical family drama. What the premiere truly shines a light on is just how much time has past and how even the victories so greatly celebrated in the moment seem extremely small compared to the huge challenges still facing them. Good men and women keep losing their lives and their spirits in this battle, while the alien numbers don’t even seem to dwindle. These new Americans are doing everything they can to survive, but it may have to be up to the next generation, through a new wave of evolution, to get the human race to a point where they can once again thrive.
Falling Skies returns to TNT on June 9 2013 at 9 p.m.
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