TNT’s epic alien invasion drama Falling Skies has always had a very sweet family story at the center, as once-history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) fought to keep his boys alive and together as a unit. Season three, though, sees the Mason family ripped apart, even if not physically, at least with various new and ever-growing responsibilities that take them all in different directions. Tom is now President of the new United States, while eldest son Hal (Drew Roy) is dealing with paralysis by day and too-eerily-real alien dreams by night. Middle son Ben (Connor Jessup) still has spikes in his back from his time among the Skitters, and little Matt (Maxim Knight) isn’t so little anymore, fighting alongside the rest of the soldiers and falling in with the wrong crowd. Add to that a new baby in the family, an alliance with the Volm aliens who are building a top-secret piece of technology, and a mole within this community of Charleston in which the Masons are living and ruling, and the stakes have never been higher.
LA TV Insider Examiner was on set in Vancouver* with the Mason men last fall to talk about the new changes and how they affect the various characters and relationships.
First of all, there’s that elevated new title for Tom, who we see in charge after seven months away in the storyline, and his new power position comes with new alliances, as well. Not only is Pope (Colin Cunningham) not nearly as rebellious as he once was, but Tom has struck a deal with Cochise (Doug Jones), a Volm leader, in order to more effectively fight the Mechs and Skitters. And in doing so, he has become much more authoritative when it comes to battle, even actively allowing his youngest to fight.
“There’s a bit of a curve to his arc this season. We start with this time jump of seven months, and he’s the new President of the United States, which he was reluctant to take on, but then with this alliance with the Volm and the success they’ve been having in the field, he starts to see that he could actually have a pretty effective leadership role. But cost comes at the expense of his family,” Wyle said.
“I would say there’s been a bit of a transference [between Weaver and I]. I was trying to be the voice of reason and put family first, and [Weaver] was the more militaristic, ‘We’ve got to fight, fight fight,’ and now because Jean, his daughter, is now part of the group, he’s got a stronger sense of home and family then ever before, and I’m more estranged from mine than I’ve ever been before because I’m so [distracted] with responsibilities that in a way, we’ve switched roles.”
With Tom being so busy, Anne (Moon Bloodgood) is left to care for their newborn who is advanced in ways newborns should not be. It goes completely unnoticed by Tom, leaving Anne to dig a little deeper to find out what’s going on and whether or not it’s all in her head. Of course, by the time she gets her answers, she’s not the only one on to how special little Alexis is, and this puts them both in danger.
“It starts off as a domestic issue and a character issue…but then it leads into a sci-fi and genre plot because the baby is not normal, or at least does not appear normal to Anne. She’s doing things that babies shouldn’t be able to do. And she’s the only one who’s noticing it. It’s building up and building up, and sometime in the first few episodes, they disappear,” Jessup said.
And Wyle added: “When they are taken…that’s [Tom’s moment of comeuppance, when he realizes he hasn’t really prioritized correctly and that he has to put his family first over his own ambitions or nation-building. He tries to get the train back on the tracks.”
The Mason boys derailed before the events of the third season even began. With his dad acting as President, Matt has been left to make new “punk friends” and spend even more time with Pope. A a typical boy with interest in guns and blowing things up, he has actually been allowed to fight alongside the adults in the army, and that gives him an advanced sense of importance and a warped view of the world. He would rather blow up an empty house than try to make it livable for the survivors, and he can’t see a life after the war, in which he might actually need other skills or knowledge from school. He has come a long, dark way from the little boy he was in the beginning of the series, just trying to have a normal birthday party.
“Last season I had a little bit of stuff, I was kind of beginning to get into battle, going on a couple of missions, very excited when I got to hold a gun, and now this season, it’s kind of I’d say five steps up from that. I’m definitely fighting; any time there’s a fight I’m there,” Knight said.
“I become a little bit more rebellious this season, as well, and that’s mostly because my father, he’s President now, so he doesn’t have time for me, and being a teenager now, I need my father…I’m dealing with Anne, who’s kind of taking the mother role of things, and it’s kind of uncomfortable for me because I’m still grieving for my mom.”
Though Matt has Ben to lean on a bit, especially when he wants to remember their mother, Ben has his own issues to deal with, most prominently the fact that the Volm have given Anne special technology that allows harnessed kids to have the harness and the spikes removed from them. They won’t have any of the special abilities, but they also won’t have their deep connection to the aliens. The idea of normalcy, added to the fact that Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) notes that the spikes can be dangerous to those with them long-term, makes Ben have to consider what and who he wants to be for the rest of his life.
“We’re all sort of dealing with our own things, which is an interesting plot that lasts pretty much for the first half of the season,” Jessup said, noting that Ben doesn’t confide in his brothers about this issue. Instead, he leans on a new friend, much the way his older brother leans on Maggie (Sarah Sanguin Carter) during his own struggles.
“Between the seven months that have passed before the first fight sequence—because we always open the show with a huge something going on—we’re going to see Hal; it’s going to look like everything’s fine. I think a lot of people might even think, ‘Did they forget that something happened to Hal?’ He’s fighting with the 2nd Mass and everything looks like it’s good. It’s not until we get back from the mission—I’ve been on a [tank] shooting one of the 50-caliber machine guns, and a guy has to help me get off of the Hummer because I can no longer walk. Hal’s paralyzed from the neck down. Originally he was paralyzed from the neck down. At the end of last season he couldn’t move until he got up and did the thing because of whatever was going on. So that opens up a whole can of worms of whatever comes along with that,” Roy said.
“I can’t take care of myself because I can’t get around, even more so in the beginning because I literally could not move. So Maggie has taken on that relationship, and we’ve kind of turned into an old married couple. She’s seeing the ugliest, worst side of me, and yet is still sticking with me. There’s a bit of a push and pull as to all of the effects this has on her. But that’s where Hal starts, and as the episodes go on, we see more as to what’s going on. Why was he paralyzed? And each episode it gets a little worse and a little worse…He starts out in the defeated mode and then things get revealed to him that terrify him because he’s seeing what actually might be happening. And so he’s fighting as hard as he can to not have that happen, but the powers that be are more powerful, and he eventually slips down a slippery slope.”
Tom misses all of this, and of course, Tom’s distraction might not also allow him to see a bigger picture about the Volm’s true or long-term intentions. While they are helping the humans fight other aliens, they are using those humans as front line soldiers to avoid large casualties among their own people. It’s all fine for now, since there is a common enemy, but what happens if and when they’ve succeeded in taking out the others; will the Volm turn on the humans for total domination?
“It’s one of those things where you may be making a deal with the devil, but it’s working, so how much do we question it? If we end up fighting them eventually, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but so far everything seems above board, and we’re seeing tangible results and improving the quality of our lives, so it seems like a good idea. For now,” Wyle said.
And what about the mole? Someone trusted within Tom’s extended family is supplying the aliens with information about their moves. Of course because of Hal’s recently odd behavior, he becomes a top suspect, even just within himself. We learned that Falling Skies fans will learn who the person is before the characters on the show do. We see glimpses from the beginning of the season, but the actual reveal comes late in the season, and then episode nine is when Tom learns who it is.
“It’s pretty devastating. There’s a caveat to that in that it’s not like the character of Karen who’s bought in philosophically to the enemy. Everyone’s who’s a saboteur, whether it’s my son whose been infected with these eye worms is working for them under protest. There’s an element of sympathy, to a degree, in that no one can help themselves doing what they’re doing. Nonetheless, when you realize that it’s somebody you really had an affinity for and a close, personal trust with, it’s pretty devastating,” Wyle said.
Want to start guessing yet? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments below or feel free to Tweet us to start a discussion. Since we were on set to watch the big reveal happen on-screen, we will reward the reader who correctly guesses it first with some very special television swag!
Falling Skies returns to TNT on June 9 2013 at 9 p.m.
* Travel and accommodations provided by TNT.
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