Falling Skies: Pope Breaks Bad

Despite this episode’s readily transparent attempt to ride off the coattails of another, more popular show, the fourth episode of this year’s iteration of Falling Skies delivered a nice mixture of old and new – tensions between Tom Mason and John Pope, the dire survival straits that the 2nd Mass was in in the first two seasons, and nuances to the human relationship with the Volm. Sprinkle in some more Dornia mysteries, and you have a winning combination.

The episode started where last week’s episode left off, with Pope burying Sara and Tom saying all the wrong things about the justness of the war, the greater good, and noble sacrifice. Pope didn’t want to hear it, as I’m sure many millions throughout history did not want to hear the same abstract platitudes when it was their loved ones that died. This theme in the episode was salient to me, because it is a major theme in my own fictional work that I am working on releasing. Falling Skies does not deliver it anywhere near the level of say, Homer, but I appreciated it all the same. It also greatly helped that Colin Cunningham’s acting was excellent, and he delivered on a very deep level.

Pope’s interests coincide with Anthony’s, who is angry at being taken off active duty due to his PTSD and blames the Masons, because Anne was the one that spotted it. Pope gives Anthony a pistol and the two begin to plot together, riling up mutiny in the ranks.

The other major subplot in this episode dealt with Cochise, one of the 2nd Mass’ most powerful allies over the years. He reveals that he is nearing the end of his lifespan, because one of his vital organs is failing. The Volm, wouldn’t you know, have something akin to kidneys (and a heart), but Cochise, wouldn’t you know, was only born with one, which is now losing steam. He says nonchalantly that his lifespan has concluded, and that he summoned his father, the Volm general Waschack-cha’ab (who returns in a mother ship), so that the two can share one final moment of intimacy in a silence that seems to be akin to some form of empathetic telepathy. Cochise describes it as “feeling each other’s presence.”

Surprisingly to Cochise, Tom, Anne, Ben, and Dan Weaver, are very unhappy with him seemingly just accepting this outcome. He replied that he “did not think that this would trouble them.” They adamantly said that they would do everything they could to help him, and Ben suggested an organ transplant, which Anne enthusiastically agreed to, suggesting his father as the donor.

Falling Skies Pope Breaks Bad
Cochise and his father having a heart-to-heart, human style.

Although this plotline obviously came out of left field, which was offputting, I nevertheless could feel the impact. I didn’t want Cochise to die. I like him and the Volm, and I didn’t want to see him or them go. Anne apparently had a talk with his father beforehand (another asspull, admittedly), and Waschack eventually agrees to do the transplant, after scolding his son and being logically rebuffed in turn. Cochise tells his father that to live longer and serve the Volm cause, through any tribulation, was not tampering with life, but doing the greatest good possible. It was a powerful scene, one that spoke true to some values and mindsets that I have in my own life.

As these two tentacles start to form, Tom and Dan lead a mission to get supplies from a remote police station. They hit the jackpot, except they also hit a jackpot of those flesh-eating bugs that did Sara in, which quickly kill one of their men. Tom lures them away and sprays them with mace of all things, which had been found in the police station. The mace works to drop most of them to the floor, and Tom escapes (he cannot die, remember?).

Meanwhile, we got to the best part of the episode – Anne and Ben doing the transplant operation with the help of Cochise giving lessons in Volm anatomy. Feats wise, this part was also interesting. To make an incision, Cochise handed a laser that delivered 180 joules of energy per pulse. In other words, Volm skin is pretty hard. Basic cuts and blunt force probably won’t do cause any kind of injury to a Volm.

We’ve seen Volm regenerative abilities before. Cochise was once attacked by a mutant Jeanne Weaver, suffering some serious head wounds in the process. By going into a mode of stasis, he recovered fine. Once the organ was plucked out of him, Waschak’s incision healed almost instantly. Obviously, the process of going into stasis to regenerate is not the most useful from an OBD standpoint, but it does give us a hint of the Volm’s ability to survive some nasty attacks. At any rate, Cochise winds up surviving, but his father does not.

Falling Skies Pope Breaks Bad
A basic lesson in Volm anatomy.

Anne and Cochise then share a connection of silence together, with Cochise seeing his father and Anne seeing Lexi. Again, it seemed to be an empathetic type of telepathy, with shared feelings. Although this ran into the old trope of aliens failing to experience human feelings, I thought it was put relatively well.

Pope, meanwhile, riled up the mutinous ranks and had a heated confrontation with Tom. Tom went so far as to put a gun in Pope’s hand and ask him to shoot him if he thought he was guilty. Pope relented, saying that it was “too easy.” What he instead wound up doing, after a heated confrontation with Anne that could have easily turned into a hostage situation, was to kidnap Hal at the end of the episode and explain his plan to kill him, and then his father.

Pope Breaks Bad Falling Skies
Too easy for Pope.

I must remark that at 48, Colin Cunningham is very ripped. Definitely inspirational on how to age well.

Pope Breaks Bad Falling Skies
How to Look Good at 48, by Colin Cunningham

It was in fact the Dornia that informed Tom about Hal’s kidnapping. Tom asked if they were indeed this greater enemy that the Espheni alluded to, and the Dornia contact answered yes, but that it and Tom could not be “in the same state of matter” at the same time. Or something. How the Dornia were able to survive when the Volm said they were extinct, and what their real nature is, will be the driving mystery for the remainder of the series. Part of me thinks they might be a gigantic troll to get the humans and Volm to destroy the Espheni and take over themselves, and turn out to be even worse, but I don’t think that’s likely given the nature of the series. I doubt they want it to end on a bad note.

How can a race supposedly enslaved by the Espheni also be their greatest enemy? Time will tell I suppose.

Overall, I give this episode of Falling Skies an…

8/10 – Good.

Not much action, and a few bothersome asspulls and tropes, but the Cochise and Pope plotlines, combined with Colin Cunningham’s acting, made it a good episode.

This season of Falling Skies is moving along really well. Hopefully it can keep it up and make the final season its best.

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