Falling Skies: Respite

I was decidedly unenthusiastic about last week’s episode, “Non-Essential Personnel.” Sadly, this week’s installment of Falling Skies, “Respite” was not much better. Colin Cunningham is notably absent, and the lull in the plot is mostly the way it was last week, with a few upticks.

It begins with Tom Mason Waking up in a bedroom that looks surprisingly pristine. As a matter of fact, Tom quickly finds that the entire house is untouched. It’s somewhere near the middle of nowhere in North Carolina, and Tom hears that the aliens never even found the place. The family he is with have been living there untouched since the war began three years earlier. To insulate them further, the children are homeschooled. They have no idea about what is happening in the outside world. Their mother and grandfather want to protect the children from the war, especially given that their father was killed in Afghanistan before the aliens came. Tom warns them, however, that the aliens would eventually find them, and that they would never be safe until the invaders were off the planet. This is met with denial.

The family’s 15-year-old son however, doesn’t deny it – he knows something is going on out there, and when he stumbles upon an Espheni Mega Mech, Tom tells him. He immediately volunteers to fight with Tom, wanting to emulate his father.

Falling Skies Respite OBD
Volunteering for the meat grinder.

Tom also changed his look. Using the calm atmosphere to get a decent shave for what appears to be the first time in three years, he shaves all of his facial hair except for a moustache-goatee combo. Tom, beaten up, looks older with the new facial hair style. Perhaps it’s just not Noah Wyle’s best look.

Falling Skies Respite OBD
Tom’s looking old. Maybe it’s the stress.

Meanwhile, Hal and Isabella continue their search, and predictably, have sexual tension that culminates in a makeout session. Cliche, but I suppose it’s the natural counterweight to the Maggie/Ben angle. More on that later.

At any rate, Tom and Hal reunite, both bruised up, and return to the 2nd Mass with Isabella. The eager young kid winds up not joining, at Tom’s request.

The other storyline in “Respite” was the 2nd Mass’ arrival at Fayetteville (at last – this should have happened a long time ago). Once there, Colonel Dan Weaver tells them to rest up and prepare for the confrontation in Washington.

Enter the out-of-the-blue hook. Maggie has decided that she doesn’t want her spikes anymore, and Cochise offers to take them out using his Volm machine designed for the purpose. It is possible, Cochise says, that her spine has healed itself from a potentially paralyzing injury due to the spikes donated from Ben. Anne forbids it until the confrontation with the Espheni is over, saying that the spikes make Maggie a super soldier that the 2nd Mass needs. Maggie and Cochise do it anyway.

Maggie’s desire to remove the spikes was that she couldn’t stand being so connected to others through them, such as Ben. She needed her solitude. Understandable, but why now? To me it just seemed like an unnecessary way of creating unnecessary drama that no one really cares about. Well, it is TNT’s motto, I suppose…

The surgery, after some complications requiring Anne’s assistance, is a success. Ben is distraught, confessing his love for Maggie and lamenting that she threw away a part of him that he gave her. She was cold to him, and Hal seems to have Maggie’s affections when he returns, but now Maggie is competing with Isabella. Alright.

The key advancement of the overall Falling Skies plot in “Respite” was Marty (who I seemed to mistakenly believe was named Daniel last week) discovering a well-hidden Espheni artifact. Cochise explains that it serves as a sort of communications relay to a place known as the “Shadow Plane” where Espheni can communicate with one another telepathically.

Falling Skies Respite OBD
The Espheni using the Shadow Plane…there’s a lot more than last year.

From an OBD standpoint, this is an interesting development. I had previously assumed that telepathy was an inborn trait to Espheni. For short distances, this does indeed seem to be the case. But does the telepathy extend over long ranges innately or only through the use of this new technology? We saw in season 4, and briefly in this season, that Espheni (and Lexi) can heat up dirt in their hands to access the telepathic Shadow Plane. If the technology is knocked out, will they be able to do this? Only time will tell, but it appears that the 2nd Mass is going to take advantage of the Shadow Plane going forward, or at least try to. Can they peep in on the Espheni’s communications without being noticed? Time will tell.

Overall, I give “Respite” a…

5/10 – No Cigar

The only real interesting development was the Eshpeni Shadow Plane tech (which could have happened last week). Everything else was filler.

On the plus side, next week’s episode looks like it is going to be much more exciting, with the 2nd Mass getting entangled in the naval base at Norfolk…which is somehow still intact?

We’ll see.