Falling Skies: Reborn

The series finale has now come and gone. It, much like the season, and Falling Skies itself, was a mixed bag. On the one hand, there were intriguing premises, and on the other hand, it just did not deliver its full potential. It’s a sad fate. I remember seeing the very first episode in 2011, watching the human survivors retreat from Boston in the wake of the mysterious alien horde, with approval at the potential this show had. Now at its end, it seems that the invasion of Earth and the hardships the people of the planet faced was all for naught, given the way it ended. “Reborn” was unfortunately a feel-good nihilism that is all too prevalent in our culture now.

“Reborn” starts right where “Reunion” left off. After a brief and seemingly meaningless firefight, Marty dies. So long, Marty, we hardly knew you, and you were essentially an unnecessary asspull, sorry. Albeit, with that asspull, you would be crucially important as perhaps the most important unsung hero of the war, which in itself was annoying (but more on that later).

After forming a junction with another militia group, the 2nd Mass enters hidden tunnels filled to the brim with…Espheni hatchlings in cocoons! We saw hints of this in the last season with Lexi. Shaq warned that when she emerged from the cocoon, she would likely “kill them all.” Cochise informs the group that Espheni hatchlings are especially violent, even more than their adult forms.

Falling Skies Reborn
Do. Not. Disturb.

One of the things hatches due to a curious passer-by from the friendly militia from Maine. This causes a firefight. More of the hatchlings hatch. Lieutenant Wolf launches a grenade. Lieutenant Wolf, who turns out to have been a Washington VIP in his youth (which is how he knows about the tunnels in the first place), dies in the aftermath. Tom is buried in debris but alright. He is, however, separated from the rest of the group, and must move on to the Lincoln Memorial alone, which coincidentally…is right outside the tunnels!

Meanwhile, Hal asked Maggie to marry him. Yay. This seemingly random occurrence was the stopgap used to end the “love rectangle” between Hal, Ben, Maggie, and Isabella. Just one of many stopgaps.

While the newly-engaged couple thinks about their nuptials walking out of the tunnels, we see that Anne is bleeding. She collapses outside, with a bad shrapnel wound. To add to the “drama,” Anne had revealed herself to once again be pregnant to Tom earlier in “Reborn.”

Tom in the meantime, confronts the Espheni Queen. I’ll give “Reborn” and the Falling Skies creators this – the Espheni Queen looked cool, and dressed regally, with an obvious egg-laying organ attached to her back. She was more spider than humanoid, except for her head, and unlike her children, she can communicate directly to humans.

Falling Skies Reborn Espheni Queen
The Queen of the asspull.

She tells Tom that the Espheni Empire first came across Earth 1,500 years ago, mentioning that it was the “only habitable planet in this strategic galaxy.” Eh? For a show that has mentioned there being at least hundreds of alien civilizations, this shouldn’t be the case, but OK.

She tells Tom that her daughter led the invasion. (aren’t all Epsheni her children?) OK.

She tells Tom that the first invasion, centering on what became the Nazca Lines, was stopped by the primitive inhabitants of the planet, and her daughter’s head put on a pike. She is here for revenge.

Seriously? Falling Skies would have us believe that an advanced race like the Espheni would lose a conflict, however small, to stone age people? This is Spider-Man vs. Firelord implanted into the canonical plot. Next thread in the OBD: Stone Cold vs the Espheni.

Aside from that, the revenge cliche just doesn’t seem suiting for an advanced race like the Espheni. Conquest yes, and this could have been combined with a more intriguing premise. Season 1 did this, when they started harnessing human children for unknown purposes. Falling Skies sunk all this intellectual capital in a trope-filled pit.

Tom didn’t kill the Queen when he had the chance, and she trapped him in a cocoon-like substance as she told him the story. He dropped his glow-in-the-dark capsule with the biological agent and struggles madly to get at it. Should’ve killed her when you had the chance instead of standing around looking like a doofus, Tom. His mistake didn’t cost him, however. Remember, Tom cannot die. Proving this once and for all, the Espheni Queen sticks him like a mosquito and begins to suck out his blood slowly…for some reason. Tom, gritting his teeth, reaches for the Dornia capsule and gets it, opening it and using its tentacles to prick his wrist. Thanks to Marty, the thing inside is definitively not lethal to humans, but still very much lethal to the Espheni. The poison in his blood is absorbed by the Espheni Queen and she quickly dies. When the Queen is gone, not only the Espheni, but the Skitters and Flying Hornets and all the rest of them explode like fireworks. The war is thus over.

This was an incredibly disappointing way to end the conflict. It really felt like five seasons of struggle and pain was worth nothing in the end, and cheapened all the hardships and sacrifices endured by mankind, as well as the Volm, who except for Cochise are still nowhere to be found (you’d think that with the Espheni Queen in the vicinity they’d unleash a full-fledged assault, indeed, someone mentioned this). How an advanced race like the Espheni and what’s more, their creations, get exploded by the death of one individual boggles my mind. The fireworks-style explosions were just the exclamation point that it was all an unearned victory, a false glory. We didn’t even see any scenes of the assault on Washington (you think the Queen would get out of there).

It’s just a bad way to end the war, a lucky shot that did not do justice to all that struggle starting from the first episode in June of 2011.

As the fireworks in the sky go off, Anne dies of her wounds. There were hints that a few people were going to die, and it seems that Falling Skies was fulfilling its promise just at the end of its finale. If the victory gained was a cheap shot, it would still have its price in the death of a beloved character. When Tom finds out, he refuses to accept it, and takes Anne back to where he encountered the Dornia ship, imploring the Dornia to save her. Tentacles come out and take her down beneath the water.

It’s at this point that…Pope returns. So, he didn’t die in “Reunion” after all. He is however, grievously injured, and stumbles down. Unfortunately, the scene white knights for Tom once again. Pope redeems himself and realizes that Anne’s death didn’t make him happier about losing Sara. He invites Tom to kill him, but Tom replies that now that the war was over, he would never kill again. Pope smirks and dies of his injuries.

So they brought Pope back to white knight for Tom and have a “redemption” that really meant nothing.

As for Anne’s death? She was brought back. Figures. A visibly pregnant Anne is seen with Tom in the final scene of the series, a delegation of seemingly many different peoples, including the Volm (yay) at the Lincoln Memorial some months after the war. There’s a lot of survivors, it turns out, when in season 4 we were told that “if you were hearing this message, you’re one of the few left.” Granted, that guy’s intelligence on the overall situation was limited, but for an invasion that supposedly killed off at least 90% of the population, there’s still too many people around to make the cost of the war believable. All the while, we get SJW tropes like multiculturalism (seen in a microcosm by little Matt Mason and his little new girlfriend) sprinkled on at the end.

Falling Skies Reborn Volm
The best parts about the final scene stand behind Tom and to the right.

My verdict on the Falling Skies series finale, “Reborn” is…

6/10 – Passable

You might have been expecting a lower ruling, but “Reborn” by itself is OK as a standalone episode. My overall negativity was a result of the bigger picture that “Reborn” fit into.

It’s sad, because Falling Skies‘ fifth and final season started off so strongly and with such promise (as you might have figured out by reading the entries on the OBD Wiki’s blog). Unfortunately it just totally lost all its steam after Pope’s break with the 2nd Mass, and that by itself is significant. Pope was the best character of Falling Skies, and the way he jobbed this year set a tone for the rest of the season. Everybody it seemed, except the Masons, jobbed – Pope, the Espheni, the writers themselves.

Things felt rushed, and part of me wonders whether the writers anticipated more time than they ultimately got and had to scramble at the end. Regardless, Falling Skies was starting to turn into a clusterfuck in season 3, really turned into one in season 4, and this left the writers with little room in season 5.

For a series that showed such promise in its first two seasons, it is imperative for me, as a writer, to learn from its mistakes as well as its successes. If there’s one thing I’ll take away from Falling Skies, it’s to not rush a story or introduce too many moving parts too quickly to be resolved. Stories, like diamonds in the rough, must be carefully cut and polished, no matter what anyone else says. You must be brave for your audience and not take the easy or the convenient way out. Falling Skies descended into taking the convenient way out, as seen in its ending.