Sunday, September 21, 2014

'Falling Skies' Season Two (2012)

Starring Noah Wyle, Will Patton and Moon Bloodgood
Created by Robert Rodat

Three months after the failed attack on the alien structure in Boston, former history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) mysteriously reappears. Unfortunately for his friends in the 2nd Mass, this is not quite the happy reunion, less so when they discover some kind of tracking device buried in his skull.

But Captain Dan Weaver (Will Patton) does welcome him back, just as his sons Hal (Drew Roy), Ben (Connor Jessup) and Matt (Maxim Knight). Over the last three months, Ben's strange powers have grown. Despite his efforts to fight alongside the 2nd Mass, many still don't trust him. Now they don't trust his father, either.

Forced to leave Boston, the 2nd Mass receives word of a human encampment and a growing army in Charleston, South Carolina. The road along the way will not be easy: the alien Skitters are hunting the 2nd Mass all along the way. But there's a new ripple: some of the Skitters have declared rebellion against their overlords. The only problem is, the humans aren't sure they can be trusted.
I wasn't hugely impressed with the first season of TNT's "Falling Skies." It got barely a passing grade, with plotting that often didn't excite and something of a limp finale. For the second season, TNT brought in a new showrunner and upped the budget and the results are a noticeable uptick in overall quality.

The show feels bolder, a little more comfortable with its more outlandish sci-fi elements. It more fully embraces some of its ideas, especially by deepening the mythology of the alien enemy and what's happening with Mason's son, Ben, and his growing superpowers. Having the goal of getting the characters to Charleston makes the show feel sharper and more focused. Coupled with an increased budget for bigger, badder action sequences, and the show becomes more likable and watchable.

The show still struggles to come up with plot developments that feel like more than just going through the motions, however. Moments that should feel big simply... don't. The revelation of a rebellion within the Skitters, that they themselves have been enslaved and forced to conquer humanity is an intriguing one but it often feels glossed over. That said, the season finale is a clear improvement over the first season's finale in almost every way.

The acting is still often suspect. As before, actors playing child and teen characters are the worst offenders. Connor Jessup has definitely improved as Ben Mason, though, and seems to have aged quickly. He must have hit a growth spurt in the off season. Colin Cunningham's Pope is the most fun person on the show, still, but the writers sometimes don't seem sure what to do with him. He's constantly grousing about leaving, but every time he splits from the 2nd Mass he rather improbably ends up back with them down the road.

The second season of "Falling Skies" is an improvement, but the show is still just okay. It struggles to give real weight to some of its more important developments, but the uptick in special effects, action and general plotting is noticeable.

See Also
Falling Skies Season One

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