When we left the men and women of Falling Skies’ 2nd Mass, they had scored a victory aliens, but Tom Mason freely surrendered himself in order to protect his son Ben – or so we thought. As the second season kicks off, three months have passed; the 2nd Mass has experienced significant losses and Mason is still missing.
Last season, when Tom walked onto that spaceship, I predicted that he would learn a great deal about the aliens and their intentions for Earth. Sadly, his conversation with the toothpick revealed very little about whatever plan the aliens might have. And as much as I dislike Tom’s speechifying, I had an even greater problem with the aliens’. Are we as a society – or even as individual – the sum of our worst actions? Or are we a something different, perhaps a representation of the greater things we aspire to be? The aliens don’t seem to give a damn either way; they want Earth – they’re obviously trying to preserve something by lightening up on the neutron bombs – and the humans here still only seem to represent a nuisance.
The evolution of Ben Mason is going to be a major part of the story this season. His physical development has benefited the 2nd Mass in the three months that has marked Tom’s absence. With Rick gone, he is the only example of a child freed from the harnesses that we have. This heightened physical conditioning obviously is linked to the long-term affects of the harnesses. We know that they allow the aliens to control them – and that the skitters have some unusual paternal instinct through it – but is the physical evolution a part of the development of a slave race? Regardless of why the changes to Ben are taking place, the greater question is where they stop, and what will be left of the boy we know when it does.
The introduction of a skitter with a unique characteristic – I’m calling him Red Eye – has to mean that he (she? it?) will be a regular “character” this season. He seems to have a specific grudge against Mason (Was this one of the skitters he encountered last year?) and seems to be tracking him via the scary eye-parasite-robot thing. I like that the enemy this year won’t just be a series of anonymous, faceless aliens, but we will have a specific antagonist to follow.
I’m generally not one to comment on cinematography or camera work in general — frankly because I don’t feel I have the technical knowledge to do it any justice. But in the second half of the premiere, there was a very cool “oner” shot that moved through the camp as they prepared to depart. The scene flowed through several conversations, from Hal and Maggie finding a way to talk about sex without talking about sex to Pope giving one of his Berzerkers hell about his smell as well as Lordes and newcomer Jamil sharing a moment. I was struck by how much of a family these people had become; the story of a brotherhood developing in units at war is a familiar one, but the 2nd Mass is a collection of more than just soldiers.
Remi Aubuchon has joined Falling Skies as the new showrunner this season, and has indicated that the show would take a little bit of a different direction. Gone are the technological advances that the humans made, including the frequency jammer and the “magic bullets.” The second season is reportedly going to take on a darker tone as well. Through the first two hours, I applaud the change. The situation is dire for mankind; as the aliens pointed out to Tom on the ship, the war has been fought, and the aliens have won. The best hope for the humans is making things so bad for the aliens that Earth is not worth having anymore. When a war’s outcome comes at such a staggering price, it really can’t be called a win. Sounds like things should be pretty dark for the 2nd Mass.
Notes & Quotes