The 2nd Mass arrived in Charleston to find out that life there is anything but strawberries and cream. We look at what worked, what didn’t, and whether “The Price Of Greatness” was too much for Falling Skies.
- The episode introduced an element that this post-apocalyptic serial has arguably missed for a long time — the human threat, which was ramped up as the 2nd Mass discovered that Charleston is more a dictatorship than paradise. Unlike Arthur Manchester (played solidly by LOST vet Terry O’Quinn), the 2nd Mass want to resist the alien invaders, but not at the expense of their civil rights, which General Bressler (Matt Frewer) apparently has no qualms removing. This development adds greater complexity to proceedings that could put the show in good stead going into the finale.
- News that the Skitter rebellion is growing and knocking on the Charleston door served more of an ancillary role in the episode but it was important in raising the stakes, involving the mythology, and forcing the hand of certain characters.
- While it stands as a somewhat contrived element it was good to see that Tom’s implant at the tentacles of Red-Eye hasn’t been forgotten.
- The Weaver/Jeanie reunion was badly undercut by her inexplicable decision to desert her wounded father earlier in the season. There were some nice moments between the pair, like when Weaver backed her speech against Manchester, but its difficult to invest in a relationship that the show uses as a plot device.
- Tector’s decision to side with Bressler over the people he spent months fighting beside only made superficial sense. Sure, we got some grounding in the previous episode and he came around in the end, but the only thing it really served was to make him look fickle.
- Perhaps the show works better when it puts the pedal to the metal, but at the same time this episode suffered from skirting over elements that could have benefited from more development.
The 2nd Mass entered the bowels of Charleston like gods entering the arena, with Tom receiving an extra round of applause for his heroism. Maybe if characters in the show say it often enough I’ll begin to believe in his magnificence? For now, it remains a tough strawberry to swallow, though as devices go it at least facilitated Manchester’s desire to get him on side for his conveniently-timed leadership vote. It seems all anyone needs in this show is Tom’s backing, whether it be Manchester, Weaver, or the Overlords.
Overall though, this was an improvement on “Death March“, representing a useful change of pace and allowing for some interesting questions about government and democracy within the world of the show. The survivors have spent a long time fighting and striving towards a certain hope, a certain ideal, but as I previously mentioned, they haven’t given much thought beyond that. Now they’re having to think about the best way to live as well as survive, and the real ramifications that come with starting over.
The 2nd Mass are a fairly passive group, Berserkers aside, and are used to Tom or Weaver calling the shots. But in Charleston it’s another man’s rules, though there are competing ideas and viewpoints bubbling away under the surface about how best to preserve humanity. Manchester’s strategy of staying “off the alien grid” is an interesting one that has preserved human life. But Manchester’s notions are narrow, defeatist, and ripe to be challenged. Moreover, his motivations are deeply concerning. They seem to sit somewhere between genuinely wanting to protect humanity and seeking personal glory. For him, it’s the chance to go down in the re-written history books — and yet, his current ethos is in stark contrast to his own history book which Tom wasted no time in using to burst his bubble.
Maybe Manchester’s perspective has changed now that the ‘rules’ of the world have come crumbling down, but perhaps he refuses to see the bigger picture, unwilling to pay the price of true greatness. It’s probably a bit of both. Tom’s indirect removal of Manchester from the seat of power raises the question of whether he was the lesser of two evils. Was there a happier medium to be had with Manchester had Tom played the political game and not rushed his POV? Or are we looking at a situation where happy mediums, balance, democracy are things of the past, or at least illusions of the past? Which fragments of history will humanity repeat and which will it cast aside?
Further to that, we touch on the suggestion the Overlord made to Tom earlier in the season about humans being ruled. It remains to be seen whether parallels can be drawn from the human conflicts put forth in this episode, but at least Falling Skies has started to plant some more intriguing questions. Not least whether the resistance have a hope of working side-by-side with Skitters when, for example, it takes Tector one contrived move to shoot his former comrade.
NOTES OF RESISTANCE
- Anne and Tom have something close to zero chemistry. In 19 episodes I’m yet to see a real spark or reason to care.
- I wonder whether Anne would be a more effective character if she were badass more often, because she was great when dealing with that lousy doctor. I appreciate that perhaps they’re purposefully trying not to go down that road with the character, but she did come alive for a moment.
- So, Jeanie’s boyfriend is no longer in the picture — music to Weaver’s ears. Potential RIP, Diego and his lost boys.
- I question how the people of Charleston knew about Tom’s meeting with the Overlord? Perhaps Jeanie told them? Yeah, that’s a stretch.
- Sheesh, Tom. Not every deharnessed kid is Ben.
- Seems that the 2nd Mass aren’t so tight after all what with some of them giving up the dirt on Tom’s alien implant and Weaver’s run in at the Magical Skitter Factory. Not that this piece of information did much to help Manchester cling to power.
- Dai’s word count was up to about four in this episode. He also dropped some keys.
So far the second season hasn’t evolved nearly as much as I hoped it would, but I’m interested to see what kind of cap Sunday’s finale, “A More Perfect Union,” puts on things. Speaking of caps, Weaver, Tector, you both look ridiculous!
7.5/10 Seriable Stars