Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Falling Skies" - "Silent Kill"

Spoilers for this week's "Falling Skies" after the jump:

I think I'm finally starting to grasp why "Falling Skies" will probably never be a great series: its lack of intrigue. This is, at its heart, a fairly simple show. It doesn't have the moral and political concerns that made a program like "Battlestar Galactica" so compelling, and has focused instead on being a fairly uncomplicated adventure tale (albeit one that's not exactly light-hearted).

That would be fine, if the execution was as good as it was during the first couple of hours. Alas, no. I'm still holding out hope that the show will figure things out over the second half of the season, but despite its consistently entertaining nature I just don't know if it will. And while this week's installment was definitely an improvement over the muddled storytelling of "Grace" (which I now realize I graded way too high), it had its own share of problems.

For starters, there's the show's need to end every single episode on a note of optimism: earned or unearned. This was initially a minor concern, but it's grown increasingly annoying the longer it's gone on. By my count, there were at least three moments designed to bring a tear to viewers' eyes during the final five minutes. Only one (Weaver silently mourning someone he lost in the attack) felt genuine. It's even more irksome when the moments involve characters like Sarah, who we've never even met before.

Then there are the characters themselves. With the exception of Anne, Hal, Tom, and maybe Weaver, just about every character on this show is a thinly drawn archetype. True, we're only five episodes in, and there hasn't been a lot of time for character development. But the lack of depth to these people prevents events such as Harris's death from having the impact that they should.

All that said, the action sequences do continue to deliver. Hank's silent attempt to kill the skitter was one of the very best yet: tense and terrifying in a way that the rest of the episode wasn't. And I respect the series so far for not holding all the major developments until later in the season by having Ben get rescued this week (as well as killing off Harris). There's enough good stuff to keep me watching for now. But I'm beginning to fear that "Falling Skies" may wind up like "The Killing": a show with enormous initial promise that it slowly but surely squanders over the rest of the season.

Let's hope not.

Other Thoughts

- When I speak of weak character development, I don't mean that there isn't any. We learned a bit more about Margaret this week: namely, that she had cancer when she was younger. But what exactly does this add to our understanding of her? Nothing. Merely filling in gaps in a character's past isn't enough, and the sooner "Falling Skies" realizes that the better.

- Another thing that's really bugging me is the score: particularly the way the same music tends to be playing during the big emotional scenes. It makes them even worse than they already are.

- This will probably be the last real review I do for this show for a bit, unless an episode comes along that just has to be covered in-depth. I usually watch each new episode as it airs and write my review on Monday. But with "Breaking Bad" starting, those Mondays are instead going to be devoted to watching and writing about it. I'll still try to put together some sort of post on the show each week, but it won't be quite like this. Just a heads up.

Grade: B-

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