Falling Skies was picked up by TNT this week for a second season, so now is the time to give this post-alien invasion show a chance. The show tells a surprisingly intimate tale of humanity struggling to both survive and flourish in a world decimated by an alien race. Picking up six months after the destruction of all major cities and most of the human population, viewers are never shown images of cities burning or the military fighting back. All we know and see are a small group of survivors in the Boston area struggling to eat, to find shelter and to stay away from the patrolling invaders, known as “Skitters”. The survivors have organized themselves into paramilitary units across the country and have attracted civilians seeking protection. Skies focuses on the “2nd Mass” unit, headed by Will Patton’s Captain Weaver. These resistance units, while emulating traditional military structure, are almost entirely made up of civilians. Struggles between the military leaders and the needs of the civilians who are not able to fight are common and I look forward to continued storylines in this area. Battlestar Galactica covered this ground quite thoroughly, but this is a new show and I want to see how they interpret humanity’s struggle to fight back while ensuring that a civilized society persists.
The emotional core of Skies is Noah Wylie’s character Tom Mason and his family. Mason is a widower of the invasion and has three sons to look after. The eldest, Hal, is still a teenager, but he has become a soldier out of necessity and Tom has learned not to coddle him, but rather support his part in the war effort. His youngest, Matt, is still a child and Tom is desperate to protect him and keep him out of harm’s way, especially since his middle child, Ben, has been captured and enslaved by the Skitters. The aliens have placed hundreds (or more) captured children and young adults in living harnesses that completely control them. They are slaves and the show has begun to explore the possibilities of using these children as attack squads since any resistance fighter would find it almost impossible to fire upon a human child. This is a disturbing, yet potentially rewarding plot point that I hope Skies continues to explore.
Tender familial bonds are focused on through several parent-child relationships on the show and there are even touches of romance. Hal is in love with a fellow resistance fighter and there are hints that Tom may be developing feels for a sweet doctor (played by Moon Bloodgood) who lost her own family in the attacks. Skies is concerned mostly with human relationships and there are many tender moments on the show, obviously producer Steven Spielberg’s influence. It will be interesting to see how the action vs emotion ratio alters as the series continues to delve deeper into the lives of these resistance fighters and their civilian supporters. We have already gotten very up close and personal with the Skitters (impressive effects on a cable budget) and I hope we start to learn more about them and their intentions. The show could use a few more scares, but I am curious enough to keep watching and I am very engaged with the characters, especially the quiet strength of Wylie’s character.
You can catch the Pilot at http://www.tnt.tv/series/fallingskies/ and new episodes on TNT.