The screen grab above captures a quote from Abraham Lincoln on a marker in Charleston. The quote does a really nice job of describing what Falling Skies is truly all about, standing steadfast and true to those around you despite the dangers from Heaven (death, aliens) and from battle (both from outside forces and inside dangers). That battle forms the human dramatic element of the show, battling what might possibly tear a family, an army, a community, the idea of our democracy apart.
After the two hour opening for Season 3, FALLING SKIES once again showed that, unlike some past alien sci-fi shows, this is no one trick pony. In a show about an alien invasion, it is brave to almost totally remove those aliens from an episode, except for referencing them in dialogue. In a theme that anticipates action, it is brave to write small personal scenes that eclipse any action that takes place in the show. The smallest interaction speaks loudest in this episode.
The mysteries still remain: Who is the mole? What is Karen doing with Hal? What is happening with Anne and Alexis? Is Lourdes involved? How many “United States” are out there?
But this episode shows them trying to set up as normal a life as possible in Charleston in the face of alien attacks. Pope is leading the defense against a possible attack from the Aliens, one that involves patience and attention, not knowing when the quiet will be shattered by an assault. Pope, Tector, and Crazy Lee are the advance guard dealing with the tension of waiting out the enemy by eating baked goods and supplies obtained by Matt Mason.
This group includes three (Pope, Crazy Lee, and Matt) who build on the “family” concept of the show by essentially becoming another family. As we’ve seen in previous episodes, Matt wants to contribute, to be part of the action. That desire, almost a rebellious spirit, shows him eager to please, fearless to try, and eventually deeply affected by the consequences.
In the last episode, Matt mentioned the Mason family tradition of playing MONOPOLY. Within his family, he is loved but he is still the little brother. Within his “new” family, he is fast rising to what he may see as essential status. And the feeling of inclusion is returned. Matt is essential to calming Crazy Lee as Pope tries to deal with the rebar that has penetrated Lee’s head. They talk to Matt with blunt honesty, not just with cute kid talk.
And as Lee, on her death bed, asks Pope to take her away to Disneyland, she makes sure that she includes Matt in her dream to finally escape. Pope realizes this and puts Lee’s St. Christopher medal around Matt’s neck. He knows that Matt will need Lee’s protection and yes, guidance. For a boy who lost his mother while very young and has had problems adjusting to Anne as his new mother, Matt has found in Crazy Lee what he has always wanted in a mother and has been missing: his desire for unconditional and always available love.
I think Matt looks up to Pope, but not in a paternal way. Pope is almost the big brother that Matt wants in Hal and Ben , one that includes him in all the action and conversation. Rarely is Matt shushed up when around Pope. While he truly loves his father and brothers, you simply would not see them include Matt in most major things. Even when he delivers supplies to Ben and Danny at the beginning of the episode, it is almost out a sense of duty, not desire. He quickly rebuffs Ben’s attempts to involve him in some word games and runs off to Pope’s outpost.
The search for the mole has led Hal to doubt himself and to question his danger to Charleston. He realizes that his meetings with Karen in the forest are real and feels they are designed to solicit information from him about the “new United States”. Aware of the circumstances surrounding the ear worm, the night visits, and the chatter around the camp, he has convinced himself that he is the answer to the question of who is the mole. Despite Maggie’s best efforts to convince him that he is wrong, he resolves to tell his dad about this.
Now, I’m not sold on Hal as the mole, even with the upcoming plot point of an “Evil Hal” as a mirror image. I have not seen any of the future episodes, so this is only a guess, but “Evil Hal” may simply be all in Hal’s mind, much as a malevolent Jiminy Cricket. At the end of the episode, as Hal starts to approach Tom to confess his “mole” status, an explosion and flyover by attacking aliens interrupts him. He has already shown himself to be struggling with guilt over his night visits, could “Evil Hal” be him arguing with his own conscience? Or is it strong enough to drive Hal to do things he would never do? I’m not sure, but I still think a “Hal is the mole” storyline is too easy.
As is the finger pointing towards Marina. No one may have more reason to be doubted. Her position has risen over the short time her character has been involved in the story, rising to Vice-President in the wake of Arthur Manchester’s death. She is almost always by Tom’s side. She is new to the show, with a cold efficient attitude and really seems to have no interactions with just about anyone else. Add in some of the reaction shots while she is listening to the interrogation of Lt. Fisher and it is easy to wonder what she knows and doesn’t. Despite those reasons, I think that it is also too easy for her to be the mole.
The other major person I’ve heard talked about as the mole is Lourdes. She also has additional baggage in that her closeness to Anne makes her a suspect in the mystery surrounding Alexis, the new baby. Anne seems to be alone in noticing very unusual behavior in Lexi, behavior that is far advanced from a normal infant. Lourdes works alongside of Anne and even brings her meals at times. Lourdes has been there from the beginning to help Anne.
Anne of course may be overwhelmed by stress. Before the invasion, she worked as a pediatrician, so what she has to do now, and for the last two years, is far beyond what her training had been for. She is now the chief medical officer and Lourdes is second in command with her. Could this stress be causing Anne’s feelings about Lexi, is it post-partum depression, or is Lexi not what she seems?
In addition, if Lourdes is causing all of this with Anne, you have to wonder why? Lourdes would have some reason, having suffered the loss of Jamil last season, so there may be bitter feelings and a desire to strike out at someone. But even if Lourdes is behind the Lexi mystery, is she just working to fool Anne into believing it or is she covering for Lexi being an alien child? And how would this equate to her being the mole? When would Lourdes have the time and the access to info desired by the mole?
Another question might be if the mole exists as a lone entity. While you look for one person sabotaging the camp, would it not be logical to assume that they do not act alone? I still wonder why Manchester was murdered and who murdered him. Was he murdered for what he had found out or what he already knew and was involved in? Is the familiarity that he greeted the shooter with before he was shot a sign that he was expecting the shooter for some reason?
This episode also started to answer my questions about who else might be out there across the now under siege continent. You knew that communications were tough but that others survived. The realization that supposedly the real president is out there and aware of the Charleston camp makes you wonder who else is out there. However, this “President Hathaway” has chosen to try to take the camp by force, not by negotiation.
The capture of one of the attackers, Lt. Fisher, leads to the realization that President Hathaway exists. Her combative attitude is one of a POW. No real information is gleaned beyond this and the only other scene that she is in is at the end as the aliens attack. Does she know who the mole is?
My love of how the show uses our own history as a way to focus the story comes up in two ways. The first one is subtle, in Tom’s Lincolnesque manner and even appearance. In addition, with the conflict between the new and the “real” President, you almost have a war between the states. The second one, is more overt, and that is Jeannie’s desire to focus and comfort the camp by creating a sculpture that Tom dubs THE LIBERTY TREE, a direct reference to colonial times.
THE LIBERTY TREE sculpture also allows the show to take a very human ending to the episode, serving as a backdrop to Tom’s speech to the people of Charleston, his very real emotions as he looks out over everyone, the sobriety of the feelings of each character as they listen, and the heartbreaking beauty of the hymn sung by the children’s choir (ONE VOICE) as each member of the camp puts a memory of a lost loved on the trees branches.
The quiet moments have always been my favorite because they are so well handled and so perfect to bring home what has been lost but also what survives and what will eventually grow. However, in this episode, that solemnness is broken by an alien explosion and attack as THE LIBERTY TREE memorial becomes a new point to scramble and defend.
All of the above is how I view things and I know that there are some great and different opinions out there. That is why I love talking FALLING SKIES to others, because the show inspires so many varying views and feelings.
In the end, Falling Skies has again focused on numerous characters, taking out whole pieces of what are major components and coming away stronger than ever. With no aliens until the last 30 seconds of the show, character takes center stage and doesn’t disappoint.
Because “every one of us matters”.