Falling Skies: Season 2
Throughout time stories of invasions; the destruction of everything you know by a foreign horde of ruthless strangers with no regard for your customs or lives. Invasions with their rape and pillaging did manage to expand customs, language and gene pool; albeit through violence and devastation. In more modern times invasions have been extended to encompass the ultimate in invading forces, invaders from another planet in out space. With no racial connection to humanity these foes are inhuman and not understandable by ant familiar standards. In stories such as this the elements that are most crucial, the better aspects of human nature albeit not restricted to the victim’s nature. In such cases it comes down literally to the most fundamental us against them scenarios. This has been a staple science fiction for many years but recently the quality of presentation has risen to heights previously unimaginable. Among the most recent offerings in the genre is one broadcast on the basic cable TNT network; ‘Dark Skies’. Although many series in this category displayed a significant amount of promise few seem to be capable of lasting beyond one or two seasons. ‘Dark Skies managed a strong showing in its freshman year following it up with a second season that was able to retain much of the momentum and, more importantly, fuel the interest in the fundamental story and heighten the excitement generated through the expansion of the character development. It succeeded in bypassing the sophomore slump but balancing the elements that made season one work while infusing aspects into the second ushering the story in into exciting new vistas.
The position of show runner was conferred on Remi Aubuchon beginning with this second season. He no stranger to science fiction particularly stories exploring dark themes set against contemporary socio-political issues and the resiliency of the human spirit. Among his previous credits the short lived show on the SyFy channel and 'Battlestar ‘Galactica’, ‘Caprica’. In this case the series began in medias res picking up after an extraterrestrial invasion that has all but destroyed the global civilization of humanity. Initially following a small cadre of freedom fighters referred to as the Second Massachusetts. This set up an historical connection to the Continental Army during the American War of Independence. With this unique take on the subject and an iconic filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, as a producer the show had the right pedigree for success. Brought back to active service are retired Captain Weaver (Will Patton) and a university professor and expert in history, Tom Mason (Noah Wyle). Soon become the undisputed leaders of both the rag tag military unit and the civilian population that they protect. Their enemies consist of nearly unstoppable attack robots called mechs and their insect like controllers commonly called ‘skitters’. Human children were pressed into alien service enslaved by a bio-mechanical harness embedded into their spines. This formed other side effects including a psychic bond to their controllers. Removal of the harness is frequently fatal and even if successful leaves the victim susceptible to alien influence.
\The end of the first season a third alien variety was revealed, the elongated humanoids, the overlords. The season finale concludes with a great cliffhanger with Tom taken captive by the masters and held in their base. Although quickly liberated many among his former comrades distrusted him as damaged goods; an alien lackey. Chief among his detractors s former outlaw gang leader, John Pope (Colin Cunningham) who eventually rejoins the Second Mass as leader of an elite squad called ‘The Berserkers’ whose propensity for Violence and extreme tactics makes them ideal for several exceptionally dangerous missions. For a time Tom is relegated to them creating an antagonistic play for leadership and the general methodologies of the squad. Adding to the excuse to distrust Tom is the fact his middle son, Ben (Connor Jessup) was one of the kids captured although his harness has been removed. A major theme in this season is Ben’s continued communication with the Skitters. His older brother Hal (Drew Roy), 16, is now a member in full of the militia and romantically attracted to Maggie (Sarah Carter), another Second Mass regular, the entire family has hooked up with Ben attracted to Skitter controlled Karen (Jessy Schram) and Dad involved with the unit’s doctor Ann Glass ( Moon Bloodgood).all of these romantic entanglements may drive a prevalent soap opera feel to the series. More so in the second season than the first, but it does offer juxtaposition between humanity and our alien invaders an emotional level.
The core goal in the first season was to connect with other units to exchange Intel and compare tactics. They are contacted by a woman in a vintage airplane and told there is a significant outpost in Charleston, North Carolina. The trek there was dangerous but once there they do find a makeshift settlement with a formal garrison and representative of what is referred to as the new civilian government. Some members of the 3nd Mass are just glad to local other refugees that have reestablished some modicum of order. Unfortunately this new government is tainted with corruption, in league with the military to forward their own nefarious agenda.it falls to Tom and Captain Weaver to regain control and divert the civilians from what amounts to a junta. This puts the 2nd Mass directly in between the aliens and power hungry members of their own kind. This ploy adds considerable interest by inserting group of characters we have come to know trapped between alien invaders and power hungry members of their own species got to use the situation threatening our own species.
This is a time tested and effective means of expanding upon a story of this nature; to fold the isolated group of survivors into a larger, established group. By doing this the show could readily introduce new human factions and the identifiable themes as government corrupted to suit the needs of a power faction within it. This move to widen out the themes from the myopic fighting to survive is accomplished to an even greater extent by creating divisions within the Skitters. It is discovered that the Skitters are not a partner race to the Overlords but just one of many species enslaved by them. When an autopsy is performed on one a different type of biometric control harness is found. Within their ranks there are members of a Skitter resistance movement. This ‘enemy of my enemy is my ally’ motif proves to be an interesting twist and one that helped to reinvigorate the series in a proactive fashion. The same ingredients that made the show great in season one have been expertly tweaked to bring fresh options for plot lines into play. I fir one can’t wait to see how this unfolds in season three.
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