Last week, Falling Skies had the most-watched cable premiere of the year. To judge by the comment boards on our recap, though, the big take-away from the two-hour was: “Holy good lord, how many commercials can you cram into one hour of television?” Well, TNT isn’t letting up on the advertisements — by my count, last night’s episode only had a 40-minute non-commercial running time — but if you had patience/a DVR, the second episode of Falling Skies promisingly dove straight into one of the show’s central mysteries: The child-enslaving harnesses, which attach to the spinal column like renegade parasites from H.R. Giger’s sketchbook.
Tom and his crew were scouting out the group of harnessed kids that included his captured son Ben. The skitters had the captured kids gathering scrap metal — old toasters, copper wire — for reasons unknown. The squad retreated to plot a nighttime rescue mission. Back at the school/human HQ, Tom went to a briefing that served to fill us in on the war raging across the American continent: Dale Dye (who, among other awesome roles, was the narrator in the original Medal of Honor) informed him that there were Resistance fighters in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, and California. The plan was evolving: Instead of just “staying alive,” the name of the game was “Search and Acquisition.” The human Resistance wants to learn more about their alien opposition. First and foremost that meant solving the riddle of the Harnesses.
Fortunately, a brilliant Doctor was on hand with a possible solution to the riddle. Unfortunately, that doctor was played by Steven Weber, Television’s favorite guest-star douchebag. Sure enough, Weber’s Dr. Michael Harris has a bad history with Tom: He went out scrounging with Tom’s wife on the day she died. Dr. Harris tried to side-step any blame by promising that he could cure Tom’s captured son. Tom looked skeptical, but kept his thoughts to himself.
The rescue mission went instantly awry when fellow soldier Mike saw his harnessed son and broke cover to rescue him. (If there’s one thing about Falling Skies that doesn’t entirely ring true, it’s the weirdly casual way that the humans constantly run out into the open when there’s a towering alien robot walking around. Yes, they die just like us, but they are also towering alien robots. Some ninja-stealth may be required, yes?) Tom set off an explosion and got knocked backwards; in the confusion, Hal and Karen were captured. Awesomely, this led Tom to circle back around with a sawn-off shotgun. In the process, he had to face-down a Skitter one-on-one. Taking a page from the John Pope Guide to Killing Freaky Alien Insect Things, he shot off a couple legs and beat the thing into unconsciousness. And that’s how you take prisoners!
Speaking of John Pope, the coolest character on the show spent the episode trapped in a subplot that seemed incredibly tonally off-key compared to the main plot. But it was also pretty funny. Pope — who, you’ll remember, is the vaguely racist criminal-philosophy who likes talking about Sumerians and hanging out on stage thrones — didn’t think very much of the Resistance’s prison food. “Nobody puts Paprika on chicken!” he exclaimed. “What are you, Hungarian?” (See what I said about “vaguely racist”?) Turns out that Pope is a “certified culinary artist.” This piqued Weaver’s interest. He asked Pope’s former ally/captive Maggie if the wannabe-chef could walk the walk. “When I could stomach eating with a bunch of degenerate psychos, the food wasn’t bad,” said Maggie. (Considering that she vengefully killed two of those degenerate psychos because of what they did to her, this line was either ridiculously offensive or hilariously bleak.)
NEXT: Oh right, and all the dead kids, too!