The Second Mass braces for a possible attack from the skitters and suspicious older men.
Falling Skies
Credit: Ken Woroner

We’re now halfway through the first season of Falling Skies, and what tonight’s episode makes abundantly clear is that the show has finally found its footing. Yes, there are still some nagging problems: the series’ quieter moments lack the emotional pull they’re going for. But, I’m guessing most fans found this week’s hour one of the more satisfying, especially with the final minute’s long-awaited reveal!

After last week’s dramatic rescue of the harnessed kids, things at the school have calmed a bit, but not for long. Anne takes a look at Eli, who’s medically known as a “faker,” and finds nothing wrong with him. It turns out that whole check-up was a front: Eli’s parents plan on stealing all of the colony’s medicine and striking out on their own. Anne puts up a fight, but ends up with a busted lip and no more meds. Tom and Weaver don’t take kindly to this and head out with Mike to retrieve the stolen goods. Luckily, a member from the Seventh Mass, Clayton, gets to the rogue family first, takes back the meds and sends them packing.

Unfortunately, Clayton’s got some bad news. Skitters and mechs virtually wiped out the Seventh and took the kids with them. On top of that, the way the invaders are moving hints that they’re heading right for the school, with only the Third Mass between them and our heroes. Command has ordered the two groups to meet up at the school and to send everyone under 20 to a cabin in the woods (the epitome of safety) that seems to be free from skitter attack. Once the Third arrives, everyone else will then head to the cabin. Weaver gives Tom the thankless job of letting the parents know that their kids will soon be leaving, but the professor isn’t so sure that’s the best idea just yet.

Every week it becomes clearer that Anne is Falling Skies‘ most interesting character. Still reeling from the attack, Anne has a tough time accepting the gun Margaret gives her, but anyone who saw last week’s badass Anne attack on the skitter is just itching for her to get her hands on some cold steel.

NEXT: Welcome to Jurassic Park!…err, I mean Skitter Park!

Did anyone else get a Ron Burgundy vibe from Ben and his push-ups? (“I don’t know if you heard. I did over one hundred.”) Anyway, ever since Ben’s return, he’s been “different.” But Ben isn’t the first formerly-harnessed kid to seem a little off. For those of you keeping track at home, both Ben and Rick with his cystic fibrosis saw physical improvement after each had his harness removed. Clearly, we’re missing something here. Ben even tells Matt that he found his time with the skitters comforting, explaining, “They weren’t monsters. They were our family.”

Surprisingly, the hour’s most engaging side story finds young gun Jimmy asking Weaver to let him back onto guard duty after his slipup a few weeks ago. A reluctant Weaver relents, and we all collectively let out a “Well, this should end well.”

In a scene specifically geared toward the girls-with-guns demographic, Anne decides it’s time to learn to defend herself and squeezes off a few with Margaret in the woods. At first, the gun feels too intimidating for Anne, but after some prodding from Margaret, she’s firing off rounds like Charles Bronson staring down some hipsters.

Word has gotten out that the plan is to send the kids ahead without their parents. Inexplicably, some of the parents take this as a sign of Command treating their children like the enemy. Tom assures them this isn’t the case—it’s just about safety. Outside, Jimmy joins Parker (who might as well be wearing a red shirt) in the school bus for patrol, when a mech arrives. The scene works mostly because it borrows heavily from executive producer Steven Spielberg’s little-known film, Jurassic Park. Tom and the others hear the mech and gear up for a fight. Jimmy escapes the bus and looks for safety in the school, only to find a skitter. Their struggle is capped off with a shot of the skitter crushing a globe with its hand. (Very subtle, Falling Skies. You were one step shy of flashing the word “SYMBOLISM” across the bottom half of the screen.) Weaver arrives just in time to plant a shotgun shell in the creature’s head.

The small attack serves as enough proof for Weaver; the kids have to go ahead. Tom is still hesitant, but Ben, who continues to be kind of creepy, convinces him that it’s for the best. As everyone says good-bye to the kids, Tom, Hal and Ben exchange stories about life from before the attack, and the audience continues not to care while listening to characters swap tales and joke about things we’ll never see. Jimmy and Weaver, on the other hand, share a much more meaningful and effective farewell after the close call with the mech and the skitter.

Hal decides to come with Ben, Matt and the rest of the kids to the safe house, hoping to keep a closer eye on them. As the whole group leaves, we get our most substantial hint yet at a potential romance developing between Anne and Tom, when she—gasp!—grabs a hold of his hand.

Almost immediately after the group of youngins leave for the ranch, Clayton starts giving off a creepy uncle and (suspected) pedophile vibe. He’s taking them on a different route than Hal was expecting, insisting that a path through the woods is a much safer option. (Rule: “Better” routes are always worse.) The kids arrive at the Neverland Ranch, but something seems off. They don’t get the friendliest welcome from the fighters already there. Later that night, Uncle Clayton visits a seemingly captive Eli in the basement. The boy asks if he can see his parents, and Clayton says he’ll take him to them now. Out in the woods, the two meet a harnessed girl, who claims she’ll take Eli to his parents. Eli panics and tries to leave, but a mech arrives with a skitter in tow and takes the boy away. Through the girl, the skitter asks if there are more children. Clayton promises to deliver more in two days.

Back at the ranch, which apparently has a dungeon, Clayton talks with his prisoner and the source of the information that led him to the school with its ripe supply of kids. It’s difficult to make out his face. There are tattoos! He’s got long hair! Could it be Geddy Lee, lead singer and bassist of the legendary Canadian rock group Rush? No! It’s Pope! Pope is back! And it’s about damn time.

The first part of “Sanctuary” ends with a lot of questions still in the air. How trustworthy is Ben? How many push-ups can he really do? If the skitters are as nice as he says, what are they really up to?

Episode Recaps

Falling Skies
In the aftermath of an alien invasion, Noah Wyle and a band of surviving humans desperately fight to survive
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