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Falling Skies – Season One – Episode Two: “The Armory” Review

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Written by : published Friday 15th July 2011

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Watch Falling Skies at: http://www.thetvking.com/tvshows/27105/falling-skies/

The Armory was a big improvement over last week’s Live and Learn. Although the alien presence in this series is undeniably intriguing, The Armory benefitted from a concentration on the humans in Falling Skies’ story, which was a relief after the less than favourable first impression left by the survivors in episode one. For the first time, there was an air of validity to their situation, something which had felt missing previously.

Picking up where last week’s chapter left off, we find Tom (Noah Wyle) and his scouting team staking out the location of a possible weapons armory. After some inventive mech-baiting (did anyone else feel sorry for the dog?) and an unnecessary shoot-out with the towering robot, the team retreat, deciding it’s too dangerous to explore the site further. Of course, stubborn Captain Weaver (Will Patton) is having none of it and sends the team back to finish the job. This doesn’t end too well as Tom’s group is captured by a gang of filthy, murderous looters who use their new hostages as leverage in acquiring supplies from the 2nd Mass.

 

This episode relied heavily on the actors and their ability to create tension and a sense of danger, a task everyone handled much better than last week. There were some nice scenes which were surprising in their inventiveness. The camera panning around a child’s bedroom, seemingly pre-invasion, only to pull out and reveal it to be the 2ndMass’ current base of operations, for example, was fantastic. There was a looming feeling that we were going to get a flashback, a tried and tested avenue most TV shows go down at some stage, so it was nice to see that the writers chose not to take that route, an admirable deviation from the norm.

 

The dialogue wasn’t as clichéd as last week’s and there were actually some decent exchanges between Tom and the gang’s leader John Pope (Colin Cunningham), particularly Pope’s wry admission that the last book any member of his gang had read probably featured Spot the Dog.

 

 Pope is a good addition to the cast; he’s a character having a lot of fun since the aliens invaded, revelling in his freedom to take the law into his own hands and exact revenge of Earth’s occupiers. His scenes in The Armory take place mostly on stage (in the school auditorium his gang call home), like a villain, with a Shakespearean set behind him and the corpse of a Skitter, or ‘cootie’ as Pope calls them, draped over a polystyrene pillar in the background. But Pope is no real villain; he’s this series’ wise-cracking smartarse, a ‘Sawyer’-like (Lost) character destined to show a softer side at the right, heroic time. He seems intelligent, too, yearning for more intellectual conversation, and already aware that Tom’s group of survivors are close by and in possession of the supplies his gang needs.

 

The rest of Pope’s gang are despicable cretins. His brother, who is wounded in gunfire between the two parties, is a callous rapist, and the same goes for bald thug Q-Ball. The most affecting scene in The Armory comes just after the gang’s only female occupant, Margaret (Sarah Carter), shoots the two men dead, implying that they raped her, Q-Ball falsely assuming he was the better man because he “brought chocolate”. It’s true to say that their deaths won’t be mourned.

 

This darker moment shows us that Falling Skies isn’t afraid to explore the more brutal aspects of the post apocalyptic world it inhabits. As with The Walking Dead and its zombies, the aliens in this show are not the only things to be feared by the humans, the collapse of humanity freeing many from social etiquette and ethics and allowing them to act without conscience and consequence.

 

The scenes showing the civilian survivors were more affecting this week than the overly sentimental ‘skateboard’ scene at the end of Live and Learn. It was also sad to hear that the soldiers in the 2nd Mass refer to its civilian population as ‘eaters’, implying that they are a liability with little to no redeeming features. Tom’s declaration that the civilians gave the soldier class their best reason to fight the aliens was gallant, but it’s hard not to see this sentiment as relevant only to Tom and perhaps a few others; characters like Captain Weaver are obviously of a different mind. 

Some of the characters who weren’t featured much last week had their opportunities to shine this week, with Moon Bloodgood, who plays Anne Glass, the survivors’ doctor, enjoying a more prominent role. Bloodgood, who usually plays grittier, more military-based roles, plays against type here as the brave doctor dedicated to the safety of her patients. An interesting point about the aliens was also raised by Uncle Scott this week (Bruce Gray): why would the Skitters build robots with two legs when their anatomy employs six? This brief conversation between Scott and Tom seemed much more relevant than simple pondering, and we’re left to contemplate what this titbit could mean.

 

As The Armory concluded, Tom and his son Hal (Drew Roy) set out to rescue Ben, Tom’s middle son and Hal’s brother, from the Skitters. Margaret, now a member of the 2nd Mass resistance, insisted she’d seen harnessed children at a hospital not far off and so the episode ended with a shot of the scouting team venturing out on a dangerous mission once again.

 

A much better episode of Falling Skies, The Armory made up for the series’ lacklustre opening instalment while assuring viewers that better things are yet to come from this Spielberg-endorsed adventure.

 

 

7.5/10

About the author JakeCunliffe125

JakeCunliffe125

I am a first year Journalism student studying at Huddersfield University. So far so good.

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