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Falling Skies – Season One – Episode Three: “Prisoner of War” Review

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Written by : published Saturday 23rd July 2011

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

Tom’s determination to rescue his son increases tenfold after he discovers that the harnessed children are performing manual labour for the Skitters, zombie-like and grassy-eyed. Back at camp, the arrival of a doctor claiming to be able to safely remove the harnesses from the children brings fresh hope to the survivors but he needs a subject to perform the risky new procedure on.

 

It’s pleasing to see that the quality of Falling Skies is improving week by week. The show boasts the best special effects on television but its Pilot episode didn’t really offer viewers anything solid to latch onto in terms of storytelling. That changed with last week’s The Armory and Prisoner of War continued to impress with a gripping rescue mission and an equally tense operating scene where the survivors successfully remove a harness parasite for the first time.  

 

The sets are always authentically post-apocalyptic and the series makes good use its battered locations. Dimmed lights, exploding cars, wreckage-strewn streets; it’s aesthetically pleasing and affectively transports the viewer right into the scarred, crumbling world of Falling Skies.

 

It was hard not to feel mad for Tom (Noah Wile) this week. After agreeing to let his son Ben be the candidate for the harness removal operation, he put together a new scout team and went to finally rescue his son. However, Mike (Martin Roach), whose own son had also been kidnapped by the aliens, saw his boy amongst the harnessed children and, in a moment of madness, completely forgot the mission’s objective. Screaming and shouting, he attracts the unwanted attention of the mechs which quickly kick into action.

 

There were some memorable moments in the shoot-out that follows. The mech sprinting across the rooftop and then leaping down to confront Karen (Jessy Schram) and Hal (Drew Roy) was perhaps the best, little touches like the falling slate as it dashed about giving the scenario authenticity and making up for the sometimes unrealistic look of the robotic war machines.

 

Mike is able to rescue his son, but Tom is knocked unconscious in the ensuing battle and Hal and Karen are captured by the Skitters. Waking up a short time later, Tom is distraught and angry at how badly the mission has gone. He sets off back to camp but is attacked by a Skitter in the dark tunnels below the city. Talk about a bad day. Recalling Pope’s (Colin Cunningham) advice from The Armory, Tom manages grabs his shotgun and blows off a couple of the creature’s legs.

 

Tom tinkering with his torch in the pitch black and then shining it on the Skitter was a classic horror-movie staple, but it worked very well here, despite its obviousness. We knew what was going to happen, but that didn’t stop us from jumping out of our skins when the Skitter’s hideous head lunged at Tom. The fight that followed was executed nicely. Tom’s survival was assured, but it was still edgy and dramatic.

 

After rendering the Skitter unconscious with a series of savage headshots with the butt of his shotgun, Tom drags the slimy critter back to camp, reminiscent of the scene in Independence Day where Will Smith does the same thing.

 

The survivors now have their prisoner of war, the episode’s namesake.

 

Weaver’s (Will Patton) expression when he saw what Tom had captured was perfect. It’s unclear whether Weaver has much faith in Tom’s more hands-on abilities at a soldier, but his capture of a live Skitter may have changed that now. Weaver is a truly believable character and Will Patton does an exceedingly good job with the role.

 

This week were also introduced to Dr. Michael Harris (Steven Weber), the doctor mentioned earlier who has developed a way to remove the alien harnesses without killing the host. There’s no doubt that Harris is skilful and that his development of the removal method could save the lives of millions, but he is, let’s be honest, a complete weasel. His treatment of Weaver was uncalled for, and he deserved that punch from Tom. He is pretty unlikable and Colonel Porter’s (Dale Dye) announcement that Harris will remain with the 2nd Mass for a further three weeks wasn’t received positively by anyone.

 

Prisoner of War expertly combined all the best elements Falling Skies has to offer. There was a greater alien presence in the episode than in The Armory and the survivor’s story was as fluid and interesting as last week’s. The Skitters continue to look incredibly real and the costume work in the series is highly commedable. The mechs look a little off, as they are completely CGIed, but there are times when they come across as genuinely threatening and realistic.

 

The best episode of the series yet, Prisoner of War was both a thoroughly enjoyable forty minutes of television and a huge leap in the right direction for Falling Skies.

 

8/10

About the author JakeCunliffe125

JakeCunliffe125

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

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