Falling Skies 1.04: "Grace" Review

A column article, Shot For Shot by: Danny Djeljosevic , Rafael Gaitan
The Steven Spielberg/Robert Rodat alien invasion resistance drama cum Revolutionary War metaphor continues! In Episode 4, "Grace," people yell at a caged alien, Pope blows some stuff up and our heroes cowardly elect not to murder children. Also, motorcycles.



Rafael: I actually really like how "Grace" starts, in medias res, with them carting the captured creature through their home base. It gives us a quick look into what has happened since the last ep, and kinda gets to spotlight every character's reaction to the events prior.

Danny: A lot of this episode is about dealing with the captured alien -- trying to communicate with it and trying to figure out how it works.

Rafael: Especially putting it into the hands of another character. It's almost like they read our previous installments, as they get right to the John Pope stuff almost immediately post-credits. Which I have to say, is a necessary option to explore, and I think this show handled it well.

Danny: They even let Pope get in on the action.



Rafael: That's true, you gotta use your strong suits. This episode also deals with the fallout of the removal of Rick's harness. One thing this show does well is give us a little more information about the aliens per episode. The harnesses have gone from being torture devices to tools to apparently health accessories.

Danny: Finding out what the harnesses do was my favorite plot development in this episode, as we find out that the aliens use the harnessed kids as their agents, speaking through them and gathering intel with them. The best reveal is how, after capturing the blonde resistance fighter teen in the last episode, now the harnessed kids know how to shoot a gun.

Rafael: Oh man, that didn't even occur to me! That gives it a pretty good depth. I also liked the reveal that they might have beneficial elements when Moon Bloongood remarks that Rick's previously serious cystic fibrosis is all but extinct.

Danny: The MVP of this episode is once again Pope, as the only character with any major agency on this show. But Steven Weber's character got a major personality boost in this episode by getting to deliver some very Weber-esque quips. And by "Weber-esque," I mean "dickish." Which is why you hire that guy to begin with.

Rafael: Why get Steven Weber if you don't want some acerbic commentary? In this one he turns into Joseph Goebbels, and to a lesser extent Neil Patrick Harris in Starship Troopers. His ease with wanting to hurt their prisoner doesn't feel sudden -- it's almost a perfect reaction to his exposed cowardice in the last episode.



Danny: My favorite part about this show is how Noah Wyle's quest to find his son is frustrated in every single episode. Something always gets in the way, from Rick's Dad taking Rick instead of Wyle's son like they intended, to Will Patton ordering him to go score the resistance some sweet motorcycles in this episode.

Rafael: Haha yeah, it has to be, considering that's his major concern throughout. Wyle's rationalized himself to be a familly man posing as a soldier, and not the other way around.

Danny: It's like Gilligan's Island, where their rescue attempts are thwarted in every episode. "No, not this week."

Rafael: Who's The Professor? This show needs a Sayid. And I say that exclusively because it was written by Melissa Hsu Taylor, a former Lost writer. Which I quipped earlier, is why so much of this ep must've read like:

EXT. VEGETATION.

Our heroes trudge through some vegetation.


Danny: This show needs a lot of Sayids. The Iraqis could teach the American resistance guys a lot about being a wily insurgent force.

Rafael: A Noah insurgent force, or a Wyle one? Though, as much as I think this episode was quite solid, seriously, they need to toss Mediterranean Olivia Thirlby.



Danny: Mediterranean Olivia Thirlby needs to go. She feels more like a symbol than a real character. "Guys! I have faith amidst this crisis!"

Rafael: She's cute as heck, but her character is unnecessary. There has been enough addressing of the issue of faith, we don't need it hammered down every episode.

Danny: Speaking of Lost, they should pull a "Ben's Daughter" on her and blow her fucking head off. WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW

Rafael: Maybe not so mean, because she's pretty and I love her.

Danny: You can't love every doe-eyed zealot that crosses your path in science fiction!

Rafael: I CAN TRY. But yes, her character is so forced and cloying. She hasn't had a single line of dialogue that resonated. I just wanted her to get on with it so Steven Weber could say something snarky.

Danny: I won't be lectured by a television writer channelling a prepubescent Jesus freak!

Rafael: Too much of her dialogue seems like ping-ponging with someone else:

"You have faith?"

"I have faith."

"Why do you pray?"

"Because I have to."

"Why?"

"Etc."


That's the Lost effect, too. She might as well be John Locke, though slightly less handsome than Terry O' Quinn.



Danny: I remain amazed that the minority characters haven't been killed off, including the Asian man whose name is pronounced "Die."

Rafael: We were expecting him to live up to his namesake the whole episode. So glad he didn't!

Danny: This show needs more redshirts.

Rafael: Haha, as inclined as I am to agree, we've had quite the few, a.k.a. those kids Hal ran into previous episode, the ones that were killed in front of him.

Danny: That was pretty sweet. I'm thinking more about hapless resistance fighters to be blown up by alien robots.

Rafael: It'll happen, don't you fret. This is Episode 4 of 10. Someone has to make a grave tactical error!

Danny: Right now, the insurgents seem to be doing pretty okay. At least, they're holding steady. They should be getting wiped out left and right!



Rafael: This episode also informs us that the "skitters" or "cooties" have transmission abilities. That's gotta be put into play soon.

Danny: Yeah, turning the underage into wi-fi routers is surely going to result in some blowing of cover.

Rafael: I keep getting the feeling their home base will be under siege.
Man, I'd never say this, especially in light of the Casey Anthony verdict, but I hope some fucking kids die on this show.

Danny: Not nearly enough kids get murdered in popular fiction. When the aliens killed that lineup of harnessed kids in the last episode, it really felt like they were trying to right that imbalance. Pretty soon our heroes are gonna find themselves forced to gun down some harnessed kids, you know it. And Falling Skies will take a tremendous leap in quality.

Rafael: It almost happened! I was so excited to see it, but then Noam Chomsky was like, "No!" They're saving those levels for the finale, I hope.



Danny: My favorite part of that scene was how the ex-cop Anthony was just casually accepting of the fact he's going to gun down some kids while probably secretly relieved that he won't have to do any paperwork after: "I know it's horrible, and I hate it, but..."

Rafael: Yeah man -- he's totally in the right. When you're under fire, you gotta react. They were essentially human turrets. But scripting always finds a way.



Danny: At least they gave us a daring escape on motorcycles. That's a decent trade-off. And by "decent," I mean "hilarious."

Rafael: True indeed. I love when they find the skitter, and they trade turns blasting at it. So Mario Kart!Man, that Anthony would love nothing more than to kill them kids. And I would love nothing more than to watch it!

Danny: He is from Boston. "Largest gang in the world!"

Rafael: Its okay to kill children for dramatic purposes. SHOOT KIDS, TNT.

Danny: THEM KIDS



Rafael: We're living in a post-Russell Edgington world,

Danny: Dude, that's for Saturday.



THE BIG SCORE

Rafael: A million.

Danny:

It's equally alright as the last episode. STAY THE COURSE.

Rafael:

I felt this episode was actually better than the last. Mostly because the focus was on every character that wasn't on E.R.

Danny: Is it because of the part where Pope says "This place is drier than a nun in West Texas?"

Rafael: That, and when he inquires about being sent out unarmed. "What am I, Canadian?" YOU TELL THEM, POPE.

For more Falling Skies, check out our reviews of previous Season 1 episodes:

Episode 1 & 2 Two-Hour Premiere

Episode 3: "Prisoner of War"




Rafael Gaitan was born in 1985, but he belongs to the '70s. He is a big fan of onomatopoeia, being profane and spelling words right on the first try. Rafael has a hilariously infrequent blog and writes love letters to inanimate objects as well as tweets of whiskey and the mysteries of the heart at @bearsurprise. He ain't got time to bleed.



Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book writer, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions), film/music critic for Spectrum Culture and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter as @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his newest comic, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics.

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