Thursday, September 16, 2021

Falling Skies S1 E9: Mutiny

"The aliens can't kill us fast enough, we have to do it for them?"

"Unless we stick together and fight the aliens as a group we're as good as dead."

The opening shots where survivors of the 2nd Massachusetts watch a cartoon film and laugh and express joy amidst dark days is one of pure Spielbergian-like magic. With Spielberg's executive production credit and the spirit of his guiding hand it's clear there is an inspiration here lending itself to what amounts to a very professional affair as science fiction TV series go.

I once wondered if Falling Skies had the potential to reach a larger audience as a science fiction. The fact viewership resulted in a modest affair with gradual degradation in those numbers over five years was unfortunate. This is a series big on character interaction and human drama, a slow burn at times perhaps, but one that continues to develop and satisfy with every intimate, but cinematic-looking entry. Kids, adults, families laugh together in one of those moments of pure relief amidst the alien apocalypse. What Falling Skies did right and did well was, yes, sometimes capture humanity at its worst, but with equal amounts of time displaying humanity at its best, a rare thing today, as we see demonstrated here in Falling Skies, Season One, Episode 9, Mutiny.

The overarching concern of body transformation hangs in the air for the spine-spiked son of Tom Mason. Ben's state continues to infuse elements of horror into the science fiction saga. Further the science fiction elements continue to be explored through the character and other elements that evolve surrounding the alien physiology and mythology. Despite harness removal Ben is clearly still connected to the Skitters on a biological level in a hive-like capacity. "I don't know what I am."

In District 9 (2009), Wikus van de Merwe is tainted by a kind of alien goo and forced to transform into an alien "prawn." Ben's existence echoes fears of that physical transformation.

Mutiny is indeed threatening as Tom continues to joust with Dan Weaver over "responsibility." The title intentionally reflects the focus on humanity's failing within the entry of which we must overcome if we are to survive.

Drug elements interfere with the episode's story as well to further complicate matters. Science fiction seems to delight in exploring aspects of drug addiction by substance abusers (think Babylon 5) and the viewers are none the better for it with what is a truly tired convention (for me).

John Pope, played by Colin Cunningham (Stargate SG-1), delivers one of the more interesting character arcs by way of the human face of villainy. "Do you actually think for a second that humankind has even a hope in hell in this war to end all wars?" The dynamic explored between Pope and Maggie is also a mystery and intrigues as first established in The Armory (S1 E2).

Weaver concedes to the wisdom of Porter selecting Mason to be second-in-command (S1 E1 Live And Learn).

The entry closes as the 2nd Mass prepares for a battle that feels dramatically like the last stand.

Mutiny stays on task and focused regarding the subject of its title and the character growth is indeed solid as the series moves toward the Season finale with this solid penultimate affair. Thankfully, writer Joe Weisberg brings his character grasp and dramatic sensibilities to the emotional charge at the core of Falling Skies building us to the season climax.

Writer: Joe Weisberg (The Americans). Director: Holly Dale.