Episode: Falling Skies 2.05 – “Love and Other Acts of Courage”
Original Air Date: July 8, 2012
Viewers are not the only ones taking notice of Falling Skies. The sci-fi saga has received an Emmy nomination in the category of Special Visual Effects. Through the magic of its visual effects, utilizing techniques such as motion capture, the creators of Falling Skies have crafted alien invaders that are believable and, at times, downright scary. It’s good to see their work recognized.
“Love and Other Acts of Courage” is the mid-season episode for the second season. Falling Skies is maturing along with its seasons. I’ve noticed much improvement from Season 1 in the overall storytelling and acting. With this episode, the events are starting to get interesting. The action heats up and the story becomes intriguing.
At sunrise, Skitters call across a cityscape. Ben, spikes glowing, responds to the call. At the edge of some woods, Hal and Maggie share a quiet moment broken by the sound of gunfire and explosions in the city. The commotion gears the 2nd Mass into action. Matt grabs a rifle and runs from the tent. Tom chases him down and takes it away. Weaver gives orders to set up a perimeter guard. Tom thinks the Mechs could be attacking another resistance group. He talks Weaver into sending him, the Berserkers, and Hal’s patrol to do recon. Matt wants to be included in the action so Tom assigns him to guard Dr. Glass and the med bus. As they gather the groups, Tom discovers Ben is missing.
When the recon group arrives at the battle site, they find destroyed Mechs and dead Skitters, but no one else. The evidence leads them to believe the aliens killed each other. Under the body of a Skitter, Hall sees glowing spikes and thinks it is Ben. It’s not Ben, but it is a familiar face — Rick, a young person from the 2nd Mass who had been captured and harnessed at the same time as Ben.
Last time the 2nd Mass encountered him, Rick took everything he knew about the resistance and gave it to the enemy. Dr. Glass disagrees with Captain Weaver. Rick was captured and harnessed by the enemy and it made him do things he couldn’t have done otherwise. As he leaves the med bus, Weaver doubles over and cries out in pain. Dr. Glass demands to check his leg. The harness creature bite is becoming infected.
Hal confesses to Tom that he’s seen Ben’s spikes glowing like Rick’s do. Tom wants to search more for Ben, but Hal and Maggie have orders to search for a hospital to replenish the dwindling medical supplies. Tom charges them to keep an eye out for Ben. Rick wakes up, freaked out. When he sees Tom, he shouts that Ben is in danger. Ben was with Rick but was hurt badly in the Skitter fight. Rick is sure he can locate Ben. Weaver is skeptical, but Tom insists.
At the battle site, Rick senses someone. They find a trail of blood and follow it to an old building. Ben is inside, but he tells them to go away. He comes out of hiding with his weapon pointed at the group. He says he won’t let them hurt him. The one Ben and Rick are protecting is the Red-Eyed Skitter. Tom wants to kill him because of the torture Tom endured on the alien mother ship.
Speaking through Rick, the Red-Eyed Skitter claims to have saved Tom’s life on the ship, and Tom knows it is true. He needs Tom to understand, to listen. According to Red-Eye, they are fighting the same enemy, the Overlords. The Skitter collapses. Ben begs his dad to help. But Captain Weaver gives orders to kill the Skitter. Tom intervenes, and suggests they need the Skitter as a prisoner. He might have knowledge that would help the 2nd Mass fight the aliens.
In the search for medical supplies, Hal and Maggie run into a Mech unit and hide in the back seat of an abandoned car, forced into cramped, close quarters. The return of the fighters with the captured Skitter causes a stir in camp. Ben pleads with Anne to save the Skitter’s life. She doesn’t have enough supplies for the 2nd Mass, let alone to save one of the enemy. Tom confronts Ben about his protection and defense of the Red-Eyed Skitter. According to Ben, there’s a Skitter rebellion and Red-Eye is their leader. Ben has been in communication with the Skitter since Jimmy died. It’s why his spikes have been glowing. Ben didn’t tell Tom because he was afraid his father would see him as the enemy, or even worse for Ben, damaged and broken. Tom wants to help his son, and Ben says Tom can help by believing him.
The members of the 2nd Mass know the Skitters have also been harnessed, and therefore, controlled by the Overlords. Ben claims some of them have been able to resist the effects of the harness. They’ve been resisting for over 100 years, but have never been strong enough to defeat the Overlords. Now, they have a chance to win freedom, combined with the resistance of the humans. Tom can’t get past the fact that Red-Eye tortured him and executed the other resistance representatives when he was on the ship. The Skitter had to do those things to gain the Overlords’ trust to gain access to their invasion plans. Ben points out that the Skitter didn’t kill Tom. He saved Tom because he thinks the human resistance movement is the best chance for victory, and the Skitters want to form an alliance, through contact with people like Ben and Tom. The Skitter requests to speak to Tom, alone, and confides that a “death squad” is on the way to kill it and everyone in the 2nd Mass.
Hal’s patrol locates a hospital that hasn’t been looted; still stocked, even beds with clean sheets. They plan to stay the night there. But Maggie refuses to sleep in a hospital bed because of her experience with cancer when she was young. Hal and Maggie share a kiss, but she pulls away.
Tom isn’t buying a Resistance Movement among the Skitters. He wants to know a reason he should believe. The Skitters’ planet was like Earth, but the Overlords invaded and pressed them into slavery. Harnesses were placed on them as children, same as with the human children. They tried to fight back, but the Overlords were too powerful. They were inspired by the way the humans refuse to give up, even when most of their population has been destroyed. Together, they can do what neither can do alone — overthrow the oppressors. Tom doesn’t believe the Skitters have remorse. He’s seen them in action during battles; they kill without regret. Even if that is true, the humans have substandard weapons and don’t understand the strategies or tactics of the Overlords, so it makes sense to the Skitters to join forces. Either that or the humans can fight alone and die.
Maggie insists that she and Hal are simply partners. They watch out for each other, but there’s nothing else there. Hal wants something to be there, but Maggie says it can’t be and zooms off on her motorcycle. As they head for the camp, they’re fired on. Maggie’s bike is hit. She tells them to go on, but Hal refuses to leave her behind.
Captain Weaver leads a group of armed men to execute the Red-Eyed Skitter. The Mech unit “death squad” is close, and he thinks the alien lead them to the camp. Ben, Rick and Tom shield the Skitter. Weaver orders Tom to move, but he refuses. In the chaos, the Skitter opens the cell and attempts to escape. The men open fire. Rick jumps in front of Red-Eye and takes the bullet meant to kill the Skitter. Hal rushes the badly injured Maggie to the med bus just as Weaver gives the order to move out. Rick challenges Ben to make his father and the others believe. Ben tries to follow the Skitter, but Tom restrains him.
The 2nd Mass retreats to the intact hospital discovered by Hal and Maggie. Maggie chides Hal for rescuing her. People need and depend on him, but he needs her. She asks for a favor: Will he stay with her till she falls asleep? Dr. Glass tricks Captain Weaver into letting her give him a sedative. It’s the only way to ensure he gets rest. Tom apologizes for disobeying a direct order. Weaver is worried about Ben — not his well-being, but the risk he poses to the 2nd Mass. Tom confesses it worries him, too. But Ben is his son, and Tom wants to protect him. They admit that even though they didn’t like each other when they first joined the 2nd Mass, they now respect each other.
Ben sits on the hospital rooftop, staring at the stars. Matt joins his big brother, and Ben asks him to keep a secret. Ben will have to leave the 2nd Mass and his family soon.
I thought “Love and Other Acts of Courage” was the best episode so far for Season 2 of Falling Skies. Even though I’ve enjoyed every episode, not a lot has occurred in the previous episodes to move the story. The 2nd Mass travels to a new location. Certain characters grow stronger together, and new relationships develop. Loose ends (and characters) from Season 1 are explored. And, oh yeah, they fight the aliens. With this episode, the story turns in a new direction, one I thought was a clever twist to add into the mix. For me, the developing conflicts are tight and tense. It’s the kind of storytelling that makes one ready to see the next installment now.