Writer: Jordan Rosenberg
Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
THE ONE WHERE: Tom and Pope survive the plane crash, but they must also learn to survive together. Weaver, meanwhile, launches a search party in pursuit of Anne and Alexis.
THE VERDICT: Take mismatched heroes Tom and Pope, abandon them in a hostile wilderness, mix in simmering alpha male rivalry, an unexpected pinch of soul-baring personal history and garnish with a knock-out punch. As narrative recipes go, it’s a juicy one, delivering one of the most compelling episodes of Skies we’ve seen.
Noah Wyle and Colin Cunningham give equally impressive turns as the stranded rebels, served by a script that burrows into the psyches of their characters. Tom’s revelation of a childhood blighted by an alcoholic father is matched by Pope’s chillingly matter-of-fact recounting of the murder that landed him in jail. These scenes could so easily have turned to maudlin slush but they ring true, deftly underplayed. The fight feels fueled by three seasons’ worth of tension and the moment Tom accuses Pope of being a coward – “You don’t have the balls to walk out of here without me!” – is played with a convincing emotional intensity as Wyle lets real fire crack his eternally reasonable façade.
It’s not just a two-hander, though. The search party B-plot has some effective character moments too, particularly Matt’s insistence that they bury the body they find in the ghost town – another echo of his father’s essential decency. Weaver’s promise that he’ll never let the invaders use his daughter may feel like none-too-subtle foreshadowing but it’s another affecting touch of human reality among the high-concept SF trappings.
It’s also an episode that expands the show’s geography. It’s good to be in the wilderness, far from Charleston, and the Skitters fit surprisingly well into this lush woodland landscape, for all the world like sinister supernatural creatures from folklore.
FAB FX: There’s a cool hint of dragonfly about the Espheni ship that pursues Tom and Pope.
TRIVIA: This episode was directly inspired by The Defiant Ones , the classic 1958 film that starred Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier as two escaped convicts shackled together by handcuffs.
Pope: “You are the king of chaos, Mason. You know that? It follows you. Don’t try to explain it. Just own it.”
Falling Skies is shown on TNT on Sundays in the US