TNT, 17 July (US); FX, 9 August (UK)
A newcomer promises sanctuary for the survivors’ kids, while an alien attack puts the camp under pressure.
A bit of a meandering episode this one, that seems rather unfocused. Terry Clayton (Henry Czerny), last survivor of the 7th Mass, is quickly revealed as a Pied Piper figure. His argument that the group—facing a likely skitter attack—should send the children away to a nearby sanctuary for their own safety is utterly transparent. He’s so shifty, it is surprising that there is not more resistance. Of course, the ending of this first instalment in a two-part story reveals that he was a bad ‘un all along, just as any remotely awake viewer would have guessed. Was this supposed to be a major surprise?
As always with Falling Skies, the emotional bonding (mostly father-son guff featuring Noah Wyle) is front and centre, standing in for any real drama. Anne’s (Moon Bloodgood) trauma after being attacked simply doesn’t ring true, but it is hard to tell if that is down to the writing or the actor.
The skitter attack when it comes consists of just one creature and one ‘mech’, their bi-pedal robots (and why would insect creatures build bi-pedal robots?). It’s intense, seen mostly through the eyes of teen soldier Jimmy, but does make the viewer wonder why the aliens are employing such half-measures. If they’ve already wiped out the majority of humanity, what’s stopping them finishing off the few survivors? Why are they letting them regroup and fight back? Unless it has something to do with their penchant for kidnapping the kids…?
And finally, we find out what happened to Pope (Colin Cunningham): the sooner he’s back in action, the better Falling Skies will be.
Verdict: A second season has been commissioned, so someone must favour this show. On the evidence to date, though, it has simply not been distinctive enough.
Episode 6 ‘Sanctuary, Part 1’: 6/10
Brian J. Robb