In “Molon Labe,” the 2nd Mass’ time is up as the aliens move in on the hospital where they’ve been hiding out. However, an unforeseen turn of events gives the survivors a way to stall the impeding attack until they can come up with a plan to make it out alive. A gruesome new form of aliens is introduced and a minor character doesn’t live to see the curtain call of this latest episode of “Falling Skies.”
The story picks up right where last week’s episode left off—Ben and Karen are walking through the woods, trying to make contact with the aliens. Ben is searching for the skitters that he’s dealt with before, who are trying to stage a rebellion against their genocidal counterparts. It isn’t long before Ben and Karen happen upon some skitters, but Ben soon comes to realize that these skitters aren’t the friendly type. Karen tells an overlord that Ben knows of the rebel skitters’ plans, and she tries to re-harness him. But a gunshot blasts the harness out of her hand, and Hal and Tom’s band of rescuers come out of hiding to attack the aliens. In the ensuing battle, Tom manages to corner the overlord and take him hostage.
An overlord hostage was an exciting turn of events that carried serious potential to spice things up on “Falling Skies.” But the way in which they captured him was rather anti-climactic. If these aliens are so advanced that they can read each other’s minds and create robots like mechs, why would an overlord be helplessly unarmed? It was way too easy for Tom to take him hostage—all he did was point a gun at him, and the mechs backed off immediately. Tom explains that the mechs are afraid to accidently catch their overlord in the crossfire of shooting at Tom, but that doesn’t even add up. We’ve seen how precise the targeting systems on the mechs can be, so one human with an AK-47 shouldn’t have been able to effectively hold an overlord at gunpoint. But with that being said, the 2nd Mass bringing back a “fish-head” captive was a fun twist.
When Tom and the rescue squad return to the hospital with their prisoner of war, Weaver meets them outside. He isn’t pleased that Tom brought one of the alien leaders into their camp, but it turns out that his presence has halted the advancing alien forces in their tracks. It becomes clear that the mechs are afraid to continue their assault on the 2nd Mass and risk harming their leader.
Weaver sits down with Tom to talk about Ben and all the trouble he has brought to the 2nd Mass. Tom doesn’t want to talk about forcing Ben to leave, but Weaver insists that he’s feeling a lot of pressure from other people in the 2nd Mass to exhile the boy. However, for now Weaver resolves to wait and see what the alien’s next move will be. They don’t have to wait long until Karen is calling them out to talk with her. She explains that if they let her master go, they will be allowed to leave the hospital unharmed. Tom counters with the offer that if the aliens let them go, they will then release the overlord. Karen asks how they can trust the 2nd Mass, and Tom tells her that they have no other choice.
Karen’s quick return to the aliens, as well as her acting as their negotiator, proves just how little her harness removal did to set her straight. Without the harness, she was still constantly acting with the aliens in mind and was always hoping to return to them. The same thing was true of Rick when he was still alive—regardless of being harnessed or not, he always referred to himself as being one of them, one of the aliens. But Ben has miraculously been able to completely sever himself from the aliens and faithfully return to the 2nd Mass. All of this begs the question: what’s so special about Ben? “Falling Skies” has some explaining to do, because right now it doesn’t really add up that Ben can resist the aliens while no other kid can.
Tom finds out that Matt, Lourdes and Anne got separated from everyone when they went to gather more medical supplies in the basement. He sends Jamil to find them and bring them back while he deals with figuring out a plan to escape from the hospital unharmed. Ben apologizes to Tom for putting the entire 2nd Mass in danger and tells him that he wants to leave. Tom refuses to allow it. Ben explains that the overlord tried to read his mind in order to find out more about the skitter rebellion, but that he was able to block him out.
Sadly, Jamil’s rescue mission doesn’t go very well. Lourdes, Anne and Matt hear him crying out in pain and when they reach him, he’s covered in blood and shaking violently. As Lourdes and Anne do their best to help save Jamil, a new type of alien crawls out of his mouth, followed by others. Lourdes, Anne and Matt run from the swarm of bug-like aliens and barricade themselves in a room with no exits. As the alien bugs eat away at the door, Anne sends Matt into a vent so that he can find help.
The introduction of the new bug aliens was sickening, but awesome at the same time. Last week this new breed was shown in the preview of this week’s episode, but nobody expected them to come crawling out of Jamil’s bloodied body. That scene emphasizes how “Falling Skies” has become much more graphic and gross in it’s second season. The eye parasite that was lodged in Tom’s eyeball was rather nasty, as was the scene at the harness factory where harnesses crawled up kids’ backs and sunk spikes into their necks. Some people may be turned off by the recent upswing in repulsive material, but I think it makes the show more entertaining and a bit more realistic (as realistic as an alien invasion show can be).
While Hal and Maggie search for a way out of the hospital, Karen is, unsurprisingly, the topic of conversation. Maggie asks Hal if he’s still in love with Karen, to which he replies, “No, of course not.” Apparently that was enough for Maggie, because she grabs Hal and pulls him into a long embrace. It certainly didn’t take her long to change her mind, since just last episode we watched her deflect Hal’s advances. When Hal finally pries open the passageway that they’ve been looking for, he discovers that it’s crawling with the alien bugs and shuts the door quickly. So much for that escape route.
The Hal and Maggie relationship is a constant reminder of how much better they are together than Hal and Karen ever were. To this day, I can’t figure out why Hal tells people that he may have even been in love with Karen before the aliens took her away. In the first season, Hal and Karen were never given much screen time, which left us scratching our heads as to why he cared so much about her. But Maggie and Hal have had time to struggle with their relationship and actually build some recognizable chemistry between them. As I’ve said before, Hal and Maggie are the couple that I root for the most on “Falling Skies,” so hopefully this latest development means they’ll finally just be together.
Since Jamil hasn’t returned yet, Ben and Tom go after him and the others. They eventually find Matt crawling out of the vent, and they rush to save Anne and Lourdes. But Anne has done pretty well on her own, creating a makeshift flamethrower to blast away the alien bugs. As she roasts them alive, Tom and the rescuers meet up with her and Lourdes and they all head back up to safety.
Tom decides to pay their captive overlord a visit and brings Ben with him. The overlord takes control of Ben through his spikes and uses him as a communicator so that he and Tom can talk. The overlord tells Tom that the aliens aren’t here to obliterate the entire human race, but instead are trying to make the planet better. Tom refuses to believe that, and insists that the surviving humans will continue to fight the aliens and bleed them out. The overlord starts hurting Ben, to demonstrate how weak humans are and how helpless they are against the aliens. As Ben writhes in pain, Tom quickly pulls his pistol and shoots the overlord in the head.
Tom’s quick decision to shoot the overlord was a surprising twist. It was funny because moments before, I was yelling at my TV, telling Tom to blow the alien’s head off. And then much to my delight, he did just that. Still, killing the overlord (or wounding him, as we find out after the break) seemed like the wrong decision for the show. When Tom initially captured the overlord, it opened up a new opportunity to learn more about the aliens and what their purpose for invading earth was. The possibility of some excellent interrogation scenes was wasted when Tom put a bullet in the overlord’s head. “Falling Skies” seems to do this frequently—set up a new and exciting aspect for the show and then terminate it by the end of that same episode. It would be nice if for once they actually stuck with something and altered the show a bit.
Weaver is understandably pissed when he finds out that Tom shot the overlord, since he may have compromised the only leverage they had against the aliens that surround them. Before the aliens figure out what’s happened, the 2nd Mass brings Karen in to see her master. While Hal leads her to his cell, Karen explains how she planned all of this to happen, beginning with Hal and Maggie finding her in the leaves that day. But Karen’s gloating is cut short when she discovers that the overlord is bleeding out from Tom’s gunshot. Now that the 2nd Mass has Karen captured as well, they explain their bargain—Karen and the overlord can go free in exchange for a free passage out and away from the hospital. If the aliens go back on the agreement, the 2nd Mass has wired the hospital with explosives that will blow up both Karen and her master.
Karen agrees to the arrangement, and the 2nd Mass hurriedly packs up while the mechs watch on from feet away. They drive away from the hospital and escape unharmed, just as they’d planned.
As they continue their journey towards Charleston, a few members of the 2nd Mass daydream about the luxuries that await them at their destination. Pope has a great line about, “strip clubs made out of gingerbread,” clearly mocking them all. But Pope’s cynicism can’t bring down the high spirits of the rest of the 2nd Mass, who are happy to be alive and headed toward Charleston.
Tom catches Ben trying to leave the 2nd Mass without saying goodbye to anybody. He attempts to persuade Ben to stay, but Ben knows that his departure is the best thing for the safety of the 2nd Mass. Ben also explains that when the overlord took control of his mind, he was able to see into the overlord’s mind as well. When that happened, he found out that there are others like him out there, who are helping the skitter rebels just like he hopes to do. After Tom recounts a touching story about Ben’s first day of pre-school, they share a tearful goodbye and then Ben walks off into the distance.
“Molon Labe” wasn’t nearly as gripping as last week’s episode of “Falling Skies,” but at least the 2nd Mass is finally back on the road and on their way to Charleston again. The new alien bugs were a nice addition, and it was gratifying to finally see Hal and Maggie get together. It will also be interesting to find out how much we see of Ben now that he’s left the 2nd Mass—something tells me that it won’t be long until he reappears.
One thing that this episode highlighted was the show’s tendency to kill off minor characters in the hopes of making an impression. But the loss of these superfluous people mean nothing to the audience. In “Molon Labe,” some previously never-mentioned 2nd Mass soldier gets shot in the back by a mech while he walks back towards the hospital. And then Jamil, who was introduced at the beginning of the season, has a gruesome death with aliens popping out of him. Jamil was closer to a major character, but he still wasn’t that important. Since he was only introduced at the beginning of the season, and since then had very limited screen time, it was hard to care when he got killed off. If the writers of “Falling Skies” really want to make an impact on the audience, they need to consider killing off somebody major. Tom Mason has three sons, I think he’d be able to get along alright with just two…
Hopefully the journey to Charleston doesn’t take very long, because I’m beginning to grow impatient. Charleston is supposed to be the Candy Land of this post-apocalyptic world, so let’s get there already.