“A More Perfect Union” was an adequate season finale in the sense that it had enough conflict, action, and surprises to stand out from the rest of the season’s episodes. Like all good dramas, this final episode also had a cliffhanger in its last few seconds to keep viewers guessing until the show returns next summer. “A More Perfect Union” was certainly one of the show’s best outings this season. Now if only every episode could be as captivating as this one.
The season finale picks up right where “The Price of Greatness” left off last week, with General Bressler claiming military control of Charleston and locking Arthur Manchester up for the time being. Though last week’s episode made it seem like Bressler had done Tom a favor by getting Manchester out of the way, it turns out that Tom disagrees with Bressler’s military coup. When Bressler hears this, he gives orders for Tom and the rest of the 2nd mass to be locked up with Arthur. But before that can happen, a security breach sets off the alarms and they all head up to the main hall to find skitters pouring into the compound. Tom recognizes Red Eye and tells Bressler not to shoot because these skitters are the rebels and therefore their allies. Ben emerges from the skitter group, and he and the 2nd Mass form a human chain around the group of skitters so that Bressler and his soldiers can’t shoot them.
This whole scene felt a little ridiculous. First of all, Tom finally gets the chance to leave and meet up with the skitters thanks to Bressler getting Arthur out of the way, and instead of taking that opportunity he plays the moral card and disagrees with the military coup. Obviously Tom is a very selfless, moral, and fair person, but why couldn’t he have seized the opportunity to meet with the skitter rebels and then address the military problem in Charleston? He was so hell-bent on meeting up with them, but when Bressler detains Arthur and gives him a chance to do so, he throws it away. Things ended up working out, but for all he knew in that moment, Tom could have been making a decision that would blow their opportunity to team up with the rebels and also land him in jail right next to Arthur Manchester. Tom’s honesty and decency are admirable, but one of his weaknesses is allowing that side of him to ruin important opportunities. And as a side note, how absurd was it that when the security breach alarms went off, all of the soldiers completely forgot about locking up the 2nd Mass and instead headed for the main hall? They were mere feet from the prison cages – it would’ve taken a few extra seconds to toss them into their cells before going to check on the breach. But maybe I’m just being picky now.
After the 2nd Mass prevents the Charleston army from shooting the rebel skitters, they talk to Red Eye through Ben. Red Eye tells them that the overlord the 2nd Mass captured recently [and mistakenly allowed to live] is the head of alien military operations on the east coast and is currently building some kind of powerful weapon. The skitter rebels know when and where he’ll be, which will give them the perfect chance to take him out. Red Eye asks the 2nd Mass and the Charleston military to help him and the rebels sneak into the weapon facility and kill the overlord when he is there working on it. He explains that the skitter rebels can’t do it on their own because they lack the fire power and they would be detected as soon as they got close to the compound. At first, General Bressler gives orders for the skitter rebels to be killed and for the 2nd Mass to be locked up, but Tom, Weaver and Porter convince him to allow the 2nd Mass to go on the mission alone. But after everybody leaves the room, Bressler secretly gives the order to kill all the rebel skitters during the night.
It’s explained that Bressler doesn’t trust the skitters because his son was killed by one, but his refusal to work with the rebels is strategically idiotic. Any decent military leader would see the opportunity of working with rebels and realize that doing so could significantly improve the human race’s chances at defeating the aliens. Yes his son’s death would understandably make him nervous and anxious around skitters, but after hearing what Red Eye had to say, the least he could have done would be to dispatch a small group of soldiers to help with the plan to bring down the overlord. Clearly General Bressler’s lack of judgment demonstrates how terrible this military coup could be.
While the 2nd Mass and General Bressler butt heads, other characters are struggling with their own issues. Hal goes to visit Ben, who is staying with the rebel skitters on the outskirts of Charleston. Hal tries to persuade Ben to come back to the family, but Ben explains that he finally feels that he’s found a place where he belongs: being amongst the skitters. As Hal grapples with the thought of losing his brother to aliens (again), Anne fails to hide a secret from Lourdes. When the two of them are packing up medical supplies, Anne vomits into a nearby sink and Lourdes realizes that she is pregnant. She asks if Tom knows, but Anne says she was planning on telling him after the rebel skitter mission.
Anne’s pregnancy wasn’t exactly the big surprise that the show hoped it would be. Once she and Tom got together, everybody knew that it was only a matter of time before this issue came up [in fact, a commenter on a previous recap predicted this a week or two ago]. But despite the pregnancy being expected, it still poses interesting questions, which Tom and Anne talk about later after he finds out. Is it ethically sound to bring a child into this war-torn, post-apocalyptic world in which the human race is only just barely surviving? What kind of life can a kid have in such a messed up world? Still, Tom makes a valid point in saying that in order for the human race to survive, they must continue to procreate. Another issue that Anne’s pregnancy could bring up is whether or not they should leave Charleston. Everyone in the 2nd Mass seems eager to put the town in their rear-view mirror, but is that really what’s best for Tom and Anne’s baby?
As Tom talks to Arthur about the recent events, Ben bursts in and tells them that the skitter rebels were just attacked. When Tom and the rest of the 2nd Mass investigate the scene, Ben says he couldn’t see who attacked them [though we know it was Bressler’s goons]. General Bressler tells the 2nd Mass that the mission is cancelled, but when Ben insists that he has all the information they need in his head, Captain Weaver tells Bressler that they are going on the mission whether he likes it or not. With the decision to go ahead with the sabotage plan, the fighters of the 2nd Mass get ready for the mission, which means Tector returning to the Berserkers and Weaver ditching his military camoflage for his usual look. When Weaver appears in his old clothing, Maggie and Anthony tease him about how good he’s looking.
It was so refreshing to see Weaver grow some balls and tell Bressler that the 2nd Mass was going on the mission whether he liked it or not! In episodes past, Weaver would have left that task to Tom, but for once he actually took charge and stood up to Bressler. This part of the episode also highlighted some hilarious Weaver quotes, particularly “Alright stow it, or this stylin’, rugged size-eleven boot will commence to kickin’ some ass” and “Let’s roll! Don’t wanna be late for our date with that fish head!” At this point, it seems the writers for “Falling Skies” have fully realized the potential for Weaver to be hilarious, and nowadays they do everything they can to give him some really funny dialogue. In a show that’s usually so bleak and serious, his comic relief is certainly appreciated.
As Red Eye originally planned, the 2nd Mass sneaks up to the alien weapon using a series of underground caves. A moment needs to be taken to appreciate whoever said “Hold onto your butts” before they blasted a hole in the wall [it may have been Anthony]. There’s nothing like a little “Jurassic Park” Spielberg humor for the fans paying attention at home. Once the 2nd Mass is inside the compound, they split up and start placing C4 charges. But it isn’t long until the aliens ambush them, killing Dai in the process and eventually taking them all hostage.
Karen appears, as well as the overlord that they were planning on killing. Karen starts torturing Tom and the others for information, and reveals to everyone that Anne is pregnant with Tom’s child. She also walks over to Hal and makes out with him, which for some reason knocks him unconscious. Karen then threatens to torture Anne, so Tom relents and agrees to talk. But before he can spill the beans, the surviving skitter rebels storm in and attack the other aliens.
In the ensuing battle, Red Eye and the overlord fight each other and the overlord wounds Red Eye with his blade. Tom intervenes and uses Karen’s torture device to kill the overlord. Karen yells, “It’s not over, you’ll never win!” and then scampers up the wall like some kind of possessed child in a horror movie. As Ben holds a dying Red Eye in his arms, the friendly skitter insists that they keep the fight going. Knowing they have little time before skitter reinforcements arrive, the 2nd Mass prime the C4 charges and leave the building through the caves. As they escape, the C4 detonates and successfully brings down the overlord’s weapon.
This whole mission was intense and action-packed and one of the strongest parts of “A More Perfect Union”. It was really cool to see some alien-on-alien combat as the skitter rebels attacked the evil ones and as Red Eye battled with the overlord. Plus, Karen’s “kiss of death” thing that she gave to Hal was mysterious and made us wonder what the heck she could’ve done to him. And though the battle was ultimately a victory, it wasn’t without a couple casualties as Red Eye and Dai both died. Dai’s death once again highlighted the show’s inability to kill off anybody that really matters. Sure, Dai seemed like a cool guy, but he’s completely insignificant. He appeared in 20 episodes before being taken out last night, but throughout all of those episodes he must have had a grand total of about 10 minutes of screen time. I applaud the writers’ effort to raise the stakes by killing familiar characters off, but if you’re going to do that, make it somebody who matters.
Back in Charleston, the 2nd Mass returns to applause and praise from the citizens, Porter, and even from General Bressler. Anne checks Hal out and tells them all that the best thing they can do for him is just to let him rest. After they leave his bedside, Hal awakens and shuffles over to a mirror, where he watches a parasite crawl out of his eye socket and into his ear. After the parasite finds its mark somewhere inside Hal’s brain, he smiles evilly into the mirror and dramatically turns out the light.
Hal’s brain parasite was one of the most intriguing events in “A More Perfect Union” that will certainly help build anticipation for the return of “Falling Skies” next summer. In fact, this plotline was a more tantalizing cliffhanger than what the episode ended with. If Hal is infected with this bug, it could be catastrophic for the 2nd Mass as they leave Charleston next season. We saw what Tom’s eye parasite did to compromise his authority with the 2nd Mass when that happened, so it’s bound to have a similar effect with Hal. But maybe there’s a chance that it wasn’t all that bad – could the parasite be the same one that infected Tom? If so, it’s Red Eye’s parasite, which means that possibly the rebel skitters are only using it to keep track of / stay in touch with the 2nd Mass and their activities. There are surely lots of questions and theories that will stem from this cliffhanger.
As the episode comes to a close, things start falling back into place. Ben reveals that he will be returning to Tom and the rest of his family, rather than remaining with the skitter rebels. Tom and Anne talk about having a baby, and they decide that they are both in favor of it. General Bressler aggress to restore civil rule on the condition that Arthur no longer holds the title of majority leader, so Arthur suggests that Tom take the position. But Tom tells him that once Hal recovers, the 2nd Mass plans to move on from Charleston.
Suddenly, an earthquake rocks Charleston and everybody runs up to the surface to see what’s going on. Outside, a massive lightning storm is taking place as hundreds of alien spacecraft descend from the sky. One lands directly in front of them, and when the door opens, an armored alien steps out of the ship. The alien has a human-like body, and when he lifts his visor, it reveals an alien face that’s not so different from our own. As Weaver points out, it’s a type of alien that we’ve never seen before. In the final seconds, the alien makes a facial gesture that could even possibly be considered a smile.
So the big question for next season: is this new type of alien a friend or foe? Was he smiling back at Tom and the rest of them, or was it something else? Why was the alien so humanoid when it came to his body structure and facial features? Though it’s interesting to think about the possibilities presented by this cliffhanger, I will admit that I was a bit disappointed with it. I feel like “Falling Skies” too often tries to create excitement by simply introducing a new type of alien to us. At first, we thought skitters were what all of the aliens looked like. Then, we were introduced to overlords at the end of last season. Then the tiny crawling aliens that killed Jamal were introduced this season. And finally, here’s another new alien variant at the close of the season. It’s time that the writers came up with a different way to spice things up, because the “add a new kind of alien” formula is getting stale, and fast.
I also can’t say I’m very much looking forward to the 2nd Mass departing from Charleston at the beginning of next season. One of my least favorite aspects of the beginning of season 2 was the fact that the 2nd Mass seemed to be wandering aimlessly, spending every episode running away from the aliens. They had no direction. But when the Charleston storyline came along, they finally had a goal to strive for and a direction to head in. By returning to the road, I’m worried that we’ll be right back to where we were at the beginning of this season. Hopefully the appearance of the alien at the end will cause them to stay in Charleston for awhile, because otherwise things could get boring very quickly at the start of season three.
Altogether, “A More Perfect Union” had its issues but still managed to be an effective season finale for “Falling Skies”. There were equal parts of action, cliffhangers, and new developments to keep fans hooked and eagerly waiting for the show’s return next summer. There’s no doubt that this episode was one of the strongest of the entire season. However, there was still room for improvement, and at times the episode fell back into familiar mistakes that the show has been making from the very beginning. “A More Perfect Union” was a decent season finale, but it still made me question whether or not this show is capable of lifting itself above mediocrity in season three.