Falling Skies has certainly had its ups and downs throughout its three seasons, but as someone who has been watching since the beginning, I’ve never given up on it. There’s just something really special about the story that Falling Skies is trying to tell, and even when it missed the mark, I couldn’t walk away from it because I knew something new was coming right around the corner. Falling Skies has proven time and time again that it’s committed to keeping things fresh and interesting, and with the premiere of its fourth season, that has never been more apparent.
The episode started off in a way I really didn’t expect, and although it totally caught me off-guard, I couldn’t be happier. We were reintroduced to our heroes as they made their way towards home. Everyone was in good spirits, and seemed to be content and even happy to be joining the Volm, the mysterious alien race introduced last season, in defeating the Espheni population of Earth and retaking their planet as their own.
But, of course, none of this lasted long, and before the first commercial break all hell had broken loose. Completely out of nowhere the 2nd Mass was ambushed by a new kind of alien spacecraft that carried and dropped dozens of very creepy looking pillars around the entire group of characters, which, as they quickly learned, projected a laser gate that would literally slice them to pieces if they happened to be in its way. Within seconds our previously happy heroes were getting killed left and right, and by the time first commercials hit, Tom had been seriously injured and the rest of his friends and family were either kidnapped or missing. Pretty crazy, to be sure.
Fast forward four months and we find that the characters have been split up into three distinct groups. Tom, Hal, Dan, and Pope are all locked up in what was frequently referred to as ‘the ghetto,’ a sort of prison where the Espheni have imprisoned all their captured adults, while the rest of the cast was on the outside, getting involved in their own crazy plans. While the plot was kind of all over the place, I really liked seeing Tom doing what he does and best and try and come up with a plan to even the odds and escape, especially since it meant he got to play vigilante and drive around on a motorbike with a flamethrower. Very cool stuff, and although it was glossed over a bit, I think Tom’s new role as ‘the Ghost’ will lead to some interesting stuff in the coming episodes, and I can’t wait to see it.
Meanwhile, on the outside of the alien prison, Anne has found herself with the remaining members of the 2nd Mass, trying to find out where her family has been taken while simultaneously protecting the men and women who’ve come to rely on her. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Anne’s character, but this episode completely changed my opinion of her. The four months she’s spent in charge of the 2nd Mass have certainly changed her, and I loved seeing her lead them with an almost iron-fist. She’s out for blood, and wants nothing more than to get revenge on the Espheni for splitting up her family yet again. It’s a welcome change to her character, and I really look forward where this season will take her.
As for the final group of characters, their story is perhaps the most intriguing, albeit surprising, of the whole bunch. After Ben awakes from a coma he’s had since the ambush four months ago, he finds himself in a sort of peaceful oasis known as Chinatown, where people are living without fear of the Espheni and seem to have completely forgotten about the horrible war going on outside their gates. Ben, along with the audience, is understandably wary of it all, especially after he discovers that his sister, Lexi, who, as you should remember, has some kind of alien DNA in her, has somehow managed to form a truce with the Espheni. And to make matters worse, Lourdes and Maggie, two characters who have had it very rough recently, seem to be absolutely on board with it all.
While seemingly perfect utopias are certainly not a new idea in the post-apocalyptic/science fiction genre, I really like how Falling Skies seems to be using this tried-and-true plot twist. Especially considering that Lexi seems to be the one behind it all. We’ve always known that her alien DNA has some unsettling side-effects, such as an extraordinarily fast growth rate, but this episode demonstrated just how creepy she really is. Now an adult, with suitably creepy silver hair, she seems to be leader of Chinatown and has made it her job to ensure every citizen not only accepts the Espheni as allies, but also vows to aid them in their goals, whatever they may be. Pretty unnerving stuff, and even though we had a lot of information dumped on us, I’m still really intrigued to see where it will go throughout the season, especially if Lexi turns out to be one of the bad guys and will be forced to confront both Tom and Anne, her parents, at some point in the distant future.
Another cool plot thread I liked was the reeducation camps Lexi seems to have created for all the children of Chinatown. With Matt as our central character here, we got to see exactly what the Espheni’s plans are for the children of Earth, and thankfully, it had nothing to do with the harnesses of the past seasons. I’m glad to see the show moving onto a new approach here, and while I still have plenty of questions regarding what kind of reeducation the kids are being forced into, I’m also really excited to see how Matt plans to get out of it.
I really enjoyed Ghost in the Machine, and thought that it set up the rest of Falling Skies’ fourth season really well, but if you couldn’t tell, it was a lot to take in. With so much happening, the episode felt incredibly cramped, and I can’t help but wish it had been a two-parter, just so we could’ve had more time to really let it all sink in. Still, Ghost in the Machine was an immediately engrossing and exciting hour of television that proved just how far Falling Skies is willing to go in order to keep things interesting. Season 4 seems to be gearing up to be quite an adventure, and even with my minor frustrations at the dizzying nature of the episode’s plot progression, I cannot wait to see where it all goes over the summer.