After the sheer amount of chaos that went on in the previous episode, Falling Skies continued to show some tangible improvement as it devoted an entire episode to the fallout of Saturday Night Massacre. While A Thing with Feathers was a little crowded overall, with a lot of different things happening all at once, there were some genuine emotional moments tucked in there that energized the plot in a really great way.
Getting to see each of the characters struggle to overcome their own issues, some emotional and some physical, was a great way to continue the tone started in the previous episode, and even with several separate story threads occurring simultaneously, Falling Skies actually pulled if off pretty well. I was impressed by the sheer amount of emotional weight the story had, and regardless of whether we were watching Tom and Dingaan digging their way out of a ton of wreckage and facing their inner demons or seeing Hal struggle to let go of the ones he loved, A Thing with Feathers was consistent and involving in a way the rest of the season hasn’t been.
The stand out story was obviously Tom and Dingaan’s attempts to escape from the bottom of a wrecked alien spacecraft, as it both gave Dingaan some much needed backstory and gave us a vulnerable side of Tom that we rarely get to see in action. The pacing was excellent, and the subtle yet obvious deterioration of Tom’s signature confidence and optimism throughout the episode gave Noah Wyle some fantastic material to work with, and as usual, he absolutely delivered. His admittance that he lies to himself every single day in order to keep himself going was a really great, albeit somber, look at what makes Tom the man he is, and I hope to see that kind of continued development for him as the season goes forward.
Even Dingaan, who has been mostly a blank slate so far in terms of characterization, had a stand-out episode here, and hearing the backstory on how he lost his family almost got me a little choked up at the end. Treva Etienne handled the material like a pro, and watching the emotions dance across his face as he told his story single-handedly sold me on his character from this point forward. If Falling Skies can keep up this kind of momentum with its characters, then I think we’re going to be in for a real treat with the rest of the season.
The good didn’t stop there either, as Hal had his own demons to face, this time in regards with Maggie. Hal and Maggie have had a crazy relationship over the seasons, and its ranged from being kind of believable to downright silly, but their feelings for each other have never been in question, especially for Hal. So seeing him grapple with the realization that Maggie’s not only paralyzed, but also slowly dying from an injury sustained in the Espheni attack was tough to watch at times, but still resulted in a couple great moments for the show.
While I wasn’t surprised that Maggie survived, it’s the reason behind her magical recovery that made it stand out. Hal going behind her back in order to get Anne on board to save her life was an expected, but nonetheless important, move that quickly evolved into something far more dramatic. I’ll be honest in saying that I never expected to see Maggie with alien tech in her body, as Ben volunteered to have his own alien spikes transplanted onto her spine in order to enhance her healing capabilities. It was a tense and slightly unsettling scene that unfolded nicely, and I appreciated how the writers’ of the show found a way to both save Maggie’s life while also adding another layer to her story. It’ll be interesting to see how she adjusts to having an alien organism living in her spine, especially if they end up giving her some new abilities. My only fear is that this will result in the dreaded love triangle between Hal, Maggie, and Ben coming back again, which is something that I never liked and can only hope the show stays away from in the future.
If there was anything about the episode that really bothered me, however, it was the show’s continued insistence to paint Lexi as a redeemable character, as she continues to prove over and over again that she doesn’t want to be. Her attempts to not only mind control Ben but also convince him to join her in enslaving the human race were just the most recent examples of how she seems to have turned her back on her earthly family entirely. While Anne still seems to have hope for her, I liked seeing Tom finally face the facts that his daughter might be gone. I’m still expecting to see her come back around at some point, but I hope it’s sooner rather than later, as every episode seems to push her further away from any shred of sympathy.
Overall though, A Thing with Feathers was another exciting and successful episode that seems to show that Falling Skies is finally finding its footing this season. It introduced some original concepts into the show that I can’t wait to see continued, and even managed to add some extra depth to a couple key characters in process. If it can keep up this kind of momentum, then I think we’re going to be in for quite the ride.