Well, it could have been worse.
That doesn’t say a lot about Falling Skies anymore; it doesn’t matter how bad it gets, it usually turns out that the writers still haven’t reached the very bottom in the next episode. However, the season finale actually had a few entertaining moments. And a whole lot of cringeworthy unneccessities, like the entire episode 11, but it was not 100 % garbage.
Episode 11 makes up 170 % of the garbage though. It can be summarized real quick: After a game of idiot ball, Tom and Lexi go to the moon (instead of Tom and Ben). On the way, they inhale a cocoon and talk about family values and what it means to be human in a dream world. The End.
Episode 12 had the most interesting thing of the entire season: the spiky fog pods Dingaan first encountered on patrol. Despite their ever shrinking numbers, there are still large groups of people going on “patrols”, so Anthony has a reason to be absent from everything remotely interesting. (Yes, he is on patrol with a large group of others during all of the following events.) Anyway, so these pods just drop from the sky, release some sticky tar and crawling spine-leeches and slowly turn the trapped humans into skitters. It’s visually far more impressive than the stupid volcano landscape and it put a slightly new twist on “2 – 3 people trapped somewhere”, retiring “trapped under rubble” in the process.
Cringe is the word that immediately pops up in any and all Weaver and Matt Mason scenes, and this is no different. Trapped in a building, they start chanting a matra about not giving up and continue to do so for the rest of the episode. It’s painful to watch even before it begins.
In a garage or warehouse of some sort, Maggie, Ben and Hal are trapped. Well, Hal is stuck in the tar and Ben and Maggie are on a bus, trying to free him. After spending the last couple of episodes to build up the senseless rivalry between Ben and Hal, there is no trace of that anymore. They just get along fine and Hal gets saved. Umm, okay?
Somewhere outside, Dingaan and Pope are trapped and Dingaan already got attacked by one of the spine creepers. Strangely, Pope is the one screaming all the time (warning Ann specifically to not step in the fog, for some reason), while everyone points out how sound attracts the creepers. It is also unclear how Pope can still move at least one arm to save Dingaan, yet Matt and Ann inside the building are apparently paralyzed and unable to help Weaver when he gets attacked. Pope is on the ground, in the fog and tar, while both Matt and Ann are standing, and Ann is in super soldier mode after finding a functional flamethrower and fighting her way to Matt with it. Anyway, now that I think about it, this becomes more and more stupid, but I still want to say that Dingaan getting attacked was the first and only time there was an actual sense of danger here. With the tendency to introduce characters that aren’t Masons and then kill them, I did think for a moment they would kill Dingaan here.
The rescue in almost all cases was plain awful. The winning team in the category “least stupid rescue” is Maggie/Ben/Hal – Maggie and Ben finally manage to use their powers without making out. Weaver and Matt are saved by their human spirit and Ann with a flamethrower. Not making this up; she accidentally stumbles right into a functional flamethrower and instinctively knows what to do and where to go. This earns the team rank 2, because Ann was at least present and had been more than sufficiently warned about the dangers of the fog by Pope. He and Dingaan get saved by Sarah, who hasn’t been in this or the previous two episodes at all and just showed up with a gun to shoot the creeper on Dingaan’s throat.
I really liked the pods and all. I was even on board with most of the “these characters are forced to interact” pairings – Ben, Maggie and Hal had indeed a lot to work out (which they sadly didn’t), and Pope and Dingaan are two of the less painful to watch people, so that was fine, too. Weaver and Matt… Well. No. I would have liked to involve some of the underused characters, such a forced to stay put and somehow work through the danger together deal would have helped in many ways – to further the sense of actual danger (with non-Masons being far more likely to actually die) and to break with the usual pairings that just hurt to watch. But alas, Deni was nowhere in any episode and Anthony, as mentioned before, was “on patrol”, where nothing relevant happened, and only returned after everything was said and done.
Now, while all of this sort of interesting stuff was going on, Tom and Lexi were still in space and captured by the burned overlord on his ship. Stuff happened, testing the new found family trust of Tom and Lexi, bla bla bla, they are Masons and stick together, Lexi goes for the heroic sacrifice after learning what it means to be human, bla bla bla. As expected. Cochise had tried to contact his father and the Volm fleet to inform them about the power source, and luckily, they arrive in time to fight off Espheni forces. Lexi then crashes the ship into the moon base, and Tom in the damaged beamer comes off course and drifts into space.
This creates a void: Who are people supposed to hug now?! The answer is: Weaver and Anthony (of all people) are granted immortality. They are now involved in Mason Family Hugs [tm] and can therefore not die in season 5. Surprising, as I thought the only ticket into Masonhood was marrying Lexi, and with her death (oh God, PLEASE don’t have her magically survive…) that road is closed.
The cliffhanger was actually not that bad either. Yeah, it started out as Tom waking up in yet another dream world, but it ended with him seeing a blurry figure with lots of tentacles/arms and saying he had no idea how beautiful “they” were. “They” probably being the mysterious “greater evil” the Espheni are running from.
Episode 11 was boring and eventless and I wouldn’t have missed a thing had I skipped it. Episode 12 had some promising moments, and ultimately amounts to maybe 75 – 80 % cheesy/stupid, but with entertaining scenes. Not quite sure I’ll stick around for season 5, all things considered.