My oh my, will the folks from fallingskiesblog steal my lunch money now… But the truth is, I didn’t miss Ben at all in the last two episodes. All through the season, I felt a little bit like things with him were going to the “overkill” side: Everything was about Ben and no-one, with the exception of Pope, seemed to be motivated by anything beyond “reacting to Ben”. It is a heavy burden for a character this young and troubled to carry the entire plot, for a whole season, all alone. Therefore, I’m glad the writers are giving him a break because viewers will only care for so long about his inner conflict. All good things are good in moderation, and diversity is always appreciated. An overdose of Ben and no other stories to spice it up was getting dangerously close to a total overdose. What a good story needs are characters, likable or hatable, who have their own reasons, agendas and motivations for doing what they do. Even if they all agree about something, they should do so for different reasons. So, dear Falling Skies writers, here’s a checklist for season 3, from a smartass who knows everything best. You can depend on that. And just for the records, I’m okay with the Mason clan being the main dish – as long as it’s not a lone steak on a much too big plate.
Shame on you, writers, for not going anywhere with that character. As I mentioned earlier in my article about Anthony, I see a damn lot potential here and so far, it’s all going to waste. What do I want for season 3? I want to know if Anthony had a family, if he’s the only one of the Boston PD to survive or if he maybe had a partner who might still be out there. I want to know how he survived. We heard that most of the military was destroyed and in an emergency situation like “alien attack”, the next people to step up would have to be cops. I want to know what toll the situation took on Anthony. Does he still try to uphold law and order, possibly in a less psychotic way than Rick Grimes? Did he just give up on the idea of ever returning to the old definition of “right and wrong” and now just gives a damn about justice? I could see a man who believed in law and order all his life lose it because really, where’s the justice in having aliens nuke your world? Or maybe he never was that man and is glad there’s no authority he has to answer to anymore; finally free to enforce the law as he sees fit? You tell me. I hope.
I know, I know, I repeat myself, but seriously, main character billing and ONE line on average per episode? Face it, writers, that’s bullshit. We know nothing about Dai. NOTHING. “He isn’t a man of many words” isn’t anything to know if it’s not a character trait but an excuse to forget the character even exists in many episodes. In this case, the questions I want answered are way more existential than about Anthony. I want to know what Dai did before the attack. Right now, I’d have to guess he was starring in silent movies or something because nothing about his behavior or actions gives me any clue. He can handle heavy weapons, yes, but so can Hal Mason. That doesn’t tell me a thing about where he got those skills. I want to know why he had no family. Is he simply not the type to settle down, build a house, plant a tree and all the fanfare? Was he a modern day adventurer who explored the exotic places of the world; went on walkabouts, swam with sharks, helped on a dig for the remains of ancient cultures, volunteered to dig wells in the African desert and casually engaged in extreme sports like cliff diving? Or did he own a small newspaper kiosk in New York, chit-chatting with cab drivers about tourists, traffic jams and the weather? Really, writers, give me ANYTHING (though I admit, I strongly prefer the modern day Indiana Jones option. No need to thank me, credit is all yours).
Oh the hope you gave me, writers, when you killed Jamil! I was ready for enjoying the rise of the show’s action girl; a pretty female Punisher in a skitter skin trenchcoat, blazing guns and yelling battle cries. But as so often, you left it at the most basic hints of character development and went no-where with her new attitude. Even worse, you almost immediately pushed the button to set things back to how they were in season 1. Lourdes lost her family, her boyfriend, her optimism and hope. A few in-universe days later, she’s the ever smiling med student again, as if nothing happened. I don’t need to tell you where I want this to go. I want her to become the action girl Maggie (violently) refuses to be. Because someone has to, and because you went halfway in the right direction and gave her a good reason to change and evolve. Now, take that and make it happen. It’s what Falling Skies needs.
To be fair, so far, you mostly did a good job on him. The exception would be around Molon Labe, where he – possibly due to his concussion – didn’t even comment on Ben and Karen and them leading the mechs right to the 2nd Mass. But other than that, he got the best deal in terms of character development. Still, there are questions I hope will be answered at some point. The biggest one I have right now would be: Why was he in jail? 4 years isn’t enough for murder or manslaughter, yet the nature of a crime can tell so much about the person committing it. And since we know he learned to cook behind bars, we have to assume he had a different occupation at some point. Or was he always a criminal and just got caught on something minor? If I had to guess, I’d say he worked construction. He single handedly built the 4th Wall and that is why he knows where the peepholes are. Unlike the 3 cases above, I’m somewhat confident we’ll get answers from Pope soon enough.
Tect… sorry, Gunnery Sgt. Murphy
Here’s my glimpse of hope. Though I must say, the “I feel guilty for losing men in battle” story was a bit stereotype. But then, a stereotype is what you make of it, and Tector is getting development, unlike certain other, less lucky characters. And he’s the one case where you writers didn’t leave it at one episode and a few hints. In fact, you did a really nice job to slowly make him more present, reveal some new hints here and there, and then finally move his story into the spotlight. What troubles me is that you did all that in the first place – if it means you are planning to kill Tector and only did it because of that. Now, you couldn’t know that people would basically shrug and give a shit about Jamil dying or that no-one considered him as “fairly major” as you did. You couldn’t know that something went wrong and you had to try a different approach for your next redshirt. It is just always a bit suspicious to build up someone billed as guest star while utterly ignoring certain main characters. But then, Norman Reedus was billed as guest star all through season 1 of Walking Dead and now he’s not only a main character, but the only character people don’t hate with a passion. Ryan Robbins is a great actor and you’re doing mostly fine with the development of his character, so I hope you guys keep him around.
Crazy Lee & Lyle – what’s left of the Berzerkers
Seems Crazy Lee is no longer Tector’s girlfriend, yes? I assume his “dark secret” to be a soldier was more shocking and relationship-shaking than Maggie’s. (That’s not hard though.) Anyway, I’m glad she got more lines now because she’s a nice contrast to the other women on the show. She’s not soft and kind and pretty and passive; she’s a tomboy who can kick ass. So tell me her story. How did she get the nickname Crazy Lee? Certainly not from whatever it was the Berzerkers were doing; it was first Pope, then Tector calling the “crazy” shots there. What did she do before the attack? What made her join the Berzerkers? What made her turn on Pope? What made her reconsider? Why did she and Tector break up? Was it his rediscovered past? Who broke up anyway? Could he no longer deal with a gunblazing girlfriend or could she not stand the authority he suddenly had? Oh, by the way, this paragraph is also about Lyle; there are the same basic questions regarding the Berzerkers and his former life. But I’d be happy if you only developed one of them a bit more, and Crazy Lee seems to be the more interesting choice.
That’s my wishlist for season 3. (If you’re in touch with your inner Santa and he has a really generous day, you could add some better writing for Hal and Maggie, but at this point, they are both a bit beyond hope for me.) Don’t go overboard with Ben once he returns. I like him too much to take an overdose and get tired of him, and that’s what almost happened. You didn’t take that route and instead added the delicious veggies (mainly Tector and Crazy Lee) to the Mason steak, but it was a close call. So in a nutshell, don’t get too focussed on exploring every tiny emotional shift in your big picture – the Masons. Don’t forget to shine some light on the smaller pictures within – the characters around the Mason clan, because they make the story realistic.
PS: I also want a pony.