Episode Title: "What Hides Beneath"
Writer: Mark Verheiden
Director: Anthony Hemingway
Previously on "Falling Skies"
Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) realized that the 2ND Mass had been duped by Terry Clayton (Henry Czerny), a traitor who had tricked into handing their children over to an alien collaborator. At Clayton's hidden Sanctuary, John Pope (Colin Cunningham) was able to escape shortly before Tom's oldest son, Hal (Drew Roy), Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) and Mike (Martin Roach) realized what Clayton had in store for them. Clayton even explained to Mike how he made the arrangement with the alien Skitters in order to win him over, but Mike helped Hal and the kids escape. Mike also elicited a promise from Hal to look after his son, Rick (Daniyah Ysrayl) before Clayton killed him.
Tom's formerly harnessed son, Ben (Connor Jessup) used his enhanced physical skills to reach Tom and Dai (Peter Shinkoda) just as Clayton's men surrounded Hal and the other kids. Pope intervened on the children's behalf and started a gunfight with Clayton before Tom arrived. To save everyone, Tom surrendered and led Clayton into a trap. Tom was even forced to kill Clayton when he threatened Hal, but Pope was readmitted to the 2ND Mass as a wounded prisoner. During Mike's funeral, Ben became alarmed when Rick indicated that the death of his father was inconsequential to him… and he considered himself to be one of the Skitters.
In a dream, Captain Weaver (Will Patton) finds himself back in his home before a Skitter attacks him. When he wakes up, Tom is concerned to find Weaver so exhausted. Their commander, Porter (Dale Dye) arrives to discuss the latest events in the human resistance. The aliens are pulling back to the cities, probably to regroup before a new major offensive push. Thus the resistance cells push up their planned counterattack to four days from the present. During the discussions, Weaver is noticeably distracted by something that Rick is drawing for his art therapy and he accosts the young man. After Tom restrains him, Rick offers the drawing to Weaver.
Ben goes to see Dr. Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) to follow up on the spikes still on his back from the alien harness. To her alarm, the spikes appear to be growing around the edges of his skin and Ben no longer feels them. Meanwhile, Pope is conscripted to build bombs for the pending attack alongside Uncle Scott (Bruce Gray), but Pope's presence scares off Matt Mason (Maxim Knight), Tom's youngest son. Elsewhere, Tom voices his concerns over Weaver's condition to Dai and Hal when Weaver overhears him. Weaver gets Tom to back off his challenge and he insists upon joining them for the scouting mission.
On the mission to Boston, Tom, Hal and Weaver witness the Skitters apparently taking orders from an elongated humanoid alien with two legs. As they attempt to make it out of the city with their intel, they come across a woman named Sonya (Blair Brown), who claims to have been there since the invasion. As Weaver waits outside her home, Tom and Hal listen as she tells them that she was initially rounded up by the Skitters and then released. Outside, Weaver speeds off after temporarily disabling the other bikes. As they fix the bikes in front of Sonya, Hal and Tom mention that Weaver used to live nearby.
Tom soon finds Weaver in his old family home, where the captain is apparently drowning his sorrows in alcohol. In his haze, he tells Tom that Rick's drawing resembled his home and he believes that the Skitters are reading his mind and torturing him with his memories. He also relates to Tom how he lost his wife and daughters during the invasion. Weaver even mentions that his own daughter died when he tried to remove the alien harness from her back. He tells Tom that he doesn't want to leave anymore and prepares to abandon the 2ND Mass. Outside, an alien Mech comes directly towards Weaver's home to attack them.
As Tom and Weaver deal with the Mech, Weaver discovers a pair of reading glasses that belonged to his wife. Believing that she might still be alive, Weaver decides to go back with Tom and his son to confront Sonya for leading the Mech to them. Back at the camp, Anne recruits Lourdes for a secret autopsy of the dead Skitter. While looking inside its body, they discover that the Skitter was also harnessed; which means they may have also been slaves in this invasion. At the same time, Matt warms up to Pope and even gives Pope an idea about how to utilize the alien metal for weapons.
In the city, Tom, Hal and Weaver hold Sonya at gunpoint as she reports to her Skitter contact… Karen (Jessy Schram). Tom holds Hal back from rescuing his girlfriend because one of the bipedal alien leaders is outside with her. They give Sonya misinformation about their intentions and return to camp, where they find Pope about to give a demonstration of his latest creation: bullets made with the alien metal. The new bullets tear through the alien mech impressively, earning a cheer from the assembled camp. However, Ben notices that Rick is horrified and he runs off to presumably warn his alien masters.
For the most part, "Falling Skies" has been reliably entertaining throughout its brief run this summer. But the Weaver plotline in this episode felt like it was something someone pulled out of their a**. In Weaver's few solo scenes this season, we've seen that he's clearly in emotional pain over his own personal tragedy. But that's a long way from the actions that Weaver took in this episode. When you have an established character like Weaver, you can't simply wave your hand and go "now, he's crazy!" That's the kind of plot that needs to be built up as a slow burn over the course of the season. It doesn't work if it's just foisted upon us.
While Weaver's deterioration seemed like a dubious character direction, it did lead to some compelling moments. Weaver's story about how he lost his family was well told and it added to his character. The way that his daughter died from the harness removal would have made for an effective flashback, but "Falling Skies" tends to stay away from that technique. For better or worse, Weaver's backstory is solely dependent upon Will Patton's delivery. Fortunately, Patton seemed to make the most of the moment.
It was a surprise to see Blair Brown pop up on this series after being a regular on "Fringe" for so long. There wasn't a lot of depth to her character here, but her backstory is intriguing. How many other people are out there as defacto alien collaborators like Sonya? What happened at the internment camp that she mentioned? Why don't the Skitters harness adults?
The pacing for this week's episode was a little jarring, but it did feature two major revelations that kept things moving: the reveal of the bipedal aliens and the fact that the Skitters themselves are also slaves like the children. I half expected Anne and Lourdes to discover that the captured Skitter had once been human himself. There is still a possibility that Ben and Rick could transform into something like the Skitters from their time wearing the harness. But I have to say, it's kind of ludicrous that no one but Ben seems to notice just how creepy Rick has gotten, or how much he wants to be back with the Skitters.
Karen's return was also a welcome sight, because it was beginning to seem like Hal had forgotten about her. When you've got about two or three potential girlfriends, it must be hard to remember the actual woman you love. There are only two episodes left this season, so I suspect that Karen's captivity is going to carry over into the next season. But if she were to become the new "human representative" of the aliens, that could be very interesting.
It was also good to see Pope back in a more active way this week and his new weapons look promising. I just hope the writers aren't using Matt to soften up Pope even more. Just let the bada** be a bada** and stop trying to turn him into a heroic figure. There are enough heroes on "Falling Skies' and it needs more people like Pope.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.