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'Falling Skies' 'Drawing Straws' review: On a wing and a prayer

'Falling Skies' season 4 episode 10 "Drawing Straws"
'Falling Skies' season 4 episode 10 "Drawing Straws"
James Dittiger, used with permission

The Sunday, Aug. 24 episode of "Falling Skies," 410, "Drawing Straws," is the last one before the two-part finale. The current plan may be a crazy one, as others have no problem reminding Tom every chance they get, and it's not one that can be taken lightly.

"Man should be prepared to be sufficient unto himself."

This episode of "Falling Skies" is very much about setting up what happens in the season finale, and because of that, not much really happens, especially in terms of the mission to fly the beamer to the moon, which, honestly, just sounds crazier the more times it's said. Yes, they figure out who's going to go, Hal and Ben finally have a real conversation about Maggie and Lexi gets a reality check, but the end of the episode could change everything, and instead, the aliens take a backseat in this episode as the humans work out their relationship problems. It's a solid episode, one that seems to take care of those issues that could otherwise be in the way during a finale and a mission like they have planned, but it also feels like it's set up to do just that so they don't have to worry about any of that stuff for the finale and can concentrate on the problems at hand. It's pretty much what we've come to expect from this show as a season is coming to an end.

With the Espheni emptying out ghettos, Tom knows they have only one thing left to do to attempt to win the war: fly the beamer to the moon and take down the power core. He's all ready to do it himself, but Anne argues that they have to decide things together (and she's not just talking about the group). Then, to make things worse, they realize that Cochise can't go along on the mission since the beamer is made to reject all things Volm, so with that, they need two people to go – and Matt is the one to suggest they draw straws. With everyone on board with that, Tom has no choice but to agree.

Matt has chosen the perfect time for his teenage rebellion, and you know what? All the power to him. It begins with Matt's rebellious side leading to him figuring out how to pilot the beamer, and it continues with his decision to put his name in the skull, only for Tom to tell him no because of his age – and no, he doesn't like his son throwing a history lesson back at him. "Yeah, I know, but you have to be 15 to pilot an alien spaceship, and you don’t have your learner’s permit yet," Tom says, and the discussion is over. That line is gold.

In the end, the draw goes exactly as expected: a Mason son is chosen, and Tom fixes it so he goes with Ben. However, as he explains to Anne, it's not only that he's not willing to let his son go without him; he also feels like he's supposed to be on the mission, like it's what he's supposed to do, like her belief in Lexi, and really, how can she argue with that? So with Anne's second day anniversary present – Epictetus, pocket science – Tom's ready to go to the moon (and return so he and Anne can have a honeymoon). "Don't be afraid to let yourself feel things," Tom advises his youngest son and leaves Matt and Weaver to take care of each other. "You don't have to be so tough all the time." Only the launch doesn't go off as planned.

Meanwhile, Weaver finds Pope taking a name out of the skull and immediately assumes that it's his own, given Pope's very vocal feelings on the subject. It's only after they've fought a bit that Pope reveals he took Tom and Weaver's names out because he needs to be on the ship. "These people, they need you, you and Mason. Nobody needs me," Pope explains. "I could disappear tomorrow, and I really doubt that anybody's going to notice. I gotta be on that ship. That beamer's on a one-way ticket. It ain't coming back. We both know that. Let me be the hero, Dan. Let me be the martyr. It's just a Hail Mary for the plan. Let me do something, something worth remembering." He has no family, no kids, no wife, nothing, even as Weaver says that she might come back. That's the best scene of the episode, hands down. As entertaining as it is to see Pope and a Mason at each other's throats, they have been pretty good this season at mixing that up with showing other sides of Pope, whether that’s his relationship with Sara or this encounter with Weaver.

The Hal/Maggie/Ben love triangle continues, with Ben and Maggie both trying to talk to Hal and blame the spikes and Hal arguing that everyone has their version of spikes, a.k.a. something to blame for lack of self-control. It's Tom who offers some words of wisdom: ultimately, it's up to Maggie. It takes Hal some time – seeing Ben and Maggie kissing again when he goes to forgive his brother doesn't help – but he and Ben do have the short version of the conversation they need to as they're getting ready for the launch. That doesn't mean that Hal's not hurt by what they did, so could that be what him bleeding from his chest in Ben's dream earlier this season was foreshadowing? Hal hurt from their betrayal?

Finally, it looks like Lexi chooses the right family, and it all begins with a nightmare of Ben changing and him blaming her for it. The Monk takes her out to train, to practice using her powers to control gravity, which means destroying a tree. "I don't want to destroy it," she argues, but he tells her, "You are setting it free. …You are the bringer of peace." (Remember when Lexi used that same word – "free" – before killing Lourdes?) Her potential is unlimited, but as Lexi learns when she eavesdrops on the Monk and Scorch's conversation on the shadow plane, she's on the wrong side. Scorch is worried that they can't control Lexi for much longer, and that means one thing: time to kill her.

Well, Lexi instead turns the tables on the Monk and kills him first, then she shows up to take out the beamers before they can take out Chinatown. Talk about making an entrance! "Hello, father," she greets Tom. Welcome back, Lexi. But can she be trusted?

"Falling Skies" season 4 ends next Sunday with the two-hour finale at 9 p.m. on TNT. What did you think of episode 10, "Drawing Straws"?