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'Falling Skies' 'Evolve or Die' review: The tough choices

'Falling Skies' season 4 episode 4 "Evolve or Die"
'Falling Skies' season 4 episode 4 "Evolve or Die"
Alan Zenuk, used with permission

The Sunday, July 13 episode of "Falling Skies," 404, "Evolve or Die," sees Tom, Weaver and Cochise head to the youth education camp to rescue Matt. Meanwhile, Anne finds out what her daughter's been up to and Pope meets someone new who's the perfect match for him.

After last week's episode felt more like a set-up than anything else, this week's "Falling Skies" almost takes on a "Walking Dead" feel, with everyone still headed to a reunion, but now they know where it is, thanks to Lourdes' transmission that's very reminiscent of the one for Terminus on AMC's series. While the very end of the episode feels very disconnected from the rest of the series and they may have been better off doing it another way (but it does seem to set up what's to come in a very obvious way), "Evolve or Die" does introduce several new aspects of the series in a very in-your-face way.

There's the newest member of the 2nd Mass in Mira Sorvino's Sara, whom Pope meets while disobeying Hal and going off to get the group fuel from a nearby farm, and she quickly proves that she can go toe-to-toe with the 2nd Mass' resident bad boy and then some. There's back and forth as each is ready to leave the other at one point or another, but as it tends to do on this show, it comes down to this: if you can trust a person enough and neither of you has sided with the aliens, you're better off sticking together.

In a way, Pope gets a look at himself in Sara, and while one of them (Pope) has killed a mech before, Sara is very much the kind of woman you'd expect to see by Pope's side. Yes, it's a bit obvious she's going to be his potential love interest (without taking into account that's already been revealed), but this episode introduces her in a way that you want to see more of her. Welcome to the cast. Now let's just hope Sara survives the season.

Meanwhile, the beginning of the season has already shown Hal taking charge while Tom was in solitary in the ghetto, and when Tom, Weaver and Cochise leave to rescue Matt, he's officially left in charge, and that means making the tough decisions right away, specifically regarding staying like Tom says to. With the Volm reporting that the enemy is heading their way, Hal struggles with abandoning their post and moving on or risking another big fight if the Mechs do come their way. When Pope returns and reports that there are mechs in the area, Hal has no choice but to leave, but he does it in a smart way and leaves behind a message only his history professor of a father will understand: Croatoan.

Hal in charge also means getting a look at his council of sorts. Like Tom has Weaver and Cochise (and Hal), Hal has Tector and Dingaan (and a Volm of his own in Shaq). (They both have the same thorn in their sides in Pope.) Hal hasn't forgotten about losing one of their own in their escape from the ghetto, but Dingaan has already adapted to his new group well enough to know what to say: don’t focus on the losses from last week, focus on winning the battle next week. In the world they live in, all Hal can do is move on because focusing on the past is only going to get someone else killed. Right now the 2nd Mass needs a leader, and with Tom away, Hal has done a pretty good job taking over that role.

Elsewhere, it's like father like son, with Matt thrown into solitary in the youth reeducation camp much like Tom was in the Espheni Ghetto. Kent continues to be the poster child for team leader of Team Espheni, spouting propaganda left and right and trying to win Matt over to his side even while arguing that he's a child so he doesn't know the truth about how "helpful" the aliens are.

When Tom gets into the barracks, however, he's not prepared for the kids to turn on him, but fortunately, Mira's running around the halls and knows exactly where Matt's being kept. Tom arrives in time to see Kent attack his son and reacts, and it's only when Matt yells at him a few times that he stops punching the brainwashed team leader. The rescue is successful, thanks to Mira staying behind and luring the skitter guarding the way out away, but it just means that there's something else on the 2nd Mass' plate: rescue Mira (and maybe the other kids if they can).

While it's a happy family reunion for the Masons, it isn't for the Weavers. After thinking he saw something in the darkness as they escaped Charleston, Weaver continues to feel like he's being watched, and he is. Unfortunately, it's just a bit too obvious that it's Skitterized Jeanne tracking her father, so there's nothing too special about the reveal or her death. She couldn't stay around like she was, which her father knew, but officially losing her seems to have given Weaver a stronger resolve. "They can't erase us. They cannot control us," he declares. The Espheni may want to take away their free will and have turned to Skitterization as their new method, but like their other plans, this one is flawed.

The happy mother/daughter reunion doesn't last very long in Chinatown, especially since Anne and her fighters are not very gung-ho about putting down their weapons. They refuse, so they set up camp outside the perimeter, but that all changes when Ben and Maggie clue Anne in on her daughter's late night meeting. They confront Lexi, and the Espheni talks to them through Ben, telling them that some of them believe they can live in harmony and all these other lies that sound worse than the propaganda Matt had to sit through in his classes at the youth reeducation camp. It doesn't really matter what the Monk has to say, Anne has Anthony ready to restrain the Espheni. Lexi gets angry, and what happens when Lexi gets upset happens, even as the Espheni tells her not to give in to the aggression. It doesn’t matter, however. Once the overlord breaks the connection, Ben yells that it was lying. Seriously, don't trust the Espheni ever.

Then there's the very end, as two Espheni, Scorch and the Monk in Chinatown communicate telepathically, and what seems so out of place about that scene is the landscape they're on. It might be their home planet or some other plain of existence they use to communicate, but it seems so sudden and disconnected from everything else shown so far, maybe they would've been better off holding that back for later in the season and simply showing the Espheni communicating in their heads from where they stood on Earth. That said, it does seem to suggest a bit of competition between the overlords with their missions, and it does continue to tease that there's something not quite right about Lexi. She's supposedly going to be this powerful weapon unlike any other and theirs, and there's still the matter of what's going to happen to her as she continues to grow.

Finally, there's the matter of the moon. The moon has been very in-your-face for these first few episodes, and Hal sort of offers an explanation, one that seems to just be, like other things so far this season, setting up what's to come. He explains that his mother told him before he left for summer lacrosse camp that if the moon is up, he's not alone because chances are someone else in his family is staring at it. That can't be all there is to the moon this season because let's be honest, it would be sort of a letdown. Plus, there's what Lexi's able to do with the moonlight to consider. But at least "Evolve or Die" offers something about it.

"Falling Skies" season 4 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on TNT. What did you think of episode 4 "Evolve or Die"?

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