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'Falling Skies' 'Saturday Night Massacre' review: Tick tick boom

'Falling Skies' season 4 episode 7 "Saturday Night Massacre"
'Falling Skies' season 4 episode 7 "Saturday Night Massacre"
James Dittiger, used with permission

Before "Boom!" was TNT's new tagline, we got "Tick tick boom!" from "Falling Skies," and we got to hear it again in the Sunday, Aug. 3 episode, 407, "Saturday Night Massacre." However, it's under sad – but heroic – circumstances, and this is easily the show's "bloodiest" yet, just as the description promised.

"Because we love, we don't do what's necessary. We make excuses or forgive or look the other way. Love destroys our judgement, our ability to see clearly."

Within the first five minutes of this "Falling Skies" episode, a character that has been around since the beginning is dead. Before the first commercial break, the survivors are planning to make a possible last stand against more enemies than they can hope to handle in a place filled with too many people thinking peace is still possible under the guidance of cult leader Lexi. By the end of the episode, 100 is reduced to 30, at least three members of the 2nd Mass are dead and one main character's status is very much uncertain.

Some of the earlier episodes this season weren't exactly up to par with what the show has become known for, but "Saturday Night Massacre" more than makes up for it. More than once, the tension is building in such a way that even though it's a bit obvious what's coming next, it still makes you jump. Even though the deaths themselves are foreshadowed enough that you should be able to figure it out, they're still heartbreaking, and despite what's happened on sci-fi shows before, these deaths are pretty final. And hey, at least they got more than Dai did when he died. (Anyone else still not over Dai's death? No? Good.)

Let's be honest. This is a show about surviving an alien invasion. People are going to die. People have to die, or there's no drama. The show wouldn't be what it should be. What this "Falling Skies" episode does it take that necessary step, so kudos for that. However, no matter what happens, certain people are untouchable, and because of that, it makes the others' deaths a bit easier to predict. (For example, Tector, which we'll get into in a bit.)

Unfortunately for Lourdes, this is the only way it could go for her. From the moment Lexi saved her at the end of last season, she had put her life in her hands, and it's only fitting that the same hands that saved her from the fear also killed her when the fear she had professed was gone come back. There's no other way she could have freed her than the way she did – freeing her from life – and honestly, it's hard to imagine the role Lourdes could have had if she had survived moving forward with Lexi. But the conversation about Lexi is for later.

As for Dr. Kadar, his fate was sealed the moment the 2nd Mass learned his name and he came out from underground and survived his first mission out with them. "I was a walking dead man when you found me anyway," he even says once he realizes this is it. Then, this season, he became the one who was trying to help Lexi, trying to figure out what was happening to her, and with so much unknown and so much conflict surrounding her, those answers had to end up being ones that only Anne would find, as they did, with Kadar giving her Lexi's samples as he died.

The final big death is Tector, whose fate is sealed the moment that Tom realizes that they have to make the enemy think they're all dead and the only weapon that can be used on Scorch is the one in his hand. Even as Tector goes with Tom to teach him to use it, you get the feeling that he's not planning to come down off that roof. It's only fitting that his last words are "tick tick boom" before taking out at least one skitter with him. Tector is a soldier, and he dies a soldier.

What "Saturday Night Massacre" also does is take out most, if not all, of Lexi's loyal followers, whether it's in the gas line explosion or the lineup the mech takes out because they're so sure that they'll be spared. Given what seems to be coming, that's a group that would only slow the 2nd Mass down, and what they seem to be trying to do is get back to the group everyone knows and loves: the 2nd Mass, doing what they have to do to survive. On a show like this, the only way to do that is with, well, a massacre, so mission accomplished there.

Meanwhile, Maggie's status is currently unknown, because while she may be buried under debris, based only on what's shown in the episode, no one has found her. Since they wouldn't kill off a major character like that, it's safe to say that she's alive, but it does seem to be setting up quite an interesting next move, given what's happened this season with her, Hal and Ben and given her and Hal's conversation as they're getting ready for the battle. While Hal sees love as something the Espheni can use against them, Maggie argues the opposite. "It's not love we need to kill," she tells him. "It's them." Hal's determination to go back out with the next wave of mechs and skitters coming can only be described as suicide – and something because of love.

The series continues to show the somewhat softer side of Pope when it comes to Sara. Pope is still the skitter-shooting, mech-exploding killer he'll always be, but he also cares – not just about Sara, but about everyone as well, as she notes when she tries to get him to run away with her and he insists on staying. "I'm not the type to run for the hills," he tells her. "The Masons, they may have their shortcomings, but somehow they've managed to live to fight another day. You, you want to survive, you stick with them." It's more than that. Pope may be a lot of things, but he's a fighter, he's loyal to the 2nd Mass, whether he wants to admit it or not and he's someone who's probably going to end up going down fighting. When it comes to Sara, someone who can go toe-to-toe with him easily, she doesn't need to be his equal – at least mentally – in a battle. She can realize being in the middle of a fight isn't to her what it is to him, and he's still by her side. Whatever happens next for those two, their relationship is easily one of the best parts of the season so far, if only because of what it means we see from Pope.

Finally, there's the whole matter of Lexi and Ben. The end of last week's episode seemed to offer a bit of hope for Lexi. She reaches out to her mother and opens her eyes after their moment while Anne was trying to save her from the cocoon. Even when she emerges from the cocoon, it seems like things might be okay – until she calls Tom "Tom Mason." She kills Lourdes and leaves, and while Ben goes after her to try to bring her back to save her family, even bringing up what everyone was like before the invasion, it doesn't work. Instead, she takes Ben with her, leading to more questions.

"Falling Skies" season 4 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on TNT. What did you think of episode 7 "Saturday Night Massacre"?