"Falling Skies" fans, you're in for an epic fourth season if what we learned during the "The Magic Behind the Series" panel Friday, Oct. 11 at New York Comic-Con is anything to go by. If you couldn't make it to the panel, don't worry. We have all the scoop for you right here.
The "Falling Skies" panel featured new showrunner David Eick, puppeteer Keith Arbuthnot, character effects supervisor Todd Masters, and Doug Jones (Cochise) and not only offered a look at the behind-the-scenes special effects, but also a new trailer (watch it to the left) with new footage from season 4—and trust us, you want to watch it.
The big themes of season 4 "Part of the inspiration for this season was "The Empire Strikes Back,"" Eick teased. We're going to see the 2nd Mass and family members separated, with the audience yearning to see them reunited, and that will be part of the first two-thirds of the season. While some are engaged in desperate attempts to attack, some are housed in a Warsaw ghetto-like prison, others are in a youth brainwashing camp, and still others are in a Shangri-La like community where peace and the belief that the Espheni aren't enemies sustains them. They all look and feel different, and the season begins with a few different storylines.
Where's Cochise? At the end of season 3, we saw the 2nd Mass separate from their alien allies in the Volm, so what does that mean for Cochise when season 4 begins? That's going to be a big question of the season, as we don't see him in the beginning. Doug Jones is back in season 4, so we will see him, but he couldn't reveal how or when.
That epic trailer There are several notable parts of that new trailer, including how it ends. "When all is lost, let the moon be your guide," Tom says. But who is that woman? "I have no idea who that is," Eick joked but wouldn't say more. However, he did go into more detail on the moon. "The moon is sort of the chief theme of the season," he explained. It's both an emotional unity tool—even if you're separated from a loved one, you can look at it and know they're looking at the same moon—and a key storytelling plot device to encourage the 2nd Mass to get the Espheni where they live in a way that is not anticipated.
The benefits of the new writers' room The series' new showrunner called their situation "the best of both worlds" in that they have the same crew that has been there since the beginning and the same crew in Vancouver that has been there since season 2, as well as new writers to bring in fresh ideas, which allows them to "yank the rug out" from under the audience in terms of what they expect to see.
Two more episodes Season 4 will be 12 episodes, meaning they have the opportunity to delve deeper into the characters and surprise the audience with how these characters behave. Expect a few shocks along the way.
New aliens! Yes, get ready for more new aliens. "I am up to my neck in new aliens," Masters said. "There are so many new aliens that have come along, and it's been fun." They are constantly adding new characters.
Keith is awesome That's really all you need to know about Keith Arbuthnot, who is the man in the costume for the skitters and Red-Eye. "That's the trick, being able to emote through all the mechanics and rubber and everything else," he admitted. "I usually go into it with the idea of 'no pain, no gain.' Every time I get into the suit, it's like really wrapping yourself in the character. Everything about it puts you into that body posture, into that headspace." He can't be replaced—and they tried—due to his performance. He tries to give the skitters their own thing before they're killed off, and it's a team effort between production and Arbuthnot. If you've been wondering about the "why" of Red-Eye's red eye, he explained they were going for a "Phantom of the Opera" feel and wanted to give him more sympathy. And here's some scoop: he will also be playing more characters this season.
It takes a village to bring characters like the skitters and Cochise to life. "Cochise was built with such a regal presence," Jones said, pointing out that he's both "professorial" and "a kick-ass warrior." While he operates his own mouth, Masters and visual effects bring life to his eyes and face. Originally, Cochise was going to be all CG, but they wanted performance to be part of the character, and that was where Jones came in.
What's the Volm's agenda? The Volm are humanity's allies, but when season 4 begins, they've completely abandoned them. They're nowhere to be found other than a small ragtag sort of Seal Team 6 group of warriors led by Cochise on the outskirts of the ghetto prison where Tom and others are stuck in, Eick previewed. During the season, we'll find out where the rest of the Volm went, why they left, and what that means when thinking about how much we can trust them. Their relationship with the Espheni goes longer and deeper than others, and it's a new twist on what it means to have allies. They never become our enemies, but we will learn they're not the only threat to the Espheni. There are other aliens out there. This year is about investigating the theme of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
"I want love for Cochise, I do," Jones admitted. "He's lonely."
When asked if the 2nd Mass will ever catch a break, Todd said, "TNT's about drama."
Doug Jones is the busiest man in the business. He has movies and TV shows, including episode 315 of "Teen Wolf" airing in February coming up. "He is the Ryan Seacrest of Visual Effects," Eick said.
What are their favorite scenes? Jones pointed to the conversation with Tom after the Volm complex was blown up when Tom used Cochise's poetic wisdom back at him. Meanwhile, Keith pointed to the first time Tom and Red-Eye talked about he was capture and wounded because he liked showing that the skitters had a different side, and when Red Eye died.
"Falling Skies" season 4 will air in the summer of 2014. What are you most looking forward to seeing?