Falling Skies – “Ghost in the Machine” Review.
Season 4, Episode 1
Air Date: Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 10/9c on TNT
“Sometimes, conquering armies find uses for their prisoners.” —Dan Weaver
I’ve been a huge fan of Falling Skies since its inception. Every season has had its moments of greatness and lulls. For Falling Skies, its strong suit isn’t the beginning of the season; it’s the guts in the middle, finishing up with a shocking finale. That said, while I enjoyed “Ghost in the Machine,” it’s not the strongest season opener but it certainly isn’t the weakest. “Ghost in the Machine” sets up the season and I think we are all in for one hell of a ride.
As “Ghost in the Machine” opens, we see our rag tag group from the 2nd Mass making its way toward some semblance of what they call “home,” but Charleston isn’t the same anymore, something our group finds out very quickly. The Espheni aliens have rallied their forces and are hitting back, hard. They’re using a new method to wrangle humans – large triangular staffs that emit impenetrable and lethal laser grids. So why are they gathering humans rather than destroying them? This is the burning question presiding over the season, at least for the first few episodes.
As much as I hate it, I know the writers have to shake things up this season. In order to really rattle the cage, they split the group up again. But this split isn’t like any other we’ve seen so far. People are scattered everywhere, including Tom (Noah Wyle) and his entire family. I watched “Ghost in the Machine” unsure of how things were going to play out but as much as it made me uncomfortable, even resentful toward the writers, I quickly realized something had to happen in order to move the story forward. What better way to initiate character growth than by dumping everyone out of their comfort zones?
“Ghost in the Machine” also has some surprises and answers a couple of questions. In the season three finale, “Brazil,” we saw the Volm forces trying to help the human race escape the war with the Espheni by relocating everyone to Brazil. But what happened to the Volm? They were supposed to defeat and vanquish the Espheni as they’ve done many times before. This question is partially answered but I know there is much more to tell.
There is a time jump of four months after Tom and the 2nd Mass encounter the Espheni. Tom and Dan Weaver (Will Patton) are inside an Espheni make-shift prison camp. But Tom has a secret plan he’s concocting. You don't think Tom is just going to sit in that dingy room scribbling the Gettysburg Address and the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner on the walls for eternity, do you?
One interesting plot point is the sanctuary of “China Town” where Ben (Connor Jessup) wakes up. We don’t know how he is wounded or how long he’s actually been out of it, but Maggie (Sarah Carter) is there, as well as Lourdes (Gabrielle Seychelle). There is also Ben’s half-sister Lexi (Scarlett Byrne) but she’s changed dramatically since Ben’s last recollection. She’s not a six-year-old little girl anymore. Something else that’s odd is how this small community has remained prosperous and untouched by the Espheni and their Mega Mechs (giant robotic killing machines). Does Alexis have the power to keep them at bay or is it something else entirely? There are no weapons in China Town. Could the lack of weaponry be a sign to the Espheni that these humans mean no harm? It can’t be that simple.
Meanwhile, other areas are not as thriving as China Town. The “ghetto camps” surrounded by the laser grids are a dog eat dog world. Even with the Espheni making food drops, it’s not enough. This raises the question again, why are the Espheni keeping humans alive instead of killing them as they’ve done before? The Espheni don’t even harness the younger children they take captive. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t controlling them in other ways.
It doesn’t go unnoticed that Hal (Drew Roy) and Tector (Ryan Robbins) are after Pope’s (Colin Cunningham) portable generator. They probably want to short circuit the laser grid. I have some issues with Hal’s fighting. After three seasons, you’d think he’d be able to kick some ass.
And why is it Pope always manages to get the lion’s share of everything? Where the heck did he find old episodes of Gillian’s Island, let alone a working device to play them on?
“Ghost in the Machine” gives us a lot of information to process and things to think about going forward. Will Tom be able to get enough intel in his nightly excursions to really break out of the camp? What are those new creepy flying alien things, and why do they take humans to the mother ship? Will we learn the mystery behind Lexi’s stunning transformation? Will Anne’s nightmares provide answers to what really happened to her and Lexi during their captivity in season three? So many questions…let the season begin!
What did you think of “Ghost in the Machine?” I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment here or tweet me @judybopp.
Tune in to Falling Skies, Sundays at 10/9c only on TNT.