John Pope: Man on a Mission (For Himself)

One of my colleagues from Three if By Space has moseyed over here. Matthew gives us his take on the character everybody seems to have strong feelings about one way or the other: John Pope.


For those of you that have followed my Falling Skies related posts on FACEBOOK and on twitter know that I have never made a secret of my dislike for the man some have dubbed “the lovable rogue.” Of the 2nd Mass: John Pope and I have now been given the opportunity to create a blog post here and further discuss the issue. I have no doubt this post (if published) will draw some scathing criticism from those loyal to the character but this is how I feel about him. Hopefully I’m not the only one who has a problem with Pope.
Our first glimpse of Pope is when he kills Click and takes Tom, Karen, Hal and Dai hostage. We discover he is the self proclaimed leader (And I use that term loosely) of a gang of post apocalyptic outlaws, right from the start I never liked the character and he’s really done very little to change my mind yet pretty much everybody loves him and I just cannot understand the level of devotion he demands from his followers (Who he happily sacrifices to a drone strike at the end of The Armory in order to save his own backside – did he offer any of them a lift? No he just jumped in and took off.

We discover pretty quickly that Maggie had been a ‘victim’ of Pope’s gang, she explained what they did to her when she first “joined” – considering the type of show Falling skies is they couldn’t get too graphic with the descriptions or even use specific words but she made it quite clear what happened to her at their hands. Now Pope as their boss either knew about the activities and participated or simply allowed them to go unpunished at least for a while, but does anyone care? No.

He weasels his way in to the 2nd Mass by becoming a cook yet at the first chance he assaults Dai, steals a bike and runs off placing the group he was with in danger by unnecessarily going out of his way to kill some skitters that he had been ordered to leave alone and for good reason – Killing them alerted the aliens to the group’s presence   and very nearly got the rest of them killed when they were ambushed outside the bike shop. Some people within the 2nd Mass and no doubt among the Falling Skies fandom assumed Pope was trying to help by suggesting they go get the bikes but the whole thing was nothing more than a charade for him to try and escape because as he has made quite clear over the first two seasons he plainly thinks he is better than everyone else and deserves to be worshipped as some sort of messiah but he is really nothing more than an opportunistic egomaniac.

Now we don’t know what happened after he ran away but we do know at some point he encountered Lt. Terry Clayton and the 7th Mass and that led to an act of what I can only describe as pure cowardice on his part. After being restrained in a barn he willingly sold the 2nd Mass out and gladly gave the children of the 2nd Mass to Clayton to prolong his own life: What were his reasons for doing this? He hardly looked as if he’d been beaten bloody or tortured for weeks on end, he was held prisoner in a barn and unable to escape so he squealed and after buying himself some more time he took a chance and escaped – I doubt that day he escaped was the first chance he had. Upon escaping does he go to help the innocent children he knows are being held as presents for the skitters? No, he does what Pope does best: Run.

But wait you say, didn’t Pope selflessly come back and help rescue the kids when they were trapped in that house. In my opinion there was nothing selfless about it he couldn’t care less about the kids, what he cared about was that his ego had been hurt and he wanted revenge on his captors pure and simple besides he really didn’t get there that far ahead of Tom and couple that with the fact that the kids wouldn’t have needed rescuing in the first place if not for his actions and his “heroics” suddenly don’t seem quite so heroic.

A bit later after escaping punishment for his betrayal of the group Pope brilliantly devises a way to kill the mechs and once again practically the entire 2nd Mass celebrates and gives him all the credit. He really didn’t do much; he was in that lab with the mech bits and Uncle Scott for what days without coming up with anything.  An 8 (Or was he already 9) year old boy walks in, touches the mech part accidentally and blows a hole in the wall and suddenly Pope is taking all the credit. I’m not saying Matt could have created the mech bullets but there’s a good chance Uncle Scott could have without Pope even being there, so really all Pope did was seize an opportunity (Again) and use it to boost his popularity so that he could try tov work his way up the food chain and seize control of the entire 2nd Mass which is something he tried all season to do (Even if he wasn’t actively doing that you could tell his evil little mind was constantly scheming to get himself better positioned.) and he doesn’t want power because he thinks he could genuinely be a better leader he just thinks himself better than everyone else: If he’s so much better he shouldn’t be anything less than the group’s supreme commander right?

At the end of Season 1 Pope has managed to get his gang killed, escape from the 2nd Mass, betray them and almost get the children harnessed, he spent the season trying to take over despite the fact that without the 2ND Mass he would likely have been killed leading a suicide mission or something against the skitters. And despite the fact that Tom Mason constantly allowed him to get away with switching allegiances and the attack on Dai and all the other crap he did Pope seemed to make it his mission to bring Tom down, where’s the gratitude?  He doesn’t have to make Tom his BFF but would it kill him to not try and kill Tom and his allies or have him removed from power?

I was hoping season 2 POPE would be different but boy was I disappointed:

In Season 2 POPE was exactly where he was when we saw him last. In Tom’s absence he had literally bullied Weaver into giving him more power and control which is exactly what he’d done all he could to attain in Season 1, those of you who read the Battle Of Fitchburg should remember Pope doing slightly more than hinting to Weaver that if he didn’t bow down to him Pope would incite a mutiny and remove Weaver altogether, without Tom to back him up Weaver really had no choice given the following Pope had created for himself.   The second Tom returns Pope adopts a “kill first, not talk later” mentality towards him, if Pope had been the captured one not only would he have demanded authority when he returned he would have immediately declared himself fit for duty. In Pope’s eyes it seems everyone but him is vulnerable and should be shot for the slightest thing – Never mind the number of second chances he’s had but apparently nobody else is allowed!

That brings me to what I think is the biggest act of douchbaggery that pope has committed to date, In COMPASS Pope didn’t even wait for Anne to declare Jimmy dead before Pope wandered in and stole Jimmy’s compass. Even if Pope had some legitimate claim to it (Which he did not.) he had no right to just take it like that, it was rude and disrespectful to Jimmy and just outright insensitive to the actual human people of the 2nd Mass who were struggling with their own emotions following Jimmy’s loss. He didn’t care about Jimmy, he never did. And do I really need to mention the whole coercing his gang into helping him abduct and attempt to murder Tom thing?

And again he completely got away with it – Sure Tom kicked him around a little bit but what was his actual punishment I ask you, nothing (AGAIN.) Weaver told him off and Pope just stood there with that smug look on his face like he was some insolent 3rd grader being yelled at by the principal for talking in class or something trivial like that. The man has no respect for anyone.

Following the not so stern talking too Pope stormed off like a kid at the park who didn’t want to share his ball anymore declaring that he no longer needed the 2nd Mass and then he had the nerve to take offence when his new gang refused to follow him – Talk about a sense of entitlement, they hung with Pope but they have respect for Weaver’s authority and for the 2nd Mass, so Pope slunk away into the night taking Anthony with him and while many fans were probably upset by it and genuinely missed him during his time away I couldn’t have been happier (except for the Anthony bit, I like Anthony.)

Then he comes back and surprise surprise it is once again members of the 2nd Mass that save him, Anne fixes him up again but does he show any gratitude? No they saved him but does he care? Not in the slightest, in fact if anything he seems to blame them for his current condition. And what happened to not needing the 2nd Mass? Without them he’d have died from his wounds. Still he refuses to acknowledge it and spends the rest of the season doing nothing except whining about Charleston – I didn’t see them forcing him to go, he could have left at any time but he didn’t because despite what his big mouth says he needs them.     

So they arrive at Charleston and what does pope (predictably) do? He tries to take his group and leave, but first they try to rob the armory. (As if that was ever going to work.) He gets thrown in the brig (YAY) and then turns up in Manchester’s office with a primo chance to serve Tom Mason up on a platter. That led to the only real time I’ve ever legitimately like Pope, he told Locke Manchester to go to hell basically and reinforced that destroying Tom was his crusade and his crusade alone.

Skip forward a bit to where everyone is getting ready to go destroy that weapon thing and we seem pope with his gang again (Who apparently have no self esteem so must rely on him for it.) Don’t get me wrong I like Crazy Lee, Lyle and Tector but the way they ran back to Pope was almost sickening especially Tector with his plea for reinstatement to the inner sanctum, he may as well have said “I’m sorry for upsetting you daddy, please forgive me I’ll be good.”

His Svengali type control over them is another sticking point with me, it really annoys me that he has so much influence over so many people and for what in return – He orders them around, puts them in dangerous situation often without any forethought and planning yet they keep flocking to him!

There has been some discussion on this blog in the past few days about the perceived 1 dimensionality of a certain character and that can be discussed on the post page dedicated to it but John Pope is the perfect definition of a 1 dimensional character, he craves power and control and he doesn’t care how he gets it or who he has to hurt to get it.

The subtitle of this post is “The Enemy Within.” I do truly believe that’s what Pope is, if he’s left unchecked and given enough time he will do far more damage to the 2nd Mass than Rick, Ben, Karen, Tom or even the Skitters could ever do. If the overlords really wanted to win the war all they’d have to do is recruit Pope (Not harness him, just recruit him as is.) I really think he’d do it and he’d probably only ask to keep Tom Mason alive as a ‘pet’ in return.

Pope once described Tom as a “Pompous. Semi-Erudite History Buff with Delusions of Grandeur.” But Pope is in my opinion an “Arrogant, Egomaniacal, and Control Freak Criminal with a massive Napoleon Complex.” And did I mention the part where he’s also a greedy self-serving opportunist?

And just so there is no confusion I have no issue with Colin Cunningham (He’s a great actor and for all I know the nicest guy on the planet.) but Pope is an @&@!@**

Matthew writes for Three if By Space, has been defending Hal here on the Blog comments section for the past day or so, and lives in the only place I admit I am too terrified to visit: Australia

He can be followed on twitter: @MattJDrumm

Keep the Resistance Strong!


~ by The Falling Skies Blog on October 27, 2012.

5 Responses to “John Pope: Man on a Mission (For Himself)”

  1. First thanks for posting!

    Second you’re really terrified to visit Australia? Never had anyone say that before.

  2. One of the reasons that this blog rocks is because of the interesting things everyone thinks up. I couldn’t agree more on this, altho I tended to like Pope, when you line up all his transgressions like that, man! Such things to think about! We can only hope that Season 3 airs some of this dirty laundry. Lovely article Matt.

    • This blog does rock,doesn’t it! I love the chance to interact and discuss all the characters and get all the different viewpoints. Nobody in my real life is interested in my many strong opinions about this show! 😦

  3. First let me say, I agree with Matt on a few key points. I think Colin Cunningham is a great actor. In fact, this show is literally overflowing with great talent. Awesome actors, writers, directors. Wonderful CGI and action seasons. And I agree with the assessment that Pope is pretty one dimensional. I personally feel that all the characters have been sold short in this department. Maybe because of the short summer seasons or editing, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me but I find myself constantly thinking “give me more “. I want to know more about these people. And I want ….

    Wait, I am getting off point. Maybe if I ever get the chance to write for this site (please??) I can share all my wants and wishes for Falling Skies.

    Back to Pope. Sorry Matt, but I am definitely in the pro-Pope camp. He is my favorite character. Part of it is the bad boy, devil may care attitude. Some girls just can’t resist that bad boy vibes. But I think the biggest part of my interest is because I see hints at more dimension to him. It starts the first time we meet him. He shows intelligence and wit in his conversation with Tom, carrying on like nothing is up, then asking out of the blue when Tom is going to make his move for the gun. He struck me as Tom’s intellectual equal, a man who had the brains to succeed but not the willingness to conform to society’s standards. Now, I will admit getting his whole gang killed was not his finest moment. It was a major step back for me.

    I don’t think Pope “weaseled” his way in to the 2nd Mass. He just took advantage of the chance offered to him to get out of that broom closet. And he is a chef, so the 2nd Mass certainly got the good end of the deal there. Yes, he did turn on them at the first opportunity, but really did anyone think that he was going to let Tom tell him what to do in relation to the Skitters? His ego is way too big for that! All Tom’s fault in my mind, if he is so smart he should have seen it coming!

    Now, as to the incident with Clayton and the 7th Mass, granted Pope didn’t look like he had been roughed up (maybe the makeup budget was shot?) But it was sort of implied in the conversation with Clayton (I didn’t imagine that, did I?). And when he got loose, he stopped short of killing that guy who was going to kill him. Why did he hang around though? Well, I have to admit that it probably wasn’t to save those kids. It most likely went back to ego again. And the desire to kill Skitters. It’s kind a win/win for him if you think about it. He can get even with the man who locked him up by destroying his deal with the Skitters by following him on his next trade and killing some Skitters. How can he pass that up? Managing to help save the kids was just a happy accident. For us, not him….

    Matt, do you really believe anyone could bully Weaver? I tend to think that he just took advantage of Pope’s crazy reckless disregard for personal safety while killing Skitters and his ability to lead. He has to work with what he has, right?

    Another reason I like Pope is the simple fact that he says the things that we all are thinking. Weaver welcomed Tom back with open arms when even Tom couldn’t say what the aliens did to him. Pope was the only one to speak up and say “hey, something stinks”. And to be fair, he did offer Tom the chance to “do the honorable thing” and walk away. I’m pretty sure he didn’t really mean it though. Let’s face it, Tom is a little to good to be true, and Pope sees that very clearly. Tom, in my opinion, needs to get a little dirty. But wait, I am getting off track again!!

    I have to say, I can’t really argue with what you said about the “Compass” episode. Pope was a total douche bag in that one. But that was a great fight sequence between him and Tom. And I was disappointed when he left with Anthony (who I also like). And here is another place where I felt things went a little one dimensional for Pope. When they brought him back, it to use him as a sign post, pointing the way to Karen and Ben. So much more could have and should have been done with that story line. And it does bug me the way he is always wanting to leave and then flipping and working with Weaver and Tom. Pick a direction!! But there again, I blame this on editing and/or short seasons.

    Oh, and what about Pope’s kids? We know he had 2, and we know he used to make regular trips to Florida to visit them. Any man who makes that kind of effort can’t be all bad, can he?

    Lastly, I wanted to give you my take on Pope and Maggie. I have to say, if Pope was really so bad, I think Maggie would have killed him like she did his brother and the other guy. And if he was so heartless, he would have found a way to kill her for his brother. Instead, he seems to have a thing for her. And somewhere along the way she definitely shared some of her “dark” secrets with him or he would have had nothing to discuss with her on the road to Charleston. There is a lot more there than we know. I just hope someone lets us in on the secret soon.

    Okay, I think I hit the high points. Again I will say you made some great arguments, but still, there is just something about the bad boys a girl has got to love. 🙂

  4. I’ve had some of the same thoughts about Pope. The main one being that the 2nd Mass keeps welcoming home the leader of a rape gang. He can cook, great. Not a good reason to keep him alive, though.

    I actually like Pope, but he is a MAJOR opportunist whose only loyalty is to his own ass. Like you, I see major trouble for the 2nd Mass surrounding him.

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