Season 3: The Word on the Street

For the first time since last summer, Contributing Author Beth returns to talk to us about some of the developments in season 3, and some fan reactions to them.

Ding dong, the witch is dead!

Okay, so Anne isn’t a witch. That would actually require her to do something interesting. The only bit of magic we’ve seen her do so far is to turn a perfectly good show into a soap opera. Abracadabra <sigh>.  And she’s not dead, more’s the pity, but at least she’s gone for the rest of the season, taking her creepazoid, aesthetically unpleasant, plot cliché child with her. This allowed me to cautiously peek out from behind the blast door that I’ve been hiding behind and actually watch an episode of Season 3.

I’ve been keeping up with the reviews, lurking on fan sites and comment sections, waiting for this episode where Anne and the baby are gone. We knew she would disappear–Moon Bloodgood dropped that spoiler months ago in an interview—so it was just a matter of waiting until she exited stage left, effectively erasing 1/3 of the show’s sap and crap. I feel like there’s hope for this show for the first time since mid-season 2 and you can have my hope when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. And away we go…

The general fan consensus seems to be that “Search and Recover” was an unnecessary episode at best, totally off-base at worst (more about fan reaction in a later article). I disagree. Maybe I’m feeling more bubbly than usual because I’m so damn excited just to be able to watch Falling Skies for the first time in a year, but I really liked this episode.

In case you didn’t pick up on my subtlety earlier, I’m a charter member of the I Freakin’ Loathe Anne Glass Club and my feelings would not be hurt if someone chucked her off a convenient cliff onto the jagged rocks below to be slowly dismembered by a drooling pack of rabid weasels, so the fact that she wasn’t in this episode and we know she won’t return to reek up the rest of the season was a high point. Okay, okay, you get it. Moving along…

This is the episode I’ve been waiting for since Tom knocked Pope on his moneymaker for making fun of Jimmy’s death and Ben’s Alien-American heritage. Pope let it pass, but we knew it wasn’t the end; after all, a big, tough biker dude got rope-a-doped by a wounded blackboard jockey. That had to sting, and it was a matter of time before things went from snide comments to full-on Gatti-Ward. In case that was all too subtle, Pope decided to remove all doubt by telling Manchester that if anyone was going to take Mason down it would be Pope himself.

First thing I loved about the episode was that it was Pope-and-Tomcentric. I lost all interest in Tom’s character in the latter half of last season and actually came to have nothing but contempt for him (see my previous articles for why) but this episode has me cautiously optimistic. Of course, any Pope is good Pope and it was nice to see that he’s as much of a jerkwagon as he always was. There’s one character that will (hopefully) never been feminized or watered down with a fanfiction romance. His sheer doucheyness is his appeal as he swims in a sea of outdated morality and simpering love affairs.

I love a good background story on a favorite character and I scored a twofer with Pope and Tom playing a rousing game of “Whose Past Sucked Worse” in the middle of the Skitter-infested woods. The back and forth snark between them had me picturing two high school mean girls going at each other. I could almost picture Tom’s Facebook post: “Oh Em Gee, Pope is a total poser. I totally called him on not being able to make a fire and he’s all, ‘I so can!’ and I’m like, ‘Not even!’ and he’s all, ‘Whatevs, I killed a guy’, so I was like, ‘Cry me a river, my dad was mean’, so Pope totally threw a snake on me. Loser alert!”

Tom’s abusive childhood has always been my head-canon and I was really surprised to get real-life confirmation. It’s always seemed to me that the steel that runs through him and his sudden flashes of temper don’t speak of a seventh generation academic. For someone like him to not only survive so long in an alien apocalypse but also bring his children through alive and well-adjusted points to him surviving something else earlier in life. To this end, Noah Wyle is a very unlikely hero but much more layered and effective than, say, The Rock with his tough guy looks. Please stop picturing The Rock as Tom Mason now.

For his part, Pope gave us a pretty decent revelation, too. I always figured he’d been in prison for an accidental death, but I thought it was probably a robbery or drug deal gone wrong. I like that he killed the neighbor for the sake of his son; it’s interesting and even as an accident it says that Pope is much more than just the resident turd in the 2nd Mass punchbowl.

This could have been a terrible scene if all involved hadn’t been so skilled. If Noah Wyle and Colin Cunningham had played it all maudlin, teary-eyed, and girly it would have been funny; instead it was manly, matter-of-fact, and all the more effective for it. Take note, writers of TV and fanfiction: it is never necessary to turn male characters into weepy girls to write a solid emotional scene.

What was attention-grabbing was how much of an antagonist Tom was through the whole episode. Pope was being reasonable (for Pope) and Tom kept picking at him with snide, petty  little comments until the whole thing exploded. I wanted to offer Tom a Midol for the PMS he seemed to be suffering from, but after a few minutes of irritation I actually enjoyed it. For the first time, we see Tom outside of the hero/Ward Cleaver mold. He was tired, scared, overburdened and decided to take it out on Pope. There’s more depth to the main character than the long, overly-confident speeches and soulful brown eyes. He’s not the same Tom we saw in the first two seasons. A little out-of-character behavior shakes things up a little and as long as he doesn’t do a permanent 180 it’s interesting.

Continuing in this vein, Tom got all emo and threw himself a one-man pity party while Pope heroically tried to save both of them.  That brings us back to Pope’s character. Why did he save Tom? He stormed off, prepared to leave Tom to the Skitters or buzzards, whichever got to him first, but something made him turn around. Could it be he was simply repaying a debt owed when Tom saved him from the helicopter fire? Could be, but then remember that Pope also saved Anthony in season one with no debt owed. I think our scruffy friend has more of a moral code than he lets on. I also think that he feels a little more kindly toward Tom after hearing about his childhood. Guys like Pope always resent people they see as rich, educated, and having had all the advantages handed to them while they themselves have to struggle. Tom pretty much squashed that notion and Pope is now seeing a self-made man like himself. Not that they’ll be picking out china patterns any time soon. I still think they resent the hell out of each other just for being light-years apart in their views.

Now on to the subplot of the search for Anne and her spooky little booger machine. Obviously, I wish they’d simply shrugged and said, “She’s gone? Huh. Oh well. Who wants ice cream?” but that only plays out in the twisted TV screen of my mind, so of course they got up a posse made up of every single important character vital to the survival of Charlesyawn and rode off in search of the missing presidential concubine.

My favorite line came from Lourdes as they were discussing Anne’s actions: “Anne isn’t the sort of person to knock someone out and run.” Um, yeah, Princess Denial, she kinda is the sort of person to knock someone out and run because she did that very thing. I really wanted someone to point that out, but then Lourdes does not strike me as overly intelligent or versed in anything involving abstract thinking, so it was probably better left alone.

I feel two ways about this subplot. On one hand, it interrupted what could have been more Pope and Tom action. On the other hand, with only 10 episodes in a season I’m glad they didn’t waste one whole episode on this. Besides, it got me more Matt and I loves me some Matt!

Speaking of, they’re finally starting to treat him as a full-fledged fighter and member of the team, thanks to Weaver. It’s about time, too. Matt has been pulling his own weight since he saved Tom from that Skitter last season and it looks like he’s finally being taken off the little kid shelf where his father plopped him for safe keeping.

The Mason boys finally remembered they had a mother once, even if Tom has forgotten. I’ve always liked the Ben/Matt moments, anyway, because they always seem so natural and realistic.

I wasn’t quite sold on the fuss over the dead woman. It’s a corpse, a bag of meat, nothing more, and burying her took precious time where they were all a nice, big target. Practicality should take precedence over sentimentality in that type of situation, but it didn’t bother me enough to take me out of the episode.

I’ve never been much on Jeannie Weaver one way or another, but her scene with her father where she tells him not to let the Skitters get her was actually one of my favorite parts. At first, I thought she was talking about not wanting to be harnessed, but given the context of the conversation she’s actually asking her father to kill her rather than letting the aliens breed her. I don’t know why, but that was a desperate, hopeless, and really touching scene.

Finally, the sub-subplot of Marina and Dr. Kadar. On short notice, I don’t like her, don’t trust her, and want her dead sooner rather than later. I’m sure that won’t happen until she’s wreaked havoc and screwed everything up because she thinks she knows more than she really does. Andrea from The Walking Dead, anyone?

On the other hand, I like the small amount I’ve seen of Dr. Kadar, but he’s so odd and endearing that I’m sure he’ll be very much dead by the end of the season, possibly at the hands of Marina. It seems like he’s getting suspicious of her, maybe enough to confront her. So long, Weird Basement Dwelling Guy. You’re gonna bite it before you make it to Tom and Weaver with your suspicions, brother.

We end the episode with Tom waking up to see Pope sitting by his bedside, where he’s been sitting for the whole two days. Loved it! There was absolutely no reason for him to do that except concern. I’m really trying hard not to imagine Tom/Pope slash fanfiction, but as odious as Pope can sometimes be, he’s a much better partner than Anne. Boys, meet your new stepfather.

A few random observations:

  • What was that evil look Hal gave his brothers toward the end? Was it for Ben, the one who betrayed the Skitter cause? Is Karen watching through Hal’s eyes and deciding who dies first?
  • Weaver/Marina flirting…because we don’t have enough of that vomit-inducing crap with Tom/Anne, Hal/Maggie, and Ben/Denny. Honestly, that stuff is like ipecac syrup for my eyes.

 

All in all, I really enjoyed this episode and I’m glad to be back. In spite of my utter disgust with the last half of season 2 I’ve missed the characters and the FS universe. I suspect I’m going to regret getting back into it because I know that She Who Shall Not Be Named will eventually return, but I’m cheerfully envisioning a brief reunion followed by an accident involving a chipper-shredder. Hey, I’m a simple woman with simple pleasures.

 BethTX is  a Contributing Author here on the Falling Skies Blog, just as sarcastic as me (not an easy accomplishment), and did not mention Ben enough in this article.

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~ by The Falling Skies Blog on July 6, 2013.

9 Responses to “Season 3: The Word on the Street”

  1. Beth,
    Oh my goodness! I wrote a post all about the Tom/Pope portions of this episode, but yours is better!! I love this description of Pope:
    “There’s one character that will (hopefully) never been feminized or watered down with a fanfiction romance. His sheer doucheyness is his appeal as he swims in a sea of outdated morality and simpering love affairs.” Priceless!

    I enjoyed the Matt/Ben dynamic as well. Matt is truly growing into an interesting young man and I am really looking forward to seeing him more often. Of course, I have always liked Ben! Hal is more interesting this season too (I am slowly becoming a fan of the eyeworm).

    As for Weaver all I can say is STAY AWAY FROM MARINA!! I have no overwhelming opinion one way or the other about Jeannie, but I do wonder where Diego has gotten off to. She was so concerned about him but when they get him back it’s like she is suddenly over him. I am NOT saying I want more romance, just that I wouldn’t mind having his name mentioned once in a while.

    I really like Kadar too and really hate Marina. I had her pegged for the mole, but I think that is too obvious. Regardless, I hope she is gone soon.

    Lastly, I am enjoying the absence of She-who-must-not-be-named and her booger machine, though I will admit to being curious about how that storyline is going to play out.

    My favorite line? “as Pope can sometimes be, he’s a much better partner than Anne. Boys, meet your new stepfather.”

  2. Thanks, Tamara! I’d forgotten about Diego and the other Lost Boys. I wonder if they’re going to come upon him dead or harnessed before the end of the season?

    • They got him back and we had one scene where Jeannie was showing him around Charleston and then he just dropped off the radar. Frustrating!

  3. They already rescued and deharnessed Diego at the beginning of season 3.

  4. Welcome back Beth! 😀 Bad news for a lot of us– Moon/Anne will be returning during the season finale with Alexis. *Rolls eyes and shakes head.*

  5. Ugh! Drat! Frick! And any other blog-friendly words I can come up with. Okay, calm down, they can still die. Think happy thoughts!

  6. Damn it! I’m still picturing The Rock as Tom Mason! Highly entertaining article.

  7. You crack me up. “Bens alien-American heritage” was priceless! As was “Um, yeah, Princess Denial, she kinda is the sort of person to knock someone out and run because she did that very thing. ”
    Great stuff

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