The first season of “Falling Skies” introduced us to the world six months after an alien invasion.  Skitters roam the land with Mech (robots) and Beamers (airships), slaughtering adults while capturing and harnessing children.  90% of humanity has been wiped out, with all major governments and cities devastated or destroyed.  Surviving Americans had organized into groups of fighters and civilians based on their location- the focus of “Falling Skies” is the 2d Massachusetts Regiment.  (You can read more about the <a href=>first season here</a>.)  The finale had the second in command, Tom Mason, played by Noah Wyle (“ER”, “Pirates of Silicon Valley”), walking onto an alien ship with a Slender, the alien overseers, after a successful attack on the Boston mothership.

Season two begins three months later, with the 2d Mass leading a Skitter and Mech unit into an ambush.  During the skirmish, Tom reappears only to be accidentally shot by Ben, (Connor Jessup (“The Saddle Club”, “King”)), his formerly harnessed son.  The first episode, “Worlds Apart”, is divided between Tom’s flashbacks in surgery and the group preparing to leave their temporary shelter which is in danger of being overrun.  The second premiere episode, “Shall We Gather at the River”, has a wounded and possibly compromised Tom coming to grips with the changes in the survivors, especially his three sons, as the 2d Mass tries to escape across the last bridge across the Housatonic River.  We conclude with a successful retreat as Red-Eye, a Skitter who has been prominent in both episodes, observing them move out.

The first season felt leaden, with interpersonal morass and without any of the action one would expect of a science fiction military drama.  Season two changes this with a heavy dose of action, more natural dialogue and an enhancement of the special effects.  The invaders feel like a threat, both individually and as a whole.  The 2d Mass looks more ragged and on edge, having lost their home base and taken has been casualties.  We see new members of the group and hear about the Battle of Fitchburg, which was a pyrrhic victory at best.  The group has also been much more aggressive, attacking and setting frequent ambushes- despite having lost their Applied Phlebotinum.  All of this leads to a much crisper drama with characters you vest in and a show you want to watch.

A significant slice of the show’s improvement can be attributed to the new blood, much of it having a Battlestar Galactica pedigree.  Remi Aubuchon, (“Caprica”, “24”) took over as showrunner for the season.  The writing duo of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Battlestar Galactica”), also joined the show, penning the second episode.  A great example of their snappier writing in the movement across the bridge long shot, which introduced Crazy Lee, played by Luciana Carro (“The L Word”, “Battlestar Galactica”).  The first season veterans stepped up as well- David Weddle stated, “You can thank (Steven) Spielberg (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) for the special effects.  He said, ‘I want them better- especially the aliens.’”  The thanks would be well deserved as the Skitters look more realistic, the Mech more formidable, the Slenders much more menacing, and the series overall feels significantly grittier- all of which are welcome changes.

If the first two episodes are representative of what is in store with season two, “Falling Skies” will be a great addition to the science fiction canon.  Both episodes grew the characters while delivering impressive action- a delightful blend I am looking forward to seeing more of.

 

TL;DR?

The Season two opener of Falling Skies has a much stronger punch than season one combined…

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