‘FALLING SKIES’ REVIEW: Season One, Episode Five

Review of “Sanctuary: Part I” (01:05)

SPOILER ALERT!

Falling Skies, TNT’s new hit sci-fi series, continues to chug along with above-average episodes. A tell-tale sign that a show will work out in the end is if the characters begin to grow on you. With Falling Skies, the characters definitely fit this category. Every week we find out something more interesting and engaging.

In the inaugural season’s fifth episode, titled “Sanctuary: Part I,” we find Anne ‘Good Doctor’ Glass (Moon Bloodgood) held at gunpoint by a family looking to steal the survivors’ last lot of medicine. It’s a gripping scene that feels realistic. In dire circumstances, people will fight over health care, food, water and shelter. When the going gets tough, writers should never forget the basics.

Captain Weaver (Will Patton) and Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) decide to hunt the family down, realizing that the medicine is too crucial to lose.

Moon Bloodgood in "Falling Skies" from TNT — Photo courtesy of Ken Woroner / TNT

On their way to recapturing the meds, they stumble upon Lt. Terry Clayton (Henry Czerny) of the 7th Mass. Besides helping Weaver and Tom with the medicine bandits, he also relays news that Commander Porter wants all of the children sent to a safe house a few miles away. The skitters are apparently on the move and the 2nd Mass. is vulnerable in its current position.

The survivors under Weaver’s command are still camped out at John F. Kennedy High School (a not-so-subtle reference to the educational undertones in Falling Skies). The parents of the remaining children obviously fight this new directive; one of the odd stipulations by Clayton is that he’ll take the kids to the sanctuary, while the adults stay back and check on the skitters.

The whole episode is built on this rather unrealistic premise that the 2nd Mass. would be duped into sending their children off with a virtual stranger. But still, I enjoyed “Sanctuary: Part I” because it shakes things up. The survivors receive a much-needed change of scenery, and there is a bit of suspense in having a two-parter in the middle of the season.

As the plot unfolds, strange things begin to occur to Ben Mason (Connor Jessup). He’s now unharnessed, but able to do 102 push-ups with ease. He also says that his time with the skitters wasn’t so bad, and that he even misses his captivity.

Jimmy (Dylan Authors), one of the kids around the camp, begins to take on a larger militaristic role when Weaver lets him fight the skitters. Within a few hours of holding his first gun, he sees some action in a school bus with a pesky skitter. The sequence seems to point toward a burgeoning father/son relationship between the little boy and Weaver.

The warlike mentality also spreads to Anne, who decides to take shooting lessons from Margaret (Sarah Carter).

The ultimate decision to send the kids to the sanctuary comes from Tom, who likens the entire situation to the Blitzkrieg in England. Helping seal the deal is the willingness of Hal Mason (Drew Roy) and Mike (Martin Roach) to tag along with Clayton and the kids.

Right before the credits roll, we find out (no surprise here) that Clayton has a few secrets up his sleeve.

Falling Skies needed an episode like “Sanctuary: Part I.” Once the characters and central plot are firmly in place, there needs to be some instigation to put all of the wheels in motion. Separating the children from their parents and introducing a human enemy (other than Colin Cunningham’s John Pope) makes for some much-needed intrigue.

The plot in “Sanctuary: Part I” is fairly unbelievable. Despite the history lesson of the Blitzkrieg, I can’t see Tom giving away Ben so soon. But still, I’ll disregard that quibble, if for no other reason than it sets up an engaging premise for the future.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
  • Falling Skies

  • TNT, Sundays at 10 p.m.

  • Created by Robert Rodat

  • Starring Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Colin Cunningham, Connor Jessup, Maxim Knight, Drew Roy, Will Patton and Dale Dye

  • Rating: ★★★½

  • Click here for more information.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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