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FALLING SKIES’ “Death March” is the Worst Road Trip Ever
I’ll be honest from the get go: “Death March” was a borderline mediocre episode of Falling Skies; possibly even less than that. The set up is extremely simple: the 2nd Mass are on the road, just 300 miles away from their destination of Charleston, and there are three very clear and separate stories being told. Each one takes place in a different vehicle, cutting everyone off except for who they’re driving with. We have Hal, Maggie, and Pope driving ahead to make sure the path is safe; Weaver and Tector leading the main body of the convoy; and Anne, Lourdes, Tom, and Matt in the medical bus. I wish I could say either one of the three storylines stuck out, but it all felt rather needless, as though this was an episode designed just to fill time. Nothing really comes out of any of it. Aside from reaching Charleston at the end, I get the sense these situations were just one-offs and won’t have any significance beyond “Death March.”
Let’s tackle this from most pointless to least pointless, shall we? I would say Hal and Maggie’s little tiff over how Hal reacts to her “full story” is about as needless as can be – and really makes me wonder how much older than Hal Maggie is – but with Pope riding in the back of their truck, the mood was greatly improved. Throw Pope in any scene and you’re practically guaranteed an increase in quality. But even he can’t make what amounts to an unresolved lovers squabble anything more than frustrating. If anything had the potential to pop back in next week’s episode it’s this. But really, it should have been wrapped in “Death March.” Hal is being an idiot if he can’t just get over Maggie’s past. Don’t such a weiner, Hal.
Taking up the middle was the medical bus team. Whilst driving, a harnessed girl falls – at least that’s what it seemed like – onto the bus. She’s around Matt’s age, but much farther along in her transformation into a skitter than we’ve seen before. They examine her and note her harness appears to be damaged, so they take her on board and bind her hands and chain her down. As I’ve been saying, I’m not sure what the point of her presence is. She quickly befriends Matt, who doesn’t have anyone his own age to really be friends with. This could’ve been a whole lot worse, but Maxim Knight has been doing a wonderful job this season as Matt. He’s surprisingly convincing for an actor his age, but even his talent can’t distract from the simple fact this story ends rather abruptly and without acknowledgment of any significance. The girl, Jenny, senses her skitter brother and breaks free. She escapes, knocking down both Matt and Anne and is soon forgotten.
But the winner for the most pointless story on Falling Skies is between Weaver and Tector. The two drive by themselves, with Tector annoying Weaver by always referring to him as either “boss” or “chief.” Weaver deduces Tector was once a military man and that something bad must have happened to him while he was in service. Weaver berates Tector with accusations of murdering his fellow soldiers in order to squeeze a confession of innocence from Tector. While I think it’s good we’re expanding on the show’s secondary characters, this just didn’t feel like a story worth telling, at least not all in one episode. It comes and it goes and to what purpose? Instead of a nice slow build to this reveal of PTSD, it’s just thrown in our faces and then dealt with before we can take it all in.
Things are coming to an end though. We’ve reached Charleston and only two episodes remain in the season. This was filler at best. But there’s no reason to think next week won’t be one hell of a ride. Everyone’s safe for now, but the alien’s are still out there and I’m sure we all want to know what Ben’s been up to.