After an exhilarating episode last week, Falling Skies settled back into more storybuilding with “Evolve or Die”. While certainly not the best episode, it did give some great character moments, and a true series first at the end of the episode.
Much like “Exodus” last week, a lot of the storylines in “Evolve or Die” were simple, or very streamlined. This worked well in some cases, and not so well in others.
It was refreshing to see that after their escape, Tom and the 2nd Mass were still on the run and were FAR from 100%. Throughout the episode, Tom, Weaver, and the others referenced their not so good situation. Including lack of rest, food, supplies in general, and of course, weapons and ammo. After what they pulled in the ghetto, you have to remember that they were imprisoned for months on limited rations. And they’re escape was almost literally pieced together with scrap materials. They aren’t the army they were in Season 3, and that’s not a bad thing.
Another refreshing story aspect was the true return of Cochise and his Volm brethren. We had only gotten small glimpses and interactions in the first couple episodes, but this felt like a true return to the interactions in Season 3. And, we got to meet another member of the Volm strike team. Codename: Shaq…best codename ever!
No rest for Tom, Weaver, and Cochise though, as they set out to find Matt and the reeducation center. Ironically, this incredibly straightforward, and didn’t have much twists in it. Although, after what happened in Exodus, it would’ve been hard to top that. The rescue of Matt was simple, effective, and well done. The writers really played up the “sound the alarm” bit the “teacher” had been preaching, as ever kid there lit up a whistle the minute Tom showed up. It was a great way of showing that, though somewhat illogical through our eyes, hearing something enough will make you believe it.
The only downside to this storyline was Weaver. I noted in the “Exodus” review that I knew something was wrong with him. And that got played up here. Was he crazy? Did he know a Skitter was following them and couldn’t/wouldn’t tell them? Was he being controlled?
The answer was both simple and complicated. Weaver was fine (or as fine as he can be in the situation), his daughter…not so much. We saw the result of the new Espheni experiments, and boy was it ugly. Weaver hit it right on the nose when he called it an abomination. And what was technically spoiled in the preview last week actually was handled well in the episode. We never really saw what Jeanie had become. We only got flashes, and glimpses, and the face shot at the end to show it really was her.
So why the sour note about his story? Well…because of the jump, we never really knew what happened to her. She was referenced, and we knew she was “gone”, but that was it. Then at the end of this episode we found out she “saved” him at the ghetto or something (See? This is why we need subtitles!). This would’ve been more meaningful if we had a flashback or something showing this event instead of Weaver monologuing it. Also his lines about how they “can’t change us, can’t control us” was a little on the nose.
With Tom and Weaver away, Hal was put in charge, with a simple task. Keep the people together, and don’t move. Simple right? Except when you find out the Espheni are coming to your location, and they’ll be there before your dad is coming back. What’s a Hal to do? This storyline was also on the nose, but it did have some good moments. It was nice to hear Hal’s past failures referenced, and a “Lacrosse vs. Rugby” war will surely now be waged on the internet because of this episode. The kicker here though was that they picked up a message from Lexi’s “safe haven”, and the decision was made to leave, for better or for worse. But hey, Shaq’s with them, what could go wrong?
A sidestory that came from Hal’s story (you keeping up?) was Pope being Pope and looking for supplies on his own….with no ammo…yeah, I know. Pope is a smart guy, we all know he is. So how could he make such a stupid move, in the name of spiting Hal? Not cool Pope. Of course, he did meet FemPope (I know her name is Sarah, I don’t care), so I’m sure he thinks he came out ahead.
This was the weakest part of the episode. Each scene felt drawn out, and their escape from the mechs was very unbelievable. The only real reason this story existed was to prove to Hal that they need to leave their current base. Which would’ve been fine, had it only been a short scene of Pope getting the fuel and seeing mechs in the distance and realizing he needed to get back to Hal and warn him. Instead, we got the Pope/FemPope power hour. Does the world of Falling Skies really need a FemPope? The answer, is an emphatic….”Eh”.
And finally, Anne and Lexi. What’s that? I’m ending the review with the storyline that I’ve hated the most? Yes, yes I am. Because even though it did still rub me the wrong way, we’ve FINALLY gotten some answers about what Lexi is, and how the Espheni are truly involved. Albeit, we got the answers from very unlikely sources.
Yes, Lexi still is annoying. Although “Evolve or Die” did have her best scenes, especially the first one with Anne. But once Maggie and Ben got involved, the situation both intensified and went south. The “safe haven” now has an Espheni prisoner, whether he’ll remain that for long is anyone’s guess.
The twist was the final scene, when an old enemy, and a now revealed new enemy talked tactics. That’s right, for the first time EVER, we got to hear an Espheni conversation without the need for harnessed kids. And oh what a conversation it was!
It was clear from the talk just how different the two Espheni were, and that their plans were not peaceful at all. Which just proves how sad Lexi’s character is. But this truly was the highlight of the episode, and will no doubt resonate in the next few to come.
In the end, “Evolve or Die” did evolve storylines and continue to merge them together. Matt is back with his dad, and The 2nd Mass is heading to where Anne, Ben, and Lexi are. So it’s starting to come together. Let’s hope things continue to grow, and in a productive and meaningful way.