Welcome back Falling Skies fans!
As the Second Mass arrives in Charleston to an underground community, they are surprised to receive a standing ovation. Overwhelmed, the group look completely stunned by the response.
Unfortunately, their positive reputation will not last long!
The Price of Greatness:
Captain Weaver (Will Patton) discovers that his daughter, Jeannie, is already there. He is delighted and relieved to see her. She is pleased to see him as well, but she arrived at Charleston alone. She and her friends got separated. I am sure that, at this point, Weaver is thinking that his daughter’s problem is a minor hiccup in an otherwise pretty good day. Not so fast, Weaver.
The underground mall is known as Charleston Arbour according to Lyle (Brad Kelly)one of Pope’s Berzerker buddies. As they have a hot meal, Pope (Colin Cunningham) vows that he has no intention of staying long term, “in Mayberry”. Good for you, Pope. Who would want to live in a squeaky clean back to normal neighborhood like Charleston?
Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is also enjoying a meal with his son Matt(Maxim Knight) and Dr. Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood), when he is interrupted by an old and respected friend, history professor Arthur Manchester (Terry O’Quinn).
Tom is thrilled. He finds out that Manchester holds the title of Majority Leader because, “president felt presumptuous”. Tom has a million questions about what the group in Charleston are up to. This works out well, because Manchester wants to know all about the alien overlord that Tom encountered.
Captain Weaver is introduced to General Bressler (Matt Frewer) by Col. Porter. Tector (Ryan Robbins) introduces himself as Gunnery Sgt. Aloysius Murphy which surprises the heck out of Weaver. The captain takes the opportunity to provide his “intel” on the locations of the aliens and offers his people to scout for the new military leadership. He is rebuffed, however.
Apparently, they do not need any scouts. Again, Weaver is surprised. Col. Porter (Dale Dye) comes to Weavers defense, however, he also is rebuffed and dismissed.
It turns out that Bressler’s position is that there will be no picking of fights with the enemy. They are far too cozy where they are, hiding under ground. Manchester, of course, is the one making sure they maintain the status quo.
They are interrupted by a bit of a hostile disagreement between folks just outside the general’s office. Weaver is called by Hal (Drew Roy) to sort out the difference of opinion. Sgt. Clemons is ordering Tom and the Second Mass to disarm and join different housing groups. Col. Porter intervenes. It is the way they do things, but he will back Weaver if the captain does not like the decision. Porter continues to show that he is a stand up guy on Weavers side.
Weaver decides to go along with the way things are currently being done. So does Tom. The beginnings of joining a new group are that both sides make compromises so that everyone feels comfortable. What compromises will the leadership of Charleston make?
Early next morning, Tom and Anne wake up to a fresh paper, The South Carolina Gazette, and an invite by the Majority Leader to sit down for a chat. The first thing that is made apparent is a bowl of fresh tomatoes on Manchester’s desk. He offers them to Tom, “first crop from our hydroponic garden. Another baby step toward self sufficiency.”
Tom is drawn toward a table full of books. Manchester tells Tom that they are forming a true government from the ground up. As they chat, Tom discovers Manchester’s book, “From Darkness; Democracy”. Manchester is being magnanimous and tells Tom he can keep the book. Manchester also talks about how wise the founding fathers were, and how he and Tom could be like Washington and Jefferson. To me, this would be a red flag. Manchester is comparing himself to two people he sees as larger than life and great heroes. Tom, still smitten with his old professor, listens happily.
Conveniently, there is a confidence meeting that very night. Manchester wants Toms vote, and therefore, the vote of everyone who follows him. Again, another red flag. A man who is the leader of a group of people like those already living in Charleston should not have to deal with a confidence vote unless he is messing up and alienating a great many people.
Tom brings forward his knowledge of a skitter rebellion and that it would be a good move to ally with them against the aliens. Not surprisingly, Manchester argues that Tom and his people need to continue to keep things quiet, “any hint of this, and we’d have a panic.” Manchester adds that he will not jeopardize the city, not even for Tom. Reading between the lines, I think he means he will not jeopardize his cushy position.
Weaver greets his daughter in his brand new military uniform. He does look very official now. Jeannie is part of the cooking crew. Weaver comments on it before he asks her what happened to her boyfriend, Diego. As she explains that she does not know his whereabouts, and that no one has gone to look for him, despite her pleas, Weaver is beginning to get a picture of the new leadership – a picture he does not like. He encourages Jean to speak out at the meeting that evening.
Dr. Anne Glass has her own problems. She meets Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel) in the medical area and is shown around. Before they get too far, another doctor shows up and begins giving her orders. Anne does not take that well and tells the other doctor, a heart specialist, that she is the combat medic for the Second Mass., and, if he does not want to walk around bowlegged, he better talk her through her new patients.
At lunch, Tom and Anne discover that the fancy meal they had when they arrived was special treatment courtesy of Manchester. Jeannie explains the way things really are as she serves them. Anne admits that there is something off. Tom agrees; why was an experienced combat surgeon placed in pediatrics?
Crazy Lee (Luciana Carro) provides her own version of intel for Pope. They are snooping around the weapons lockers. Moments later, Sgt. Clemons shows up and begins ordering Pope around. Pope appeals to Tector, who is obviously not Tector any more. He introduces himself as Gunnery Sgt. Murphy then tells Pope and his crew to, “fall the hell in”. Clemons want to see if, “you Second Mass cry-babies can shoot”. Looks like things are not improving.
Hal, too, has his own ideas as he finishes working with a gun. He is planning an unscheduled break. Capt. Weaver stops him. It turns out Weaver has some words for him. Hal can not be the person he was used to being. Since most of the people who are in the current army have never fired a gun, Hal will have to take on a position of leadership for the rest of them. “Chances are you will be leading some of them into battle. They are going to be scared as hell. You are going to have to teach them to conquer that fear. The only way you are gonna do that, is if you have their respect. You get back to tearing down that weapon until you see it in your sleep.” Meanwhile, quietly, Margaret makes off with a pistol.
Tom returns to his quarter to discover Anne tending to a wound on Matt’s knuckle. He now hates school. He was being picked on by some of the bigger kids who were saying that the Second Mass never fought and they just came to Charleston to steal from them. The kids apparently believe that Tom made a deal with the aliens when they took him away. Tom asks if the older boy took a swing at Matt. No, Matt hit the bigger boy. Go Matt! The only thing is, he is suspended.
While Pope and crew help themselves to the weapon’s locker, Maggie (Sarah Carter)shows up and aims a gun at them. They are not going to ruin it for everyone else here, she tells Pope. She wants them to close everything up and leave, and she won’t tell anyone. That lasts for a minute until they all get caught.
As Gunnery Sgt. Murphy and Sgt. Clemons show up, Popes man makes a move. Murphy shoots him. Pope gets sprayed by blood. Fortunately, the wound is not serious. Pope, furious, tells Clemons, “I’m going to wish you into the corn field”. Pope’s comment comes from an episode of The Twilight Zone, called “It’s A Good Life”, where a six year old boy with God-like powers is able to control everything, including wishing people he does not like into a cornfield, from which there is no escape. Clemons orders everyone, including Maggie, to be locked up.
Tom approaches Manchester, pleading for Maggie’s release. He recommends that Pope and his crew be punished with crappy details, but that they cannot afford to lose four more people if they get attacked. Manchester’s response is that Bressler has been itching to get into a fight and that the militarization of Charleston is necessary. So far, Manchester is not selling Tom on his point of view.
Later, Hal visits Maggie in her jail cell and promises to get her out of there, one way or another. Maggie reminds Hal that he is going to great lengths he really should not be, because his reaction to what she told him about herself was not what she expected. She wanted an honest emotional reaction and got a teenaged, “I’ll think about it”. She tells him to leave her alone. Maggie is definitely the more mature of the two.
The confidence meeting goes as expected. Jeannie says her piece about her friends. Manchester nods politely, but does not commit to anything. The producers/writers make sure we are aware that everyone, including Gen. Bresler is there to listen to the comments at the meeting. Then Manchester introduces Tom. He gets a resounding round of applause. It is obvious that Tom has a great deal of respect. Tom congratulates the group on their success as a city, but then wonders if the original purpose of taking the fight to the aliens has been lost.
To prove his point, he takes out the same book he received from Manchester and quotes from it, “there were some who advocated accommodation, who believed that the enemy would only be enraged by outright rebellion, but they were outnumbered by those who understood that freedom would come only when the enemy had been driven from their land. That was written by Arthur Manchester.” He adds that he has seen what the enemy has done to their children, he has seen and talked to them and he knows that they will only leave when the humans force them to.
The meeting is broken up by Clemons who has discovered a deharnessed boy (Cainan Wiebe) with a message for Tom Mason. Naturally, Tom immediately thinks it may be Ben. Sadly, it is not. But the message is important, nonetheless. The rebel skitter leader with the red eye is waiting nearby so he can talk to Tom.
Manchester calls the general aside to talk. Weaver and Tom joint them. All of them, except Manchester, are keen to hear what the rebel skitter has to say. Manchester’s decision is to put the boy in lock-up. Reinforce the perimeter, hunker down and hope the aliens pass them by. Manchester is one serious coward. His final words to Tom are that he expected to be challenged by his enemies but not by his friends. Tom tries to explain, but Manchester is not listening. He now sees Tom as his enemy. Manchester is not only a coward, but paranoid; one of the most dangerous personalities to have in power.
Being in power means that Manchester has certain privileges, including, apparently, a fully stocked larder. He has Pope brought to him, and offers him what looks like a steak dinner with a bottle of red wine. That type of meal has to look pretty darned good to a man used to scrounging for cold canned whatever. Manchester offers Pope a deal; give up some dirt on Tom and he can go free. Pope’s reply is classic Pope, “if anyone is going to knock Tom Mason off his pedestal, it’s going to be me, and not a tin pot dictator of Charleston, S.C. Salut.” For his comment, Pope gets a quick trip back to his cell.
Hal is back to see Maggie again. This time, the guard follows him down the stairs. He did not do that the first time around; why? Half way down the stairs, Hal quickly turns around and attacks the guard, knocking him down the stairs. Dai (Peter Shinkoda), who has not had much to do until this point, follows down the stairs to help. Hal plans to release his friends and the deharnessed boy so they can help the rebel skitters. Hal also lets Maggie know that the reason he did not get all emotional about her bad girl confession is because he does not know that person. He only knows the Maggie he met after the Alien invasion.
Outside of the jail area, they are met by Tom Mason and Capt. Weaver. Col. Porter is also at hand with their weapons. Tom is thankful and shares his appreciation to Porter. What a good guy he is. It seems like General Bressler is no slouch either. He has discovered or been warned about the jail break and arrives to quell the mini rebellion. Manchester has declared a state of emergency and all suspected dissidents are being detained.
Bressler is siding with Manchester, despite Porter, Tom and Weaver’s objection. He orders Sgt. Murphy to take them down to holding. This is Murphy’s big moment. Will he choose his friends, or the military? He chooses his friends. Good move, Tector.
Tom and Weaver are brought before Manchester. He intends to have a civilian trial and charge anyone who was going to meet with the skitter rebels with treason. He orders General Bressler to put Tom and Weaver with the others. This time, it is Gen. Bressler’s turn to make a choice.
Shortly thereafter, the general arrives at the holding area with Manchester. Tom’s people are released and Manchester gets locked up. Gen. Bressler informs everyone that the civilian government has been suspended and the city is now under martial law. Pope gets the last word: “Nice work boys. Looks like you dropped us into the middle of a good old fashioned coupe.”
This episode is a little longer than most of the ones I write because it dealt with so many things. Pope was being Pope; as difficult to get along with as ever. Tom Mason was at first conciliatory and compromising, but in the end, he chose to stick to what he knew was right.
From personal experience, I know that sticking to one’s convictions is not an easy road, especially when the person you have to oppose turns out to be a personal hero. Tom was fortunate in that almost everyone sided with him. In real life, people often side with the bullies of the world so they do not get caught in the bully’s sights. Manchester is a bully as are many leaders with the power of the military behind them. The important thing is to recognize that is what they are and to have the courage to stand up against them.
As we can see for next weeks thrilling the season two finale, “A More Perfect Union”, a confrontation is looming.
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