Chicken Little has been scorned for generations for being an alarmist, mistaking a falling nut for the end of all things. "The sky is falling!" Little would holler over and over.
'Course, there's always a chance that CL might turn out to be right.
In TNT's sci-fi series Falling Skies, it does look as though the end of the world—or at least the end of the world as we know it—has come. Nasty aliens have invaded, slaughtered most of us earthlings and are now in the midst of mop-up operations, hunting down the last remnants of humanity and pilfering children.
But we haven't bent our collective knee yet. Groups of resistance fighters are doing what they can to muscle their way back to the top of the food chain. It's tough going, mind you. Humans have to deal with the "skitters"—the tough and savage ground troops of the alien advance—and figure out what their tall Espheni masters seem to have in mind for them all. And it's hard to fight for your life without becoming as brutal and cavalier as the creatures you're clashing with. Everyone has suffered unimaginable loss in the conflict, thus we see the desire in many characters not to just defeat the invaders, but exterminate them—and painfully, if at all possible.
As the resistance goes on, the battlefield grows more complex. There's a possibility that not all Espheni are completely on board with the whole "exterminate all humans" game plan. Another alien race is working shoulder to shoulder with us. And sometimes it seems as though we humans fight amongst ourselves as much as with the enemy. No one, it seems, is safe—and no one's absolutely positive about what new challenges might wait around the corner.
"In the last two years I've been kidnapped, tortured, shot, implanted with an eye worm," says Tom Mason, the show's prime hero, a season or two ago. "Last week I was almost torn apart ... and contaminated by a nuclear reactor. I think we can count on something happening. Don't you?"
In the midst of all that carnage, Falling Skies still manages to seem more interested in picking up pieces than in breaking them. "The setting is very dark and gritty, but the wonderful thing about this show is that the tone is very uplifting and inspiring," Drew Roy, who plays Hal Mason (Tom's son), told nbcnewyork.com. "It's people at their worst trying to come together, all from different backgrounds, and having to focus on one thing."
Falling Skies is also a little cleaner than some of the other freak-fare we've seen lately. The aliens aren't pretty—though they might beg to differ. And they have these weird harness-like things they plaster on the spines of captured children that remind me of the "face huggers" from the Alien movies. There's blood. And guts. But we don't see the same kind of fawning fascination with gore that's evident on, say, The Walking Dead.
The show also has some issues with foul language, but some secular reviewers have actually called Falling Skies a "family show." I wouldn't go that far. It skitters (as it were) over the line a few too many times to deserve that kind of compliment.
Anne holds an Espheni overlord captive. Her daughter, Lexi, encourages her to free him. (We later learn that the overlord is partly Lexi's father.) Tom is captured by turncoat humans, and Captain Weaver and Tom's son Matt stalk the evildoers to rescue him.
Matt wants to punish the people who captured his dad. Weaver cautions him to not let anger control him. "If you let that hate destroy who you are, then we lost everything," he says. And when Matt tries to shoot the kidnappers, he discovers he can't. Meanwhile, Anne beats her captive overlord viciously, but the abuse causes Ben (who's psychically linked to the Espheni) great pain. We see blood run out of his nose, and bruises and welts rise on his stomach. Two people get shot, and others get shot at. Tom's captors punch him twice, drawing blood. Tom headbutts someone. Lexi gets angry at her mother, nearly strangling her. (She has strange powers, presumably thanks to her Espheni dad.)
A feverish Lexi appears to languish in bed naked (she's covered except for her shoulders). People drink bourbon around a campfire. We hear about a chilling act of betrayal. Characters say "d--n" three or four times; "a--" "b--ch" and "h---" once each. A Mormon farm is mentioned, and someone snidely says, "The Lord works in mysterious ways."
A firefight ensues when guards are attacked by fellow humans (who are worried that the crew in Charleston has sold out to the aliens). "I think the only good alien is a dead alien," says one aggressor. People are wounded and killed. A woman is hit with a bullet … and a piece of rebar when she falls. (We see the metal rod sticking through her head.) Not quite dead yet, she suggests that she be put down, like a dog.
Dr. Glass worries that her baby (that she had with Tom) isn't human as the settlement prepares to beat off another attack. When Captain Weaver's daughter asks how he can be so calm and even optimistic, he says, "If I'm optimistic, it's because I've got something worth dying for," hugging her close.
When a woman finds a spot outside to relieve herself, preadolescent Matt Mason tries to watch. "She's old enough to be your grandmother," Pope scolds. The woman, however, tells Pope to give the kid a break. "It's probably the most exciting thing he's ever seen," she says. Pope compliments Matt on his thieving.
Two women share a drink. We hear "h‑‑‑" eight or 10 times, "a‑‑" four or five, and "d‑‑n," "b‑‑ch," "b‑‑tard" and "p‑‑‑" once each.
Ben and Jimmy hunt skitters, shooting them, stabbing them in the throat and immolating them … until one red-eyed alien evades their attacks, impales Jimmy on a tree branch (we see lots of blood, only partly obscured by the dark evening) and works some weird telepathy on Ben via the alien-implanted spikes on his back. Jimmy eventually dies and Ben remains a part of the group—but are the aliens using him? Seems so.
Meanwhile, Tom and Pope have several big conflicts—the last of which leaves Pope beaten and bloody. The crew heads for Charleston, S.C., where they hear that a more organized resistance is forming. Fighters show gumption, heart and skill in this episode, and Captain Weaver laments the fact that kids like Jimmy and Ben have to grow up so quickly in this horrific world. One character is buried underneath a cross.
Folks drink beer. We hear "a‑‑" and "h‑‑‑" (four or fives times each), "b‑‑ch," "b‑‑tard" and "p---." There's one misuse of God's name. We hear references to human excrement.
The resistance carts in a captured skitter, hoping to communicate with it. One doctor would rather dissect the thing than talk to it. But at this point it seems that cooler heads will (might?) prevail. Meanwhile, Tom is attacked by a skitter who is leading a band of weapon-wielding children.
A skitter is shot with a handgun and shotgun, dying from the latter. Another alien is knocked out when someone sticks a gun in its mouth. Several skitters are blown up while sleeping. A human fighter is shot in the leg. (We see the bloody wound.) Removing a "harness" from a boy leaves bloody protrusions on his spine.
A human rebel (who wears what appear to be skitter claws around his neck as trophies) makes off-color sexual and borderline racist remarks. Characters say "h‑‑‑," "d‑‑n," "p‑‑‑" and "b‑‑ch." They misuse God's name.
In the midst of all that, Lourdes' faith is a big focus, and she prays frequently. She whispers a prayer for missing children and, when someone asks incredulously whether she thinks it's helping, she says, "It helps me." As resistance members gather for dinner, she leads several in prayer. "I still think we can appreciate what we have in our life," she says. "Even now."