Up to now, Falling Skies has had several intriguing episodes, a few decent episodes, and one or two outright bad ones. But this week’s “Molon Labe” is the first genuinely thrilling episode of the alien invasion series. As the Second Mass attempts to keep hold of an invaluable prisoner of war, the invaders launch an all-out assault on their hospital stronghold.
A couple of surprising deaths and one insect invasion make this episode the best of the series so far.
“Molon Labe” (Latin for “to come”) is one of a couple of siege episodes of Falling Skies, but this one is all the more effective because everything seems to go horribly wrong all at once as the Second Mass underestimates the extent to which the invaders are willing to go to get their VIP back. Seriously, Tom and Captain Weaver totally miscalculate how aggressively the mech and skitter forces, led by the re-harnessed Karen, want their leader back.
The real action is beneath the hospital, where Anne, Lourdes, and Matt are trapped with a swarm of aggressive alien insects. I can’t stress enough what a fantastic, brutal tonal shift these things make to the series, completely upping the danger factor and destroying one character from the inside out. It’s a decidedly gruesome turn for the usually family-friendly series.
And in spite of the Second Mass’ tactical misstep in holding their prisoner (which affects them as a group and Tom in particular when Ben is put in mortal danger), there’s a pretty well-realized reversal in the end which allows the Second Mass to gain a (temporary) advantage. Noah Wyle’s Tom Mason is allowed to be particularly ruthless here, the love for his troubled son. We actually get some kind of minor resolution to Ben’s story this episode which follows the character’s natural trajectory throughout this season. Again, this is a show about (and in large part, for) families and this episode more than any other is about the length to which Tom will go to protect his.
Any flaws this episode? Nothing major, although I’m not looking forward to subsequent weeks of Lourdes’ drop into nihilism. In terms of highlights, Anne’s flamethrower was a neat touch.
Falling Skies airs Sunday nights at 9 on TNT.