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‘Falling Skies’ Spoiler Interview: Writer Heather Regnier On Ep. 3.04 ‘At All Costs’

Each week, MTV Geek will sit down with the writers of TNT’s alien invasion drama “Falling Skies” and in a spoiler-heavy interview about the developments in the latest episode. Who lives, who dies, and what strange new factions will develop in the third season as the 2nd Mass escalates their conflict with the alien invaders.

Anne’s got a plan, while Pope’s got a plane in this week’s episode of “Falling Skies,” written by Heather Regnier. Regnier, who previously wrote for FOX’s “Human Target,” spoke to us this week about “At All Costs,” the breakdown of the show’s good doctor, finding the President of the United States in a bunker, and how trouble might be brewing for the 2nd Mass now that Cochise is (at least temporarily) out of play.

SPOILERS

MTV Geek: There are two major developments in this episode: The first meeting between the 2nd Mass and the “real” President of the United States and the loss of Cochise. Can you talk a little bit about these two developments, and kind of pushing the story in that direction this week?

Heather Regnier: I think for a couple reasons we wanted to separate Cochise. One was, you know, Cochise is our ally and we’ve been showing him as our ally and he’s kind of always been close to us because of that. And we wanted to perhaps create a question in the viewer’s mind of, “if we have lost time with Cochise, what does that mean in this world where there are [these different alien factions] and we’re not sure who to trust?” Basically, what it could possibly mean to viewers if he’s gone for a certain amount of time. We also of course play the jeopardy of – depending on what happens to Cochise, if he’s separated, if he were to get killed or hurt—what that would do to our alliance and our cause against the Overlords? Which would also be a problem, but either of those scenarios we wanted to introduce those possible stakes.

Geek: And, you know, I kind of think back to last season when the 2ndMass first joins up with the Charlotte group and kind of loses their autonomy, and there’s a lot of tension there. It seems like that should be something that you guys would have addressed in this particular episode about wanting to join up with the main segment of the United States government. You know, kind of losing the autonomy that they’ve already established in their Charlotte encampment. What’s sort of going through Tom’s head at thtis point? Why is he willing to hand things over to this president, who may or may not be hidden in a bunker?

Regnier: Right. I mean, the autonomy issues are interesting, and especially as our community kind of grows in Charleston. When we come back with our communities this season, we have far more bureaucracy than we did before. And that is almost an extension of that loss of Tommy; like we’re not just a small resistance group anymore, we’re actually building up to sort of government where Tom is the president and all that. And the Voice is still like, “hey, this is not who we are, this is a little odd.” So it always maintains the voice of questioning whether or not this change is good.

So that, I think we try to keep alive to question the idea of progress. I think, to be honest, it’s just the President of the United States, and we have all of this technology…I think Tom is a history professor, and as someone who has a great reverence for the presidents of the past, this is his opportunity to really play a pivotal role in history. If he could help the President of the United States, I mean, what a wonderful opportunity for him. I think Tom viewed it kind of differently than the Manchester situation from Charleston.

Geek: There’s like this implied legitimacy there, you know? Even if they’ve kind of been forging ahead on their own, Tom wants to be a part of the “real government.”

Regnier: I think it’s legitimacy, but I also think it’s so much bigger than what they could ever be. You know, this is the President of the United States; what they want to do is rebuild a nation, and with the President still alive, there’s a real chance that that could happen. If he could get the President onboard and rally with him, that would do so much for their cause.

And Tom himself has almost begrudgingly become the role of the President. He still wants to fight; he wants to be a soldier. I think he likes the intellectual elements of being a professor, but I think he also feels at this point it’s too early for that, we’re still fighting. The warrior-statesman that Tom is, there’s still a bit of warrior before the statesman. I think that he sees this as something that can buffer his goals. The actual President could really lead their cause in an effective way.

Geek: Now, that reverence for the state and that reverence for the institutions of the United States, it kind of forms the backbone of the show. To what extent have the writers talked about how the U.S. government is structured at Charlotte? You know, who does what, and what the bureaucracy is like. You talked about increasing the bureaucracy of the season throughout season 3.

Regnier: We didn’t want it to be like present-day bureaucracy, but it’s almost like the Founding Fathers, where right now we kind of have a president and a vice president and kind of cabinet, almost. I mean, the only politicians are Tom, Miranda, and Arthur, and Arthur was, you know, dispatched pretty early. So besides that, it’s still a pretty heavy military dictatorship. So it’s not so into bureaucracy like we have now because it’s still forming, but it’s kind of the beginning stages of trying to create internal systems and things of that sort.

Geek: One of the major developments this episode is Anne’s continued mental deterioration. She’s steadily losing it throughout the season and she ultimately loses it this episode. Can you talk a little bit about developing this character, and losing this character who’s sort of a rock through most of the seasons?

Regnier: Well, her character is kind of in this vacuum. She’s experiencing this really traumatic experience of seeing things that her baby is doing that no one else is seeing. And the people, just by word of mouth from her—Tom, particularly–are doubting because they’re not seeing it themselves. And this is kind of like the final piece of that journey. Like “I need to find answers to reconcile the things that I see that don’t make sense.”

And she finally gets the answer that she’s been feeling, but also kind of dreading, and that kind of pushes her over the edge. Something that kind of adds to that is that Tom is this warrior-statesman and he’s kind of stretched really thin. Because she’s a rock for him, absolutely, but I also think they’re rocks for each other, and without him being there for her, she’s kind of in denial about a lot of this stuff. I think that’s a reason, because he’s away and he’s seeing the President, so she flips out in this moment and leaves because he’s not there to support her.