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.
In this week’s episode of “Falling Skies,” “Be Silent and Come Out,” a tense hostage situation plays out as the Eshpeni make a bold move to find out what the Volm are up to. We sat down with writers Bradley Thompson, David Weddle, and John Wirth to talk about Hal’s metamorphosis and regime change, in an episode that asks exactly how bulletproof the Mason family truly is.
MTV Geek: This episode really tackles something very interesting about the “Falling Skies” universe, and that’s the sort of seeming bulletproof-ness of the Mason family. You know, Pope calls that out very, very specifically that it’s possible there will be no repercussions for Hal after everything that’s said and done this episode.
Can you talk about that a little bit, and kind of that sense that no matter how bad things get, no matter who gets mind controlled, no matter who does something horrible, the Masons might get away with it?
Bradley Thompson: Isn’t that what happens in politics?
Drew Weddle: I think depends on your point of view of it all. If you’re a Mason, I think you think that’s a wonderful, resilient quality that we are forgiving and we bond together and help each other through problems and we’re not too judgmental. But if you’re one of the people hanging out in Pope’s saloon or if you’re Pope himself it looks a little elitist. It looks like a double standard and that’s what I think Pope’s legitimately feeling and giving voice to. And it’s a dilemma. One man’s loyalty is another man’s insider trading. Cronyism.
John Wirth: With Pope, I dunno, after last week’s episode. It’s pretty clear that he has a weird fixation with Tom Mason, and I think the double standard idea is… there’s such a paranoia in Charleston right now given, you know, the idea that this mole has been there. And I think when it’s revealed that it is a Mason, just feeds into Pope’s idea that, you know, the world has never really been fair, and this is just another sign of unfairness…wouldn’t you say guys?
Weddle: Well, I think it’s interesting that you bring up last week’s episode. There’s even probably something deeper going on which is Pope’s confessions of the wreck he made of his own family and his own children. And his fixation with Tom—seeing a father who’s loyal to that family and holds that family together and makes all the choices Pope either wasn’t strong enough to make or was too selfish to make.
And so beneath all the political things that he espouses consciously, there’s a subconscious I think suspicion of Tom Mason and his family that’s feeding this.
Thompson: And there’s also the fact that it is probably true what he says that anybody else might use your skull for an ashtray after you blow ‘em away. That “Oh, because it’s a Mason, we’re going to go the extra distance to not hurt him.” Whether or not that is true, because we think that Tom and our guys would go out for anyone of our guys. Would put themselves out to bring back anybody to the Fold, Pope certainly looks at it from an entirely different point of view. He would have certainly blown them away.
Geek: I’ll be completely honest, when Weaver walked into the bar, there was a split second where I thought he almost might call out a bet. Because it was such a wrenching experience for him, you know, having to kind of pull Tom’s family’s fat out of the fire again.
Weddle: Uhh, John you want to talk about that scene? You want to speak to what you think was going through Weaver’s mind walking in there?
Wirth: You know, Charles, I don’t know what was in my mind when I was writing that scene. Probably was just trying to get it on paper so I could give it to Brad and David and see what they could do with it.
For me, you know, again, the core relationship in this series in many respects—and I’ve talked about this before, I think we talked about it our last time we spoke, Charles—is the Weaver/Tom relationship. And I think regardless of what’s going on, Weaver is always going to come down on the side of his buddy. And I think when he went into that bar and he saw what was going on I think what he said to Hope, I think he was sincere. I think he would have hung his head on a wall if Pope did anything to change the odds of those guys getting out of there.
Thompson: It was a wonderfully executed scene, too.
Wirth: Yeah, it was really nice. I thought they did a nice job with how they played it. Was that your question, Charles?
Geek: Well, yeah, just generally what were you thinking going into that scene and what was Weaver thinking? I mean, you know, again, it was just such a curious moment where I felt like it could have gone another way with it. Maybe this is thing that would be too far for him, this would be Tom’s family screwing up again, one too many times.
Wirth: Yeah, yes and no. I think what trumps all of that is the craziness of the power of the aliens. You know, I think Weaver understands—he’s certainly seen enough—what kind of damage the alien weapons can do. So when somebody has a bug put in them it’s really through no fault of their own, and so I think Weaver, as a leader of men and sort of the military leader of this community was going into that bar just to set the table for how everybody should conduct themselves in the situation.
Thompson: When Weaver goes in there and does that, he’s saying two things. One is he’s saying he’s come a long way when he was considering the fact when Ben was going off the rails in Season 2 that Tom may have to make the hard decision. And now he’s kind of saying, “you know what? We take care of our own. We know that bugs can get in them and damage them and damned if I’m going to give up a person to an alien bug if I’ve got a chance of saving them.” And that, as a leader of people, really does inspire hope. It’s kinda like when you go out on the battlefield and you realize no matter how bad off you are, you’re lying out, they’re gonna send somebody after you. Somebody is gonna try and bring you back. And that allows you to go out there and fight with everything you’ve got.
WeddleE: I think he sees Hal and Ben and Matt as surrogate sons and feels almost as strongly about them as Tom himself and as Brad said, he knows if Hal’s got the bug in him and he’s acting this way, it’s because he was targeted, it’s because he’s a casualty of war. And he’s not going to give him up to the mob and let the mob sort of—lynch mob psychology that’s sort of bubbling just beneath the surface of that bar. He doesn’t want it to go any further. He’s gonna put a lid on it out of loyalty to Hal as a soldier and as a surrogate member of his family.
Geek: And John, I think you touched on this point a little bit but would any of you kind of like to hazard a guess how the average person in Charleston, or you know the average human kind of perceives harnessed kids? Or you know, anyone who is at this point sort of under the influence of the alien technology?
Like, do they now see them less as an enemy and more as somebody who can be saved? Or is it still shoot first and ask question later? Is Pope right?
Wirth: I dunno…is Pope right? I don’t know if it’s a question of right or wrong, but I think people would react to it in a different way. I think there are people in Charleston who would say “we don’t give a damn if it’s the President’s son or the President himself, we have to shoot first and ask questions later. We have to protect ourselves.” And I think there are other people who would take a more humanistic point of view on it.
As Bradley was saying earlier, a lot of the stuff we did in the show last season and that show continues to do and did before last season, it really reflects what’s going on in the world today. So we have the conversation about drones—you know, is it right or wrong to send a drone to get a guy? And if there’s collateral damage, is that worse? You know, the price of getting the guy you sent the drone after and a lot of people feel differently about it, and you can get into great, wonderful arguments over is it right or is it wrong? Is it the best thing to do or not? And all of those human emotions I think are at play in the series and that’s what makes it so rich.
For me, anyway.
Thompson: I think John’s right on the money there. When you take it out to drones, you’re taking it out to what the show at its best can do, which is make you question your decisions, why you’re making the decisions you’re making, “yes drones are okay” or “drones are not okay” and it kind of in a way keeps our society honest. We’re asking those kinds of questions and struggling with those answers, then I think we’re in better shape then if we just decide Pope or we just decide Weaver.
Weddle: I think…what everyone’s saying is there’s a spectrum of responses. There’s not any one response, and that you could draw another analogy to gays in the military, or gay people have a right to get married. In our society we have a spectrum of points of view on that from “absolutely not” to “absolutely they should be in the military or have a right to get married.” And I think that same thing is going on in Charlestown respective to de-harness kids or spiked kids and there are those who’d say “hey, they proved their loyalty, they have the right to stand beside any of our soldiers.” And there’d be people who go “I still don’t trust them, they’re not human. I don’t care what they’ve done. They could be playing a deep game. I don’t want my daughter marrying one.”
Thompson: What David just kind of touched on is the fact that we do have bold technology that takes the spikes off of kids, but what we don’t know is what the residue is of that. We heard from Dr. Kadar [Robert Sean Leonard] that, you know, they’re genetically intact, but I would imagine Tom’s genetically intact except for whatever is inside him that caused the baby to go weird. Or did that happen? That’s something else. When you’re dealing with aliens and all that stuff, you just have to make your own decision and trust to the level that you can trust.
Geek: And this actually leads me to my final question, it’s about Marina. You know, these sort of differing perspectives and differing ideas about how to deal with the aliens and how to deal specifically with the Eshpeni? Maybe each of you could talk a little bit about what you think of Marina as a leader and maybe what’s bringing to the table. Or how she’s very different from Tom?
Thompson: Tom trusts her. He’s also aware that she makes up her own mind and he’s run into ticks with her before, but down at the very bottom of it, he thinks that she’s the best person in Charlestown to run this place.
Weddle: I think she’s giving voice to worries that Tom had also, but Tom felt the potential greater gain of this lie that makes the risk worth taking and Marina thinks, you know, “trust but verify.” I think that she feels that now that she’s got the authority she needs to look deeper into what this weapon actually is.
She needs to ask some hard questions, even if it risks ruffling their allies and arousing a potential conflict. And she feels she has the powers to do that, and she’s gonna do it whether Tom would have agreed with it or not and he basically gave her those—
Thompson: The powers he gave her, what he sees in Marina, he sees somebody who is thinking further downstream than he does. He deals with the problem that he’s got today. If it’s the vote tomorrow, then so be it. But Marina’s kinda sitting there like Churchill going, “You know what? There’s going to be an “after-this-war” and I want to be in the right position for it.” And Tom can recognize that.
Wirth: I think also that she’s decidedly less idealistic than Tom. He’s more of a risk-taker than she is and I think she sees the world more black and white, and just wants to proceed with much more caution.
Weddle: And she does not have the personal relationship with Cochise that Tom had, which was both a strength for Tom, but also a potential weakness or created blindness in Tom. So she’s doesn’t have that personal relationship coloring the way she’s thinking about this or the decisions she’s making. Which is another advantage that Tom can see. He really realizes that he’s blind in some parts of the spectrum.
WeddleE: On the other hand, she could be blind because she doesn’t have the depth of understanding of the Volm that Tom has. So is she right? I don’t know. She’s not particularly a combat person. She hasn’t been out there with her nose against these people, rebuilding Charlestown.
Geek: Any final thoughts or words of wisdom?
Thompson: It was one of the most fun scripts we worked on all season. I really enjoyed working with John and David on this one. This was awesome.
Weddle: Yeah, I’m very proud of the episode too.
Wirth: Yeah, which one is it again, guys?
Weddle: I don’t know! I thought you did.
Geek: Well I want to congratulate you all on your great work. I’m looking forward to people having the chance to check the episode out themselves. Thanks you so much again for, as usual, taking the time out to chat today.