Last week’s Falling Skies gave Tom Mason a break and this episode may rank as one of the most irritating and frustrating installments of season five. Colonel Weaver, Tom and Hal find what appears to be a “fully operating” base and when they approach it are stopped by hostile forces. A standoff ensues and things are calmed down by the arrival of Captain Katie Marshall. The local commander is an old friend of Dan Weaver’s and he is pleased to see her.
The old home week flavor continues when Lt. Demarcus Wolf, another face from Weaver’s past shows up. Meanwhile, back at the distillery, Cochise and Dingaan Botha try to remove the Espheni transmitter device. Cue a slight comic interlude where Botha explains Enigma to the Volm and then tries to move the transmitter barehanded.
Back at the 14th Virginia, things begin to go south the moment they learn that Tom flew a captured beamer to the Moon and that the 2nd Mass have been working with the Volm. As the group integrate with Marshall’s troops, things feel odd and uncomfortable. Isabella is approached by one of the men and Hal steps in to ward off any encroachment to his rescuer.
At Isabella’s suggestion, Hal goes to speak with Maggie and they talk about the spikes she had removed. The atmosphere on the base slowly changes for the worse, at a party later Ben jokes with one of the soldiers and is called “Super Freak” by the recipient of the prank and the military under Marshall’s command turn out to be on a different path to the 2nd Mass.
Dan Weaver and Katie catch up and talk old times. As they talk, Weaver asks the captain about the “beauty mark” on her neck (scar). Marshall begins to tell of a skitter attack that took place six weeks previously when she suddenly trails off and changes the subject. In the infirmary, Anne learns that medical care at the base is a little lacking.
A wound previously treated has flared up and when she attempts to treat the soldier, she learns that they have no painkillers, antibiotics or other supplies. Ben is approached in the latrine by a number of armed soldiers who tell young Mason he needs to go with them. “You don’t want to do this,” he tells them as they start to force his hand. Ben, using the super-soldier strength that Anne did not want Maggie to lose, kicks 14th Virginia butt until he is tased.
As things continue to go pear-shaped, Ben ends up face down on a table and the “Super Freak” soldier that he pranked at the party removes one of the spikes with pliers. In what can only be seen as poetic justice the soldier is injured by the spike after it is out. Tom and Hal are arrested, Anne is kept prisoner in the infirmary and Dan Weaver talks to Marshall and asks what she is doing.
Prior to Tom’s arrest, he spoke with Lt. Wolf and found that the base troops were not fighting the Espheni but capturing human “collaborators,” trying them for treason and killing them. The military on the base are being tasked, by Marshall, to monitor communications and not to interact with the many militia groups who have been fighting with the Espheni.
Mason and Weaver also learn that Marshall and her soldiers do not trust the Volm. Earlier in the episode, once they saw the reaction that the Captains troops had when learning of Cochise, they lied about his presence.
Wolf talks to Mason and voices his concerns about the captain and he mentions the attack six weeks previously. The one which left her with an un-healed wound and “ice water in her veins.” She is, Wolf claims, very different since the attack.
Dan Weaver spends time with Katie and he brings her breakfast. Anne removes dead and infected tissue on the soldiers wound with maggots. He turns down the offer of alcohol as a painkiller and after saying that he can manage, screams throughout the entire operation. The cause of infection turns out to be a piece of his shirt.
As Tom speaks to Weaver about Marshall’s inactivity toward fighting the enemy and her targeting possible human collaborators. The Colonel defends Katie. Mason leaves the room, disgruntled at Dan’s refusal to see what is right in front of him.
Things continue to go bad and later Weaver sends Matt, Tom’s youngest, back to the distillery to bring reinforcements. Cochise, Dingaan and another 2nd Mass Militia member remove the Espheni transmitter and Isabella is almost raped by one of Marshall’s men. Maggie arrives to save the day and proves that even without the spikes, she is a super-soldier as she kicks the would-be rapist’s butt.
Tom, Hal, and Ben (sans one spike) are tried for being Espheni collaborators and sentenced to death. Weaver stands up to protest and Marshall picks at the bandage covered neck wound that has started bleeding. Therein lies the problem with this episode and its most annoying plot thread.
Marshall clearly has been either infected or otherwise compromised by the Skitter attack in the forest. The wound, or something in it, has to be controlling her actions. Why else would she zero in on Tom, Hal and Ben. These three have done much to defeat the alien threat. The Dorniya have already told the elder Mason that if he dies all is lost. What better way to defeat the human resistance?
At first it appears that Katie may just have a courage problem. The Weaver/Marshall backstory has her hiding in a building rather than fighting the enemy. The Colonel helped her, which is what Weaver does, and she “got back on track” apparently. However, this particular reason for her inactivity does not hold up under scrutiny.
Her orders to Wolf about monitoring and not interacting with Mason’s Militia (a term that she seemingly despises) as well as her fixating on Tom’s destruction of the moon’s infrastructure leads to evidence of her being controlled. Add to this her soldier removing one of the spikes which have been instrumental is harming the Espheni cause and it is obvious that this lady has been turned.
What is particularly frustrating about the episode is Weaver’s lack of attention to detail. From the moment he first mentioned the neck wound alarm bells should have been going off. Katie’s talk of the way he looked at her and discussing his misguided loyalties, and the woman’s constant meddling with the still bleeding injury was completely ignored by Weaver. So much so that by the end of the episode it is beginning to look like he has been turned as well.
There cannot be many viewers who were not practically screaming at the screen, “Look at her neck!” It is obvious that the entire “functioning base” is not a real military facility at all. Cheating a bit and looking at the next episode title, Stalag 14th Virginia it looks like someone, Katie Marshall, was lying through their teeth about what their mission really is. That no one caught this woman out makes this one of the most annoying episodes this season. Regardless of this, though, the cast continued to perform more than capably.
Noah Wyle, Will Patton, Sarah Carter and newcomer to the cast Catalina Sandino Moreno all performed well this week and it was nice to see Treva Etienne back, even if it was only for a few moments of screen time, as Dingaan Botha. Melora Hardin as Katie Marshall was very good as the commander with a hidden agenda.
Falling Skies airs Sundays on TNT. This is the final season of this science fiction action thriller. Do not miss this wrapping up of this brilliant show.