Falling Skies: Non Essential Personnel (recap and review)

John Pope Falling Skies still
Last week Falling Skies had John Pope completely losing the plot (going a little bit crazier than usual) and taking Hal Mason hostage in order to punish Tom. In Non Essential Personnel Mason senior is told that if he dies the war is lost and a giant hornet removes him from a firefight with Pope.

The episode begins with a group of people trapped in a house by skitters. Some of them decide to escape and once outside they are cornered by two skitters. A police SUV roars up and Pope, along with Anthony, gets out and shoots the creatures down. Afterward, Anthony rescues the group still in the house. When they get back to Pope, the new leader learns that his “right hand man” has designated four of the group as “non essential personnel” and they are told to leave. One of the survivors, Isabella (Catalina Sandino Moreno) says she is a nurse and can be of use to Pope and his crew. John agrees to let her stay but the other three must leave. She tries to bargain for them to remain but loses.

Meanwhile, Tom Mason is following clues that Pope relays via radio transmitter. Captain Weaver and the rest of the 2nd Mass are ambushed by what appears to be one gunman who definitely has the drop on the convoy. He demands a truck and half their ammunition or he will start blowing up vehicles.

Weaver goes into talk and once inside he gets shot. Anne comes up to make sure he is alright and Weaver tells her to play along with the lone gunman as he has a wife and two kids he is trying to protect. Something that the captain and Anne can identify with.

Isabella, after convincing Pope that he can use her, gets her first tasking. She must patch up Hal after his father’s antagonist cuts him so Tom can hear him scream. Tom Mason tells Pope, “I will kill you.” Later, when he gets into Pope’s camp he tries to do just that.

Back at the ambush, Weaver tries to get into the gunman’s head, but this man is off with the fairies and not to be reasoned with. Anne, reluctantly, orders half the ammo to be placed by the door. She tells the rest of the troops that they will double back later and get Weaver.

Isabella patches young Mason up and he tells her that it will not take Pope long to realize that she is not really a nurse. He also tells Isabella that he knows why she fought to keep her friends with Pope’s crew, “you care, he says and tells her that it will not take long for his captor to figure that out as well.

A giant hornet attacks the camp and one of the new recruits is injured. Isabella begins to treat the man when Pope asks if he can still fight. “I don’t know” she starts to reply and before she can finish her sentence Pope shoots the man dead.

Mason continues his frustratingly slow journey to get Hal back and has another vision from the Dorniya. Appearing as Rebecca once more, the creature tells Tom that if he dies the war and Earth will be lost. Mason refuses to stop going after Hal as he will not let his son die for the “greater good.” “I love you,” says the Dorniya Rebecca, “you’re not her,” replies Tom as he leaves to rescue his son.

Weaver tries to overpower the ambusher and loses. Later, while the gunman is in another room talking to his family, the captain gets his hands lose. He asks for water and when the man gives him a drink Weaver grabs the pistol off the other man’s belt. Both men stand facing each other with weapons at the ready when Anne comes in.

After a short tense stand off, Weaver talks the man down and tells him they can help. He reveals that he and Anne lost kids, as he surmised the gunman has, and he explains that they are there for him as they, the 2nd Mass, were for Weaver when he was found. His speech calms the distraught father and he shows Weaver what was in the other room. His family are all dead and in body bags.

Hal gave a very similar spiel to Isabella, about “being there” and this was why she decided to release Tom’s son rather than just escape.

Back at the camp, Tom shoots Pope in the face as Hal and Isabella start to drive away. As Tom waits for another shot at John, the giant hornet that attacked the camp earlier comes back and grabs Mason; lifting him up and flying away. Hal and Isabella get away and later a wounded Pope, the shot grazed his cheek, questions Anthony about where Hal is.

This week saw Will Patton shine as Weaver. His character got a little comic relief in, his argument about the car at the start, and later his passionate speech to the grief stricken gunman who ambushed the convoy. Patton got to show those huge chops that make him such a great character actor.

Newcomer Catalina Sandino Moreno, as Isabella was spot on. If Catalina looks familiar it may be because of her performance in The Bridge as Alma Ruiz. She looks to be a part of the show for at least a little while longer as she travels with Hal.

Big kudos, however, have to go to actor Colin Cunningham for channelling his inner “crazy Pope.” His rage and the cruelty it has spawned is truly disturbing. The end result is a villain that one cannot wait to see get his comeuppance. There cannot be many who were disappointed to see Tom Mason’s shot turn out to be non-fatal. With Pope’s decent into madness, whatever sympathy the viewers had for him about Sara’s death diminishes almost completely.

Tom Mason’s being abducted by the “hornet on steroids” (coined by Anthony) could mean that humanity is now lost or that the Dorniya have stepped in to guarantee his survival. The “extinct” messengers, via Rebecca, made it fairly clear that they want Mason to succeed as the savior of Earth and it may have been that the visions have now been abandoned for more direct coercion.

*Sidenote* Are Maggie and Ben now going to share something more than pins? Certainly looks that way.

Falling Skies continues to provide cracking entertainment and its final season has not disappointed thus far. The series airs Sundays on TNT.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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