Retreat, Regroup, Return, Revenge (Falling Skies - Live and Learn)


Falling Skies starts with a bang - the tale of humanity on the brink of extinction is very different to other post apocalyptic works in theatre's and on TV. Falling Skies does not tell the story of the aliens arrival and decimation of humanities armed forces - rather it takes us to the aftermath of that attack and the struggles of the survivors (less than 10% of the human population) living in their new and changed world.

In the first episode (Live and Learn) Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is introduced as the title character. This history professor has been able to use his knowledge of humanities past battles and wars to sting the aliens and has been successfully placed as the second in command of the 2nd Massachusetts under Weaver (Will Patton) a grizzled veteran of Desert Storm. Tom with 3 sons is placed in overall command of the 200 civilians in the party and with the responsibility of ensuring that they survive as Weaver's focus is on his 100 fighters and in taking the fight to the aliens.

Realizing that they do not have enough food to survive the exodus, Tom leads a small group back to ransack a warehouse - however the aliens have used such places as traps in the past, so Tom sends his older son Hal (Drew Roy) to perform a scout. While scouting, Hal sees a file of aliens with captured humans - the young teenagers have been fitted with a creature/device to control them and are completely under the aliens control - and recognizes his younger brother Ben that had been missing. Returning to his father, he tries to persuade their group to attack the aliens and liberate Ben, but Tom insists that they complete their primary mission first and only then return to save Ben with enough reinforcements to make the attack successful.

"They can be killed ... ... ... you just have to get close"

Finally reaching the warehouse, they are able to successfully liberate some food, but are attacked while doing so by a Mech and a Skitter. The skitter looks like a cross between a crab and a man and seems to be almost bullet proof as it is only killed when finally shot in the head from a very close range by one of Tom's party. The Mech however is beyond the capabilities of small arms fire entirely and is only destroyed by using C4.

Returning to the base with their supplies, Tom approaches Weaver and indicates that he will be leading a sortie to rescue his son, which Weaver agrees to, but only after they have staked out the Armoury.


Overall a really promising start to hopefully a long running show. With the dearth of any Stargate on Television now good Sci-Fi has been seriously lacking and while V was perhaps too story driven (in comparison to the amazing 80's mini-series) this episode not only introduced the aliens early (and showed them to us!) but also had quite a bit of action and conflict which was really good.

Ideas and Questions

  1. Why are they here? - As anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows, justifying intersteller warfare is never easy. If a civilization can travel between stars, then they can easily find resources on other planets without having to fight a battle to obtain them. Hopefully a reasonable justification will be provided as the story progresses.
  2. Why didn't humanity fight? - In the introduction, Tom's youngest son told the camp Doctor that humanity didn't use nukes "in case they had come in peace" ... however after they realized that this was not the case, why didn't they use them then? What happened to all of the worlds soldiers as it is somewhat amazing that so many civilians survived when so many soldiers did not?
  3. What are the Mechs? - The Mech's have a completely different shape to the Skitters - more bipedal and birdlike in terms of gait then the other aliens ... two possibilities come to mind:
  • There is another alien species that we have not yet met (in which case you would think/hope that they would investigate the body of the Mech's they destroy?)
  • Humanities children - with their alien parasites - are the actual drivers?

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