Believe it or not—Falling Skies, a post-apocalyptic television series created by Robert Rodat, is ten years old. The series paid homage to the great sci-fi works that came before while maintaining its own unique atmosphere and gritty storytelling. Back in 2011, Jon Favreau directed Cowboys and Aliens, in which aliens ravage a town. In this troubled town, the citizens must unite to save their kidnapped loved ones. They come together as a result of their selfless actions. Funnily enough, Stephen Spielberg was attached to the film and later announced he’d be executive producing an upcoming series called Falling Skies, starring Noah Wyle (ER, The Librarians) and Will Patton (Remember the Titans). It took me a while to realize that it was The Walking Dead but with aliens.
Falling Skies takes place in the aftermath of an alien invasion that has destroyed most of human civilization and modern-day society. The survivors fight alien forces to ensure there is food, shelter, and safety for all. The invasion destroyed the world’s power and technological capabilities, thus, defeating the military. It’s safe to assume most of the human population is all but extinct. The story follows a group of survivors called the Second Massachusetts Militia Regiment (Second Mass), an homage to the regiment from the Continental Army. The group is led by retired Colonel Dan Weaver and Boston University history professor Tom Mason. Mason is the second-in-command and must put his extensive knowledge of military history into practice while searching for his son Ben.
The show explores how the Second Mass is hanging on by a thread as they try to keep everyone safe. Whether it’s a lack of supplies, alien attacks, and rogue human survivors, the Second Mass is up to the challenge. Things take a turn in the later seasons when we find out the aliens kidnap innocent kids and brainwash them. We find out that sometimes aliens give some humans abilities which come at a cost. Such setbacks test the morals of the Second Mass.
You fall in love with these characters as everyone gets a chance to shine but brace yourself as there are some heartbreaking deaths on this show. But unexpected allies show up and prove most useful in the fight for humanity. Midway through the series, it is revealed there are aliens called the Espheni who are willing to side with the humans to aid in the fight against the invaders called the Volm. One of the Espeni leaders named Cochise is played brilliantly by highly esteemed character actor, contortionist, and makeup enthusiast Doug Jones. Cochise evokes some of the whimsical Spock sensibilities as he tries to learn the ways of human culture while gaining their trust.
Noah Wyle should have earned an Emmy of Golden Globe for portraying a widowed father and teacher turned resistance fighter. He learns to find love again while taking care of his sons. Ben Mason (Connor Jessup) struggles to fit in after being kidnapped by the Volm and has some new abilities that make him a liability. Matt (Maxim Knight) is the youngest who tries to be a kid but wants to help with the cause and has to grow up when peril strikes at every turn. Hal (Drew Roy), the oldest, is headstrong and struggles with being a natural-born leader and watching over his younger brothers. There is no short of compelling drama in this 5-year run.
I am blown away by how well the production was really able to sell the desolate and barren landscapes throughout each episode. Each character is ridden with grime, dirt, and exhaustion as the war has taken a toll on the Second Mass. But I can’t leave out the amazing supporting characters in this show who help make each episode endearing and riveting weekly. Moon Bloodgood plays Anne Glass, a doctor who, after losing her husband, finds solace in the Mason family. She is compassionate and courageous as she is faced with her greatest challenges. She becomes pregnant, but she is infected with alien DNA after she is kidnapped. Miraculously she gives birth to a newborn girl. “It complicates things,” is putting it mildly. No show is without its foil to the heroes. Colin Cunningham steals the show as the manipulative, overzealous, and arrogant John Pope. Pope was not a good man before the invasion, but there were moments he could have been. He is a great asset to the Second Mass but is a constant thorn to the Mason family, proving dangerous.
Believe it or not, I have been a fan of Seychelle Gabriel since 2010’s The Last Airbender. Despite the fallout of that film, she made an amazing impression on me as the kind and courageous Yue of the Northern Water Tribe. She also voiced the iconic Asami in the Legend of Korra. In Falling Skies, she plays Lourdes, a devout woman of faith who is a graceful voice during the dark times. Throughout the show, we see how faith plays a big part in her life as she finds hope and love. But we also see how that faith is tested when she loses someone close to her. We are shown one side effect of that, but a plot twist reveals something much worse. All I will say is that losing faith can be dangerous, even when you place it in something that is very perilous.
Falling Skies is truly fantastic. This show is so good there were after-show discussions with the cast and crew. Heck, Falling Skies was so critically well-received, it was renewed for another season when barely half the episodes aired. It is the perfect companion to The Walking Dead. It is dark, gritty, and epic that it breaks your heart, but fueled by the human spirit to be strong, courageous, brave, selfless, and honorable.
Oh, and for any fans of Harry Potter, stick around, and you might recognize an actress who once played a supporting player in Slytherin House. She makes quite the impression.