Episode Title: "Sanctuary (Part 1)"
Writer: Joel Anderson Thompson
Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Previously on "Falling Skies"
The captive alien Skitter lured Dr. Harris (Steven Weber) too close to its cage and it snapped the man's neck, robbing the human resistance of one of its best surgeons. Dr. Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) was able to talk the 2ND Mass commander, Weaver (Will Patton) into giving her 24 additional hours with the Skitter before they execute it. However, Anne ends up killing the Skitter herself to demonstrate a weak spot on its body and as a measure of revenge for her murdered husband and son. Meanwhile, Hal (Drew Roy) spoke with Rick (Daniyah Ysrayl) to get insights into the Skitters' behavior at the hospital where the captive children were kept.
Armed with Rick's knowledge, Hal suggested that he enter the Skitter controlled hospital with Rick's disabled harness on his back. Hal's father, Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) was initially opposed to the plan, but he relented because it was the best chance they had to save his other son, Ben (Connor Jessup). Once inside, Hal successfully killed the Skitter and Tom's team retrieved the captive children. Anne then performed surgery on all of the captive kids and removed the alien harnesses, only losing one patient in the process. But Ben was finally saved and unlike Rick, he instantly recognized his family when he woke up.
At the high school turned human resistance camp, Anne treats a young boy's sore throat as his parents act suspiciously. Once Anne is alone, the father draws his gun on her and he demands all of the antibiotics that they have. She pleads that they need that medicine for everyone, but the father says that he and his family need them for barter on the open road. When Anne fights back, the man pistol whips her and leaves her lying. However, she alerts Tom and Weaver who give chase to the fugitive family. A brief standoff ensues that is only broken by the timely arrival of Terry Clayton (Henry Czerny).
Terry recovers the drugs and sends the fugitive family on their way. While Weaver and the rest are initially happy to see him, Terry tells them that the 7TH Mass has been all but wiped out and a Skitter attack to take the kids is imminent on their location. Inside, Matt Mason (Maxim Knight) and his older brother Hal notice that Ben is physically changed from his time as a harnessed alien slave. Ben even speaks about the Skitters acting as his family; which unnerves Hal. Elsewhere, the young soldier, Jimmy (Dylan Authors) convinces Weaver to give him a second chance at being a soldier. At his insistence, Weaver relents, offering to let the boy help guard one of the perimeters.
The remaining parents with kids aren't thrilled about Terry's plan to lead the children away from the high school to a location supposedly free of the Skitters. Some of the parents even threaten violence if their kids are ordered away from them. Tom himself has some obvious misgivings about Terry's plans and he wants to keep his reunited family close by. Around the same time, Anne has difficulty getting over the attack on her and she seeks gun lessons from Margaret (Sarah Carter). That night, Jimmy settles into sentry duty with one of the guards. As they enjoy a game of chess, an alien Mech arrives and fires on their position.
Jimmy narrowly survives and escapes back into the school only to find a Skitter chasing him. Jimmy does all he can to escape it and he unloads his gun at it. The creature is still coming when Weaver arrives and blows it away. To Weaver's shock, Jimmy reacts like the young boy that he is and he hugs Weaver for comfort; who awkwardly returns the embrace. When the Mech takes off, Terry tells Tom and Weaver that this matches the previous Skitter assault, with a larger alien force likely on the way. At that point, they go along with Terry's plan and send all of the kids and a few adults with Terry while Tom and the rest wait for reinforcements from the 3RD Mass.
Hal accompanies his brothers and he is confused when Terry leads them away from the promised sanctuary. They take shelter at a summer camp manned by Terry's men. In the basement, Terry talks to the boy whose parents tried to rob Anne. He tells the boy that his parents are there to see him, but instead he leads him to a strange girl who speaks relatively normally despite having the alien harness on her back. An alien Mech stuns the boy and carries him off as the girl reminds Terry of their deal to bring more children soon. Inside the basement of the summer camp, Terry congratulates his prisoner, John Pope (Colin Cunningham) for leading him straight to the 2ND Mass and their vulnerable children.
This episode marked the beginning of the second half of the show's first season by giving us some believable responses to the ongoing alien invasion and a few responses that weren't.
Anne's attack at the beginning of the episode was far too likely to happen, given the new reality for the few remaining people on Earth. It was an almost stunningly savage attack on Anne and the larger community. But the real surprise is that it didn't happen earlier. For desperate individuals and families, the 2ND Mass has been remarkably well behaved. I mean, you'd almost swear that Steven Spielberg produced this show, or something, from the way that Tom's companions sometimes lack faults.
Of course, Spielberg does actually produce the show, for anyone looking to correct me in the comment section.
The sudden discrimination that Ben and the former harnessed kids faced was way out of left field and it felt false. Let's put this in perspective for a moment: the same people who begged Tom to retrieve their possibly harnessed or captive kids are now going to treat the kids that they saved as if they willingly joined the aliens?! Or they will act like the kids aren't human anymore because they've been harnessed? It would have been a more understandable response if all of the unharnessed kids acted like Rick and tried to retrieve their harnesses. But there is no indication that the larger camp knows that's what happened.
BTW, was anyone surprised that there was a swerve coming at the end? Many years of watching TV dramas may have allowed the audience to expect a betrayal from Terry, but it was definitely predictable. "Falling Skies" has been pretty good about catching viewers off guard, particularly with John Pope. But this latest twist was kind of contrived by comparison. Although it was good to see Pope make a return to the storyline.
The girl at the end of the episode seemed much more personable than previous harnessed children who have shown up on the series. And her very presence raises a few questions: is she willingly aiding the Skitters? Or are the aliens essentially speaking through her body? Aside from Pope and Terry, this little girl may be one of the few human villains in the first season of this show. In of itself, that could be very interesting.
Ben's return last week was a good way to move the story forward. But because our knowledge about him is all second hand, we don't have any real frame of reference to suggest that he's changed as drastically as Hal suggests. The harnesses do appear to heal the injured or diseased children and make them stronger. But it remains to be seen if Ben will have any latent abilities from his time with the aliens or if he's secretly loyal to his other family as that angry man suggested earlier in the episode.
This was a good, solid episode of the series, if not quite as great as some of the earlier episodes of "Falling Skies." But when a show can deliver six quality episodes in row, I'm not worried about it slipping up before the end of the season… which is coming all too soon.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.