‘Falling Skies’ Season Premiere Review: “On Thin Ice”
‘Falling Skies’ season 3 rains down its premiere episode with “On Thin Ice,” as the action picks up seven months later to find Tom the President of Charleston, the tide of the war turning thanks to new alien allies the Volm, while Hal continues feeling the influence of a mind probe, Anne delivers her baby, and the presence of a mole threatens the 2nd Massachusetts.
Last year’s ‘Falling Skies’ finale “A More Perfect Union” saw the 2nd Massachusetts go on the offensive to take down a Skitter weapon with the aid of the alien rebellion, but quickly found that not all was as it seems with General Bressler (Matt Frewer), before a new race descended from the sky, so how does the new episode open up the season?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Falling Skies’ season 3 premiere, “On Thin Ice!”
Weaver, Matt and Jeannie observer a captive Skitter mine full of harnessed youths, among them Jeannie’s boyfriend Diego. Matt sets a number of fancy looking EMP charges, which take out the mechs as the convoy rides in to assault, Ben and his formerly-harnessed partner Penny as well. Just when the battle seems won, new “Mega-Mechs” emerge from the rubble, pinning down the human forces until Tom and new alien Cochise (Doug Jones) ride in on horseback, destroying all with fancy weapons. “President” Tom agrees they were likely compromised by a mole, before the group heads out
Back at the base the group observes all the recent changes, among them Hal’s apparent relegation to a wheelchair. Jeannie ushers Diego to see a still-pregnant Dr. Glass, who uses a new Volm medical device to quickly remove his harness with no side effects. Meanwhile in a meeting of the military heads, the generals point out that the Volm’s intervention into the war has forced the Espheni to utilize espionage, a good sign overall. Still, Tom resolves to task Arthur Manchester ('LOST's Terry O'Quinn) with finding the mole.
That night, Hal dreams of walking through the forest and encountering Karen, before waking up in a cold sweat and denying any trouble to Maggie. A short while later in physical therapy, Maggie explains to Lourdes that Hal seems to be keeping something from her, considering they found no medical reason for his paralysis. Hal calls Maggie over, and apologizes for his behavior of late. Elsewhere, Dr. Manchester calls Anthony into his office and asks for help narrowing down the list of subjects for the mole, given Anthony's background with the police.
At Ben’s urging, Tom and Weaver meet with the leader of the rebel Skitters, who warns that the Espheni will soon plan another offensive on Charleston despite their failed recent attempts. Not only that, but a new overlord has emerged to replace the one Tom killed, none other than Karen herself. Back in the infirmary, Lourdes and Anne prepare to go to lunch before her water breaks.
Elsewhere, Jeannie shows a revived Diego around the camp, including the distant Volm camp, admitting that she doesn’t fully trust their supposedly noble intentions. The same sentiment echoes around Pope’s bar nearby, but Pope urges the soldiers to keep their thoughts to themselves for the moment. Meanwhile, Matt brings Hal and the others to Anne’s delivery room, but find the birth moving much slower than they expected. Arthur Manchester reclines in his office, having narrowed the list of potential traitors somewhat, before an unidentified figure he recognizes enters and shoots and kills him with an alien weapon.
With Anne still in delivery, Arthur’s murder is brought to Tom’s attention by his new aide Marina Perlata ('ER's Gloria Reuben). Tom appoints Anthony to pick up where Arthur left off, the weapon signature implying someone with military access, before retuning to the delivery room. When the baby finally arrives, Tom and Anne greet their new baby girl.
Tom leads a citizen’s forum, doing his best to rally the people with their recent successes, though Pope and his group continue to scoff at their supposed good fortune. That night, Hal once again dreamwalks into the forest and finds Karen, expressing his confusion about the situation. Karen admits she planted a probe in his brain to link them mentally, as the two embrace on the forest floor.
Weaver offers Tom a cigar for the birth of his daughter, before the two discuss Weaver’s unease about relying on the Volm for help in the war. Meanwhile, Anne wakes to find baby Alexis leaning out of her crib and smiling at her mother, something far too advanced for a newborn to do. The next morning, Hal wakes to find Maggie looking for his boots in a different spot than they left them, only to find them buried in the closet, covered in mud.
Attempting to sway his mind about the Volm, Tom and Cochise lead Weaver to a secret underground cavern where the Volm have constructed a massive cannon to supposedly turn the tide of the war.
Well, they're back! Certainly a tough premiere spot to hold, going up against the 'Game of Thrones' season 3 finale, but nonetheless. "On Thin Ice" certainly introduces a number of changes to the 'Falling Skies' we've come to know, questionably moving the narrative forward seven months to find Anne already about to deliver, and the "Volm" well-integrated into the ongoing battle. Fortunately, few of the changes feel all that grating to the narrative, save for the amount of exposition burdened on multiple characters over the course of the hour.
'Falling Skies' has never quite lived up to the quality of certain past genre series or dramas, so we tend to forgive some of the less sensible aspects of the narrative (how can you liberate harnessed children from a mine without ever actually going inside?), but beyond all the rampant exposition, we're intrigued to uncover the identity of the mole and see what the Volm have in store for the war and beyond. The physical portrayal of Cochise as embodied by Doug Jones feels a bit more stilted than we had hoped from the CG rendition of last year's finale, but could well improve over the course of the season.
We're less enthusiastic about the whole cliched "creepy baby" storyline, but expect it mostly to serve the purpose of removing Moon Bloodgood from the production for a bit, given her real-life pregnancy. The same goes for the death of Arthur Manchester, given Terry O'Quinn has his own FOX series to lead in the near future. All in all, a welcome return to the world of 'Falling Skies' with plenty to chew on, but not quite up to the quality the series has shown before.
Did you get you fill of Skitter-y ‘Falling Skies’ action? What did you think about the premiere? Join the discussion in the comments, and be sure to check back later tonight for another all-new episode recap of the ‘Falling Skies’ premiere's second half "Collateral Damage" on TNT!