‘Falling Skies’ Almost Ended the Series on a Much More Sinister Note
Whether or not TNT’s Falling Skies succeeded in keeping its fans happy through five seasons, last night saw the Spielberg-produced alien-actioner finally wrapping things up, as Tom Mason clinched the defeat of Earth’s alien invaders. Now, showrunner David Eick discusses how the ending originally had a much more sinister tone, and what Battlestar Galactica alum snuck in a surprise cameo.
You’re warned of all the major spoilers for Falling Skies series finale “Reborn” from here on out, but even as Noah Wyle spoiled for reporters back in May that “we win,” Season 4 and 5 showrunner David Eick reveals that they considered a darker ending. Sure, there was still the ultimate victory of Tom defeating the Espheni queen, saving Anne, and flashing forward to a rebuilt Lincoln Memorial, though the Dorniya bioweapon might have gone on to cause problems of its own.
Speaking to HitFix, Eick laid out that the network ultimately vetoed any possible suggestion of the Falling Skies franchise continuing onward, even as a tease:
Well, what I had originally written in the outline for the finale was the following: We end on the moment that harkens back to Spielberg and “Close Encounters” – “We are not alone” – that I thought was very meta and symmetrical. We hold on the star field, and that’s where it ends now, of course, but in the original outline, we dive back down to the Lincoln Memorial.
When Tom releases that little critter from the vial that poisons him to poison the queen, I had that critter disappear behind a pillar or something. And then when the camera dies back down at the very end of the episode, we find that critter, and he sort of scurries into the distance and we cut to black. But they wouldn’t let me do that.
I think the network didn’t want there to be that overt a “dot dot dot we’re gonna do a TV movie” or “we’re gonna do a spinoff.” They just didn’t want to open that can of worms.
Eick also spoke to the hour’s low body count, pointing out that the death of Pope (something he’d fought for after the character’s ambiguous fate one week prior), along with new series regular Demarcus Wolff (Daren A. Herbert) and the near-death of Anne were enough stakes to build a finale around. The hour also exposed the origin of the conflict inherent to the series, as the Espheni queen (voiced by Battlestar alum Tricia Helfer) revealed her intent to seek vengeance for primitive humans killing her daughter in an invasion attempt 1500 years prior.
Eick admitted that the Nazca Lines subplot ended up cut for time and money, though he at least offered insight into the Spielberg-ian decision to center the final battle on family conflict:
It was the off-season between seasons 4 and 5, and I knew I was going to be faced with this challenge of ending a five-year show. I kept thinking, “Well, this is a Spielberg show.” I sort of wound up with this job by talking to him and the people at TNT about how it was a family drama first. So I was just thinking about family and Spielberg movies, and those aren’t about tactical, strategic warrior game planning. It’s about emotions and family.
And if you’re gonna think about Spielberg movies, you better thinking about World War II. And you read how Hitler may have suspected his father was Jewish, that on some level the Holocaust had this very personal kind of origin. The rage of this guy that drove him to all these horrific things. I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if instead of worrying so much about the tactical maneuvers of an epic final battle, we instead thought about this villain more empathetically?” […]
We nod to some strategic value that Earth may hold, but ultimately it was really personal, and it was about vengeance and about pain and about rage, and those were much more interesting themes to me than military strategy.
There’s plenty more to digest as Falling Skies sails off into the sunset, but did the series finale satisfy as best it could? Who caught Tricia Helfer voicing the queen, or any of the other Battlestar bits that made it into the series?