Falling Skies’ season 3 rains down its second episode of the year with “Collateral Damage,” Tom and the others work to bring down a nuclear power plant without contaminating the area, Anne continues to worry about her baby, and Matt begins acting out with his friends.

Previous ‘Falling Skies’ premiere “On Thin Ice” saw the tide of the war turning thanks to new alien allies the Volm, while Hal continued feeling the influence of a mind probe, and the presence of a mole threatened the 2nd Massachusetts, so what does the latest episode bring?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Falling Skies’ season 3 episode 2, “Collateral Damage!”

Ben and Penny observe an occupied nuclear power plant from a distance, particularly the abundance of un-fueled alien weaponry, and the harnessed children apparently dying of radiation poisoning. Meanwhile back at the base, Hal spies Maggie getting overly friendly with a good-looking soldier named Lars, before storming off. Maggie catches up and scoffs at the idea that anything could come between them, pointing out that Hal had been the one to keep secrets of late.

Tom and Weaver discuss the best way to overtake the nuclear power plant, rappelling in from a nearby cliffside, hopefully avoiding any potential leak from the spy. However, if they destroy the plant to cripple the Skitters, the resulting meltdown could contaminate the entire area for years. Marina suggest involving Dr. Roger Kadar ('House' star Robert Sean Leonard), Charleston’s agoraphobic generator master, who has extensive knowledge of nuclear engineering.

Tom, Weaver and Marina head down to Dr. Kadar’s lair, finding the man more than a little eccentric from all his time spent underground. Tom diplomatically thanks him for his work on the Charleston power grid, before posing the problem of the nearby nuclear plant, to which Kadar suggests he’ll have an answer within 24 hours. Upstairs, Anne changes baby Alexis only to turn around and find her missing, under the bed before she utters the word “mama.”

A short while later, Lourdes observes that Anne seems a bit stressed, while outside Matt and some of his friends ditch school to plant a stick of TNT in an abandoned building. The resulting explosion doesn’t hurt any of them, but draws the attention of the armed guards, believing it to be an attack. Later, Anne yells at Matt for his behavior and missing school, but Matt protests that she isn’t his mother.

Dr. Kadar explains to Tom that they’ll have to first turn off the nuclear reactor, planting charges in specific areas of the building to entomb the device, but Tom reveals they have no blueprints for the facility, thus Kadar must come with them on the mission. Kadar panics, refusing to go until Marina points out that his work will save more children’s lives.  Upstairs, the group meets to brief the mission, keeping information to a minimum so as not to alert the spy.

As the group say their goodbyes and part for their section of the mission, an unidentified figure breaks into the council room, and scans the nuclear plant map with a device that soon turns into an insect-like probe, and flies away. A short while later, Weaver and his fighters end up pinned down on the cliffs overlooking the plant, mechs having been tipped off by the spy. Tom and Maggie observe mechs leaving the main entrance to the facility, Tom’s plan to leak a false strategy through the spy successful.

Tom, Maggie, Anthony, Lars and a nervous Dr. Kadar enter the facility, shortly ending up pinned down by harnessed children with machine guns. After a short skirmish, the group gathers around one of the children slowly dying, before another attacks and deeply wounds Lars. Elsewhere, Hal and other reinforcements arrive to Weaver’s team, ending their portion of the battle.

Inside the plant, continued fighting costs Dr. Kadar his glasses, which he needs to see the complicated equipment. Kadar manages to talk Tom through powering down the reactor, while Karen continues buying time until all the charges have been set, and the group leaves the plant. Weaver laments his losses in the decoy portion of the mission, as Tom’s group watches the reactor successfully destroyed and contained.

Back at the base’s infirmary, Tom learns that Lars’ injuries have proven too severe to last beyond a matter of hours. Tom thanks the soldier for his bravery, while Maggie agrees to hang on to his dogtags. Later that night, Tom and Weaver toast to the fallen soldier, while Weaver continues to worry about the Volm’s apparent super-weapon. Agreeing with his adviser, Tom suggest they have Kadar examine the machine to test the Volm’s claims. Cochise enters to congratulate them on the mission, but assure that the Espheni will continue with their assault regardless.

Matt goes to see his father and apologize for his behavior of late, though Tom confesses some responsibility for being so absent thanks to his new duties. Tom also presses on Matt the value of school for the days after the war, and suggests he apologize to Anne for his earlier remarks. Matt next visits Anne to offer apologies, as the three admire baby Alexis, who suspiciously never cries.

Maggie wakes up to find Hal missing, after which she finds him walking through the woods and shakes him awake, unaware that Karen is watching nearby.

Thankfully, "Collateral Damage" has far less exposition to wade through than its predecessor, and as expected delivers a much more satisfying 'Falling Skies' hour. The destruction of a nuclear plant poses an interesting problem for the main characters, and similarly welcomes into the fold an intriguing new character well embodied by 'House's Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson!). Granted it's all a bit convenient to so easily bring down the plant, even for TV, but we give 'Falling Skies' a bit of leeway in its ambitious escapades.

It was also nice to see Matt asserting his independence in less afterschool-special ways, given the increasingly apparent age of actor Maxim Knight. Matt's more generous plotlines may well end up balanced by the silly "evil baby" story, but we'll allow that one some room to grow in the intervening weeks. We're beginning to see a bit of weight to Weaver's role as well, given the losses callously ordered by Tom as a distraction for the real plan.

All in all, some solid action throughout the hour, with a bit of welcome development for Hal's mysterious possession storyline. Here's hoping next week can bring us a bit more insight into the Volm, and whether or not they can be trusted.

Did you get you fill of Skitter-y ‘Falling Skies’ action?  What did you think about the premiere's second half?  Join the discussion in the comments, and be sure to check back next week for another all-new episode recap of the ‘Falling Skies’ premiere’s second half “Badlands” on TNT!

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