By Paula Hendrickson
Last summer when Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies landed on the TV landscape, hardcore sci-fi fans — plus a good number of viewers who aren’t such ardent fans of the genre — turned TNT’s summer series into an instant hit. Sunday, June 17, the second season of Falling Skies kicks off with a two-hour premiere starting at 8 p.m. on TNT.
The first 10-episode season introduced us to a group of humans who survived an alien invasion — details of which still remain sketchy. All we know for sure is they’re trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where alien “Skitters” and “Mechs” kill people, destroy cities and harness human teens to turn them into their drones, and that the survivors have formed a ragtag force called the 2nd Mass.
Former ER star Noah Wyle leads the cast as former history professor Tom Mason, whose wife was killed by the aliens. One of his three sons, Ben, was harnessed by the aliens. Mason is second in command to Weaver (Will Patton), a slightly crazy military guy with fairly strident views. By the end of the first season, everything had changed — Ben was back, his seemingly living harness (mostly) removed, and a Skitter autopsy indicated that Skitters were once harnessed, too.
When I spoke to Wyle recently for another article, he said he was proud of the work the writers, cast and crew had done on Falling Skies.
“The first 10 episodes established the world,” Wyle said. “Both the benefit and the detriment of the first season is that we had to dedicate so much of our storytelling to basic exposition — these are the characters, this is their backstory, this is the world they’re living in, these are the aliens, and this is what we think they might do. I think we successfully pulled it off and created really interesting characters.”
With the mythology and backstories explained, Wyle said the second season has a great deal of momentum. “Season two is really strong. We’ve stepped it up at just about every level. I’m very proud of it,” Wyle added.
Having seen the first four episodes, I concur. Season two picks up a couple months after the final episode of season one, which ended when Mason voluntarily boarded an alien ship. What happened to him while on the ship? What happened to his sons and the 2nd Mass? How will Mason find his way back to his family?
Some of these things will be answered in the first episode — others will lead to yet more mysteries. One thing is certain, while much of season one had the 2nd Mass struggling to survive, season two has them organizing and fighting back — surrender is not an option.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the June 13-19, 2012, issue