Falling Skies: ‘The Price of Greatness’ brings the show back to…Greatness
What happens when the 2nd Mass gets into the real Charleston? JOHN LOCKE, I mean…Terry O’Quinn as Majority Leader of the United States.
The town that everyone thought was going to be there, cleaned up streets, housing, food, all the stuff you picture in a thriving capitol is there. It’s just underneath a giant pile of rubble. The city is there, it’s just in an underground shopping mall. Arthur Manchester (Terry O’Quinn) is what he said Majority Leader of this new republic and surprise, he’s a History Professor. Not just any history professor, but Tom Masons idol and mentor history professor. Manchester seems more enthralled with the fact that he gets to play American Revolution dress up and start his own version of government. Straight down to giant office with a huge revolutionary war portrait hanging on the wall. Except that unlike the American Revolution, Manchester is obsessed with the politics and trying to focus solely on creating this government and perfecting it instead of fighting the alien invaders. His delusions of grandeur as he fancies himself as an equal to the political leaders of the American revolution. Manchester is perfectly happy putting their city-state into the hole and hiding, hoping that everything in the outside world goes away so he can emerge as a hero.
Obviously that isn’t going to happen.
This episode was full of what I’ve been waiting for, how do you build a society not only in the aftermath of humanities destruction but as the invasion still trudges on. The 2nd Mass is thrown off by all the inhabitants sense of normalcy and lack of fear of the outside world. These guys have been fighting for survival every day for the last year, going into an underground bunker and handing over all their weapons to start a no society? Not going to gel well. Heck, even Matt, who’s been giddy about seeing other kids and going back to school gets in a fight his first day. Tom Mason, nearly rips a government soldiers head off when they start demanding the weapons from the 2nd Mass, it was full of tension that you can only expect from a bunch of hardline fighters. Yeah, they’re safe now, but how can they change their whole mindset?
When Tom starts talking about how there is a skitter resistance that needs their help, Manchester is more than willing to just let the aliens “fight over themselves” where the General of the army seems eager to pounce, he’s locked into a sense of protocol and obligation to “follow what the civilian leader says”. When a unharnessed boy shows up asking for Tom, telling him that Red Eye Skitter, their leader is near and wants to talk. Manchester freaks out and starts locking up the kid and everyone in the 2nd Mass, as he views that his new world he’s trying to build is starting to crumble under his paltry leadership.
Of course Pope nearly steals the episode, from the outset working with his beserkers on how they’re going to steal stuff and take off. When they start looting, Maggie foils them and the whole group gets captured and imprisoned by government soldiers. I loved Popes line after they get caught and one of his beserkers had been shot “I’m going to wish you into the cornfield.” was just awesome. Then to seal the deal that Pope is the best character on the show, Manchester tries to bribe him with freedom to tell him a way to lock up Tom Mason, who is undermining his control. Manchester has a steak meal and glass of wine for Pope to have while he contemplates. At first he eats slowly savoring the food, then as he starts to lay it all out there, you can see he’s eating faster and shoving more into his mouth as he gets to the gist of it. If there is someone that is going to knock Tom Mason off his pedestal, it will be Pope, not some wannabe dictator. I laughed as he got hauled away, that even as much as he hates Tom Mason, he wants to be the one to bring him down in the end.
If you want to really see the disconnect from the outside world that Charleston has, when Anne gets assigned to the Charleston hospital, there is apparently a dickhead heart surgeon running the show. He treats Anne like crap because she’s “Just a pediatrition and he’s a Heart Surgeon, get in line” so after he tells her he’s tired of wiping snot and checking head lice, basically indicating how beneath him everything is. Anne rips him a new one about how she’s a frigging combat medic in the 2nd Mass and will knock him bowlegged cause she has been doing some serious life saving while he’s just being a pompous ass. It’s interesting how even though the people in Charleston thing they’re rebuilding a new perfect society, the line of Class division is still prominent, from people sleeping 10 to a room while Manchester and his crew have nice boarding, or people getting stuck with 2nd shifts and crap work if they get out of line.
This episode was a great look into post apocalyptic ideas of “How do you start over and rebuild?” and “Where do you draw the line?” and “Can we make this better than what we had before?”
I can’t wait for the Finale next week.