Falling Skies is a Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television Alien Invasion TV series for TNT that premiered in June of 2011.Noah Wyle (ER) stars as Tom Mason, a former college professor who becomes the second-in-command of a group of soldiers and civilians (the 2nd Massachusetts or just the "2nd Mass" for short) struggling against an occupying alien force. Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) co-stars as Anne Glass, a pediatrician who works with the survivors to help them cope with the traumatic situation.Season one concentrates on the survivors trying to get by in the Boston area, and ends in the realization of how little the humans actually know about their oppressors. Season two deals with their efforts to get to a possible safe zone in South Carolina. Season 3 deals with humanity's uncertainty concerning a group of alien allies who have arrived. Season 4 began airing in 2014.
Action Girl: Karen & Margaret. Crazy Lee of the Berserkers as well.
Achilles' Heel: The Skitters have no bone separating the soft palate in their mouths from their brains, which means that a blow to that area can cripple or kill them. Averted though, in that it's pointed out that if you're close enough to take advantage of this weakness, you're close enough to kill them regardless. Later it becomes actually useful as a means to make a stealth kill.
Air-Vent Passageway: Played with when Anne, Lourdes, and Matt are trapped in the hospital basement - only Matt can (barely) fit in the vents, so they send him out to bring help back by a more conventional route. Justified in the case of the alien creatures, which are only a fraction of the size of humans.
Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Averted in the Webcomic prequel. The characters note that the aliens have booby-trapped all the gun shops and grocery stores, but not the art stores, and muse that the aliens may not have art in their world. For some reason, none of them mention the more obvious possibility that the art stores are untouched because there's no point in booby-trapping locations of no strategic importance - the aliens may have art, but pretty pictures are not exactly a vital resource in war, so there's no reason to spend effort denying them to the enemy.
Aliens Are Bastards: Apparently, the alien Overlords learned how to deal with humanity by studying Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, et. al. Their proposal to Tom for humanity's surrender was to put all remaining humans on reservations and in concentration camps.
The Overlord caused Ben's life functions to cease in order to convince Tom that humans were inferior because they had feelings for each other. Tom shot the Overlord to stop him.
Aliens Speaking English: Averted, although the aliens still use human-like pointing and gestures, suggesting some degree of cognitive overlap. The aliens can communicate with each other and with harnessed children and mechs by means of radio frequencies. This is apparently a very low-power, short range ability, since the captive Skitter was unable to use it to call for help even when the cage was open.
One episode spends a fair chunk of time showing us a character attempting to communicate in various ways with a prisoner, including whether it can hear English, differentiate English syllables, understand 2D pictures, and understand 2D pictures that are abstract representations of complex 3D ideas and semi-pop-culture. Eventually the Skitter tries to use a (re)harnessed kid to communicate, but his father intervenes before they get far.
Season 2 has harnessed individuals notably Karen acting as interpreters.
Played straight with the Volm, who apparently have learned to speak English.
Anti-Climax: Happens multiple times in the Season 3 finale.
After the Volm weapon is used against the Espheni tower, Tom and his allies realize they barely made a dent and that a battle is about to commence. But the "battle" is nothing more than two airships that try to attack, and Hal quickly shoots them down. And then the tower itself collapses afterwards.
Tom finally confronting Karen. After much buildup throughout the season, Karen meets Tom, Hal, Maggie, Weaver, and Ben with only a few Skitters and a Mech accompanying her. She surrenders and tries to warn Tom that the Volm aren't all they seem, but Tom just tells her to "go fuck yourself" and abruptly shoots her. And then Karen's guards are taken down in under a minute.
After spending the entire episode trying to figure out whether or not Lourdes needs to be put out of her misery, Alexis (who has gained some kind of bizarre new ability) comes by and fixes everything. How? By touching her face. By doing so, all the worms inside Lourdes fall out her eyes into Alexis' hands. And then she calmly crushes them.
Anyone Can Die: As of Season 4 Click, Dr. Harris, Mike, Terry Clayton, Uncle Scott, Jimmy, Rick, Jamil, Boon, Dai, the Espheni Overlord, Red-Eye, Arthur Manchester, Lars, Crazy Lee, General Bressler, President Hathaway, Karen, Lyle, Jim Porter (presumably), Marina Peralta (also presumably), Jeanne Weaver, Lourdes, Dr. Kadar, Tector Murphy, Kent Matthews, The Monk, Scorch, Mira, and Lexi Mason.
Armor Is Useless: Averted. When Crazy Lee gets shot in the third episode of Season 3, she actually lives because of the armor she wore. Unfortunately, the force of the impact caused her to fall backwards and get impaled in the back of the head by a pipe.
Awesome, but Impractical: Subverted in the Season 3 finale. After the Volm weapon is fired at the Espheni tower, it only makes a dent, and Cochise tells Tom that the weapon won't be able to fire again for ten whole minutes. Luckily, the damage to the tower was much worse than it seemed, and it quickly collapses.
Back for the Dead: Ricky. He gets Put on a Bus after Season 1, then suddenly comes back halfway into Season 2, only to get blasted in the chest with a shotgun.
Back Story: Only gets filled in a little through dialogue. The actual invasion isn't really important as to what is happening now. With the younger actors growing up there's not a lot of hope for a flashback episode.
At this point in the show, every named character who's black or Ambiguously Brown (except for Anthony and Lourdes) has been killed. Being black on this show is like wearing a Red Shirt.
Not counting Anne of course. Or Diego.
Bottle Episode: "Mutiny", the episode before the first season finale is nothing but character development, saving up money for the CGI in the final episode
"Homecoming" qualifies,as it all took place in or just outside the hospital,aside from the one forest scene..
"Death March" also, as they simply stay in cars at night driving the final push to Charleston.
Season 3 gives us two in a row, "Search and Recovery" (Mostly Tom and Pope in the woods) and "Be Silent and Come Out" (Almost all takes place by a building and in a hospital room), and then "Strange Brew" which has Tom flashing back to before the invasion and no complicated alien sets.
Brainwash Residue: After removal of his harness, Ben is shown compulsively exercising to an extreme degree - hundreds of pushups, hours of jumping rope. Other characters find it particularly worrisome, noting that he was far from athletic before.
The spikes left behind after the harnesses are removed are a physical example of this trope.
Ben has more trouble in season 2, as the aliens seem to still be able to control him (or at least paralyze him) at close range, causing his spikes to glow.
Broken Bird: Pretty much everyone, but especially Margaret. She had cancer when she was 16, and given a 50/50 chance to live. After the world ended and she was captured by Pope's gang, she was raped by at least two (maybe all) of them. Notable in that it made her the Action Girl.
Lourdes has started behaving like this after Jamil's death once she recovered from her Heroic BSOD.
Blessed with Suck: Ben was able to figure out the Skitters' communication frequencies at the price of being incapacitated himself.
Bus Crash: Tom is told that Uncle Scott was killed while he was away (between seasons 1 and 2).
Calling the Old Man Out: Matt does this to him when he gets angry over Tom reprimanding him for letting himself essentially be Skitter bait.
Camera Abuse: When Anne kills a Skitter in a rage in the second episode of season 4.
The Cameo: Michael Hogan (Saul Tigh) appears for one episode of season 3. His cameo was even in the season 3 trailers, but he was only in one episode and never came back.
While he is a season regular in 3 playing Cochese the Volm, Doug Jones has a cameo without makeup in "Strange Brew".
Casual Danger Dialog Hal reminisces about his old girlfriend "Rita" with Maggie while hiding in a car from patrolling Mechs.
Character Shilling: In season 1, happened to Jimmy. Jimmy, being just a kid, screwed up, a lot, but Weaver insisted he's a good fighter constantly and praised him quite a bit when he really should have told him to stay back and give him less important roles. Due to his age, its understandable that he'd make so many mistakes, but that doesn't excuse the fact he was constantly allowed to go out and do work he clearly wasn't qualified for. Fixed in Season two, where he's shown to fairly competant with a sniper rifle, only for him and Ben to attempt to take on three Skitters up close, with Jimmy charging at the skitter while using his sniper rifle as a club, and ends up getting himself killed.
Chekhov's Skill: The advice John Pope gives Tom about killing Skitters in their conversation.
Pope even mentions at one point that its like the Army using depleted uranium.
Diminishing Villain Threat: Season one was spent stuck in one place, terrified of discovery by the enemy. Season two has included supposedly uneventful treks of thousands of miles between episodes. Mechs were a tremendous threat in season one, not quite so terrifying in season 2. So while when the enemy is focusing on our main characters they are very dangerous, when they aren't in the focus there isn't much danger.
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Why people perceive this as a Diminishing Villain Threat. It's not that the aliens became less effective, is that the 2nd Mass became more competent: Since mid-season one, they have started upgrading their weaponry (such as Mech Bullets and Volm Weapons) and tactics (like Pope's way of killing skitters via Achiles Heel or Matt's use of his Skitter-detecting abilities) to better suit alien warfare.
Eureka Moment: Matt seems to be the catalyst for a number these, including the discovery that the skitters communicate by radio waves and Pope's realization that the metal used in mech armor could be used to make armor-piercing bullets.
Eye Scream: In "Shall We Gather at the River", Anne finds a small parasite in Tom's left eye. She's forced to remove it...while Tom is still fully conscious.
Face-Heel Turn: Karen-though hers turns out to be a subversion- and Ben in "Homecoming".
Got The Whole World In My Hand: When Jimmy is being attacked by the Skitter in the school, he throws a globe at the Skitter's head. The Skitter catches it, examines it momentarily, then crushes it and tosses it aside.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: No one seems to be in charge of keeping an eye on the Skitter prisoner, allowing the writers to bring in characters to torment the thing.
Or in the medical area, allowing them to be easily robbed.
Later two people are playing chess while on guard duty, after the group has gotten solid intelligence about the aliens coming their way soon.
And why isn't anyone keeping a watch on Rick, who clearly showing signs of being a rather obvious mole?
And despite the fact that Weaver likes his new soldier with a military background, he doesn't seem to mind putting him on 24-hour guard duty when he puts Tom Mason in the boiler room, despite having a large attack to plan for.
And it continues in Season 2 when the obviously robotic alien "probe" is left unattended in a glass jar.
And they leave a harnessed girl in the back of the bus with Matt, unsupervised.
Heroic Sacrifice: Mike holds off the 7th Mass long enough for Hal to help the kids escape, but is killed by Clayton in the process.
Tom gives himself up to the aliens so they won't take his son again.
Heroic BSOD: Weaver goes through one of these after being exposed to one too many reminders of the family he's lost. He snaps out of it when he finds his wife's glasses and realizes she may still be alive.
Humans Are Warriors: All the aliens comment at some point that humans are unusual for fighting back against an alien invasion, and later for being un-eager to live on reservations or refugee camps. Most sapient alien species are said to be fairly docile. The Volm, for instance, are somewhat bewildered by the idea that humans want to fight even after a superior allied alien force has entered the theater, as none of their other indigenous allies ever showed a similar inclination. Humans — alongside the Volm, Espheni, and rebel Skitters — buck the galactic trend toward pacifism.
After making it massively clear that they don't trust Pope and are keeping a very close eye on him as he guides Tom's team to the motorcycle dealership, they send him into a back room with only Dai, who eventually turns his back on Pope while working on something.
No guards are posted in the medical room, despite only having one doctor and all the medications being in unlocked cabinets.
Despite having loads of personal experience with the effects that Espheni technology can have on people, Tom and Lourdes are very quick to dismiss Anne's concerns about her daughter. Of course, we don't know how long has Lourdes served as the mole, so at least in her case it may be intentional.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The mechs are effective shots, but have a several second long targeting sequence whenever targeting a character slated to survive and then miss wildly. Stock animation also tends to show them spraying back and forth across an area to little effect despite their armor piercing ammo. Particularly noticeable in the first season when harnessed kids are used in an attack, but because nearly every character present is named, targeting lasers repeatedly show up on the target's head and give them time to get out of the way.
Truth in Television: The mechs are laying down suppressing fire—keeping the good guys from shooting back while the mechs move into position—when they sweep the area without hitting anything.
Infant Immortality: Averted. The Skitters seem okay gunning down a group of children right in front of Hal.
Averted again in Season 2 with Jimmy.
Insectoid Aliens: The Skitters have six legs (and two arms), and insectoid mandibles.
Little alien insectoids introduced in season 2.
It's a Small World After All: While going to Charleston, the group comes across a group of kids hiding out from skitters. One of them is Weaver's daughter.
Jerkass Has a Point: In universe, the main reason Pope is kept around instead of being kicked out of the 2nd Mass is that although he may be out of line, aggressive, and undiplomatic, he does make points that need addressing.
Killed Off for Real: Various resistance members, to the point of a Dwindling Party at times, with the group shrinking from 300 to 176 by the third episode of the second season as of the death of Jimmy.
Lampshaded Double Entendre: In "Shall We Gather At The River", Hal and Margaret (who are obviously becoming a couple) are discussing skitter procreation, and Margaret begins talking more and more enthusiastically about animal mating patterns in the wild. Hal eventually interrupts her and says, "are we still talking about the skitters?", causing her to blush.
Lensman Arms Race: Once the Volm supply the Resistance with advanced weaponry and start to turn the tide against the Espheni, the Espheni respond by breaking out the Mega-Mechs.
Les Collaborateurs: The survivors of the 7th Mass; in exchange for immunity for themselves and their families, they agree to hand over any other children they find to the Skitters. For the most part, it seems Clayton was the only one who was happy going along with the plan, and the others were just following his lead.
Red Eye insists on talking to Tom Mason - alone - thus locking Weaver and the rest of the 2nd Massachusetts out of critical info which in retrospect wasn't really one-on-one material.
When Tom interrogates an Overlord in season 2. The Overlord spins some possible truths about what is going on until Tom asks what the overlords are doing there in the first place. The Overlord essentially tells Tom it's none of his business.
Mook Lieutenant: Season 2 introduces a Skitter nicknamed "Red Eye" by Word of God (due to its right eye being red), who seems to be in charge of all the field work dealing with Tom and the 2nd Mass. Subverted, he's actually a good guy.
Later on in season 2, the role seems to fall to Karen.
Mook Promotion: In season 3 premiere, it's revealed that Karen's been promoted to Overlord by the Espheni.
The (Anti-)Mutiny: In "The Mutiny," Tom is arrested for confronting Captain Weaver about his drug use and erratic behavior. Other fighters free him and take his side in trying to stop Weaver. Becomes an anti-mutiny when Tom confirms his suspicions that Weaver is disobeying orders.
No Bikes In The Apocalypse: Tom Mason has to travel from Michigan to Boston. When he comes across a girl with a motorcycle he says he's been walking for several days and needs to borrow her motorcycle. I guess the Skitters took all the bikes.
Non-Action Big Bad: For Season 3. Despite being the new Overlord, so far Karen hasn't done much of anything onscreen except manipulate Hal in his "dreams".
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: During a time skip in Ep1 of Season 4, Lexi Mason evidently destroyed a mech by calling down a lightning bolt. The event itself is never seen but we do get to see the results.
Offscreen Teleportation: How the 2nd Mass was able to travel from the high school and take the Sanctuary before Tom and the kids were marched back. It was an unfamiliar route, and Ben had only traveled it once before himself, but they managed to not even pass the bad guys on the way and take their headquarters.
Only Sane Man; Pope clearly thinks he is, but he typically isn't.
Maggie and Ben are when Karen is found deharnessed close to their base, as they are only ones who find it suspicious. Once her manipulations start, Ben falls for them and Hal's the one who gets suspicious.
The Promised Land: Charleston, South Carolina, where supposedly there is electricity and hot water. It turns to be a destroyed city subsequently ignored by the aliens, with an underground complex housing a comunity with not only the expected amenities but even a working civilian government.
Put on a Bus: At the beginning of season two, Tom is told that Rick mysteriously disappeared during the time he was gone.
This seems to be standard procedure for Season 2 episodes. Pope and Anthony have struck out on their own, and Weaver is reunited with his daughter, only for her to leave with her own group. He's reunited with her in Charleston in Season 3, though.
Putting on the Reich: In season 4, the Espheni seem to have started reading Earth history and thought the Nazis were worth emulating, including ghettos and Hitler Youth reeducation camps.
Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: Karen tells Ben that the Overlords are able to predict future events, including what the rebels will do next, through their superior understanding of quantum mechanics. She admits that there are always variables, and sometimes their calculations need adjustment.
Rick showed heavy signs of this. In fact, after he declared the Skitters were morally superior to humans, you have to really wonder why no-one bothered to consider locking him up, since it was clear he was Brainwashed and Crazy and Obviously Evil?
Raised Catholic: Lourdes, who in nearly her first appearance mentions that she had to settle for an Episcopalian service.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: John Pope is a racist, sociopathic bastard who practically welcomed the alien invasion, as it gave him sentient beings which he could kill without the authorities batting an eyelid. His brother is all that, plus he raped Maggie shortly after their gang found her. He also expresses a desire to rape Karen. Guess which one doesn't suffer a karmic death before the credits roll?
Rapid Aging: Lexi, despite being less than a year old, is a grown woman in Season 4. The problems with this trope are both brought up, or shown. First, if this keeps up she'll have a very short life span. Second, despite looking like an adult she's still a child; as such, she's prone to mood swings and temper tantrums, and is easily manipulated.
When Crazy Lee gets shot and falls backwards into a pile of rubble, Pope and Matt think she's okay because the armor she was wearing stopped the bullet. But then they find out she landed on a pipe, which impaled her through the skull and penetrated her brain, blinding her. She dies in the hospital later that night.
When Anne decides to take her baby and leave America's strongest defensive position without telling anybody and without taking any sort of weapon with her, she's quickly cornered by the enemy.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Zigzagged, depending on if Red Eye turns out to really be involved in a Skitter resistance or if he's putting the humans on. It's finally revealed that the resistance is real and Red Eye is its leader.
Red Right Hand: Red Eye is nicknamed as such due to its right eye being red instead of the usual black (which its left is) and surrounded by what appears to be red scar tissue.
Red Shirt: Bonnie Garcia in the second season premiere, who barely gets enough time to tell Tom her name and that she's from Vermont. She comes close to Mauve Shirt when compared to the others who die - but her screen time is VERY limited.
Red Shirt Army: Dropped off with Tom at the beginning of Season 2 and cut down before they get 100 yards.
Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: In season 4, the Espheni say they were pushed out of their galaxy to this one by a Bigger Bad. It's very common in science fiction to do this, but a Galaxy is really, REALLY big, and they are really REALLY far apart. Most folks don't have a good feel on how big and far apart solar systems are, and galaxies are that times a million.
Averted in the season 4 finale when Cochise uses understatement and points out "Space is not a finite environment"
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Tom's way of dealing with the cave-in, at the end of "Journey to Xibalba", after discovering Lourdes' Espheni weapon.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: For Cochise, anyway. After he puts his life at risk hauling President Hathaway back to Charleston, it proves to be pointless when he's abruptly killed anyway by Lourdes.
Social Services Does Not Exist: Obviously the larger system has broken down, but once they take the harnesses off the kids backs there doesn't seem to be much effort to interview them about their experiences nor offer them counseling for what was obviously a very difficult experience. Ricky is pretty much left to wander around the compound freely with a dazed expression.
The series starts off with the children speaking to a psychologist, but in that same episode the encampment is broken up and that psychologist must have been assigned to a different group.
Stealth Hi/Bye: Colonel Porter and his men just walk into the main group from the surrounding brush and say hello just as the 2nd Mass were about to leave Charleston, apparently having bypassed any sentries the 2nd Mass may have had posted.
Hal, Maggie and Pope do the same thing just a few moments later. Somebody needs to fire the sentries.
See The Guards Must Be Crazy above. Porter is a professional soldier and given that the 2nd Mass already has crappy operational security (being mostly civilian resistance fighters at that point) it probably wasn't very hard for him to bypass it.
Sticky Bomb: Tom makes one to take out a mech by wrapping duct tape around a grenade.
Stockholm Syndrome: Rick; eventually he talked (at least to Ben) like he's no longer human. Ben might be, but has at least told others that he feels like he's being tugged back to the Skitters.
Take Your Time: In Season 3 episode "Search and Recovery", a team is formed to go out and search for Anne Glass Mason and baby Alexis. Despite this they spend more time doing character development by standing around talking and eating and also burying the body of a random woman they happened to come across.
Taking the Bullet: Ricky does this for Red Eye when the 2nd Mass tries to execute him.
Television Geography: The show is filmed in British Colombia rather than the New England/East Coast setting of the show. In one episode, you can see a war memorial with the Canadian dates of involvement in the two world wars.
Tempting Fate: Lampshaded. In the season 2 finale, they crawl through a tunnel and Hal mentions that it's a good thing there aren't any "crawlies". Maggie tells him to be quiet, and none show up anyway.
Ten Little Murder Victims: Starts after the 2nd Mass is ambushed during their first combat action in season three. It intensifies when Arthur Manchester, who was in charge of finding the mole, is killed, shortly before he was to give Tom vital information on the mole's identity. Anthony is tasked with finding the mole.
Too Dumb to Live: Mike, who screws up the kid retrieval mission by acting like a panicky idiot, leading to the capture of a squadmate, and the slaying of a bunch of children and then tries to make an alien speak by sticking a gun in it's mouth.
Harris gets within reach of the Skitter he's been taunting ever since it was captured.
Hal infiltrating a group of six harnessed children (which are guarded/led by a single skitter) to save his brother. Maybe humans all look the same to the skitters, but you would at least expect them to be able to count. Though this one actually works.
In "Saturday Night Massacre", a group of people walk out to the Espheni convinced that by showing they won't fight they will be allowed to live. The Mechs mow them all down without even stopping.
Trailers Always Spoil: For the episode "Grace", the promo immediately before it it showed Rick putting the harness back on his back. Rick doesn't actually put it on until 45 minutes through the hour-long episode.
As if the promos for "Death March" didn't lean on this heavily enough with the group standing on the bridge looking into the distance, one of the "after show" commercial promos during the program had Wil Wheaton asking "So what are they going to do now that they are in Charleston?"
And the promos for "The Price of Greatness" included Terry O'Quinn's character mentioning suspicion of Tom's time on the alien spaceship, but everything was fine and dandy for most of the episode, so you knew things were going to go sour eventually.
And then there's the promos for the Season 2 finale, which flat-out spoiled the very last scene.
Trailers for Season 4 and for "Evolve or Die" in particular don't actually show Jeanne as a harnessed adult creature, but make it easy to guess that that's the case. Doesn't make it any less heartbreaking.
Traveling at the Speed of Plot: Tom Mason taking a boat back from Boston in "Journey to Xibalba". Considering what a slog it was to for the 2nd Mass to get to Charleston in Season 2, and how much of a target a boat would be, it's pretty much "We have to get Tom back to Charleston next episode"
Trojan Prisoner: Hal uses a variant on this idea to gain access to an alien base where children are being held captive by pretending to be harnessed.
Ultimate Job Security: Tom Mason violates a direct order from Weaver in front of a group of people. Weaver later admits what Tom did, but leaves him be in his second in command position with nary a slap on the wrist.
We ARE Struggling Together: Most of the 2nd Mass don't always see eye to eye with the military, and they certainly don't like Pope's group. Further more they aren't just gonna trust the Volm all the time.
Wham Episode: "A More Perfect Union": Anne is pregnant, Red Eye, Karen's Overlord and Dai are killed, Hal has an alien bug in him, and a new unidentified race arrive at the very end.
"Saturday Night Massacre". Lexi emerges from her cocoon, declares Humans Are the Real Monsters and leaves Chinatown for her Espheni "family." Along the way she kills Lourdes, declaring it "setting her free." The Espheni attack Chinatown killing most of the people, including Tector and Dr. Kadar, while Maggie is buried under rubble. Ben leaves to try and talk Lexi into coming back, but leaves with her instead.
Wouldn't Hurt a Child: More than likely one of the reasons the aliens chose to use them as a means of enslavement. They know most of the adult fighters would hesitate to attack children, and for the most part they're correct.
Wrong Name Outburst: In an argument in Episode 6, Season 2, Tom accidentally calls Anne "Rebecca", the name of his late wife, as if they were having a typical couples' argument. This stops the argument in its tracks, but Anne at least immediately understands, and notes that she's surprised it hadn't happened between them sooner.