What's the difference between slavery and symbiosis?

The most interesting part of Falling Skies, so far, is the relationship between the Skitters and the children they've taken captive. And the more we learn about the harnessed children, the more interesting they get.


Just check out this utterly creeptastic scene, in which Ricky appears to choose slavery. (Which is several times more creepy and wrong, because Rick happens to be African American.) What the hell is going on here? Spoilers ahead...

I'm pretty sure last night's Falling Skies was the first time we had a real inkling that the link between the aliens and their captured children was closer to symbiosis, rather than straight-up slavery. And this changes many things.

In last night's episode, we learn that the aliens and their harness have somehow cured Ricky's cystic fibrosis, restoring him to peak physical condition. That, by itself, could be excused as just wanting your workforce to be in good shape. But then it emerges that the aliens also communicate with Ricky, via radio waves, and when the alien gets upset, Ricky gets upset too. And from the moment Ricky wakes up, he seems to have more sympathy for the alien than for his own father or for any of his own kind — as though Ricky has completely gone over to the alien mindset.

On one level, it's just a huge metaphor for Stockholm Syndrome and the means by which people adapt to slavery and take on chains that are mental and emotional as well as physical. But it's also our first window into the way the aliens actually think, and our first hint of just why they want our children so badly. It's almost as if the aliens have some kind of need, beyond just a labor force, that these children fill. (And I can't be the only one who's thinking of Torchwood: Children of Earth at this point.)

Meanwhile, we also see that the aliens are able to use their controlled children as human shields, sending them out to kill Tom and his guys, and banking that the Resistance fighters won't be willing to kill children. (Which turns out to be a safe bet.) But there are limits to the aliens' control over the children — with one alien controlling a bunch of kids, they all move in unison and they're not really capable of independent thought.

The other big strand in this episode, of course, is how you treat prisoners. Now that they've got a Skitter prisoner, Anne wants to try and communicate with it, while Dr. Harris wants to vivisect it. (And Mike kinda-sorta wants to communicate with it, by sticking a gun in its mouth.) What's the proper way to treat the first captive from the race that demolished your entire world? And more than any humane considerations, what's the best way to find out how to kill these things more easily? (And was anybody else frustrated that Mike threw away our chance to interrogate the Skitter through Rick?)


The other prisoner, of course, is Pope, who gets treated way better than the Skitter, even getting to go out on a mission with Dan and the others. And that turns out great. I do see why some people like Pope — his line about "Skitter group sex" was pretty high-larious, and he definitely seems like he could become the Jayne of this bunch. If he can only stop making racist remarks for five minutes.

All in all, this was a promising episode — we're learning about the creatures pretty quickly, and there wasn't all that much foot-dragging this time around. (Although if we could just send Jesus Girl on a suicide mission, then the show would improve 1000 percent. I suspect she's going to be responsible for a lot of people turning this show off for good.)


Chances are we haven't gotten to the bottom of the mystery of the Skitters and their child prisoners yet — maybe we'll learn more when our heroes go to rescue Ben, the boy who wanted to be the Boy Who Lived.



I guess I'm a little baffled as to why having a character that is religious makes the show "pro-religion". I'm as atheist as the next non-believer, but I would expect that at the "end of the world", there will be people that will find strength in their faith, or become more firmly entrenched in it. To me, it doesn't make the show pro-religion, it makes it more realistic. Actually, I think in a group that size, it would probably be more realistic to have more than one character preaching the "good word". I know it's a big deal for atheist fundamentalists to be able to point to anything that even mentions religion as "religious", but frankly, that's every bit as obnoxious as Jesus Girl. "Wait, there's a Jesus girl? Oh my god, it's a religious show!? So typical of Hollywoods right-wing agenda". Whatever.