Honest question: with the Second Mass driving its way down south to the promised security and comfort of Charlotte, what's stopping the presumably very ticked-off aliens from blasting the convoy off the road with their fliers? After the violently effective episode "Molon Labe," it's hard to imagine the invaders bringing all of their resources to bar to take down the Massachusetts survivors.
Instead of a thrilling chase story, this week's "Falling Skies" episode focuses on the slow drive to Charleston, Hal and Maggie's relationship problems, and another random encounter with a harnessed child.
After their initial doubts, after past disappointments, Charleston is the one, great hope for the beleaguered Second Mass. The traveling band of soldiers and civilians are running low on fuel, food, and water and tensions are starting to fray. Well, kind of. We see some of this with Tom, who is worried about Ben (his middle son left the group last week to join the Skitter resistance), while Hal is acting as advance scout miles ahead with Maggie and unlikely road companion, Pope.
What causes "Death March" to feel slight (especially when stacked against last week's episode) is how diffuse the threat feels. With the aliens at their backs (and way out of sight), and a vague lack of gas for the convoy hanging over the action, the group never feels in any particular danger. Plus, we have some rehashed beats that the series really needs to move past, specifically Tom's anger and frustration with what's happening with Ben (he's always angry and frustrated with what's happening with Ben--the kid'll be fine, Tom) while Maggie and Hal dance around whatever their not-quite-relationship is.
To this last bit, I've griped in the past about how mismatched these two characters are and this episode underlines why their continued flirtation doesn't really make sense (and calling attention to it in the plot only makes it feel weirder). At issue this time is Maggie's MYSTERIOUS PAST, which Pope chides her into revealing to Hal. I kept expecting to hear that she was part Skitter or something, but we ultimately learn that she's made some bad choices and had a hard life. Nothing scandalous or terrible about that, and you'd expect Hal to give her a break after the world's been nearly destroyed.
I should also bring up a reverse psychology scene between Weaver and Tector, the group's sniper that's kind of hilarious in its unintended silliness (the best way to help a person get over trauma is to tell them they're a bad person until they're nearly weeping, apparently). I'll let you discover the dumb charms of that one for yourselves.
Finally, there's the group's third encounter this season with a harnessed (or formerly harnessed) child, seemingly at random. While it's grating that these kids keep popping up by chance (and the Second Mass should be way more suspicious of each encounter than they are), it does give us some insight into the slow transformation these kids are going through, and there's even some sweet (if slightly cloying) interaction between the little girl and Tom's youngest son Matt.
"Falling Skies" airs Sunday nights at 9 on TNT.