"Grace" was a much better episode than last week's "Prisoner of War," but being already the fourth of the season's thirteen episodes, it definitely made me wonder about the series' prospects of renewal. Ideally, at this stage I should be engrossed with the twists and turns of the story instead of coldly considering the threat of cancellation. The show certainly has potential — as seen with the very acceptable ratings so far — but unless it picks up some momentum, it runs the risk of losing some of those who have invested in it until now.
The episode was mainly about attempts to communicate with the prisoner of war, the Skitter captured last week by Tom Mason. There was also a field trip by team Mason aimed at bringing back some motorcycles to help with the scouting. I liked that the two doctors had very different approaches in dealing with the prisoner. None of those made much sense but that is beside the point. What was successfully portrayed here was the fact that on the one hand, there will always be proponents of a radical approach, and on the other hand there is always a group of people who think we can get around with a more civilized behavior. The good doctor, Glass, seemed to win the argument, but only because the other sounded like a caricature. I also liked how the show seems to have a pretty clear idea of what the invaders are and what they are up to. Unraveling it all might end up not being as riveting as we would have hoped, but at this stage the straightforward approach is refreshing.
There were again this week some issues with the execution of some of the very good ideas the show seems to have in spade. The father of the teenager who was retrieved in the previous episode did it again. As the nonsensical plot device he undoubtedly is, he stuck his gun into the prisoner's mouth to allow us to better understand the Skitters' anatomy — there is no other possible way to understand his action. He even went as far as removing the harness with his own hand, and in so doing probably killed his son in a tragedy that was largely ignored by the storyline. The ex-con John Pope was another embarrassing character. Reusing perennial plot ideas is fine, but the writers should avoid having us feel too acutely that we have been there before. Those two characters summarize most of what is wrong with the series so far. Not enough care is put into delivering the good ideas. The end doesn't always justify the means. Those little botched scenes, when put together, negatively affect our appreciation of the episode. Also, using Ben as some sort of promised land shouldn't be done so clumsily. In this episode, Mason was to go get his missing son after the motorcycles and the drugs. We have heard something similar before. My guess is, next time there will be some other new obstacles.
As I have said above, some of the ideas are good, like radio waves as communication means for the Skitters. I liked how building on that the story showed us the prisoner re-harnessing the teenager and using him to communicate with the people in the room with some sense — this excludes the father who had to be silenced. I also liked what they have done so far with Tom Mason and Anne Glass. I can't detect any hint of romance there and it is perfectly fine that way. He confides in her about things that bother him including thoughts about his wife's death. Wyle and Bloodgood are portraying two adults who support each other, without being invasive, and with the pangs of grief still making themselves felt.
My favorite moment of the episode is the very last scene. As usual, the show has done well with an emotional moment that in this case also happens to explain the episode title. I found Lourdes very annoying from her very first appearance in the pilot, and that has not stopped, but there was no better character to say the "Grace" in this very touching scene. I think the scene properly captured the fact that for the people holding hands, it wasn't so much about praying to God as it was about sharing a moment of hope. It was a moment that they could all reach because they were led by someone like Lourdes who exudes faith — without any particular denomination. That is why the good doctor pushed her to broaden the "Grace," and the 2nd Mass commander mumbled an "Amen." It got me thinking that if a flawed character like Lourdes can bring us such a scene, then there might still be some hope for Falling Skies.