"Sanctuary, Part 1," like the series premiere, explored human frailty by pitting survivors against each other. It also built on the current season momentum and brought us more fighting sequences with the invaders. However, unlike the pilot or the more recent "Silent Kill," the episode failed to make us care for most of the protagonists and delivered a very predictable cliffhanger.
We have by now established that Falling Skies' writers don't take much care on their way to reaching some of their goals. It is well known that human beings act irrationally all the time, and we like it, if only for giving us wonderful TV plots. What is annoying, however, is when a character's irrational actions are blatantly designed to create the backdrop for a storyline. It is insulting to the character, and to some extent to the viewers who tend to prefer when there is at least an effort to hide plot devices. The attack on Dr. Glass was one such poorly concealed story elements. As it often happens with the series, after the rocky introduction, the development of the sub-plot itself was flawless. The attack led Anne to reconsider her position toward guns and eventually welcome Margaret's help. Everything that passed between the good doctor and Margaret — who is becoming one of my favorite characters — was pitch-perfect: It had the right tone, was well-acted, and was extremely well-written (Margaret: And if it conflicts with some Hippocratic oath, why don't you stitch the bad guy up after you blast him?).
The episode's main storyline, involving Terry — the 7th Massachusetts commander — failed on many points. It might be due to typecasting, but the minute the man appeared (alone) he looked suspicious. In addition, his story and the way he made his point made me uneasy. That is unfortunate as the plot needed us to go along (with the story) to achieve a successful cliffhanger. The episode also failed to make us care enough for Jimmy to be really worried about the outcome of the fighting sequence. Finally, the story did not succeed in creating an atmosphere of impending doom around the place, considering the skitters were on their way. The 2nd Mass commander, Weaver, made the smart call by picking the conflicted Tom Mason as the decision maker on the kids' issue. Here the episode successfully portrayed the internal fight between parents with children and those who, having lost their kids, had a more selfish approach to survival. That battle was again well mirrored in Mason's own dilemma between selfishly keeping his kids close to him and ensuring they would survive — for the greater good of the species — by sending them away. The writers handled his internal conflict so well that the viewer could see in which direction Tom was gradually leaning.
Ben Mason's recovery after the harness removal procedure was, for lack of a better word, interesting. He displayed none of the numbness and aloofness we saw with the first kid who got his harness removed. The writers clearly have something in mind with the connection the kids feel with the skitters and their "longing" for the relationship even after the thing is removed. That is all good and we can't wait to see where it leads us; however, the way they proceeded to show us that Ben wasn't quite himself was flawed. In spite of the fact that the viewers know there is something more to the harnessed kid, Hal failed to convince us — and the good doctor — that there was a problem with Ben. The evidence was flimsy, the writing lacked a clear purpose, and Drew Roy (who plays Hal) didn't shine. The episode was not the worst the series has produced so far, but could be watched with some level of indifference, which is uncommon for Falling Skies.