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"Sanctuary, Part 2" took from the previous episode the bad and left out the good. The conclusion to the two-parter essentially failed to make us care for the story and for the characters who were in danger. With the Sanctuary getting more screen-time than the 2nd Mass, the episode also reinforced a notion I touched on before: Less of Tom Mason is bad for Falling Skies.
Tom Mason's children are well-developed characters, but they are so badly portrayed that I find myself caring about them by proxy, meaning through their father, and preferably when he is around. Other characters — like Rick — just stand around, not saying much, obviously waiting for the plot to decide to use them. The third group of hopeless cases is represented by Rick's father, Mike, who is so inconsistent that his actions are clearly dependent on whatever the writers need (in the plot) at any given time. With this assortment of characters in the Sanctuary, a place filled with strangers who all looked suspicious, I found myself hoping for lines from (and shots of) Lourdes, the normally tiresome fervent believer.
To be clear, I don't think stories should only be filled with nice and well-behaved people. Bad things happen in life and other human beings are very often responsible for them; therefore, a show like Falling Skies should explore such venues. My issue is that the subject here was so serious that villains had to be more than the sum of their actions. The Sanctuary seemed to exist solely to present us with the possibility that some survivors could get involved with skitters. The backstory was too weak. It would have made more sense to give Terry and his friends a bigger or longer-term plan. Settling down in a house and essentially hoping for survivors with kids to be in the neighborhood hardly seems satisfactory to me.
The effort to show some sort of harnessed-kid xenophobia on Jimmy's side was halfhearted and not well portrayed by Connor Jessup who plays Ben Mason. The reappearance of John Pope, the cook turned skitter-hunter, was another issue I had with the episode. I know we are supposed to find him funny and even like him, but it just doesn't work for me. Okay, there was something about boiling asparagus that made me grin...
With such a grim outlook, you will understand why Lourdes instantly became an interesting character. She really can be annoying at times, but she doesn't need Tom Mason's shadow to be believable. Plus, in this episode at least, her attraction to Hal Mason was a good catalyst that helped them uncover what was going on. Her jealousy immediately made her more eager to see evil everywhere in the Sanctuary. That was a good use of a basic human emotion and about the only thing done right in that storyline. The rest unfolded like a story we had already seen and that we didn't like the first time around.
Aside from Lourdes, the other two regular characters that can hold their own — without Tom Mason's help — provided us with welcome breaks from whatever was going on around the Sanctuary by helping deliver Sarah's baby. The episode again here had a halfhearted attempt to make things exciting by introducing a little complication: the baby was in a breech position, meaning it was upside down. Well, it could have worked if they had gone all the way, but they seemed only interested in bringing in Weaver, the "expert" in breech births...
I think the story failed to use the birth properly. Let's not forget these people are the only remnants of the human race, so a baby actually is a big deal. Now was the time for a big Lourdes moment with hope flying around the room, but just like the rest of the episode, the scene could be watched with some level of indifference.