Sunday, July 07, 2013



Written by:

Bradley Thompson& David Weddle

John Wirth

Directed by Adam Kane


This episode was hard.  Every episode of FALLING SKIES is hard, but this one was right up there.  

Remi Aubuchon and the writers had always designed this episode to be under-budget.  The idea was that the whole story would be very contained, to our standing sets and have a minimum of visual effects.  The original goal was also to shoot the episode in 7 days instead of the normal 8.  But as they say about “the best laid plans of mice and men”…  none of that exactly happened.   We did end up saving some money on this one – but not as much as we hoped.  The VFX (Visual effects) budget was low – even with the “removing-the-eye-worm-from-Hal” sequence, and the production company was able to stay all in one place for the whole shoot, which always actually saves a lot of money.  But, despite Herculean efforts to do so, there was no way we could’ve shot this in 7 days.  There were just too many moving parts – too much cast – too much action and too much necessary coverage (i.e. shots needed for editing.)  

All that aside, however, I am personally very  happy with "Be Silent and Come Out."  It greatly follows the rules of Aristotelian unity  which, to me, means that the story is told  within a confined and definite amount of time and it all happens in a confined and definite set of space.  
From Wikipedia:
In their neoclassical form, Aristotle's rules for drama are as follows:
  1. The unity of action: a play should have one main action that it follows, with no or few subplots.
  2. The unity of place: a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.
  3. The unity of time: the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours.
I think this story, for the most part, does all of this. (Even though it actually divides into almost two perfect halves - 1. in which Tom is captured by Hal and the group at Charleston organizes to save Tom and take down Hal - and 2. In which Hal is de-bugged.)  It’s a taut, exciting episode and I think that all of the players did a great job. 

First of all, I think that director Adam Kane did  fantastic work in keeping the story moving and the camera moving and that he kept track and modulated both the emotion of the piece and the internal pacing of the piece.  Trust me, on paper there was a danger of many of the scenes in the standoff section of the episode becoming repetitive and flat.  But Adam kept all of the balls in the air in a very excellent way.

Our whole cast always does a great job – and I’ve certainly praised Noah Wyle and Will Patton and some of the other vets enough in this blog…  But today I really need to recognize how hard and how well Drew Roy did.  First off all, what Drew was playing, veering back and forth between two totally different personality aspects that are struggling to dominate his body – is hard.  And this also needs modulation, planning and organization on a purely technical level as an actor.   Also, Drew went for it...  He did not hold back in his performance at any time.  I value this very highly.  When he's screaming and writhing in pain - he goes all the way.  When he's begging for Maggie to untie him - it's intense and urgent.  And at the same time, I don't believe that Drew, at any time, went "over the top" and overacted.  All in all - well done!
One of the most important things to me – as a producer of this series is:  Is what’s happening clear?  I’m a pain-in-the-ass about this with all levels of the crew and cast and especially in the editing room.  On a very basic level – the audience has to be able to follow and understand what is  happening.  Again, and even though I thought this was an excellent script, there was a great deal of potential danger of “what is happening?” to not be clear.  What was happeing to and within Hal, at any given moment, was the main place where lack of clarity was potential.

This was especially relevant when we got into the editing room.  The first cut was good and exciting - but, more so than usual, I found myself sitting with the editor and really talking about where and on which characters we should be at any given moment.  There were so many choices...  at any moment in the story we could (for instance) be on Hal yelling from the window, Tom worried for his son and strategizing an escape, Weaver conflicted about what to do, Pope angry and resentful at what he sees as injustice, Maggie worried about the man she loves as well as her culpability for not telling someone sooner what she knew... etc. etc.  We went through the cut in painstaking detail trying every choice.  And, of course, every choice yielded different results.
This writing and prep of the script was interesting and unusual too.  Even though the story had been planned from the beginning - what happened in the course of the season is that we got behind due to re-writes on previous episodes...  While never desired, this is all very normal in the course of a TV season - but it put the writer's behind at this moment in the season's schedule.  
I'm not sure what the original plan was for the writing of this script - but I know that late in the game - Remi assigned the team of Bradley & David and John Wirth on it - and that they wrote it relatively quickly.  This group had never written a script together before, and, while it was done quickly it went very smoothly.   I believe the strengths of the team were well realized.  In my mind Bradley & David are specilalists at complex action and rising drama.  John is very strong at character development and writing both internal and external character conflict.   Now, I don't mean to short change any of these guys by simplifying their work down like this - all of them can write many, varied aspects of a story.  But, from where I sit, these are their strengths...  And this story brought all of that out.
While under the gun, and maybe because we were under the gun - we had excellent communication between the writer's team and the production team on this one.  I remember a couple of long teleconfrences - one one side were Adam, myself and cinematographer, Nate Goodman in a small trailer in the pouring rain... And on the other side were the writer's in LA.  (It was probably warm and sunny down in LA, grrr...)  On these calls we really hashed through this one.  And it helped a lot - both in terms of the physical organization and prioritizing and in terms of the drama.
One last thing worth mentioning for fun.  Nate Goodman and Adam Kane are old friends.  For many years Adam was a cinematographer and Nate was his camera operator.  Adam was the cinematographer and Nate was the camera operator on the pilot of HEROES.  
Later, on HEROES, when I was working on it, Adam got his chance to direct for the first time and Nate got his chance to move up to cinematographer.  Neither men have looked back since then.  Adam has consistently been a director and even a producer/director on series such as ALPHAS,  and Nate has been exclusively a cinematographer ever since.
But they've never had a chance to work together in their new capacities until now.  I think their ease and familiarity with each other, also helped this episode run smoothly.
Thanks, and until next week...

Our grizzled vet: Will Patton
We love to hate him: Collin Cunningham

On set with Noah and Will

Another from the front lines
Amidst the wreckage and ruin (also - keep in mind - we built, constructed or hauled in everything that you see in all of these pictures!)

Because we had to stay in one place and not move the trucks - this set was built into the small carpenters shop on our stages - the carpenters went without that week

On set - as everyone gathers around injured Hal

Things are tense as Hal begs Maggie for his freedom

Seychelle plays with the goats on set before going into surgery
Camera op Mike Wrinch, on a crane
Director of Photography Nate Goodman smokes a stogie between takes
Popetown:  That's where Pope hangs out
Confrontation in Pope town


Tamara Tipton said...

Another great episode. I was a bit worried about that "pill" the Skitters had for Hal for a second though! That was a bit extreme!
Everyone did a great job, the emotions felt real and the drama was intense. Of course, I have to comment on Pope. He was super douchey and obnoxious and I loved every second of it! And under all of that you caught just a hint of his own self loathing and doubt. Very nicely done.
I can't wait to see what you have in store for us next week!

Erwin Rommel said...

Herr Beeman,

I'm curious why you feel the need to write an apology for the episode if it so great? Wouldn't a great episode need no apologies for its form and content? It would simply be a sublime representation of the writers, actors, and directors intentions for the story? Would you not agree? Would you not also agree that many of the best works of cinema are not what Hollywood considers "low budget": i.e Taxi Driver, 2 or 3 Things I know About Her, Persona and the list goes on and on.

It seems to me that this entire blog post is designed to obviate the simple fact that this episode was totally pointless! In fact if even came within the generally vicinity of a point it would have been a monumental miracle on the writers part. And invoking Aristotelian dramatic theory will not save this episode from its utterly inept basis. The fact is that the episode is totally and utterly poor.

Of course, we can list a few not so unimportant details about the nature of this episode's failures.

1) A plot that only rivals the trivial nature of the average "Reality Tv Show".

2) A troubled and problematic kidnapping sequence.

3) All too convenient tunnels and back doors for easy breaching and capture of villain.

4) Characters that are thrown into only to fill in audience expectations-- i.e. Pope.

5) Super drugs that have warning labels that read like ancient Greek mythological cures.

6) Presidencies that end with no real reason or for that matter start for no real reason... Remember isn't the Real POTUS still around so why is there even a need for New New United States President.

eerye70 said...

I hate this season but loved this episode. For once we stayed on one subject for the duration. it was more cohesive. It was intense. Sure the tunnels were easy, sure the presidency is dumb when they know there is another group that at the very least will be choosing a new president, but at least that stuff was way in the background where it belongs. I loved the creepy eye nano destroyers going in to kill the eye bug. I loved Pope's betting board. That was hilarious. I still Miss a show about fighting aliens. as this is clearly not. I Miss it very much.

Adrian Hickman said...

Great episode.

First off, Drew Roy was amazing. I'll be honest, and this is no knock against Drew, but as the oldest Mason brother, up until recently his role had been kind of a bland blank slate for me. Not that he wasn't good, but that his character was the least interesting of the three Mason brothers.

This started to change last year when you shot the episode where Hal and Maggie were in the transport truck and we started to learn more about his backstory.

However, for me, that kind of blank slate made this episode that much more powerful. Given a spotlight, Drew did not hold back.

I'll be honest, the scenes of him tearing into his father Tom in the room where he was holding him hostage were cold and brutal. There was no holding back, there was no lightening that shock of the hostage session. There was no cheat. Drew was amazing and Tom's determined coldness in the scene's just before Hal's earworm was removed was just as startling frank.

An excellent performance, one that could have easily been cliched but instead was brutal and effective.

I also love the undercurrent of how much the tension level is increasing the distrust and the jealously level. Morale at these times is the first to break down and once that does, the resentment can be as big an enemy as the actual enemy. Pope's resentment of the golden status of the Mason family is a great part. It has become obvious in recent episodes that Pope harbors as much jealously of the family structure for the Masons as he does of having to follow orders.

Pope's complaints and subsequent withdrawl to his saloon show that so well. His odds making looks cruel and spiteful, but it also allows Pope to diffuse the tensions of his followers and distract them from and anger they might have at that moment towards Hal's revelation that he has the earworm and might be the mole. Pope's crew was a "villagers hunting down the Frankenstein monster" just waiting to explode and he kept them at bat.

So much more that I'll be blogging on my own abaout, but again, a great performance by Drew Roy, one that did NOT hold back and that the writers did NOT allow for any softening that son and dad could not whale on each other in this situation.

Anonymous said...

This is slightly off topic. But I am hoping the creators produce an episode of what happened to some of these characters from the beginning. I always feels as if part of the story is missing since we never got to see how the aliens invaded.

Love the show though

Aldenata said...

@Be Silent and Come Out
1. "But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm."
-Luke 4:35, English Standard Version

Interesting choice of translation, by the way.

Rommel is right on two things, Hal's kidnapping scene seemed poorly thought-out (Why not just kill Peralta? Why turn around and head right back towards the guards and their machine-gun nest?) and the tunnels were unnecessary. Clear line of sight all the way around the building? Um, no? He's pretty much pinned down in that one room with his hostage, so his line of sight is quite limited unless eyeworms can see through brick walls.

Beyond that? The pacing in this one was erratic as all get out, but overall I really don't have much to say for or against it.

2. Love to hate Collin Cunningham? Nah, I agreed with pretty much everything he said in this episode. His running a poll on the outcome of all the Mason Family Drama (we do need less of that) had me laughing my head off (as did Weaver threatening to mount his head to the wall; I should write a fanfic where he actually does that.). Adrian Hickman's point about him working as a pressure valve for the ruffians also seems apt.

3. Hal had a gun go off next to his head and suffered no hearing loss? Lucky.

4. Mechanicsville? Which one? There are four Mechanicsvilles in Virginia (one Richmond neighbourhood, the rest are unincorporated communities), two in Georgia (one major Atlanta neighbourhood, and one small unincorporated community also in Atlanta) and one in Tennessee (Knoxville neighbourhood). Not sure which one would make the most sense from a strategic point of veiw.

5. The end scene, where they were all mounting up to ride off and rescue Anne and Lexi… did I miss it or did they not bring a spare horse for Anne to ride back on? Seems like the kind of thing you would want to do; riding double for several hundred miles is something to be avoided if at all possible. Ideally, each rider would have two mounts and trade them out as one or the other grows tired, plus pack animals for whatever supplies are needed.

They seemed awfully under-manned and under-armed, even if they were going to meet up with the Rebel Skitters. What happens if they run into mechs? One pack horse could have carried enough rockets or rifle grenades to deal with any hostiles they ran into.

I could see Charleston having a shortage of horseflesh and high explosives (and the Masons already owe them a Humvee)… but if you send them off with enough supplies you may well not any of it back...

…maybe the Charlestonians know that and considered four horses a worthwhile price for getting rid of them.

true fan said...

great episode, especially this scene when Ben struck Pope in the face!
really fanastic scene.
One thing I'm curious about: If Ben has super powers, and he's so strong that he can raise a car,like Danny said in Ep 4 how did all they had to wrestle with Hal? Earlier in the S2 Ben could stopped Hal with one hand....

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