Tonight's episode was written by: Jordan Rosenberg

And was directed by: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan  

It rained every day on this episode.  And not just a little.  Hard core pounding rain.  It’s the main thing I remember about it.  And to make matters worse, there were only about two days shooting indoors.  The cast and crew were wet to the bone – the horses were wet to the bone – the sets were waterlogged – all day – every day.

The Vancouver crews however, are experts at shooting in the rain.  And the weird thing about rain, which I only learned by working in Vancouver a lot is, if you don’t want to see the rain – you don’t.  To see rain you have to back-light it.  (To see snow, oddly enough, you must front-light it.)  (Oh yeah, also the ocean – if you want to see it – front light!)

On almost every scene in this episode, the crew hung tarps from trees and on huge poles which they extended and they kept the rain off the set.  Most of the time you don’t sense it.

I think, in fact, Noah was a little disappointed when he realized how little we saw of the sleeting rain.  For he and for Collin Cunningham – this was a physically arduous episode.  They were not only wet, but they were running and jumping and fighting and moving around in heavy water-soaked clothes for twelve hours a day, all-day, for days on end.

Even if the rain doesn’t show up that much, I do think that the pain the cast went through does subtly translate to the film.

The inspiration for the film, from Remi Aubuchon and the writer’s room, was an old 1958 movie called: THE DEFIANT ONES in which and  , play two prisoners chained together after a prison break.  Remi thought it would be fun to see perennial adversaries, Tom and Pope, forced to be together and to survive together.
Noah was excited about this idea from the first time he heard of it, early on.  He and Remi talked together a lot about how the two characters would interact and evolve.  To both Remi and Noah it was important to learn more about the characters than we had known before - and to see both dark sides in Tom and light sides in Pope that we hadn't seen before.
The two most memorable of these moments (for me) were the story Tom tells, in bits and pieces, about how his father was a drunk and ran a hardware store.  This presents a very different history of Tom Mason than we may have suspected.  I also love the way Noah played the scene.  It was scripted that Tom was buildng a fire, but the director, Noah and Collin evolved it just a little differently.
The script said this:
"Tom starts searching for dry dead wood. Pope shakes his head, but can’t think of anything else to do but get up and help."
But what occured during the rehearsal, was that Noah began to build a fire in a focused and intense way.  Pope sits in the background egging him on.  As Tom talks, and as painful small details of his life story come out, he stays focused on the fire.  I think that Noah's intensity around the fire building adds intensity to the story that would have been too direct and maybe even saachrine, if he'd been looking directly at Pope and engaging with him.  I think the fact that Tom was turned away from Pope, also gave Collin Cunningham a chance to do a great reaction of surprise when he hears this story, without giving away any empathy to Tom.

Now, I don't mention this to put the script or screenwriter's down in any way.  The screenplay is the roadmap that directors and actor's follow.  Without a script we would be lost at sea.  But our job is also to use the script as a jumping off point, and we strive to maximize the effect both visually and in terms of performance, and enhance it if we can.
On Pope's side of the aisle is the very lengthy and intense story that Pope tells of how he lost his family and ended up in jail.  Collin was a bit anxious about this scene going in, because it is a very long story, unbroken by anything other than a few small interjections by Tom.  It also had the potential to get saachrine or self-pitying. The trick in a scene like this, again, is to not be too direct or too "connected" to the emotions of the scene, but instead to get lost in the telling and remembering of it.  To sublimate the painful emotions and to tell it in a detached way is better.  And Collin, working with Sergio, picked his way down this path.  When I started to study the film in the editing room, I saw that Collin had done a number of variations in his performance - some were bigger and some were smaller.  In one version he got almost angry as he told the story.   It was great that he gave us so many colors and choices - and we used pieces of many takes to put together  the vesrion we have in here.  
Also, Noah, for his part - just listened - intently.  I feel when I watch Noah's very focused reaction to Pope's story, that there is both incredulity at what he's hearing and some empathy as well.
In the end of course, although they may know each other better - Pope and Tom will always be on the opposite sides of things.  The line that sums this up best (that I think John Wirth wrote) is the line from Pope in the final scene - "Next basket wins."
The other half of this episode is, of course, the search for Anne - lead by Weaver of horseback.
What's interesting is, that coming out of his first reading of the script, Sergio always saw this story as Matt's story.  Matt is the one who strayed from his fathers side, and had had words with Anne in episode 2 of this season.  Matt is the one who is coming of age in this harsh world, and who is wanting to fight.  But here he is the observer - the one taking in the harshness and the determination.  He is the one who insists on burying the woman they find, and on eulogizing her.
If you watch the episode again, notice how in many scenes there are group shots of the cast, and maybe the occasional medium close-up - but the close close-ups are reserved for Matt, watching and taking things in.
Finally I'll talk about some of the complexities that go into what end up just being a few seconds of film.  When Tom and Pope are chased to the edge of the cliff by skitters - Remi, really wanted Tom and Pope to leap off the edge into the water (taking a page out of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID) - we searched for cliffs over rivers - but nothing was available in range of our production.  The nearest decent sized waterfall was 100 miles away.  Sergio came up with the idea to do the jump virtually - his plan was to film Tom and Pope in the woods on the edge of a small cliff - to make their POV (the "down" angle) a backplate of a distant river with Tom and Pope on blue screen.  And the jump would be done with stunt men.
This was a good plan but it didn't quite work.  We couldn't find the appropriate sized cliff's edge in the vicinity where we were shooting.  So the art department built an eight feet tall twelve feet wide "cliff edge."  It was made from plywood and covered in scenic dirt and grass and weeds.  Noah and Collin ran up to the edge of this and stopped abruptly - then they backed up and jumped off-stage into an air bag.
The waterfall was harder though.  We found the right one, but the Canadian Conservation Corp. wouldn't let people jump into the water (the river  became a source of drinking water downstream.)  So we sent Visual Effects Producer Curt Miller, up to the river to film a backplate which we would later add a CGI Tom and Pope into.  But the complexities continued.  Curt needed two splashes in the water - so something heavy had two be thrown in.  Well if Canada wasn't going to let two humans jump in - they certainly wouldn't let two blocks of metal either.  After much thought - Curt came up with a plan...  The special effects team built two catapults side by side and loaded them each with 100 pound blocks of ice.  The ice was catapulted into the water... Splash!  Splash!  We were happy!  And Canada was happy!

And finally, finally...  Matt Frewer meets his demise in this episode.  I've talked over the years in this blog (in regards to this show and others) that I've had the repeated and unfortunate task of telling actors they're being killed off.  Most recently it was Crazy Lee.  And now I had to tell Matt.
But - unlike most, who take it with grim acceptance - Matt took it with rather well...    "I was wonedring when you guys were gonna kill me off!" He told me, with a big smile.  "I'm surprised I lasted this long!"  Anyway - I haven't talked about Matt enough - but he was a great and very fun guy to have around.  And I will miss him!
Thanks for reading....




Erwin Rommel said…
Herr Beeman,

Once more we find ourselves at odds! Wow... for season 4 I suggest do not rehire Jordan Rosenberg- his writing is probably the worst since the first season. The basic problem with this episode is simple too much going on with no development.

1) The premise is absurd that Aliens that can travel across the galaxy do not have FLIR technology. Especially since they are in the business of conquering worlds this is a very use technology. So it doesn't make sense that Pope and Mason could just avoid the enemy by hiding in the under brush-- you cannot even do that at the US Military today.

2)While I understnad that you want to show Pope and Mason finding a sense of respect for each other-- the problem is that episode goes so fast that none of it even matters. One minute they are telling each other about childhood scares the next they are trying to knife each other over a snake prank. It didn't feel real.

3) They make a campfire while the enemy is after them. That move is certain death.

4) Hal 9000 is boring... And so blatantly out of character for him that it is hard to believe that no one sees the changes in him?

5) Matt-- like Jimmy before him needs to step on a land mine-- WAR IS HELL AND HIS CHARACTER IS POINTLESS! What is the point of having a character that just runs around doing nothing at all? Either make him a full fledged junior NCO fighter or kill him off.

6) Kadar-- isn't it nice how Kadar is the master of all things scientific? Gotta an alien gnome you want cracked ask Mr. Wizard! Gotta power plant you want bombed-- ask the Wiz! Gotta an alien technology you want identitifed from bad photos-- well the wiz will do it. The wiz would know as much about Volm tech as Archimedes would about a 21st century SSN like the Sea Wolf Class.

7) Abandoned Trucks in the woods-- just a little too convenient don't you think? I can believe finding abandoned vehicles in the woods all with no gas. But this story well we want to end it all neatly in 44 minutes so hey they have gas!

8) The Burial scene should have been more like Full Metal Jacket-- "Better You Than Me" Animal Mother.

9) The Mole is boring.

10) Do we have to have every predictable Science Fiction trope in one series??? What is the point of this show at this point? Other then to basically just rip off every idea that is over used in SF at this point.

11) REALISM should be the edict for next season otherwise just end it now.


Erwin "The Desert Fox" Rommel
Anonymous said…
Reposting because my original comment disappeared. Hope there was nothing there that cause the removal, since it was totally positive, but then again, my typing and posting skills can be so skittish ( not skitterish)

So, because I didn't save it elsewhere, I'll shorten this up by saying that I loved the references to THE DEFIANT ONES as well as the nod to BUTCH CASSIDY. I even got a little bit of a CHARLY (Flowers For Algernon) feel from the Ben/ Denny story about returning to normal state after being given extraordinary abilities.

The Matt Mason growth over the seasons has been excellent. From the little boy who drew pictures to deal with his grief to the now capable, eager and a bit rebellious young man we see now is a great character growth. I've written about it on my own blog. Maxim Knight has done a fine job of making Matt stand out.

And the focus and longing back for Mothers, in the form of their own late mother, as well as Anne, and the bonds that formed between Crazy Lee and Matt are so true to the human drama in the show.

Excellent episode
Godzirra said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Godzirra said…
I had to stay home this weekend so I figured I would watch the first episode, and watched all three seasons. It started out good, Skitters were the bad guys, and it continued to get better, Skitters were slaves like humans, etc... but the story line seemed to get weak after they made it to Charleston.

It seemed like nobody expected the story to make it to Charleston so no one planned ahead. This last episode had some pretty heavy time dragging without a lot of content. I have to agree with Erwin on a good amounts of his comments. Also, you had some extras in a scene (see below). In a nutshell, step up your game. If you want to make it on Lifetime channel then keep going where your going.

For instance in season one you held your cards close to your chest and as the audience discovered that the Skitters were harnessed it hit like a good twist. Now the masters are slaves? cool. But this last season is showing cracks in glass.

How about some side items that keep action and the story strong, for instance. How about a Skitter child that was never harnessed, how different would it look? Would it have six legs? Or, does the creature in the harness have a fluid that can be used in an anti-venom kind of way against the enemy? I'm getting off track...

You may want to use caution when recycling ideas as well.
First, the harness reminded me of Stargate and the Gaould, next you bring Grig from the Last Starfighter on to the scene but he has no real purpose aside from giving the rebels a few extra weapons and offering some advice.

The big gun in the cave needs a conspiracy theory, not just pictures and power supplies. Maybe the writers for Eureka may have some hints...

Or what if the big cave gun is actually a wormhole to allow the Volm to portal into earth, or maybe it's a planet cracker(I recall Tesla had an idea about a large harmonic every one hour 49 minutes would break the earths crust), the point is twist our thinking again. We have to deal with reality everyday, take us away and make us like it.

I like the show, it's got a good amount of action, a decent storyline, but it's slipping. On top of that you have extra cast members in the background scenes which kind of take away the moment (note the quick burial scene, you have three guys in the background, looks like they are moving a Skitter suit).

Just my two cents. I know how hard it is to write a storyline, my first sci-fi book comes out this weekend and it was incredibly tough. I can't imagine the stress to keep a good storyline going, but you can do it, you showed your stuff in season 1 and 2. Keep it up.
Anonymous said…
Post title should read "Season 3 - Episode 5", not 4.
Can't believe season is half-over already...
Lauren said…
The lighting tips for rain and snow made my day. Also loved the catapulting of ice as a solution to appease all concerned parties. Any images of the catapults?
Anonymous said…
Hi Mr. Beeman,

I have to agree with some of the other comments. I too watched the entire 2.5 seasons over the past week or so. There is a markedly different mood, tone, and storyline in each. I'm afraid things went too much from this interesting post-acopalyptic, how do we survive using the remains of society scenario; to "race of the week"/"soap opera with the weird" sci-fi cliche in season 3. Being sci-fi does not necessitate the introduction of a new alien concept with every episode. It can just be the overarching background behind a very interesting human story, which is what I felt like season 1 was all about.

Obviously season 3 is already over, and I think we have a good sense of the direction it is taking. I hope season 4 takes the series back to its roots in some sense.

Thanks for your great work though, and for connecting to the viewers with this blog.

PS How many injuries can these characters survive?
Hey Greg,

Awesome posts by the way. I'm actually a Digital Compositor working out of Zoic Studios in Vancouver. Firstly congrats on us getting Season 4, YEAH !!! Also I'm heading to SIGGRAPH later this year to present of the VFX for Falling Skies Season 3. I'd like to chat with you about your posts and if I can use some of the content during my presentation. You can contact me at Will you be attending SIGGRAPH this year?
eerye70 said…
I had to leave a comment because I love this show. I feel great betrayal this season as it took a huge leap from its original premise and took a turn at political drama/soap opera with aliens in the ever so distant background. You have tremendous actors and set design and producers. The talent is phenomenal. I loved the first 2 seasons. I found them on amazon and watched them in my own marathon. But now I just want to cry. I don't care who the mole is. I really could care less about Alexis. I miss the aliens! There I said it. We all were thinking it. We miss the adrenalin and reality of life and death battles. Not political intrigue, people getting killed in their office easy chair? Please! I want the 2nd mass. To ride out again and engage the aliens on their own terms. I just don't know if I will be an entire season fan and wait the insanely long time for next season. Especially if its going to carry on down this road of mediocrity. Give us some hope. This season is a done deal. All filmed. Is there hope or should we annul now?
Unknown said…
Loved this episode!!! Loved watching Tom and Pope bashing each other one second and facing down skitters the next! And I love the storyline with Matt, he is growing into quite the young man! Not really missing Anne and the baby too much, but interested to see exactly which way that story ends up taking us. Same with Hal and the eye worm. My only major disappointment, the season is more than 1/2 over!
Aldenata said…
@Field Marshal Rommel:
1. Yes and no. They should have put distance between the crash site and themselves as quickly as possible. What were they waiting around for? Did they expect human search teams to find them before the Skitters did?

That said, you most certainly can still hide from the US Army, or at least the National Guard. Eric Rudolph did it in that same neck of the woods for almost a decade, untold thousands of pot farmers still do it.

FLIR is a powerful technology, but it does have shortcomings: it don't work well around fires, heavy rain and thick forest reduce effectiveness, it can't see through solid rock and dirt into the ravines and caves that are so common in the Appalachian highlands.

Moreover, it's expensive, hard to use and easy to ruin in untrained hands (claws?). Even Marine Recon only gets eighteen AN/GVS-5 observation sets per company. The Skitters are not Marine Recon; more like a space faring version of machete-wielding Zimbabwean conscripts. If the Espheni are invading on a shoestring budget (and I think they are: using human bullets, siphoning from nuke plants, and whatnot), and they don't even afford their slaves the use of firearms, they probably didn't let them shop at Radioshack either.

2. A lot of people are complaining about the snake fight. I ain't. It looked to me like a fairly typical case of ophidiophobia; throw a snake into the lap of someone who hates them and you shouldn't be surprised if he tries to kill you.

I'm the same way with frogs.

3. Yes, that was a bad idea. If you absolutely have to have a fire, keep it small and under cover of some kind (in the ground, if possible).

4. Yup.

5. They do need to either kill him off or find something useful for him to do. Maybe take his trouble-making friends and become a team of Junior Berserkers. They could call themselves the Drenge in keeping with the Viking motif. Essentially what Ben and Jimmy were doing before… oh…

…assign a chaperone or two to the squad. Maggie would make a good choice.

6. I like Kadar, but I'm starting to wonder if he's overused. What happens if the guy were to drop dead one day? Does anyone else know how to keep the lights on or keep his power plant from Chernobyling them all?

I think it's a fallacy to argue that something is beyond one's understanding just because it's beyond one's experience. Take your example: I could see the man who gave us the Archimedes Principle working his head around the concept of submarines. Diving bells existed in his day, so there is a point of reference for him.

Might be something for Eric Flint to consider in his next book.

7. Yup

8. Yup

9. Yup. I think it could be a good plotline, but it never seems to go anywhere or do anything. Maybe Anthony was right when he said that he had no idea how to run an investigation.

10. Eh… ever seen Star Wars? Shameless ripoff of Akira Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress, among dozens of other sources. And we all know what happened when Lucas started working from his own imagination. You can ask for more originality if you'd like; I'd rather not see any more eight-year old fighter pilots.

11. Yup.
Aldenata said…

1. This one wasn't as bad as the last one, but still fell flat in so many ways.

2. Why did you want to hide the rain? Charleston in early spring may not be as cold as Vancouver in late winter, but it is almost as wet.

I noticed it anyway. I'd actually thought y'all had someone standing on a ladder hosing down the set, but didn't know how to properly film it.

3. The wilderness scenes are fine. I enjoyed hearing about the life's stories of our background characters (for some reason, I'm not surprised that Tom had a messed-up home life; makes sense how he's driven to give his own children something better, even in the face of Armageddon), and Pope's comment that he had seen this movie made me chuckle.

4. The burial scene was stupid. If you really want to show what a harsh world Matt is coming of age in, Weaver could have offered him some wisdom from The Outlaw Josey Wales: "Buzzards got to eat, boy, same as the worms."

Actually, in a world like that, it does make sense to put corpses in the ground (or on the pyres) as quickly as possible. The outskirts of human civilization would be teeming with coyotes, wild dogs, wild pigs, etc, and you would NOT want them developing a taste for human flesh. But the characters shouldn't waste time projecting their existential terror on the dead when it interferes with your search for then living, or are we supposed to already be working on the assumption that the Mason girls are dead?

Weaver should have assigned two or three of his most useless subordinates to hang back and dig a hole for the woman whilst singing a few verses of The Old Rugged Cross or whatever else they preferred. If the others wanted to pay their respects, they could return on their own time, after the search party had accomplished its primary goals.

How deep was that grave, anyway? I was half asleep by then, but I don't think it was deep enough. Kind of a shame to waste their time on needless melodrama and still wind up feeding the coyotes.

5. Jeanne and Weaver's conversation? That was how the characters should go about projecting their existential terror.

Have you ever read Childhood's End? I did, when I was about eight, and it gave me the creeps. Aliens show up in giant ships hovering over our cities, invade and easily conquer us, set up a puppet government to overturn millennia of social and governmental arrangements (and, as was seemingly common in Science Fiction back then, few seem to complain about it… humans in general are pretty passive in that book), and give us a generation of utopia at the cost of humanity's future generations, who transition into an entirely different lifeform (synapses in the cosmic Overmind, more or less).

This was one of the first popular novels to broach the subjects of what we now call post-humanism and the singularity, and so far it's one of the most negative portrayals that I'm familiar with. But even Clarke portrayed it as a distressing yet necessary growing pain for the species. How many have argued that something like that should be (and can be) resisted? Not many, until now.

Of course I could be completely off-base; I do need to re-read Childhood's End someday. But the similarities are hard to ignore, harder still the differences.
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