Written by: Josh Pate
Directed by: Mikhail Solomon


Sorry for the late posting - WiFi was down in my apartment last night.

Here we go...

In the “Exodus” episode, Tom and the 2nd Mass hatch an elaborate plan to escape the confines of the Espheni Ghetto. Meanwhile back in Chinatown, after learning from Ben that Lexi has been keeping a deadly secret, Maggie confronts Lexi publicly. At the Espheni Youth Camp, Matt tries to talk Mira out of a dangerous escape plan. While trekking through the woods with her guerilla fighters, Anne has a flashback to her time in the Espheni Tower with Karen (guest star Jessy Schram), where a terrifying secret about Lexi is revealed. Treva Etienne guest-stars.
That's right:  Karen's back! (If briefly) in one of the creepier scenes I've been involved with (And which, hopefully, I helped contribute to the creep)

And part one of our season concludes as our heroes escape the ghetto - And Anne finally finds Lexi at the end of the eipsde.  Now we can begin to hope that the 2nd Mass. will soon could be (maybe) re-united.

I have a feeling, though, that a lot of obstacles still stand in the way.

Both Josh Pate, who wrote this episode, and Mikhail Solomon, who directed, have pretty impressive resumes.  You should check out the links above to their imdb pages.  Josh has created series and directed – I think this is his first time on a writing staff, which he was willing to do, I think because of his long-standing relationship with Mr. Eick.  Similarly, Mikhail Solomon has a long impressive resume as a director of photography, including academy award nominations (for BACKDRAFT).  For more than a decade he has been directing pilots and feature films.  I don’t think he’s done much (if any) episodic directing.  But, again, his long-standing relationship with Mr. Spielberg (he DP’ed ALWAYS among other project) brought him our way.

The biggest, and most obvious challenge, of this one was the long and complex escape sequence, which certainly was the most action and visual effects we’d ever done in a non-season-opening-or-closing episode.  The good news is I knew Mr. Solomon would in now way be intimidated by the scope of the episode.  His feature film HARD RAIN with Christian Slater was one of the technically most complex movies I’ve ever seen.  I had no idea if we could do this one on budget or on schedule (hint: we couldn’t) but our director would be able to embrace the scope.

The motorcycle chase, where Tom misdirects an army of skitters to their doom took place over three or four locations, mixing stunt driving, Noah Wyle on a motorcycle with digital and live action skitters.  In several shots, what we filmed was Noah (or his double) racing in front of several small radio-controlled cars, which were used to kick up dust and leaves.  The cars were later replaced with digital skitters.
The sequence culminates with Tom re-entering the ghetto cell he’d been housed in episode 1 and 2, setting the room on fire with a flame thrower and then leaping to safety into the river as he explodes the entire hotel taking down hundreds of skitters as he goes. 

This was, obviously, a big project, which had to be carefully planned and storyboarded.  We knew from Mr. Eick that the hotel was going to have to be set on fire – so in it’s initial construction plans we had to build it on a stage with a very high ceiling and plan to vent the flames and flammable gases that would be used.  The stage was built at an elevation of 7 feet .  This was partially so that we could surround it with a blue screen (or a night black screen) as needed (for out the windows.)  But also so that Noah, and his stunt double, could stand on the ledge and jump off.

Noah really wielded the mini-flamethrower that our special effects team had constructed.  And he did the jump himself.  Of course when he leaps from the building it is an all-digital environment.

More than on most of our episodes, on this one, once the sequence was cut together, we had to go back and spot shoot a few shots to tie it all together…  It really was a big and complex puzzle.  For instance, one pair of shots that was really important to me, which we picked up later – was a close up of Noah looking down, and then a VFX shot which was his POV of hundreds of skitters crawling the walls towards him.  Without those two bits the only shots we had were wide shots of the building being engulfed by skitters.  This was impressive, but somehow not enough…  I’ll never be sure of why the phenomenon works, but when you see a close up of the hero and then their direct point of view of what they see – it just makes the danger and the visceral experience greater.  The shot of Noah we literally grabbed with an extra camera and no sound equipment in a parking lot looking up into blue sky.  I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but I feel it did.   The shot of the skitters coming at him is a very quick cut – but it’s cool and menacing.

Next week we may learn what it was that Weaver was staring at at the end of the episode...  Do you think it was a good thing?  Or a bad thing?
















Nunya Bidnezz said…
Another spectacular episode filled with what made the first season so great: action, suspense, and Tom's small moments with his sons.

One thing I'd like to see (other than Lexi, Lourdes, and Anne drowning in an open sewer) is that Maggie be given her own character. She's always been little more than an appendage to Hal and now it looks like she's just switching to Ben. She's good in her own right, outside of silly teenage hookups.

Love Pope! Although I never want to see him tamed or pussified, I like the moments where we see that he and Tom have a grudging respect for each other.
Aldenata said…
Hey Otto, don't tell me you didn't think the mass Skitter-fry wasn't awesome!

"Do you think it was a good thing?  Or a bad thing?"
Mutant Jeanie no doubt. She's going to be going the way of Old Yeller I suspect. :(

Though in all honesty—given the level of control that the Eshpeni seem to wield over our biologies—any change they make should be reversible should they so want.

-Surprised that the Espheni never took Tom's flamethrower away. Maybe he had a spare…

-Skitterize. LOL.

-I ain't no electrician, but I honestly can't see the faraday suit working in the first place; I mean, from what I know of lineman, they tend to wear things made out of nomex and not copper. But if it does work then it should last indefinitely. Again, I've never heard of electricity alone burning through a pair of lineman's gloves. I could be wrong here.

Youtube says…

I'm, uh, 40% right. They call them hot suits in the industry: nomex AND copper, though it looks like length of exposure is indeed of little consequence. Sounds like Pope would have been cooked if he touched the ground though.

-Ammonium nitrate: not all that unstable, and AN derivatives tend to be even less unstable. Sure, you could conceivably have a mini-Texas City Disaster on your hands, but the reason AN based explosives like ANFO are so popular amongst miners, loggers, and not-suicidal terrorists is because they tend to be relatively cheap, simple and safe. They have fairly low explosive yield though (straight ammonium nitrate is less than half as powerful as TNT), so it might not be the best choice for a satchel charge. Also, as I mentioned after the season premier, producing the stuff under the Mason family's living conditions would be difficult (yes, Al Qaeda can make the stuff under Iron Age conditions, but Tom Mason looks like he's living in the Bronze Age at best).

Of course there's a lot more to explosives than just the great big fireball. Michael Wong explains it better than I could:

Tector did mention acetone later (paint thinner, or nail polish remover), which is used in making acetone peroxide. Now that stuff actually is highly dangerous. Palestinians call it the Mother of Satan, and even they were historically wary about using it. If there's an explosive compound that even suicide bombers are afraid of, then it might make sense that no one else would have made bombs from it by now. As for the rock salt, it can be used to make potassium or sodium chlorate (remember setting gummy bears on fire back in chemistry class?)… which is apparently now even more common than ammonium nitrate as a basis for explosives in Afghanistan.

-Lexi knows that Maggie brought a gun; didn't realize she had two of them… interesting.

She has a point about having not lied (she never said she *wasn't* wandering around in the woods talking to robe-wearing invaders). Also, would it not have been better to admit right off the bat the Espheni was her… um… what… in-vitro stepfather?

Creepy? Um, daggum y'all! I had some particularly hard work to do today but I didn't want to sleep last night because I knew that the umbilical cord scene was going to give me nighmares. That was even worse than Season 2's crawlies.
Aldenata said…
-The Geronimo speech was interesting. I checked and it seems to be apocryphal, though it was still a pretty clever stratagem.

…of course, at the time the only thing I could do was remember that Geronimo died in prison.

-Tom's briefing should have looked more like what Cyrus the Virus did in Con Air:

"This is the boneyard, this is the hanger, this is our plane."
"What's that?" *points at a rock*
"That's a rock." *slides rock away from his map*
"The convoy will enter the boneyard through here. Initially, we take out the first car. Then we take out the last, creating a trap: an airtight cage filled with lots and lots of dead skitters."

Pope was right to point out the shortcomings of the plan. Way too many "if's" in it.

-I've heard of prison inmates cutting through bars with improvised torches, but whatever Weaver was using looked more advanced that that. Where did they get access to those, plus fuel for them and time to prep the building for demolitions without any skitters catching on?

(I could ask the same of the flamethrower and motorcycle but my theory so far has been that Tom Frankensteined one or more dead bikes and runs it off something locally available like alcohol or turpentine. Sort of what Soichiro Honda did in fuel-scarce, post-WWII Japan.)

Better idea might have been to try directing thermite or something like it onto the support beams. Ever hear of the 9/11 nanothermite conspiracy theories? Patent nonsense but if you did want to destroy a building…

I had a brother in Afghanistan who says that thermite grenades actually are sometimes used in building demolition. Might be worth noting that copper thermite is often explosive as well as incendiary, and that powered zinc instead of powdered aluminum would burn at a low enough temperature not to require being lit from burning magnesium… though it might not burn hot enough to sufficiently weaken the beams.

(I've been mentioning thermite a lot this season, but it really is a weapon of choice for those who've run out of choices. Needed ingredients are variable and extremely common, preparation is simple and fairly well known, the stuff is actually legal in most of America. You'd have to roll back the last few millenia of human development before you were ever in a state where you couldn't make it.)

-Hal is good with a spear… though it makes me wonder why, apart from Red Eye's cattle prod, the skitters never think of giving themselves more reach in combat. I mean, I can see why the Espheni want to keep most of them disarmed, but what's to stop them from becoming pikemen once they get earthside?

Do you think a skitter could throw a javelin, or how about an atlatl? Lack of thumbs might be a problem for the former, but probably not the latter.

Shame about the old folks.

-They scene where they shot down a hornet reminded me of an old friend who claims that as a child he used to kill geese and other small game with a homemade potato gun (couldn't afford a real one). He used something approximating buckshot though. I find it... highly unlikely that you would be able to hit those things with any solid shot.
Aldenata said…
-Noticed that most of Annie's Marauders seem to be using weapons platforms in 5.56mm; M16-pattern rifles predominating. That seems odd; I would think that they'd want to do like Anthony and go for something with better knockdown power and higher dirt tolerance (even if it does mean heavier combat loads, which wouldn't matter quite as much if they were mounted).

Where the heck did they get CZ 805 BREN's from? I looked it up and while it is a pretty cool gun, I don't think even the Czechs had very many of them when this series started.

If you're going to go into combat with automatic .22's, Mini-14/AC556's tend to be fairly popular in the South. You might find about as many of those as you would AR15/M16's, even in former state and local Police/SWAT/Department of Correction/Random Alphabet-Soup agency.

Lexi's Chinatown is within a few weeks walking distance of wherever they got their start, which means it's probably no more than two states away from South Carolina. They really ain't as many Chinese enclaves in the Inland Southern United States as there are in Coastal Western Canada. In fact, wiki only speaks of two, one in Atlanta and the other Richmond. I can say from experience that the Chinatown in Atlanta (Chamblee community, known locally as Chambodia) is far more Spanish than Chinese.
Hyperion said…
"Exodus" was an episode that did a much better job of gripping the viewer's attention than especially the premiere of this season, and also a good illustration of the point that there have been too many story lines happening at once so far this season in FS. It is not that viewers cannot follow four story lines - in Game of Thrones there were eight to follow at some points in Season 4 - but it is much better to focus on one or two at a time (as GoT does up to a point). This episode we get a proper focus on the ghetto and the escape from it. This allows the audience to spend decent time with Tom, Weaver, Hal and Pope. There was a lot of action and some suspense, albeit with an entirely predictable outcome. Killing off one old guy who we have never seen before does not count as a particularly heart-wrenching moment.

As such there was very little time spent in Chinatown this episode which will probably not be the case in the near future. We still largely see Chinatown through Ben's eyes but that does make sense in terms of maintaining consistency. We also got "old" Maggie back in business, thank goodness. And of course we got a mother/daughter reunion at the end which means we are at least down to three "worlds".

But it is really mother/daughter? From the truly weird flashback it looks as though Anne was a surrogate mother for Karen/the Overlord, but there is still no explanation of how this happened given that Anne was only snatched in Season 3 AFTER she had given birth to Lexi. I get the feeling that the writers are painfully struggling to come up with a rationale here. Was it really worth so much contorted plot to have the Lexi character in this story? So far she remains the least convincing aspect of the new season and I still fear that is not going to change.

If the plot was to have a character co-opted to working with the Espheni, at least for a while, the writers could have plausibly used Ben in that role, given his alien-altered state. Ben is a character we know, generally like and feel sorry for but who could play a different role in some circumstances. Although there were hints in Season 2 that he could end up on the enemy side, those were simply there for dramatic effect and it never happened. This could have been the opportunity to test that out. Frankly it would have made a lot more sense and been more consistent with the overall story line of FS. Viewers are almost always invested in the existing characters of any show. FS is no different and using an existing character in a new way would have avoided what many commenters clearly regard as the weakest aspect of Season 4.

We also still have the youth camp in play but one can only hope that it and the comedy team leader are not long for our screens. With any luck the Volm will spring Matt and reunite him with Tom so we can be shot of this cliched story line.

As ever it is very interesting to hear from Greg how key parts of these episodes come together. I should also note that Noah Wyle continues to do a superb job of portraying the man who people obviously follow but with real empathy for those he is leading. My overall sense is that the show is getting back on track after a pretty shaky start to the season, and it is to be hoped that continues.
Otto Carius said…
Let's just say this-- I tried to cleanse the mental pain that I suffered by watching this episode by watch many hours of Brazzer's Star: "Nicole Aniston" in all of her best scenes with the website to no avail. Her beauty and carnal lustiness is sadly no match in battling the audacious stupidity displayed in this specific specific episode. That is some feat to beat out the beauty of Nicole Aniston-- she has gotten me through many terrible examples of sci-fi genre this year e.g. "The 100", "Star-Crossed", "Revolution" and so and so forth. Yet, this time her siren call was defeated by David S. Eick's inept handling of this series... And people wonder why I despise Spielberg so much? If only they could see what I see! [But, this might have to do with my Wagnerian Philosophy...]

The facts about this episode are simple it seemed like a simply a flashback to the "The A-Team"... Magically, our heores found themselves in a perfect scenario-- where they once had no explosives or weapons they managed to cobble together weapons from Gas-Guns(as in aerosol fuels) to homemade bombs. Which is possible if they have like months for planning and scavenging--but, some how seems less possible when given a two day time schedule. The classic A-Team time schedule right???

Of course none of the Ghetto stuff makes sense. First off this is supposed to be the '43 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (others did happen this was just probably the most famous and vicious one)-- which we all know failed! The Germans used many SS Waffen to eliminate the threat and did so with ruthless efficiency. And the Ghetto-Fighters had weapons they stole and found other means to smuggle into the ghetto.

In this scenario presented--The Ghetto fighters is one guy with a homemade flame thrower and one guy with a Single Shot Gas-Gun. Not exactly a threat to an enemy with hundreds of soldiers and total air cover. Motorcycle or not... I don't see any reason for Tom's plan to succeed.

Some one needs to give Josh Pate a history lesson and a lesson in Military Tactics! The man is either just in it for the pay-check only or has developed some low-grade mental disability because this episode could have been easily written by an undereducated dim-witted Sophomore in College! It was really that bad.

It seemed like it was the middle part of a middle part that was some how misplaced on the cutting room floor. The Episode used "in media res" in an attempt to lure the audience into saying "Oh-- No What Is This!" Instead it was more like "oh, how boring-- an in media res start"... Perhaps, this was the case because the episode failed to explain certain things: like how exactly the Espheni went from wanting to kill the Ghost to having the Ghost in their grasp to letting him go. Sure, the martyr thing is not wanted. However, why not keep a closer eye on Tom once he has given up his secret identity it seems that he might not be out in the general public again--without being under constant surveillance--remember the EYE WORMS? This writer didn't. I seems that Espheni would probably have infected 80-90% of these people with covert bio-tech in the food drops so they should know everything about their enemies' movements and positions. I mean we are dealing with a technology base so far advanced that they could do things that seem almost magical. And yet, from season to season the writers seem to totally forget they have this technology advantage and devolve back into these awkward WWII metaphors! So, when I see an episode I'm yelling where are the crawlies, the eye worms, the simple drones flying over head? The writers answer-- These are not the things you should be concerned with-- remember we have little Mason dealing with Boarding School Nazis!

Lee said…
I'd love for an official download sound effect of the mech sound/moan. Any chance of that happening?
Aldenata said…
NotGregBeeman's response to Otto Carius: "F*ck that. Skitter fry."


By the way, have you been watching The Last Ship? My mom says that she likes it, but I don't really have time to watch a new TV series. What are your thoughts?

(I think my local library has the book. I need to see if I can check it out some time.)

Explosives: I would say that 60 hours is more than enough time for acetone peroxide and chlorate-based bombs, assuming you already have supplies on hand, know what you're doing and don't mind cutting corners where safety's concerned. I agree that the success of the plan was, to put it charitably, more luck-based than anything.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising/Jailbreaks in General: yeah, it was pretty much a suicide operation and the rebels knew it, figuring that death in combat would be preferable to the gas chambers.

Sobibór Extermination Camp looks like a more successful operation, and about the best you could hope for under those conditions.

"Of 600 prisoners left in Sobibór on this day, 300 escape during the uprising. Among the survivors is Alexander Pechersky, the Soviet prisoner of war who played a key role in planning the revolt. Of those prisoners who escape, SS and police personnel from Lublin district recapture and shoot some 100"

Two-thirds of the participants killed as opposed to one old man. Then again, the Espheni don't exactly hold up against the Germans, efficiency-wise.

More recently, we've seen quite a few very impressive prison breaks being launched by the "bad guys" in Afghanistan and Iraq:

(Brecher is right about unfortunate timing. Wiki is supposed to know everything, but even they only report on the 2008 Abu Graib Prison Break [which was also quite impressive, even if it was a failure])

IIRC, Viet Cong and Soviet-era Mujahadeen pulled some pretty impressive jailbreaks near the end of their struggles. These two are "bad guys" (are at least the latter became so at some point in the Clinton administration) so you don't really hear much about their exploits in the West. Point is that jailbreaks maybe among the hardest missions to pull off, but a sufficiently disciplined and experienced resistance force can most certainly pull it off. I'll leave it to you to decide if the 2nd Mass is sufficiently disciplined and experienced.

Killing the ghost: martyrdom is one issue, keeping some leadership for the humans is another. I think it was Machiavelli who advised killing off most of the rulers and their families in a conquered province, but leaving at least a few of them alive who the populace will obey when they're told to stop fighting. Maybe the Espheni honestly thought they could make a Quisling out of him, and misjudged his personality...?

No. I don't buy it either. And yes he should have been more closely monitored.

Eyeworms/harnesses/long-forgotten-crawlies: well, the Espheni say that they've learned to appreciate free will and are now looking amalgamate us voluntarily. I think that's just a cover and the truth is that they're running out of resources for their more parasitic bio-tech... odd though it may seem for full transformation to be less resource intensive.

Boarding School Nazis: ha! I like that.
Aldenata said…
@Nunya Bidnezz:
I don't know what you have against those characters.

Lourdes I'll admit has been... misused. Watching her drown would be funny; they could bring back that barge, sink it and have her sing Nearer My God to Thee while it goes down.

"Gentlemen, it's been an honour playing with you tonight."

Lexi is... fair. She annoys me less than I thought she would, and that says a lot.

Anne? Completely dropped the ball in Season 3, but she's doing what she can to atone for it. I mean, c'mon, she stabbed a skitter in the face.

I ask you, good sir, is there any better way to say you're sorry than by stabbing something in the face?

(Yes, she probably should have waited till after the questioning to do that; details, details.)

Y'know, I was so far on my way to Lovecraftian Protagonist Mood when watching that scene that I didn't even realize how it didn't make a lick of sense, chronologically. Lexi's conception was implied to have taken place in that hospital in the middle of Season 2; Anne wasn't captured until about two months later at that orbital defense platform in Charleston (and then only breifly), and she didn't do her wandering-off-into-enemy-territory stupidity until a couple of weeks after Lexi was born.

Atonement or not, I still think that counts as desertion. Maria Peralta should have her court-martialed, if only as a formal gesture; her sentence would be an official reprimand at worst (i.e. General Porter telling her and the entire 2nd Mass to stop getting captured so often; it's probably worth noting that this is a world where a Stalinesque distrust of former POWs is almost justified).
Otto Carius said…

You can make explosives easily if you have the correct materials. And the proper knowledge. I have the 1960's US Army manual for improvised explosives on my Mac Pro-- I'm guessing that Tector and the Gang do not have a PDF version of this fun book-- nor do they have a paper back version of it either.

As for the rest of it... You can do some great jail breaks if you plan on it.

The Espheni just happen to take over entire planets-- so I would guess they are just as efficient and possibly even more so than the Germans in liquidation unwanted populations!

The only way the Humans could get out of this prison would be with help from the Volm. They need their weapons. They need support otherwise the Espheni would just round them up and start all over again.

I think they left out the eye-worms and the crawlies this season because it simply gave the Espheni way too much of an advantage. They could essentially take over every member of the resistance. And if you did have that capability why wouldn't you use it? I sure would!

The Last Ship is probably the second worst tv series on the air today!
Aldenata said…
@Otto Carius:

You don't necessarily need a copy of TM 31-210 to get a crater (though if you're into that kind of stuff, you might also like the Kitchen Improvised Munitions Series by Tim Lewis, as well as Tom Spooner's old Improv articles). A stolen AP Chemistry book or even your grandmas old "G" Encyclopedia is enough to have a blast (hehe... I would know), and Tector does seem like the type who would have started picking up on all those recipes at a very early age. That kind of stuff is almost intuitive if you come from the right part of the country.

German vs Espheni efficiency: world conquest is less impressive when you consider the early salvos of nukes and (probably) orbital bombardment. If the Germans had given those for the fist week of Barbarossa, I'm sure world history would have been very different. Without them, the Espheni invasion probably wouldn't have gone much better than the alien invasion in Harry Turtledove's "Road Not Taken".

I still think of the skitters as their version of machete-weilding Zimbabwean "War Veterans", or maybe even post-battle clean-up crews; Weaver called them a garrison force way back in Season 1. Certainly human history has its examples of a seemingly advanced and unstoppable military force who thought that any surviving resistance would roll over and cooperate so long as they kicked off the show with a sufficiently-large fireworks display. Therefore there's no need at all for said force to consider long-term occupation or counterinsurgency issues.

*cough* shock and awe *cough* mission accomplished

(Yes, it's contrived. But almost any scenario where bad guys control the gravity well and lose anyway would have to be.)

Good point about the Volm. They probably should have had Cochise's remnants working something like the Jedburgh teams in World War II. Sabotage and jailbreaks would be high on their list of ways to decrease the usefulness of Earth for Espheni forces.

Eye-worms/crawlies: that's probably a bigger reason. Same reason they had to do away with the mech-metal (though that didn't make any sense from a physics standpoint anyway).

Last Ship is bad? Figures. I wasn't sure how a Cold War-era novel could be translated to an era where the Navy's biggest enemy is Somalian pirates.
Aldenata said…
"Eye-worms/crawlies: that's probably a bigger reason. Same reason they had to do away with the mech-metal (though that didn't make any sense from a physics standpoint anyway)."

To clarify: I'm actually GLAD they got rid of the mech-metal. What I'm highlighting here is a problem throughout the series of new innovations being introduced which are promptly forgotten for seemingly no reason other than a fear that they might alter the status quo in some way (which of course they would, but the proper way to remedy that is to have the other side develop something to counter it).
Nunya Bidnezz said…
Regarding my hatred for Lexi, Anne, and Lourdes:

Lexi is a sad, tired, played-out cliché. The alien/human hybrid has been whipped out when writers run out of ideas in more shows than I can count. There's nothing interesting about her in the least. She has one facial expression that screams, "I'm constipated."

Lourdes began the series as a lobotomized religious freak and did nothing for 2 1/2 seasons until she got infected with the eyeworms. She killed the president and then went back to being and doing nothing. She's realized that the god she believed in doesn't exist so she's now transferred her sheep-like devotion to Lexi. She's no one and nothing apart from that.

Anne also did nothing for 3 whole seasons except act as Tom's screw toy and an incubator for a terrible character. Although she's actually involved in the action somewhat this season, that's completely unrealistic as well. Who in their right mind would follow a doctor rather than Anthony, who was at least a cop? Add to that the fact that Anne's only agenda is to find Lexi rather than the well-being of her group.

The sooner those characters die the happier I'll be. They're really speed bumps among the other characters that I find so compelling.
Otto Carius said…

The problems with making explosives are more than just knowing that compound x will blow up when mixed with compound y. I know that fuel plus oxidizer makes a bomb. Right, but in the world in which FS exists they need to know how to make all the raw materials from scratch. They aren't going down to the local hardware store or chemical plant to find oxidizers, fuels, and so on. It requires more skills than just reading an encyclopedia. You need a person with practical chemistry knowledge. A person that I haven't seen exist in the prison camp. If they found a chemistry teacher-- okay I would say I could see it happening. Tector... I'm not buying it so much.

As for Shock and Awe-- well the Espheni's goals in season one were simply: grab the natural resource that is pretty scarce in the Universe Intelligent Life turn it into mindless drones and use the planetary resources at hand to make this happen. So that is not the same as an occupation. That is more like going to a grocery store stealing all the high value items and then torching the place when finished. It doesn't have any the issues that any long term occupation does with the general population. In fact it makes sense that Espheni would have concentration camps from the get go for storing unwanted humans for liquidation purposes. So, I'm not clear why human resistance is such a novel idea to the Espheni? The Volm seemed to have resisted. I'm sure that many more have as well. I'm surprised the Espheni aren't battling a rather large Allied Force of Alien Races that have banned together to defeat the Espheni and end their inter-galatic rampage.

I'm curious why Patrick Rondat seems to be so oddly absent from his creation? He created the idea--didn't he leave any outline besides the pilot Episodes? That is sort of odd fact if you ask me. Why create a serialized story if you don't plan on having any input after the pilot?

This series seems to be a series with no real direction and Spielberg seems way happy to make into a low-budget WWII allegory.

Aldenata said…
@Nuny Bidnezz:
Lexi: Good points. At times I have to wonder if the producers are taking the "try to act as ethereal and weird as possible" routine just a little too far.

(I think Lexi reminds me of a cocaine burnout that I used to know. That might subconsciously be a reason I like her so much; burnouts can be amusing so long as you don't put them in charge of anything important like housekeeping or leading your band of post-apocalyptic Tibetians.)

Lourdes: is she known to have actually abandoned her former beliefs? From what I can tell, it's somewhat vague as whether she sees Lexi as a god or merely some kind of prophet. It is possible that she hasn't changed quite that radically; pacifist Catholics do exist, and Lexi has done little that couldn't have been replicated by someone like Ezekiel.

Anne: "When you lead, you have to hurt people. The enemy and sometimes your own."-Merrill's Marauders

Say what you will about... motives, but at least she's doing what a guerrilla force should be doing; sticking it out in the bush and hampering enemy operations, not laying around playing house in some hospital or shopping mall.

As for Anthony, he seems less like an officer and more like NCO material to me (more a doer than a talker), which is sort of what he seems to have been with Pope as part of the Berserkers.

If I'm launching an assault on enemy convoys, I'd rather have a doctor planning it than a cop. The problem with cops—and maybe it's just a problem with the kind of cops I tend to deal with— is that they tend to be... overly direct in their thinking. That can lead to some problematic strategy even for an otherwise-intelligent individual; "Ambrose Burnside" ring a bell?

I don't think Anne's strategy begins and ends with "find Lexi". Certainly she was involved in other activities in the months before she learned where Lexi was—interdicting Espheni supplies and the like. She gave some of her own water to a subordinate, which implies that she does care, to a reasonable extent, for their well-being.
Aldenata said…
All that said, combat command is not the best fit for Anne. She and Lourdes both worked best in Seasons 1 and 2 as part of the 2nd Mass' medical detachment, and I think they should have been kept in that role. It would have still let Lourdes grow as a character (becoming more proactive in Season 3 once Anne takes leave for the birth of her non-cliche'd, perfectly normal baby), and it would have given Anne a chance to explore post-apocalyptic parenting in between shifts spent sawing the legs off of her screaming patients and reminiscing about the good ole days of adequate OR lighting, aseptic work environment, X-rays, surgical anesthesia and synthetic antibiotics. Skitter infiltration teams as well as human thieves would have still been a problem, and a major breach of their perimeter would mean EVERYONE goes on the firing line, so there would still be the occasional chance for one or both characters to kill something.

They always want to do things like this with characters who were clearly never meant to be anything more than spear-carriers. They're doing the same thing to Dr Kadar (former agoraphobic, who now seems to have no problem wandering around open and well-lit Chinatown) and will likely find some convoluted and ruinous way of thrusting him into a situation where he doesn't belong. Would M*A*S*H have been improved as a series if Radar, Hawkeye and Trapper had been kicked out of the surgical tent for entire seasons and sent to do their wisecracking in between runs through enemy territory or artillery barrages on Heartbreak Ridge? Probably not. From what I remember of it, characters on M*A*S*H generally only left camp a couple of times per season, excluding leave. M*A*S*H did okay with an entire cast of support personnel, and I don't see why our two girls couldn't likewise stay...

Actually, yes I do. The idea of having all the Mason boys out killing things while all the non-motorcycle-owning women stayed home caring for the children and wrapping bandages might have seem a little... patriarchal. This is a big problem with anyone who tries doing post-apoc in a mainstream medium; they want to portray the brutality of a world set back to medieval or even paleolithic standards, but can't bring themselves to admit that Women's Lib is going to die within days of the lights going out.

@Otto Carius:
Tector was an ex-Marine with combat service in the Middle East. If he didn't learn how to make a bomb from Uncle Sam or his former adversaries, surely he would have tried to pick up on it in the THREE PLUS YEARS that have passed since he himself became an insurgent. Anyway...

Thermite: 50% aluminum powder, 50% iron oxide (replace iron oxide with copper oxide if you can find any)
Gunpowder: 75% saltpeter, 15% charcoal, 10% sulfur (replace sulfur with more charcoal if you can't find any)

These are two of the simplest out there. Doesn't really matter if you do the percentages by volume or weight; there's quite a few variations on the basic recipe but any reasonable mixture of the above will generally get you a fire/explosion (...maybe not as big as you want, or maybe not as far from your face as you would like, but such trifles are not half as tremendous as many would make them out to be). I knew how to make both when I was 14, and that (for me at least) was way back in the pre-Internet era.

I had an uncle who taught me the best wood and process to use for my charcoal and how to turn chicken poo into potassium nitrate. If I get caught sharing that kind of information with my nieces and nephews (not that that I'd have to; there's little for me to offer that TOR can't) it'll be a Cuban vacation for the lot of us. I was probably lucky that I made it through my teenage years with all my fingers and no criminal record. Sometimes it worries me thinking about their chances for pulling that off.
Aldenata said…
Shock and Awe: well I think Tom Mason did mention a bunch of the civilians in Acton being captured by the Espheni, marched elsewhere and all the adults being massacred. Value of adult humans must have changed between then and now; could be due to changes in technological abilities, or (the dread inevitability of all bureaucracy) function creep.

Of course it's an occupation, and the towers imply that they wanted to hang around long term. An inept occupation to be sure, but then again most historical colonial powers were never all that concerned about what happened in the hinterlands of their realms, and America was never able to exert any lasting control over the coutrysides of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Vietnam. Didn't even try for the former two[1] (not that we really could have; even the Brits and Soviets could never make their local puppets into anything more than glorified Kabul City Councils)[2], and in Vietnam we had this rather questionable policy of sending small patrols of infantry to wander around in the jungle until they made contact with the enemy, "contact" generally coming in the form of a booby trap or ambush.

Espheni "strategy" often reminds me of that. Spending most of their time turtled up in the major cities, sending nuisance probes into the countryside when they want to feel productive, trying to ignore the insurgents in the hopes they'll just dissapear, acting suprised when enemy sappers are launching banzai charges against whatever equivilant they have to an embassy.

Allied Force of Alien Races:
"Yes, but we have, to date, only encountered dull and pliant indigenous species of the many planets we have liberated.
Not a single one of them has ever resisted relocation.
In fact, they have welcomed it.
So you will understand that we are confused by your resilience, your tenacity."

Apparently the only races with any aptitude for resistance are us and the Volm, and even they may not have had any previous history of insurgency.

Iffy premise, but not the first time that someone has come up with a science fiction universe where we humans are fairly unique in our capability of fighting, skill at fighting, and will continue fighting even after the societal structure that would have been neccessary to sustain a regular military has been destroyed (Legacy of Aldenata, anyone?).

Maybe this all came as a surprise to the Espheni (in which case it shows an astounding lack of intelligence-gathering, but maybe they believe in jumping into things feet first and without a second thought, kinda like that perpetually-indebted second cousin of mine). I've spent most of my life around farm animals and I would be very surprised if I ever went to a farm full of chickens and pigs who tried banding together in a proletarian movement to throw off the shackles of my imperialistic dominance over them.

(I would also have to reconsider the wisdom behind trying to forcibly extract their resources; I read that book too.)

1. Tom Kratman has a good series of articles over at highlighting the many reasons why America's incursions into those countries were pretty-much doomed from the start.

2. Had a friend who worked with an NGO in Afghanistan, something two of his translators told him during one of their more honest moments: England came and went, Russia came and went, America will come and go, and we're just waiting for China's turn. Got to love the cynicism of such an ancient people.
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