Posted by: pop-break | July 8, 2013

TV Recap: Look to the Skies, ‘Be Silent and Come Out’

luke kalamar is quiet as a church mouse …

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Plot: Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) has learned that Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood) and Alexis are missing. His immediate desire is to run out and save them, but Dan Weaver (Will Patton) and Ben (Connor Jessup) convince him otherwise. Hal (Drew Roy) then goes rouge and takes Tom hostage, promising to reveal where Anne and Alexis are in exchange for information on the Volm weapon. Now Tom must find a way to not only save Hal from the entire New United States Army, but also from himself.

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The entire subplot of Hal being brainwashed has been a personal favorite of mine this entire season. It really did a great job of both providing that extra bit of conflict for both the Masons and the New United States along with putting Drew Roy into a completely different role than what he’s been used to over the past few years. Hal has always been that hardcore hero since the first episode with a strong sense of justice and a desire to be the best soldier possible. The alien bug inside him has started to put him into a sort of villain role in recent episodes, which I found to be a very interesting change that could lead to some great moments. When I saw last week that “Be Silent and Come Out” was going to be all about Hal and his brainwashing, I got pretty excited. Thankfully that excitement paid off as this Hal centered story was easily one of the better episodes this season.

Taking a different approach than previous episodes, “Be Silent and Come Out” completely revolved around a singular story: Hal has taken Tom hostage and must be stopped. There was no unrelated search for Anne and Alexis or separate personal investigations by other characters. It was all about what Hal was doing and how it impacted everyone else around him. That alone made me happy as having too many subplots in one episode can really be a hindrance on the overall quality. It’s almost guaranteed that one plot will be great and another will just suck. Needless to say, having one single plot is a lot easier to focus on and any events branching off of it benefit from the connection. That really paid off this week in spades. From start to finish, I was fully invested in the Hal conflict and his journey to possible recovery. It was tense, exciting, and surprisingly well-acted.

Roy obviously stole the show this week portraying Hal’s personal struggle. It’s clear that Roy was having a lot of fun being the bad guy for a change, and for the most part that really made the episode fun to watch. He ran the entire gamut of emotions this week too including anger, happiness, confusion, and sadness. It was about as broad of a spectrum as you can get, and Roy did an excellent job portraying each emotion. His best moment was when Tom was talking to him about their relationship, how much of a better parent his wife was, and how he deeply regrets not believing Hal had the focus to be the best man possible. The emotion in that scene was palpable, really connecting the viewer to the show.

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The stand off between Hal and the New United States Army was great as well. Naturally the situation was very delicate as no one wants to kill a valued member like Hal, which I’m sure is what Karen (Jessy Schram) had in mind when she bugged him. The stand off lasted for about half of the episode, and it was reasonably tense the entire time. Everyone had differing opinions on what to do which at times was pretty predictable. Weaver wanted to get through the incident peacefully and without any casualties while Pope (Colin Cunningham) was fine with the idea of killing Hal and ending the situation quickly. The only person who wasn’t predictable in her choice was Marina Peralta (Gloria Reuben) who we still, for the most part, don’t know a lot about outside of her being Tom’s Vice President. She opted to take the middle approach, stating that she wanted to talk down Hal but was open to the idea of killing him if necessary. It’s what an objective leader would probably do, which gives a good idea of the person Marina could be in a stronger leadership role. Predictability aside, I enjoyed watching the stand off and how it ultimately ended.

Pope being ejected from the stand off for not listening to Weaver, his commanding officer, was a bit disappointing as it was a step backward from all the character growth we have gotten from him recently. We all know he’s an outlaw who isn’t a fan of the Mason family, but recent episodes have shown him to also have a softer side and to be a man of some actual moral values. We’ve also seen him as someone who truly cares about those around him and doesn’t want people to needlessly die. This new development just makes his “Let’s kill Hal! Who cares!” attitude this week bittersweet. It’s the classic Pope that we saw in the early seasons and have become used to, but not this newer, deeper Pope that is getting a lot of positive reception. I’m fine with Pope being an outlaw character as he fits that role perfectly, but giving him some extra dimension to work with doesn’t hurt either. Even an outlaw can have a heart.

On the plus side however, Pope being ejected from the stand off lead to one of the most darkly comic moments I have ever seen on this show. Since Pope was riding the two-dimensional train stopping at Being A Huge Ass Station, he seized the moment by setting up a location where people can place bets on how the stand off plays out and what follows it. Will Tom and Hal survive? Will both die? If Hal survives, will he be tried for murder or espionage? These were the options everyone was putting money on. Pope was having a grand old time pulling this off, and while that was a step backward from what we’ve seen before, it was admittedly a bit fun to watch. Weaver stepping into Pope’s bar and instantly silencing everyone was cool as well. Pope’s insistence that no one there gets involved with what’s going on with Hal was a nice touch though, showing that perhaps not all the character development was being wasted.

“Be Silent and Come Out” also had excellent use of specials effects near the end. As I mentioned in my very first review of this season, it’s clear that the production budget has increased greatly this time around. The producers get more daring every year with what they can put in. This time we had an alien search and destroy microscopic swarm enter Hal to eliminate the worm inside him. That whole scene was, in more ways than one, really cool to watch. Sure watching Hal writhe around as this swarm enters through his eyes was very unsettling, it’s something this show has never done before and it looked great. Hopefully the budget can keep going up so we can see even more jumps in production quality like this!

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Lastly, I am a bit torn on Tom’s decision to resign from office and make Marina the new President. On one hand, Tom is clearly a man of action and not someone who should sit behind a desk. Every episode prior to his election has seen him on the field, which isn’t where a President should be regardless of the conditions. You don’t see Marina out there and she’s the Vice President. You can’t exactly lead a whole Union on the field, especially with your life continuously at risk, so him leaving office made absolute sense. On the other hand, Tom was the perfect fit to be President and I really enjoyed watching him in that huge leadership role. His background as a Military History Professor makes him the best choice to lead a new society in wartime. He knows strategy and how to negotiate to a tee, something that I’m assuming Marina lacks in some regards. I’m sure there was more that could be done with Tom as the head honcho and it does suck that this is possibly the end of the road for that story.

Hal has been a brainwashed mess all season and “Be Silent and Come Out” sought to wrap up that story in a tiny bow. The worm is supposedly completely destroyed and Hal is back to normal. Whether or not this means the spy issue is resolved is uncertain, but that doesn’t mean this episode wasn’t exciting. In fact, the tense nature and single focus of this episode made it one of the best so far. Even Pope’s actions lead to some fun moments, despite it being not exactly what we’d want after his role in recent episodes. The special effects near the end looked great as well. However, I am admittedly torn on my feelings regarding Tom’s resignation. We’ll see how that all plays out in coming weeks.

Rating: 8.5/10

photo credit: james dittiger/tnt

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