“At All Costs” begins where “Badlands” left off: at the beginning of an attack on Charleston by the Espheni or “fish heads”. Tom Mason shows off their newfound allies, the Volm, to the Lieutenant taken prisoner at the end of the previous episode. “You’re about to witness a miracle,” he tells her.
The Volm succeed in shooting down every Espheni ship in a matter of seconds, and life returns to the semi-normalcy of before…for most people. Hal asks his father to talk with him in private, but Maggie interrupts before plans are finalized. She doesn’t want Hal doing anything stupid, which in her mind includes telling his father about the probe.
Anne, meanwhile, is running tests on Alexis, and after Alexis repeats her mother’s “I love you,” she smiles in a very creepy manner. This is happening while the captured Lieutenant Fisher apologizes to Tom and requests that they share the information the Volm have given to President Hathaway. A two-way radio is set up and the talks commence. The president wants to discuss these developments in person and Tom agrees to meet.
Ben and Deni listen to Lourdes as she walks through the process of removing their spikes. At first it seems as if everyone’s excited about the project, but Ben has second thoughts, even though Deni clearly wants a chance to return to normal.
Tom Mason and crew gang up on Pope to use his aircraft, even though he doesn’t know how to fly it. “I’m reading a book on it,” he snaps. He’s antsy about Cochise (the Volm) being on board, but Cochise is more concerned with the old craft’s ability to fly. While it is a secret mission, Anne manages to find out and kiss Tom goodbye.
Anne then visits Dr. Kadar and asks for help in running DNA tests on the children with spikes to see if there are any anomalies. He asks about Alexis, mentioning that children’s eyes are “portals to wonder and truth.” He may believe that, but Anne hasn’t seen the creepy way Alexis looks.
Ben talks to Matt, who reassures him that it’s alright to keep the spike, quoting “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Ben legitimately wrestles with the choice to keep his spike, which gives him a greater ability to do good work, or to return to being a normal kid.
When Pope’s airplane lands at the secret location of the president, Tom is hit over the head and the Volm is marched away as a prisoner. The president greets Tom but makes it known they are under surveillance. He’s not convinced the Volm are true allies, but after Tom tells him of the benefits, he asks Cochise why he fights.
This is my favorite part of “At All Costs”: Cochise tells of a flower on his home planet. He’s never seen it, except as an image in a data file, and never heard of it except in a poem read to him by his brother. He fights for that flower, the chance for his children’s children to return to their planet. His brother died for a planet he never saw. “Be thankful that you fight on the soil of your homeland,” he admonishes Tom and President Hathaway. “That is a gift.”
Hal wants to try to talk to his father again, but after learning that Tom is outside the city, an agonized Hal has a conversation in the mirror with his probe self, ending with the mirror image taking control for a while. Evil Hal reigns supreme. He tells Maggie she was right and that he isn’t going to tell his father anything. And then things get a little..steamy.
Skipping ahead, Anne and Dr. Kadar go through the samples. Eleven of the twelve are normal, but sample five, which contains Alexis’ DNA, is an anomaly. Alexis isn’t a human, or at least not fully so. What does this mean? We’re not sure, and before Dr. Kadar can provide us with answers, a panicked Anne knocks him out with a wrench and takes the specimen with her. She drugs Lourdes and steals away with Alexis, only to be caught between a harnessed child and skitter and Evil Hal. She’s proven that she’ll protect her daughter at all costs, and I’m willing to bet she won’t go down without a fight.
At the end of “At All Costs,” Deni has decided, like Ben, to leave off having surgery and be content with who and what they are. They grab some pairs of glasses and sit outside, looking at the stars, guessing which one the aliens came from.
Tom and Cochise are split up when it’s reported that enemy aircraft have found the secret location. It looks like Tom is once again on the move, but the aircraft he’s in sustains damage to one of the engines, and they go down in a forest of pine trees. “Looks like we’re walking from here!” shouts the pilot.
“To be continued…”
I like Falling Skies, but it’s hard to suspend disbelief with so many different types of aliens. There’s an old writing rule that states, “You can’t use more than one kind of magic,” and what that means is when you have something you’re asking the audience to believe, you don’t pile on too many things, or the story will become incredibly unbelievable. You want people to buy into your story, even if afterward they know superheros and fairytales aren’t real. We can usually believe one kind of magic, but three different alien races is stretching it.
However, I’m drawn to it. I like what it’s doing, and there are some great characters (Pope is my favorite, and I don’t think we get to see enough of him) to cheer for. I’m curious to see what “At All Costs” has set up for the midpoint of the season.