How often do the masterminds behind Falling Skies sit around the writers room saying, “OK, so how can we totally gross out our audience in this episode?”
“Oh, every day,” showrunner Remi Aubuchon admitted to EW following last weekend’s season 2 finale.
All that bouncing around of ideas about how to creep out the viewers at home certainly produced plenty of scares in the sci-fi TNT show’s first two seasons.
Here EW re-visits the six grossest, creepiest, most shocking moments of Falling Skies, with a little help from actor Drew Roy (Hal Mason) filling us in on how it all went down on set.
Some of these scenes have more of a creep factor, some lean more toward the shocking or the gross, but they all are memorable moments of quality sci-fi TV, made all the more tense nail-biters because all this is happening to characters whose fates we’ve become invested in.
Read on for my picks for the top six (in honor of our dear six-legged skitters) grossest, creepiest, most shocking moments on Falling Skies, plus Roy’s memories from shooting them and watching them along with the fans as they aired on summer Sunday nights.
6. Hal disguises himself as a harnessed kid (season 1, episode 5: “Silent Kill”)
In a significant development in Hal and Tom’s relationship, the father has to reign in his protective instincts and let his son go on a dangerous mission to rescue his other son.
Hal, disguised as a harnessed kid using Rick’s detached harness, sneaks through the halls of the hospital where the skitters are keeping the captured children, including Ben Mason. The Falling Skies crew supplied plenty to build the suspense of the scene: The patrolling mechs droning outside, the unnaturally dark halls of the pediatric ward casting shadows over the murals of smiling dogs and storks, the emotionless harnessed children shuffling toward their room.
Once Hal slides into the circle of sleeping children, we get precariously close to the skitter, who’s nesting on top of all the kids. Then – oh, ew – the skitter strokes Ben’s and Hal’s hair. The commercial break left us there, and when we returned, I was definitely holding my breath just like Hal surely was.
Even Hal’s victorious moment of stabbing the skitter in its soft palate isn’t without another dose of creepiness: All these harnessed kids are clawing at Hal, trying to protect this creature who they call, as we later learn, their guardian.
Drew Roy’s take: “I just had the best time sneaking in there and getting to pull off such a heroic move as stabbing a skitter in the mouth and fighting with it. That little fight sequence that went down – the guy in the puppeteer suit who’s playing the skitter can’t really see out of that mask. They actually have to put an oxygen tube in there in between takes so he can breathe. So he’s flailing around and popping me in the face. And I’m giving it right back to him. We get a nice little battle going. Every now and then he’ll hit you in the mouth. I had cuts and whatnot from my lips smacking up against my teeth. It was borderline a real fight.”
5. Rescue mission in the harness factory (season 2, episode 4: “Young Bloods”)
Halfway through season 2, we finally got to see the horrifying process of latching these harnesses onto kids. Many fans had been itching to see this for a long time, but we could have used the warning, “Be careful what you wish for.”
It’s a scene that had me curled up on my couch in the fetus position. The sheer helplessness of these kids trapped on the makeshift operating tables made this all the more difficult to watch. And the harnessing process was more gruesome that we could have imagined: Props to whoever came up with the idea to have the harnesses be creatures of their own, slimy things that slide their way toward these kids before striking them with their pointy spikes. That was such a close call for poor, little Matt – I was thinking, “The writers had Ben harnessed – who’s to say they won’t go there with Matt?” so I was really fearing for his safety there.
Drew Roy’s take: “We pick some of the creepiest, darkest, coldest, most industrial-looking sets, and this was definitely one of the best ones. It was incredibly cold at that point in the shoot, and for whatever reason, inside of this building it was like a refrigerator. It held even more of the cold in, so that kind of lent to the eerie feeling in there, almost like you have this ghost presence. And with those throbbing, orange-ish lights, it was a creepy place.”