Matt Mason, played by the great Maxim Knight, has always been one of my favorite characters in Falling Skies. He’s always had a unique role to play. Not just a survivor, but the youngest survivor. He wasn’t a warrior. He wasn’t the strongest. He didn’t have the experience to make him a leader. He was just a kid, thrust into an apocalyptic war zone.
And over the last four years, he’s grown from that little kid we saw as a ray of light, scooting along on a skateboard in the series premiere. Matt’s learned the darkness of the world. There have been times that we’ve seen him angry, bitter, and ready to take out vengeance on the world that has only handed him ugliness.
We saw such a side last night, as he tracked the captors of his father. He already lost his mother he said, and maybe his brothers, too. He wasn’t going to let them take his father. They deserved to die. In the end, though, his Mason qualities came out. He couldn’t pull the trigger, and eventually naively asked his father, “Why did that man kill his brother?”
Matt is, at the most, 12 years old. It’s an ugly situation. And watching how the world has transformed this bright-eyed child has just been so enthralling to me. But I must admit: I want them to do more.
I’ve already lamented that this season isn’t really doing it for me. I liked the idea that the group was separated, but I wasn’t completely sold on all the storylines. And now that they’re all converging into Ben and Lexi’s camp, even the different dynamics of putting random people together isn’t going to last much longer. When it was happening, I was most intrigued to see what Matt, cut off from the group by the electric fence, would do on his own. Fast forward a few months, and we find him in a lone rebel in an education camp.
That could have worked. If we had actually seen Matt embrace the re-education, instead of defy it. When Tom came to rescue him, it would have been entirely enthralled. Would Tom take him? Or would he leave him, whistling that his father was there, like the other children in the camp.
But I would have preferred to see something else. I would have like to have seen a darker, more ominous, more Pope-like side of Matt Mason.
Imagine this: Matt Mason grew up from the age of 8 in a dark, ugly world, where the main thing you paid attention to was how to survive. And Matt has survived. Not only has he survived, but he’s seen his mother die and his brother as an alien-harnessed captive. He’s had families taken hostage. He’s been shot at. He’s seen kids die, let alone adults. Along the way, he’s learned to shoot a gun and become part of a rebellion.
What if after he had been cut off, he learned to truly survive. He lost his Mason self and looked only to what you need to do as a human to live. I would have been so intrigued if we still ran into those brothers that took Tom captive, but without Matt along for the ride. Instead, Matt saved Tom, discovering them on his own. Perhaps Matt has his own group of survivors following him now, and he’s the leader. But a dark leader. And as Tom breathes a sigh of relief to see his young son again, Matt gives the order — or pulls the trigger himself — to kill both brothers, no questions asked. Now, all Tom’s left with is a cold-hearted killer in his young son, not sure what to do to bring the boy he loved so much back.
It’d be a hard pill to swallow. But it’s something that I could see Maxim Knight doing with the character, and I think the writers behind Falling Skies need to stretch the limits here, especially now that they only have a mere ten episodes after this season to create a powerful ending to the series. Changing Matt in such a dramatic way would turn the show in such a different direction. Sure, it’d be up in the air as to whether we’d see that sweet little Matt ever again. But consider the world they’re living in. It’s not that much of a surprise that someone would turn this way.
In fact, it’s almost more surprising that someone wouldn’t.
*images courtesy of TNT