“Rage! Humanity has finally had enough.” That’s the core of Falling Skies Season 5, according to executive producer Olatunde Osunsanmi. In this final season, which premieres Sunday on TNT, humanity goes on the offensive and the results find Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) crossing lines that some will find shocking. We spoke with Osunsanmi and Wyle about what viewers can expect.
“I think if you’ve been along for the ride for four seasons, you want to see what’s going to happen between Tom and Pope,” Wyle says. “You want to see who’s going to win out in the love triangle between Hal, Ben, and Maggie. Are we finally going to find out why the aliens came in the first place?” He guarantees that there will be answers to all of those questions. “[I’m] proud that we didn’t get canceled before we got to satisfy our audience, tell them the entire story.”
Tom’s leadership skills will get tested. “Now that humans have the tactical advantage for the first time, he’s going to have to help people tap into their more aggressive, more base selves,” Wyle says. Over the course of the series, he’s changed. “Instead of being the kind of quarterback who lifts his team to a victory, he’s going to kick his team down the field to victory,” the actor/producer explains.
“There is a darker turn to the character for sure this year, but it was inevitable,” he warns. TNT told them to push the envelope — and got more than they bargained for: “We have a scene where Tom does something fairly brutal, and then the network looks at the dailies and goes, ‘What are you guys doing? It’s so dark! This is Tom Mason we’re talking about — he’s supposed to inspire us! You can’t do that!'” Wyle laughs and says the scene was toned down, but the characters are still being pushed in ways they haven’t been in the past.
Another aspect of Tom that Wyle is fascinated with is his relationship with Weaver. “I like to look at the overall transference of the characters, and how they started off the opposite,” he says, “Tom was the humanist and Weaver was the militarist, and over the last five years, they’ve switched. Weaver is very much the conscience to Tom in the way that Tom was assigned to be Weaver’s conscience by Porter in the pilot.”
“They want revenge, they want vengeance,” Osunsanmi says of humanity and the season’s grimness. “This season, we are attempting to push these themes to the limit — both psychologically and physically.” The show is trying to express in the most visceral ways the reality of the situation. “What it would really be like to be at war with an invading force that has taken your friends, your loved ones, your children,” Osunsanmi says.
Despite the darkness, there are moments of light. Tom encounters people living a rural life, untouched by the war. “Seeing them, he is reminded how much he’s lost. I found that to be a really emotionally-charged sequence to play,” Wyle says. He calls the experience profound: “I learned how much he’s changed since I started playing him in the pilot.”
They will also delve deeper than ever before into Espheni culture. “[Executive producer] David Eick certainly lets us peek behind the curtain and discover details about them that will be a surprise,” Wyle says. There will also be a lot of new alien characters, he adds, though he doesn’t want to spoil them.
Like the characters themselves, the show has had to be resourceful. “You can’t even call it a studio,” Wyle says of their set, which was used to shoot porn in the '70s. “It’s a two-block long stretch of land that juts out into a cess pool. It’s the nastiest location.” But they took a couple garages and two blocks of facades, and, Wyle says, “We made that thing into everything.” His pride in turning a little into a lot is evident when he says, “The spectacle and grandeur of our show was reduced to what we were able to create in the eleventh hour with a gun to our head.”
Wyle leaves fans with one more promise: There won’t be any unsatisfying loose ends by the end of the season. “It won’t be enigmatic. You won’t be left scratching your head going, 'Wait, the whole thing was a dream from Matt Mason when he was eight?’ Nobody gets into the shower with Bobby Ewing and nobody wakes up with Suzanne Pleshette.”
Season 5 of Falling Skies premieres June 28 at 10 p.m. on TNT.