‘Falling Skies’ Noah Wyle on Saving the World, the Final Season, and TNT’s Existential Crisis

Courtesy of TNT
(Courtesy of TNT)

The clock is ticking for the 2nd Massachusetts Militia. Falling Skies, TNT’s sci-fi thriller from Steven Spielberg, starts its fifth and final season on Sunday, June 28. That means the human heroes at the show’s heart have 10 episode to win the world back from genocidal alien invaders. Noah Wyle, who plays Tom Mason, the erudite history teacher turned military leader, talked to us about how they plan to do it.

How are you feeling as Falling Skies heads for the exits?

It’s great to have the opportunity to construct your own ending. To write yourself off the air. How often is that privilege afforded to a television series. We will have a conclusion that is satisfying for audiences, that will have some closure.

No Sopranos or Lost opaqueness?

[Laughs] We’ve never been accused of subtlety.

Will there be a big series-ending battle? Can we expect you’ll go out with a big bang?

I assume that we will. Of course.

When last seen, Tom was floating around space in a disabled ship talking to some kind of being. Shortly after the season opens, Tom is mysteriously back. How has that experience—and the fact that his more-than-human daughter Lexi (Scarlett Byrne) died destroying the alien enemy power core on the moon—changed him?

We pick up right where we left off with a reveal of what Tom was looking at on the ship as last season ended. What happened up there and the loss of his daughter definitely colors his behavior this season.. He comes back with a new mission and it’s the most aggressive and angry we’ve ever seen Tom. He is focused only on winning; the end game. He’s come back to preach that gospel and he’s fairly messianic about it.. His sons fall in in line, but his wife Anne (Moon Bloodgood) doesn’t understand his change. The ramifications of having lost their child plays out majorly between them. He has no guilt about what they must do. The first episode is called “Find Your Warrior.” I’m the guy who’s found his warrior. [Laughs] That allows the 2nd Mass to play with a very ambiguous moral scale for a while.

So Tom becomes more like the pro forma military leader Col. Weaver (Will Patton) used to be?

True. Weaver becomes more of a humanist, especially when later in the season, the 2nd Mass stumbles upon a human military base run by a Capt. Marshall (Melora Hardin), who had served under Weaver in Iraq.

Since the season is heading toward the climactic earth-saving battle, can we expect a lot of big human vs. alien action scenes?

We only have a certain amount of money to blow out on those big battle sequences. So every once in a while, we have human-on-human conflict. It’s cheaper than showing aliens and spaceships and shooting off a zillion rounds of ammo. But we will definitely have some very big episodes.

Speaking of humans, what’s happening with the love triangle between your sons Hal (Drew Roy) and Ben (Connor Jessup) and the lovely Maggie (Sarah Carter)? I hear there’s a new girl in town who draws Hal’s interest?

Yes, that is still ongoing, but it becomes more of a love square! [Laughs]

Falling Skies may be ending, but you have another TNT sci-fi series returning.

I do. The Librarians seems to have resonated with viewers. It’s a show where you can take an hour off your busy work week and just laugh at something silly. Everybody loves edgy hardcore programming, but there’s still the thirst out there for shows to watch with your children. We can fill that niche.

Isn’t TNT’s new mandate to be more edgy?

TNT is in a bit of an existential crisis. [TNT and TBS chief] Kevin Reilly has been handed a mandate to revamp the network to compete with HBO and FX’s trophy-winning shows, but most of those don’t get numbers like TNT gets for shows like Rizzoli & Isles. I’m hoping that TNT doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Falling Skies, Season premiere, Sunday, June 28, 10/9c, TNT