Okay, so first, here's the backstory: Some aliens came down to earth and were like, "Hey guys, check us out! Maybe we're FRIENDLY aliens!" and then they totally WERE NOT (duh) and not only did they wipe out the military and kill a bunch of other people, but they made all the electronics not work. Just when you'd most want to play Angry Birds! Bastards. Anyway, the aliens not only blew our major urban centers to smithereens and then occupied them, but took all the kids they could find and implanted them with a large spinal tentacle, which is commonly known as a harness. So the harnessed kids are now all mind controlled and shit. The main alien guys are multi-legged lizardy things with maybe a touch of walrus in the face, and they are called Skitters -- the very same term my Aunt Millie used for diarrhea. We will discuss this more in the recap. The Skitters (hahaha) also have bipedal robot friends who stomp around and kill people via some very powerful laser beams. These robots are known as "Mechs," a term which has no poop associations as far as I know.
So now that that's clear, cut to present day Boston, in which a small corps of remaining living humans have organized a resistance to the hostile alien overlords. Make all the Red Sox versus Yankees jokes you can think of here, just to get it out of your system. Our protagonist is Tom Mason, a Boston University history professor with a dead wife (aliens!) and three sons, one of whom is harnessed. While normally a lover and not a fighter, Tom's key leadership role in the resistance is primarily comprised of tossing out historical parallels at really annoying moments. He's always stopping the action to be like, "This is just like when Alexander the Great and Macedonia blah blah blah," and everyone is too exhausted to give him the cock punching he deserves. There is also a foxy lady doctor named Anne Glass, who is totally going to get it on with Professor Tom eventually.
The resistance was chilling out in Boston for a while, eating canned tuna in their home base alley full of flaming garbage cans -- a sure sign of desperate times. Colonel Porter, the military guy in charge, decrees that since the city is lost, they're going to break up into three groups and head for the suburbs. Since they have no clue how to effectively fight the aliens, they're going to hide and scavenge until they figure something out. Each group will have 100 fighters and 200 civilians, and Professor Tom winds up being second-in-command of the group known as the Second Massachusetts, under a crazy military type named Weaver. They are joined by a ragtag bunch of fighters, including Professor Tom's oldest son, Hal, who is coveted by every non-harnessed teenage girl in the land.
The route to the suburbs is supposed to coincide with a food distribution center and grocery store, but everything has been picked clean. Professor Tom volunteers to go back and get food from somewhere else, and Crazy Weaver gives him six fighters and a pickup truck to help in this mission. Hal and his maybe-girlfriend, Karen, go on a scouting mission and see the Mechs leading a whole bunch of harnessed zombie children, including Tom's middle son, Ben. Hal wants to go and save Ben right away, and Tom has to wrestle him to convince him that they need to complete their food-finding mission first. What exactly they'd do with Ben if they got him is up in the air, since all attempts so far at harness removal have resulted in dead kids.
Tom and his ragtag band of fighters find a grocery store, which seems to have very little food but plentiful 16-packs of paper towels. Also in the store: ALIENS! There's lots of shooting and bombs and lasers and slimy alien noises, and eventually the resistors lose one of their own but also manage to take down a Mech and a Skitter. The Skitter has the most scenery-chewing death scene ever, because they are apparently a dramatic alien breed. Professor Tom and co. get enough food to last the Second Mass for a few days, and also some sort of fancy skateboard that they give his youngest son, Matt, for his birthday. Everyone is totally rapt as he rides it, like when that plastic bag blew all around in American Beauty.
As we start the second hour of the premiere, the Second Mass has made it to Acton, and Professor Tom and his crew scout out a nearby armory. They forget that they're in the midst of life-and-death warfare with aliens and so casually toss a tennis ball, which brings on the attention of a Mech. A dog is in danger during this scene, which is not cool at all. Everyone makes it out alive, though Crazy Weaver is not impressed by these shenanigans. He's also not impressed with Dr. Glass, who would like some decent sleeping conditions for the civilians of the Second Mass, and is all like, "Stop yer yammering, woman."
Professor Tom and co. go to scout the Acton Armory again, and encounter a veritable Riverbottom Nightmare Band of deviant outlaw vigilantes who capture them in short order and take them to some sort of school auditorium that they're using as headquarters. These people are not only sketchy for all the usual reasons, but also totally racist. Boston suburbs realness! The leader of this gang is named John Pope, and his brother was shot during their initial skirmish and is in need of medical care. Pope and crew want weapons and a car from the Second Mass. God, you think you have your hands full enough dealing with a post-apocalyptic alien occupation and the survival of the species, and then you find out you have to deal with the same insufferable Massholes as usual. A foxy blonde Riverbottom Nightmare Band member named Maggie takes Hal back to the Second Mass HQ so they can negotiate terms. Meanwhile, Pope has a tete-a-tete with Professor Tom, and we learn that he's a murderous sort who has successfully killed a Skitter, which he calls a "Cootie." He is a total hick, but also kind of smart, but also clearly out of his mind.
Back at Camp Second Mass, Crazy Weaver refuses to negotiate with terrorists. He's also maybe secretly a little excited at the thought of getting Professor Tom out of his hair. Dr. Glass, however, offers to go back with Hal and use her doctoring services to buy the freedom of Tom and co. She fixes the leg artery of Pope's brother, but Pope and some of his gang members still head off to rob the Second Mass. He brings a lot of flares with him, which draw the attention of the Mechs and Skitters, and threatens to use them unless he gets food, weapons, and a sweet Pontiac. Crazy Weaver appears to have been bested, but promises Pope that he'll get his revenge.
But wait! Back at Riverbottom HQ, the injured brother gets totally rapey with Karen, which triggers some sort of PTSD with Maggie who shoots him and all the remaining Riverbottom Nightmare Band members and then joins the resistance! Yeah! So then Tom and co., with Maggie in tow, head back to Camp Second Mass and shoot up the band of outlaws, who then get blasted by an alien bomb. Pope manages to escape the bomb, but runs into the gun of Crazy Weaver and is taken as a prisoner. Tom celebrates by playing lacrosse with his son while wearing a denim shirt and jeans, all of which is unacceptable even in a post-apocalyptic scenario.
It's the two-hour Falling Skies premiere extravaganza! Cue music fraught with tension and post-apocalyptic overtones! We see a child's drawing, in which a school -- denoted by the fact that it has a circular sign next to it that says "school" (thanks, TOTALLY authentic kid who drew this for making that clear) -- has people pouring out of it and some sort of blue-black thing hovering on the left side of the page. The people in the drawing are NOT happy, denoted by the fact that one of them has a big frown and the rest have their arms up in the air, in a frantic waving-about kind of manner. Arms in the air are a sure stick-drawing indicator for panic. Or joy. But in this case it's panic. A lispy kid voice says to us, "I was in thchool when the thipth came. They were really big and they said that we weren't gonna attack them with nuclear bombs because they might have wanted to be friends. But they didn't want to be friends. Not at all." When you see these aliens, you are going to be like, no shit. This bit of non-nuking backstory is how we know that the alien attack happened during the Obama presidency. He would have totally held a press conference about the importance of bi-galactic collaboration and made some sort of extraterrestrial ambassador cabinet post before being fried by a birther alien who is solidly against collective bargaining and universal health care. Meanwhile, possibly the only good thing I can imagine about a Palin presidency is that she would have been alerted to a blinking light outside of her window, pushed the button, and then rolled over and gone back to sleep. Of course, if things ever got that far, we'd probably actively welcome an extraterrestrial takeover of some sort.
Our lispy narrator (or actually, narrators, all interchangeably lispy) continues: "And then there was a bright light that makes, like, all electronics stop working. Computers, radios, satellites, cars, TVs, everything." And, I mean, a million points to the aliens for that one. You know some Venusians are watching this show on pirated DirecTV and getting ideas right now. We see more kid art with arms up in the air, houses on fire and some really sophisticated mean-looking aliens. Our narrators continue, "They blew up army bases, ships, the navy, submarines and all the soldiers are gone." Well, except for the crazy retired ones who you're going to meet in a few. The other bad news is, "Now moms and dads have to fight." And not just about dirty laundry and who's going to pick up little Scotty from soccer practice. Instead, they can turn their aggression outward and fight a common enemy. Maybe the silver lining of this alien takeover scenario is that it will save the American marriage!