Tom Mason (Falling Skies)

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Tom Mason
Falling Skies character
Tom Mason.jpg
Tom Mason, as portrayed by Noah Wyle.
First appearance Live and Learn
Created by Robert Rodat
Information
Occupation Fighter against the alien invaders, Former President of the New United States, Former Boston University History professor
Significant other(s) Rebecca Mason (deceased)
Anne Glass
Children Hal Mason
Ben Mason
Matt Mason
Alexis Denise Glass Mason (with Anne Glass)

Tom Mason is a fictional character and protagonist of the TNT television series Falling Skies played by Noah Wyle. Falling Skies tells the story of the aftermath of a global invasion by several races of extraterrestrials that neutralizes the world's power grid and technology, quickly destroys the combined militaries of all the world's countries, and apparently kills over 90% of the human population within a few days. Mason is one of the leaders of the 2nd Mass, a group of survivors fighting against the aliens.

The character was created by series creator Robert Rodat. Noah Wyle was cast in the role in 2009, on recommendation by executive producer Steven Spielberg who produced Wyle's previous series ER.

Character history[edit]

Season one[edit]

At the opening of the series, 90% of the human race has been destroyed in an alien invasion. Tom Mason, a history professor from Boston, is made second-in-command of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, a group of civilians and fighters fleeing the city. Tom's three sons are Hal, Ben, and Matt; his wife perished during the initial stages of the invasion. At the start of the series, Ben has been captured by the "Skitters" – six-legged beings who make up the alien ground forces – and fitted with a "harness" that is making him perform slave labor through mind control. Around this time, Tom encounters a group of scavengers led by a man named John Pope (Colin Cunningham). After a firefight with Skitters, Pope's group is reluctantly taken in by the 2nd Mass.

After learning that Ben is being kept in a hospital with other brainwashed children, Tom, Hal, and the 2nd Mass' commanding officer, Captain Dan Weaver (Will Patton), formulate a plan to infiltrate the building, kill the Skitter guarding them, and rescue Ben and the other captives. Ben's harness is removed, but Hal notices that his brother has undergone physical and behavioral changes during his time in captivity. Meanwhile, Terry Clayton (Henry Czerny), an old friend of Weaver's and the commander of another survivor group, is revealed to be a collaborator who is giving human children to the Skitters. After Clayton's treachery is revealed, Tom fatally shoots him.

When Skitter forces draw back in major cities, the 2nd Mass decide to launch an offensive on the alien base in Boston; Tom and Weaver scout it to detect weaknesses. It is during this expedition that they realize the Skitters are being commanded by another race of aliens later identified as the "Overlords." During the initial stages of the attack, Tom evacuates the 2nd Mass' civilian population from the school where they are hiding, then joins the fight in Boston. Using a grenade launcher given to him by Pope, Tom shoots down a spacecraft which crashes into and destroys the alien base. The Overlords, having underestimated the human resistance, offer to begin negotiations with the 2nd Mass. Tom begrudgingly agrees when he is told that it will save Ben from his transformation by the harness. The season ends with Tom being lead aboard an Overlord ship.

Season two[edit]

Three months after the battle in Boston, a traumatized Tom is returned to the 2nd Mass and is accidentally shot by Ben. In flashbacks, it is revealed that Tom was put through agonizing torture before being brought before the Overlords, who offered to allow the 2nd Mass to peacefully live in a "neutral zone" in exchange for their surrender; Tom refused. A "Mech" – one of the robotic beings fighting alongside the Skitters – massacred a group of humans as a reprisal. After he recovers, Tom becomes the focus of suspicion by other members of the 2nd Mass, who fear that he turned or was brainwashed while in alien captivity; this tension leads to a conflict between Tom and Pope, who forms a parallel group called the Berserkers. A parasitical alien probe is found and removed from Tom's eye, leading him to question his own loyalty.

The 2nd Mass decides to travel to Charleston, South Carolina, where they have been told that other groups of survivors – led by former members of the U.S. government – are organizing. Over the course of the journey, Tom grows ever closer to Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood), the medical doctor for the 2nd Mass. The group comes across a Skitter that Tom identifies as one of the aliens who tortured him during his time on the ship. They learn that a large group of Skitters have fought off the control of the harness and are mounting a rebellion against the Overlords; the Skitter rebels desire an alliance with the humans. During a firefight with alien forces, Tom briefly holds an Overlord – who was also present during Tom's own captivity – captive.

Upon arriving in Charleston, Tom is reunited with his academic mentor, Arthur Manchester (Terry O'Quinn). Manchester, the "Majority Leader" of Charleston's government, is overeager to prevent hostilities with the aliens, a position that Tom and Weaver consider reckless. When given the option of joining forces with the approaching Skitter rebellion, Manchester refuses and eventually orders that all members of the 2nd Mass be arrested. However, General Cole Bressler (Matt Frewer), the commander of Charleston's resistance force, mounts a coup and deposes Manchester. Tom facilitates dialogue between the rebel Skitters and the humans, resulting in a plot to assassinate the Overlord that was briefly captured by the 2nd Mass. The 2nd Mass is forced to work with the Skitters with no help from Bressler or his men. During the attack on an Overlord weapon, the location of which had been provided by the rebel Skitters, Tom, Weaver, Hal, Ben, Maggie and Anne are captured by Karen and her Overlord master. While torturing them to find out what they know, Karen reveals to Tom that Anne is pregnant with his child. Before she can inflict harm on either of them, Tom says that he will talk.

At that moment, the rebel Skitters attack and free the humans while taking care of the Overlord's forces. The Overlord himself is attacked by the rebel leader, "Red Eye", but Red Eye is killed. Tom seizes the electrostaff that Karen had used to torture them and used to kill the Overlord. As he does so, Karen flees, screaming that they will never win. The weapon is successfully destroyed, marking one of humanity's first major victories since the beginning of the invasion. However, despite the victory and Manchester's offer that Tom be elected to succeed him as Majority Leader, Tom and Weaver believe that the best thing for the 2nd Mass is to leave Charleston and continue their life on the road. However, before they can leave, a firestorm apparently engulfs Charleston and several pod-like ships land, revealing new aliens.

Season three[edit]

As Season Three begins, the 2nd Mass is still in Charleston and Tom has been elected President of the New United States. Also, the human resistance and their Skitter allies have formed an alliance with the new aliens, known as the Volm, who have provided them with the technology to effectively combat the Overlords, whose name has been revealed as being the Espheni. They have also provided a device to remove harnesses from enslaved captives, which Dr. Glass (now well advanced in pregnancy) is seen using. One of the Volm, whom Tom names Cochise, is now serving as an adviser to and fights alongside the 2nd Mass. After seven months of combat, the humans are finally drawing blood against the invaders, so much so that the Espheni have had to resort to espionage to gain an advantage over the humans and their intergalactic enemies, the Volm.

While Tom carries on his duties as President of the New United States, he has to deal with many of the hardships of being a leader - including the issue of a mole within Charleston. Manchester is given the job of uncovering the mole's identity, and is on the verge of doing so when the mole kills him in his office with an energy weapon. Anne later gives birth to Tom's daughter Alexis, but his joy is short-lived when Charleston is attacked by a group of soldiers working for a man they call the President of the United States, Benjamin Hathaway. Tom successfully defuses the situation, but loses a member of the Berserkers along the way. Then, with the help of Lt. Fisher, Tom makes contact with Benjamin Hathaway forces and decides to travel to Keystone to meet them along with Cochise, Pope and Bressler. After receiving a somewhat subdued reaction from President Hathaway and his troops, he is later forced to leave Keystone, leaving behind Cochise, and while en route back to Charleston has his plane shot down by an Espheni ship.

Tom then finds himself in a dangerous situation when he awakens in the burning wreckage of the plane to find Bressler dead, and Pope unconscious. When Tom saves Pope's life, he then successfully leaves the area with Pope's help, evading Espheni forces along the way. Much to Tom's shock and dismay, when he awakens in the hospital in Charleston he learns from his sons that Anne and Alexis have fled Charleston due to the revelation of her baby being part alien, and she has been abducted by Karen.

During Tom's absence, his sons Hal, Ben, Matt and Maggie lead an initial search team to try and locate Anne and Alexis, but later return home to Charleston under the realization that the Espheni have them, and that the best course of action as suggested by Ben was to try and use the Rebel Skitters within the Espheni ranks to try and locate Anne and the baby.

When Tom has recovered enough to walk around and resume his duties, he is thrust into further danger when his son Hal, implanted with an Espheni eyebug, attacks him and Peralta as they are discussing the Volm weapon. To his horror, he finds himself abducted by Hal, who demands information on the Volm weapon, and ends up being held hostage in a nearby building which the 2nd Mass later surrounds. Coming to the realization that his son may end up being killed for being the mole, Tom attempts to connect with Hal by bringing up the past and his mother to defuse the situation without any loss of life. As the situation begins to escalate and Hal's demands of Tom to reveal the information on the weapon increase, his other two sons, Ben and Matt, enter the room along with Maggie, bringing the situation to a close. Tom later decides to go along with a dangerous remedy to cure Hal of the eyebug and invites him along on the search for Anne and Alexis.

He then makes the decision to step down as President of the New United States and offers up the information on the Volm weapon, which has been called Project Orange, to Peralta, knowing that she will be elected the next President, and she is sworn in during his departure from Charleston.

Tom then leads a rescue party out of Charleston consisting of himself, Hal, Matt and Ben to locate Anne and Alexis. During their journey they find themselves robbed of their supplies by a local family, the Picketts. After successfully retrieving the supplies, but with the unfortunate loss of one of the family members who had robbed them, they resume their search for Anne and Alexis. Tom later decides to return to the Pickett house to check on their well being, after telling them about Charleston, but is ambushed by several Espheni mechs and skitters.

Now captured by Karen, Tom awakens in a dream world where the invasion has not happened and he and his wife and sons have been living a normal but happy life. As Tom continued to live out this false reality as a college professor, he starts to receive messages from Anne Glass but with no memory of her, the 2nd Mass or of the alien invasion; things around him start to fall apart. When three locations are made exceedingly clear to him during the dream, he later realizes what he has been seeing was not real and awakens inside an Espheni base in Boston. He then discovers that Karen was attempting to manipulate him into revealing what tower the 2nd Mass will attack during their operation. Shortly afterwards Tom is rescued and shoots Karen dead, when he awakens in Charleston and discovers he is still being manipulated by Karen. Finally awakening in the real world, Karen informs him to his despair that she had Anne and Alexis killed. After initially trying to attack Karen, Tom breaks down in tears and is then shown the activation of the Espheni planetary defense grid and is informed that within three months all life on Earth will be lost.

Realizing that he needs to return to Charleston, Tom then jumps from a ledge, evading the Espheni forces in the area and successfully returns to Charleston unharmed. Upon returning to Charleston Tom immediately reveals that Anne and Alexis had been killed, and the vulnerability of the Boston tower to assault. Fueled by a desire for revenge, Tom wants to lead a team once the weapon is ready to be deployed, but before he could act an explosion is felt in the Charleston area and Tom discovers that the Volm complex has been destroyed. After Tom discovers Cochise severely wounded, he helps him to the hospital and after being told his wounds will regenerate if left alone, he orders that he be left alone. When another explosion rocks Charleston, killing many and wounding others, Tom finds himself trapped underground and makes a horrifying discovery as he learns that Lourdes was the mole. After being taunted by a possessed Lourdes, Tom uses a Volm gun and makes an opening for himself and others to escape to the surface with.

While on the surface Tom and Cochise discuss the situation with the Volm weapon and come to the conclusion that the Volm weapon was adequately protected from the initial blast and that it should be just be a simple matter of digging it out. He then leads a team along with Cochise, Kadar and several members of the 2nd Mass on a boat with the weapon mounted onto it and attacks and successfully destroys the Boston tower, bringing down the Espheni planetary defense grid along with it. As a result the Volm successfully land reinforcements on their city-sized ship in the area the tower once stood.

Believing the battle to be over for now Tom along with the other members of the 2nd Mass celebrate their victory but are left shocked when the Volm reveal their plans to relocate them to Brazil. Strongly opposed to this, Tom makes his feelings clear to the Volm commander who is revealed to be Cochise's father. After a minor disagreement, he is held captive and is visited by the Volm commander and explains that after everything that has happened, he along with the other members of the 2nd Mass wish to continue fighting the Espheni to the end and that he, and they wish to liberate the planet. The Volm commander understands Toms feelings and lets him go, and as the other members of the 2nd Mass are about to be taken away by Cochise and several other Volm, is informed that they are free to go.

Though somewhat concerned that the battle against the Espheni will be a three-way fight, Tom decides to travel back to Charleston along with the rest of the 2nd Mass but along the way is met by Karen, who informs him that the Volm can't be trusted and is later given Anne and Alexis in return as a sign of good faith. When Tom shoots Karen, after the dust had settled he reunites with Anne and Alexis and discovers that Alexis his daughter is now the size of a 6 year old child. To his surprise he witnesses Alexis draw out and destroy the eyebugs inside Lourdes.

Season four[edit]

23 days later, Tom along with the 2nd Mass arrive back at Charleston, but before he can celebrate the group are attacked by Espheni ships and mechs, and are seemingly ensnared by the Espheni obelisks, Tom is separated from Anne, Lexi, Matt and Ben, and other members of the 2nd Mass.

4 months later, Tom is held in solitary confinement in an Espheni ghetto, a place set up by the Espheni for reasons he does not yet know, to hold prisoners, including Weaver, Pope, Hal, and other members of the 2nd Mass, and people who had been captured. When Weaver is held in a room next to his, Tom informs him that he is working on a plan to escape from the ghetto, and then reveals that he had been leaving confinement to gather more intelligence on the area, and the skitter locations. Fearing the area to be monitored by the Espheni, Tom covers his face before leaving confinement. However his actions which sometimes involved provoking the skitters, were not unnoticed by the Espheni, a single overlord aboard a ship monitoring the ghetto sends a message to an unknown person demanding that the vigilante, which some residents dub 'The Ghost' be handed over, or the residents of the ghetto will be killed.

Meanwhile Tom learns from Cochise that the Volm had no choice but to leave the Earth, and have left behind several scout teams. He is then informed that the Espheni had set up ghettos all across the planet, for reasons he does not yet know, and that the Espheni are developing a new power source. Fearing the extinction of humanity, Cochise offers Tom words of support, and when Tom requests that he try and find Anne, Lexi, Matt, and Ben, he agrees.

Casting[edit]

Wyle at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con promoting the series.

One of the things that was most attractive about it was shooting 10 episodes as opposed to 24, which affords me a bit of quality-of-life and allows me to have a presence in my kids' lives. But in terms of quality of writing, this was great writing. Mark Verheiden's a great writer. I enjoy this kind of storytelling just as much as all of those years on "ER."

– Noah Wyle, on why he chose the role[1]

Noah Wyle was announced as the lead in the series in June 2009.[2] He has previously worked with TNT on The Librarian films and was sent scripts for various shows on their network. Wyle said part of the reason he chose the part was to gain credibility from his children. He said "...with the birth of my kids, I started to really look at my career through their eyes more than my own, so that does dictate choice, steering me toward certain things and away from other things."[3] He also decided to do it as he could relate with his character, stating "I identified with Tom's devotion to his sons, and admired his sense of social duty." Spielberg wanted Wyle for the role because he knew him from his previous series ER, which Spielberg's company produced. He had wanted Wyle to appear in his 1998 film Saving Private Ryan but due to scheduling conflicts, he was unable to star.[4] Spielberg stated that he was determined to work with him again.[4]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Accolades[edit]

Wyle was nominated for a Saturn Award in the category for Best Actor in Television.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (June 18, 2011). "HitFix Interview: Noah Wyle talks 'Falling Skies'". HitFix. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Noah Wyle to Lead Resistance Against Alien Invasion in New TNT Pilot from Dreamworks Television and Executive Producers Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Robert Rodat". The Futon Critic. June 26, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ Moore, Frazier (June 16, 2011). "Noah Wyle stars in a drama about an alien invasion". Retrieved June 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Rudolph, Ileane (June 28, 2011). "Steven Spielberg Talks Falling Skies and Upcoming TV Projects". TV Guide. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ Goldberg, Matt (February 29, 2012). "Saturn Award Nominations Announced; HUGO and HARRY POTTER Lead with 10 Nominations Each". Collider.com. Retrieved March 1, 2012.