Falling Skies Preview: Will Pope Cook Up a Rescue Plan?

TNT’s Falling Skies (Sundays at 10/9c) has introduced the 2nd Massachusetts to a new and most unexpected enemy – the 7th Mass aka fellow resistance fighters who have made a deal with the extraterrestrial devil.

Alas, nobody back at home base realizes that the unit’s kids have all but been sold into trade, while Hal and Mike, who chaperoned the young’uns, are unaware of the double-cross that Lt. Terry Clayton has planned. Nor does anyone know that rascally Pope – last seen fleeing the 2nd Mass after the bike shop raid – is in the 7th Mass’ custody, tied up in the cellar. Will an unlikely hero come into play, before it’s too late? Colin Cunningham, who plays Pope, shared with TVLine his take on what’s to come.

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TVLINE | What was your reaction first presented with this guy who’s a real badass, but also a persnickety chef?
I tell you, I didn’t read the chef part until later. They were having a little difficulty casting this role, and I think a lot of times actors make the same old stereotypical choices, while I thought, “This guy is awesome! He’s theatrical, and he’s incredibly smart.” I went into the audition with nothing but hair, a goatee, tattoos all over my neck… I really went for it. But the interesting thing for me was I didn’t know what I was audition for! As a general rule I never ask, because if it’s a little thing I don’t want to get lazy, and if it’s a gigantic thing, I don’t want to psych myself out. It wasn’t until way later in the game that my agent said, “This is DreamWorks. Steven Spielberg.” I was like, “Holy s—t!” I’m so glad I didn’t know.

TVLINE | Pope is a character who really “popped” for the audience early on, but then dropped out of the action for a bit. Was that as much a tease for you as it was for viewers?
If anything I respected it because the writers knew they were establishing somebody new, yet they weren’t afraid to have him disappear for a couple of episodes. That showed me their wisdom in looking at the overall story. It’s about the show, not any particular character.

TVLINE | What exactly happened to Pope after he fled the motorcycle shop?
Well, after blowing up the [sleeping nest of] aliens…. Um, you’ll find out in the next episode. I was about to start reciting dialogue form the next episode, but I can’t do that! Let’s just say that he reverted back to his usual ways, which is to do a little pillaging, but then he got nabbed – and by the wrong people.

TVLINE | What is Lieutenant Clayton’s rationale for making this rather treasonous pact with the skitters?
Ooh, that’s an interesting question…. Again, that’s one of the neat things about the show, and it’s what makes [the episodes] “Sanctuary” 1 and 2 some of the more important ones. Just because 98 percent of humanity is wiped out, within that other two percent you’re still going to have a mixed bag of good people, bad people, and people with very strange agendas. Human nature hasn’t changed a whole lot, even though most of us have been wiped out. And Clayton cutting the deal that he did has created this alliance with the enemy.

TVLINE | Would you say that makes him a more vile individual than Pope?
In Pope’s opinion? Hell yeah. That is something Pope would never do. There’s definitely a bit of nastiness in Pope, but he’s not evil – and trading kids is evil. There is a certain honor among thieves, and somebody like Clayton would the first to get shivved in a prison.

TVLINE | If Pope were to escape from Clayton’s camp, do you think he’d readily join back up with Mason and the 2nd Mass?
There’d be a decision he would need to make. It’d be one of those things where he hightails it out of there, gets a mile out of town and stops, has a thought, turns around and goes back. You’ll never actually see that scene, but I almost see it like Robert De Niro in Heat – he’s out, he’s safe, he’s free to go, and then he makes that decision to go back and right something he can’t stomach. It would stick in the pit of Pope’s stomach if he didn’t do anything about it.

TVLINE | What’s keeping Pope from acknowledging there is in fact strength in numbers with the 2nd Mass, versus impulsively acting on his own?
He does see what works, that the 2nd Mass is actually doing something good, and it is successful and they are certainly doing better than Pope and his band of henchmen were doing. But it’s Pope’s nature to be a lone wolf. If anything, if Pope did become part of the 2nd Massachusetts, I see him living in a cave a mile down the road rather than with everyone else.

TVLINE | Maggie (played by Sarah Carter) has established a pretty dark background for Pope. Do you think that makes him not 100-percent redeemable? Do you want him to be?
Yes and no. It’s never specified to what degree Pope is guilty of any of that past stuff. I can’t imagine Pope doing anything like [raping Margaret]. I think Pope ended up getting together with a bunch of real dirt bags for the sake of survival. So, with regards to that particular piece of Maggie’s past, I will say the tension between them is because Pope knew about it, and would have stopped it if he could have, but he didn’t. War creates strange bedfellows, for both the good guys and the bad guys.

TVLINE | Given the way that Season 1 ends on Aug. 7 (with a two-hour finale), is it clear what Season 2 is going to be about?
I read how it ended, but I have no idea how that transferred into the final cut…..

TVLINE | Well, is there a game-changing element that casts the humans’ fight in a different light?
Is it a game-changer? No. But… are they able to get closer than they ever have before? Absolutely.