Falling Skies is on its 5th showrunner, but here's why we shouldn't worry

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Jul 24, 2013, 3:40 PM EDT

Falling Skies invaded Comic-Con this week and out of the mothership came Drew Roy, Sarah Carter, Colin Cunningham, Doug Jones, Will Patton, Noah Wyle, Connor Jessup and Moon Bloodgood, along with executive producers Justin Falvey and Greg Beeman and showrunner Remi Aubuchon to talk about the remaining few episodes left in this season and preview what is on the horizon for season four.

"I feel in a lot of ways like we figured the show out," Wyle said. "The first season we had a good idea, the second we figured out how to make it better, the third season we established the characters, we established the world and play a little bit with our narrative. Now we know these characters, we know this world, the threat's gotten bigger, bigger and bigger, and I'm excited to see what we can come up with next year. Where does Earth fit into this war that suddenly doesn't have a lot to do with us, but we're caught in the middle of it?"

"You've gotten to know who these people are in a way where you feel their skin is real against this other skin," Patton said. "As human beings we're fragile in this alien world. I think it's a very interesting conflict. What is it like to be an alien, what is it like to be a human being?"

With already three alien races, there's no telling how many more races will join the story. One thing that's unlikely to happen is taking the setting off Earth. "Our story is a human-based story," Aubuchon asserted. "I'm sure there's a story that could be told, but I think we're telling a basic story of a group of people sticking together and trying to keep themselves as human as possible, and fighting for the survival of the human race, so I think Earth-bound stories are the best."

"The way we've always seen the Espheni is that they seem to go planet to planet, and they take the strongest species of the planet and turn them into weapons," Beeman shared. "I think you can expect that trend to continue as they realize that the humans make an excellent weapon." It's taken nearly three full seasons to get here, and the ups and downs of television are that everyone involved wants to be truthful to the writing, but there is the reality of building an audience and being patient enough to allow for those reveals to come organically.

"I'm amazed we've been able to make 30 really strong episodes." Wyle reflected. "The fact that we've only made 30 hours of television and now we're on a fifth showrunner. That's a lot of turnover in the writing staff, who are all starting basically from scratch, not like being handed a bible so that they can say, 'Oh, so here's where we are." They have to re-conceptualize the show and make it their own, and rightly so. The fact that we can keep a thread of continuity with that kind of personnel change has been really impressive."

"I'm very excited to welcoming David Eick to the fold, who you all know from Battlestar Galactica. We had a great creative meeting with him, and I'll sit down with him in a couple of weeks to find out what he's drafted up for this season. Rumor has it it's going to be great. Executive producers Mr. Steven Spielberg and Mr. Michael Wright are very happy."

On the subject of the new runner, current showrunner Remi Aubuchon assuaged any fears headed into the offseason. "David and I are old friends. I actually recommended him and gave him an idea of what my thinking was, but I wanted him to have his own storytelling chops and be able to bring something different than what I was, because that is what's fun. It's the same type of conversations I had with Mark Verheiden and Graham Yost from the first season transition to the second. Then they said, 'Have fun,' and I've said basically the same thing to David."

"Because David was tight with Remi, was a fan of the show and had seen every episode, it was a natural transition," Falvey added. "He had a good sense of what choices we made to get it where it was. His instincts were great about what we were going to do with this season."

Some of the strongest beats this season include the flip in Tom Mason and Captain Weaver. "Since the beginning Tom and Weaver have exchanged certain things about each other," Patton pondered. "Tom's become more of a warrior, developed more of an armor and more of a soldier. Meanwhile, Weaver's heart has begun to open. He's become a more responsible, caring, the things that Tom originally was."

Maggie and Hal were brought together and separated, having gone through a period where much happened and things were said with Hal under the control of parasites. "We have some stuff to come in this season that hasn't come out yet that we're both excited about," teased Roy. "We didn't see it coming, and it's going to be a nice little gem for the fourth season." Carter added, "It's going to be very hard to wait to come back from this finale."

If that wasn't enough to test this relationship, there was the pesky Pope, who has come on strong this season, confronting Maggie about their possible history. "I've always played my scenes with Maggie/Sarah that we've had sexual history in the subtext," divulged Cunningham. "She's always played it as, 'Hell no, we don't!' For one character's point of view there's this intimacy with the other character. Was it in his head, or is she lying?"

Then there's the addition of Doug Jones (Abe Sapien in Hellboy) as Cochise, the Volm commander who is a liaison to the human resistance and one of the more welcoming additions to the cast. "You'll learn more about Cochise in episode nine," Jones previewed. "Cochise hits the lowest in his life. I can't tell you why, but It's been quite a ride for him. He didn't think he was going to be learning anything from them, but he becomes superior. I'm more intelligent, I'm stronger, I got technology, but as it appears I'm here to learn."

All of the producers insist that there is a defined ending that's been mapped out, though they're hoping it won't come for some time still, and based on the performances, or actors delivering unexcited performances that inspire other stories, they are leaving room for happy accidents. Ultimately, though, each year starts off with meetings with Spielberg and Wright to determine if the endgame is still on track. Future stories can evolve, but there is a roadmap they're following, but when it's boiled down to its essentials, Falling Skies remains a family drama in the parameters of a genre show.

"Family is the most important thing about Falling Skies, as far as I'm concerned," said Wyle. "With the nucleus of the Masons and the 2nd Mass., which is our group within the larger Charleston community. Someone asked, what role does God play with these characters? I'll give credit to Will [Patton], who said it's the 2nd Mass. That's our religion. That's where we find our faith, our enduring strength. It's in the relationships they've created among this original core group of characters.They may have found themselves in a larger population, but they identify themselves singularly as the 2nd Mass, first and foremost. That gives the show a heart, a spine that we can hang on to and keep going back to as an anchor as we take the storytelling farther and farther out on the string, and that keeps it based in reality."