A year ago, Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood made a relatively quiet appearance at Comic-Con International, showing only a trailer and taking some questions about their upcoming alien invasion series Falling Skies. With little to go on, the crowd had to keep its enthusiasm in check. What a difference a year made. At Friday's panel for the show — now a summer breakout hit for TNT — Wyle, Bloodgood, cast mates Drew Roy, Will Patton, Colin Cunningham and Sarah Sanguin Carter and their producers took the stage of the San Diego Convention Center's Room 6BCF, which was filled with adoring and energetic fans. Moderated by TV Guide Magazine editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum, the panel featured a lively Q&A session and clips of upcoming episodes, including an unexpected moment of heroism for Cunningham's roguish Pope and a very intriguing reveal about the aliens (which we won't spoil here).
A recurring theme in the audience questions was the agenda of the creepy, spider-like Skitters who have invaded Earth. "The mystery of the Skitters and the Mechs and the reason they're here... I think that there's some question [from the audience] of whether we'll ever get to that," co-executive producer Mark Verheiden acknowledged. "We will, just hold on. And we'll get to it in Season 1. You'll have a much better idea of what the Skitters are about."
Indeed, the show runners talked about the mandate they have been given by executive producer Steven Spielberg to make sure the show doesn't turn into an endless puzzle. "The big thing for Steven is that he wants to create mysteries, but then he wants to answer them and then he wants to create new mysteries," said Darryl Frank, co-president of DreamWorks Television, which produces the show for TNT. "We don't want to be teasing it out over seasons and seasons. We want to answer questions, and you will get a lot of answers in Episodes 7, 8 and 9 of this season."
One thing we won't see, however, is the actual invasion, which took place six months before the pilot episode. "We actually made a decision early on, I think Steven did, that we'd do no flashbacks," Verheiden told the crowd. "Everything you'd learn as we move forward. You'll learn more about their backstories, but it will be in real time. No flashbacks going back to the invasion. It just keeps the show propelling forward."
Speaking of progress, the budding relationship between Wyle's history-professor-turned-civilian-commander Tom Mason and Bloodgood's community medic Anne Glass will begin to pick up momentum. "Towards the end of the season that opportunity comes and it feels very well-earned and sweet," Wyle says.
Bloodgood gave the audience an "awww" moment when she talked about the recent episode "Silent Kill," in which Anne quietly but brutally killed the 2nd Mass's captive Skitter, then pressed her blood-covered hand on the bulletin board where survivors have posted photos and tributes to their lost loved ones. "I remember shooting that scene. I had to go to a really emotional place," the actress recalled. "Everyone has pictures posted of their kids that they lost. And I lost my son, but had no mementos, nothing. And there's such a shame in that, knowing you're a mother and you have nothing to show for it. So it was really cathartic to kill the alien and then the only thing I have is to put my bloody hand on the wall. And Noah was so fantastic that later on, in my trailer I got a little note on the very piece of paper that I put my hand on: "This is when Tom falls in love with Anne.' So that was really sweet."