Falling Skies actor Colin Cunningham shows a softer side to John Pope in this week’s episode “Badlands.”
In this week’s episode of Falling Skies, Anne’s fears that her new baby isn’t quite human worsen. Hal begins physical therapy to get back on his feet outside of his dreams, and has decided he’s the mole and needs to turn himself in to the authorities. A human sniper attacks the Berserkers, and Tom discovers the President of the United States is still alive and ordered the hit. So much went on, and there were arguably three standout performances this week, but Colin Cunningham’s performance as John Pope stood out above the rest, making him this week’s Most Valuable Actor (MVA) for “Badlands.”
John Pope, the resident criminal and all-around thorn in Tom Mason’s side could easily be a one-note villain. However, Cunningham always seems to manage to make Pope relatable to the audience. While many of us may not be criminals, or leader of a biker gang, we all can sympathize of wanting to protect ourselves by putting on a tough exterior. Though most of the time Pope manages to keep his softer side hidden, every so often it peeps out. In “Badlands,” Pope lost one of his people when Crazy Lee gets impaled on an exposed piece of rebar during a sniper attack. The moment Pope realized Lee was injured he braved incoming fire to make sure his friend was alright. He stayed with her at the hospital watching Lee slowly die after Lourdes revealed there was no way to save her. After Lee died, Pope even took Tom to task for essentially abandoning him and his men on the border without supplies or reinforcements.
Cunningham manages to breathe life into Pope, making him far from a cookie cutout “bad guy.” Over the past three seasons, Pope went from being a guy who seemed capable of sticking a knife in Tom’s back to one who only acts like he could. When Pope and Matt stood vigil over Lee, it was easy to see the man Pope could have been under different circumstances – a loving husband and father. The three of them showed a vision of what life used to be, and the survivors hope it will be again. Unfortunately, that reality is now gone, and the civilization the humans try to build is only a reminder of the one they lost. Now that Pope has lost someone dear to him, it will be interesting to see how his relationship with Tom develops over the course of the season. Especially now that he and Matt have bonded over their shared grief of losing Crazy Lee. At any rate, I’m sure Cunningham will continue to steal more scenes.
Falling Skies Episode 3×04, “At All Costs” – Sunday, June 23, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) – TV-14-LSV