|“||You steal our children, kill millions of people, and now you want to negotiate??!!||”|
— Tom (Eight Hours)
Overlords are the apparent architects of the Invasion of Earth. First known by fans as "Slenders" due to their resemblance to the "slenderman". They use harnesses to command humans and skitters – presumably their enslaved or bio engineered subjects - and appear to have designed the Mechs and the Crawlies. They are seen acting in administrative roles, overseeing the work of skitters and an enslaved Karen Nadler in What Hides Beneath. In Homecoming Pope calls them "Fishheads" and has since become a common nickname for the Overlords among members of the 2nd Mass.The existence of the Overlords was first hinted at by Uncle Scott, who remarked to Tom Mason that it's unlikely the six-legged Skitters would design bipedal robots like the Mechs. Hal Mason, Tom, and Weaver are the first members of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment to discover the Overlords, on a scouting mission in Boston about 7 months after the attack. Tom speculates that if they are the commanders of the Skitters, they might have been staying in the safety of their Motherships up to this point, but now feel it is safe enough to move around the city.
In the season one finale, after Tom and Weaver badly damage the Mothership, an Overlord, along with Karen, intercept them. Karen reveals that the Overlords didn't expect so much resistance and that they found that interesting. They also wanted to talk. Tom and Weaver were furious that, after having killed millions of people and taken their children, they now want to negotiate. Despite this, Karen tells Tom that the Overlords can stop Ben's transition into a skitter if he comes with them. Despite Weaver's protests, Tom agrees saying that he can't let them take Ben back.
It has been confirmed that they have invaded other worlds as well leading to the skitters becoming their slaves.
Interactions with Humans
The Overlords at first held little regard for humans as evident by the invasion and if the harnessed Karen's words are anything to go by in "What Hides Beneath" beneath viewed humanity as vermin to be exterminated if they crossed paths. However by the season finale they are intrigued by Humanity's resistance; surprised that a less advanced race has been able to hinder them to such a degree. In the episode "Worlds Apart" an Overlord told Tom Mason that if humanity surrendered the Overlords would set aside special camps for humans to live in peace, this of course may have been a lie. Such camps would be analogous at best to the Polish ghettos formed by the Nazi's for Jews during World War 2, or forcing Native Americans along the Trail of Tears to Indian reservations. This similarity is noted by Tom Mason in his rejection of the alien's proposal. The alien's retort is to refer to far more sudden but just as devastating events, such as the Rape of Nanking.
Overlords are tall humanoid bipeds with smooth gray skin, standing roughly twice as tall as a human and three times as tall as a skitter, though compared to a human their body is skinny and elongated. Their graceful gait indicates that they are able to move about easily in Earth gravity.
Their overall features are somewhat fleshy and blubbery, though their proportions are quite skinny so they do not appear bloated. They do not have a very pronounced neck: while their head is fairly far away from their shoulders, powerful neck muscles smoothly transition from the torso to the head. The top of the head possesses a fairly rounded bullet-shaped point. Indeed, of their facial features only the eyes are particularly prominent, with well-defined eye sockets and seemingly mammalian eyes, spaced only slightly further apart than on a human. Otherwise, they have very weak and poorly defined chins, small and difficult to observe ears, and a poorly defined nose. They actually don't have a "nose" so much as the forehead smoothly slopes down between the eyes down to the upper lip, which in turn slopes down their poorly defined chin into their "neck". They do possess four nostril-slits, two on each side of the head, but much higher than on a human. The small nostrils are located close to the inner corner of each eye. They do seem to have a normal vertebrate mouth, though it is made clear in Worlds Apart they are not capable of speech and are instead able to speak through humans telepathically and make grunts if pain is inflicted upon them. Overall, the upper body gives the vague impression of a humanoid dolphin.
The body itself is thin and elongated, but lithe and sinewy. They seem almost unnaturally flexible and graceful, willowy but well-muscled. They seem to possess the same general body plan as a human, just with different proportions (i.e. they do not have digitigrade leg joints, like the Mechs). While nearly twice as tall as a human, they have been observed "stooping" to move around in the hallways of human buildings, without too much trouble.
The events of Molon Labe seem to indicate that Overlords are deaf and mute without the use of a harnessed helper, or at the very least incapable of understanding and emulating human speech without assistance.
Little is known about Overlord society and beliefs, but it is clear that they find the notion of killing and oppressing one's own species morally disgusting. They also appear to be somewhat arrogant, thinking little of humans, and looking down on them.
In Molon Labe, Karen speaks to Hal as he escorts her about how everything in the world is interconnected, and if you understand the web of connections you can make solid predictions, though there are always variables. It is unknown if this is an overlord philosophy, but with Karen insisting the original Karen is long gone, the idea may be from the overlords.
It is hard to tell the overlords apart due to the lack of individual identifying features. Really, any of the following overlords could be any other. All we know for sure is we have only once seen two at the same time, so we can be sure there are at least two, and a maximum possible of four individuals seen so far on the series.
Two Commanding Overlords
Two Overlords were seen observing and/or commanding three Skitters doing what appears to be a patrol mission in Boston. It's very likely these were the first Overlords seen by the resistance; though all that is known for sure is that they are definitely the first of their kind seen by the 2nd Mass.
An Overlord that escorted Karen Nadler to Sonya Rankin's house to see if she had any more information on survivors within the city of Boston. After Sonya said she did not know about other survivors (despite the fact that Weaver, Tom, and Hal were in the room with her) it looked through the peephole of the apartment before departing with Karen.
In the season finale (Eight Hours) the same Overlord arrived and wanted to talk to Tom in its air ship as it was intrigued and surprised at the resistance efforts. Tom angered by this request responded: "You take our children and kill millions of people now you want to negotiate?". After this exchange Tom was informed they wanted to talk about Ben. The Overlord then escorted Tom into it's air ship as the screen faded to black.
A captured Tom is brought before an Overlord who makes mankind an offer of "Sanctuary" in exchange for mankind's surrender. Tom calls this little better than a prison camp and the alien reveals they have studied mankind's history. Tom asks why the aliens attacked since humanity was interested in peaceful contact when they came. The Overlord then lists mankind's violent history with disgust calling mankind primitive and inherently aggressive with the invasion being the best recourse before demanding Tom take the offer. Tom refuses before attacking the Overlord with a shock stick before being subdued.
Later in the season, in Molon Labe, an overlord is taken prisoner by the 2nd Mass. A harnessed Karen, in negotiating for the overlord's release tells Tom Mason that the overlord is the same one Tom spoke to in Worlds Apart. Tom eventually shoots this overlord when he endagers Ben's life, wounding it. Anne does her best to patch the overlord up, and the 2nd Mass leaves it behind with Karen.It's not known whether he survived after leaving the resistance.
Behind the Scenes
When the new bipedal aliens which came to be called Overlords were first introduced in episode 1x8 ("What Hides Beneath), the Falling Skies official website ran video clips of them. Due to some sort of miscommunication or delay with the marketing department, these clips appear to be of an earlier concept design, possibly just placeholder CGI. This earlier artwork depicts them being roughly as tall, but with a more bony look, covered in blocky armor, with thin rounded Grey alien heads. The final version which actually aired is much more cetacean in appearance.
In Super 8 special feature "The Visitor Lives" it shows concept art of the monster/alien in Super 8 and one looks similar to the Overlords.Another Speilberg production, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), also features a tall alien with slender arms and legs first coming out of the spaceship and raising its arms in greeting to the scientists. It was only shown once in the movie because the actual minature was a marrionette and the bright lights behind were neccesary to make the strings invisible.
The cast members refer to them as "Overlords" in the 2nd Watch feature during the Season 2 premiere on FallingSkies.com