It turns out that the series premiere of Invasion coincided with the season premiere of my vacation so I’m actually not writing this review from home. This is notable because it meant that I watched the episode with a friend and did not really do much in the way of note-taking. As a result I may have missed or detail or two. Next week I’ll be watching from home so that is not likely to be an issue again in the near future.
The first episode of a new series is always a bit tricky. You’ve got to introduce an entire cast of characters and you’ve got to at least begin to introduce your plot. It can be particularly tough if you are trying to make a show that has a season or series long plot as you don’t have time to do much more than just start laying the ground work for the rest of the season. That was the challenge that Invasion was forced to face this evening.
The episode begins with a plane flying into the center of a hurricane off the coast of Florida. They are there to drop off some (as of yet unknown) drop. Unfortunately for the occupants of the plane, shortly after the drop is made there is an explosion and we see some ominous looking lights.
Next we are shown the citizens of Florida City preparing for the oncoming storm. We get to see the Sheriff Underlay and his wife, Dr. Mariel Underlay readying the town for the storm.
Pretty soon everyone but the Sheriff ends up at our presumed protagonist, Russell Varon’s, home. There’s his wife, a local reporter named Larkin Groves, her brother Dave (who suspects that the coming hurricane is being brought on by the military) and Russell’s two kids Rose and Jesse.
Mariel also shows up to check on her kids (they are on a weekend visit to Russell’s place) and gets into an argument with both Russell and her son Jesse as they both feel she is unwilling to trust Russell. It is then discovered that Rose has run off during the storm to look for her cat, Carlita. After a bit more yelling between Russell and his ex-wife, Russell sets out to find Rose and Mariel heads home.
Rose is shown wandering the woods, calling for her cat, when she sees a bunch of lights falling from the sky (quite similar to the lights we saw at the opening of the episode) and landing in the swamp. She is curious about the lights but then she falls in the mud and begins to panic before Russell shows up and brings his daughter back into the truck. It turns out that the cat had gotten in the truck when Russell got home so the three of them drive down the road. The trip is short lived however when something crashes into the windshield and the truck flips over.
In the next scene the storm has ended and Russell, Rose and Carlita are pulled from the cab of the truck, unharmed. They arrive home to see that their house has sustained a considerable amount of damage but everyone is safe.
Their relief is short-lived however as Sheriff Underlay shows up and we learn that Mariel had not been seen or heard from since she called the Sheriff to say she was leaving Russell’s place. Just after arriving the sheriff gets a radio message indicating that Mariel’s car has been found.
They go to Mariel’s car but she is not in it. Suspecting she may have tried to take shelter elsewhere the Sheriff and Russell search the nearby woods before finding Mariel at the edge of a swamp. She is naked and very dazed but seems to have been otherwise completely unharmed by her ordeal.
The Sheriff recommends to the mayor that the town be quarantined for a few weeks and Mariel backs him up. The mayor indicated he’d look into it. Judging from the ominous music that played during this scene, presumably this was not a good thing.
Back at the Varon/Grove household, Dave is busy patching the roof when Rose tells him about the lights she saw. Dave decides that these lights are worth investigating so he takes Rose into the swamp. Once there they find a piece of metal, presumably from a plane. Dave spots something else but does not want Rose to see it so he takes her back home.
Later that day Dave goes back to the swamp and finds a skeleton with some rather unusual spikes stuck in it. When he shows this to Russell, Russell suggests they take the body to the police but Dave is sure they will cover it up. Dave believes this could only have been caused by an EBA (an extraterrestrial biological alien). Russell is somewhat skeptical of Dave’s conclusion but he agrees to go back to the swamp with him.
When Dave and Russell return to the swamp they see a strange glowing entity moving underwater. Russell speculates that it could be a jellyfish but Dave dismisses his suggestion. We do not get a very clear look at the entity but it looks somewhat like a manta ray.
Dave, proving he’s not the brightest guy, leans over into the water to get a closer look at the entity and is pulled under the water. Russell jumps in after him and for a few moments both men disappear below the water. They eventually resurface a short while later and frantically swim out of the water.
Meanwhile Mariel is tucking Rose into bed. Rose was glad to have her mother home and says that both she and Russell were quite worried about her. As Mariel is leaving Rose notes that she ‘smells different’. We then see Mariel and the Sheriff looking at each other as some more ominous music plays.
The next morning we see Dave at the hospital. It seems that his underwater adventure landed him with a couple of nasty bite marks on his leg. Russell told the hospital that it was an alligator and Mariel seemed to assume that was the case as well. When he asked her about it, she just asked what else could have done it with a weird look on her face. Russell then looked outside where the Sheriff was talking with a priest (who underwent an experience very similar to Mariel’s). He also had the same odd smile on his face while sinister music played yet again.
We conclude the episode with Mariel and the Sheriff at the edge of the swamp. He asks her if she is feeling better. He then tells her the first few days are the toughest. And, of course, more ominous music plays in the background.
This episode seemed like it could have benefited from having been a two hour episode. At its current length, some things seemed a little forced. The scene between Mariel, Russell and their son, Jesse in particular came off poorly. The writers obviously wanted to establish the tension between these characters that existed prior to Mariel’s disappearance. Instead of having more time to do demonstrate the tension, the characters pretty much just said there was tension and why. A two hour version of this episode could have taken things a little more slowly.
As far as setting things up for future episodes however, this episode succeeds. There are hints as to what is going on. These hints lead to lots of interesting questions. We, of course, don’t really have any answers to those questions just yet but we really shouldn’t just yet.
While we do not really know anything about the aliens yet, we have enough information to speculate. So far the aliens have influenced or replaced the sheriff, the doctor and the local priest. With the town now under quarantine, the aliens have a pretty good start at gaining control of the town. If the aliens continue to operate in an intelligent and strategic way, it will certainly be beneficial to the series.
There are lots of other questions that have been raised so far but I’ll wait to a time when I’m not on vacation to speculate on those. The abundance of speculation one can do is definitely a benefit to the series at this juncture.