Invasion S1E5: “Going Home” in a World Made Strange

Trev sites in uniform with a phone received to his ear
Courtesy of Apple TV+

The following contains spoilers for Invasion S1E5, “Going Home”

Increasingly I think part of the whole premise of Invasion is that our protagonists are on the periphery. The action isn’t simply moving slowly—it’s fundamentally happening elsewhere.

Thus we see in S1E5 the empty store shelves when Aneesha tries to go shopping, along with the soldiers who accost her before enlisting her help as a doctor. Thus she proceeds to helping numerous injured parties. We hear from none of them, and David Barton says the nurse wouldn’t tell him what caused the wound Aneesha ultimately finds a weird alien spore thing in.

Maybe that caused it?

Aneesha looks at empty shelves in a store

Trev makes his way back to his base camp to find it abandoned. There is a note about an emergency evacuation in light of an “unknown hostile contact”—so he actually missed meaningful action as he wandered around the desert looking for his men. Everyone is gone. Where did they go? And what exactly happened?

The bus kids find an abandoned truck full of chocolate. The driver seems to have disappeared, and Casper lingers over the strange marks on his seat. We don’t know what happened here either.

Casper's hand explores a torn truck seat

Mitsuki goes to JASA and though she’s informed about the message that is “extraterrestrial in source and form,” one has to wonder what progress those linguists are making in the background of the scene on this putative language without sound. Have they figured out what is being said to any degree? Is there some greater context that gives sense to ‘wajo’?

How much does the President know when she makes the address to the world towards the end of S1E5, and to what degree is her perspective closer to those alien invasion stories we’re more familiar with, which center on a locus of power?

A torn piece of paper in Trev's hand indicates an UNKNOWN HOSTILE CONTACT

The President declares martial law in light of the alien threat, though Aneesha’s scenes earlier in S1E5 kind of made it seem like it had already been instituted. Would we be OK with such a suspension of the normal rules and the entering into a state of exception in an instance like this? Traditional invasion stories have tended to suppose we would be as a matter of course, and we’ve yet to see any signs that things will be different in Invasion.

But frankly I can’t help but feel like the idea that an extraterrestrial attack would make us all bind together in our shared humanity has been undermined a bit in the past couple of years.

Mitsuki faces forward, with "Wajo" in the subtitle

Mitsuki thinks that Hinata might still be alive somehow, though her evidence seems to be merely something about how sound can’t travel through a vacuum, which is undermined by the whole “language without sound” idea—though that itself isn’t very clear. Of course there can be language without sound. We’re doing that right now. But I take it this is not what is meant. It would be odd, but also strangely apt, if somehow it’s an issue with the subtitle translation from the Japanese that is confusing me here.

Of course there remains another character who died in the Invasion premiere we might be wondering about: Sheriff Tyson. If you think about it he was on the periphery of the action too, as he investigated the disappearance of others, until he got a bit too close to it in the cornfield that night.

I don’t really think that he’s going to arise one week as a zombie or anything, but it is so odd as to be noteworthy that Invasion has totally dropped his story since his disappearance. It would have been easy enough to follow his deputy as she tried to figure out what happened to him, but Invasion hasn’t given us any further scenes with her either.

Maybe this would be too close to the action, and keeping the alien invasion oblique is to the point.

Going Home

Invasion S1E5 is entitled “Going Home,” and it’s a clear theme in the episode in a straightforward way. Trev swears to the deceased Chavez that he’ll take his advice and go home as he digs his grave, and seems resolved to follow through with that even though he doesn’t seem to be wanted there. The bus kids decide to leave the abandoned chocolate truck behind to go home—or at least the main ones whose names we remember do. The theme in these examples is very literal.

Monty, Casper and Jamila stand in the foreground, with the truck and other kids in the background

The episode ends with Michael Kiwanuka’s “Home Again” playing over the credits. I don’t find the effect to be nearly as striking as with last week’s Thom Yorke closer, but perhaps it is because I’m not as much a fan of the artist. Its central lyrics nonetheless put a point on just how the episode title should be interpreted:

Home again, home again
One day I know I’ll feel home again
Born again, born again
One day I know I’ll feel strong again

It is a desire to go home more than the activity of doing so that connects Aneesha and Mitsuki’s arcs in S1E5 to its broader theme. The former has gotten fundamentally out of place. It’s not even directly that she wants to return to her family as she gets sucked up in being shuffled around as a doctor, though one imagines she does. That’s not home, either, and not just because it’s literally someone else’s house—Aneesha’s whole family life has been decentered by her husband’s infidelity. Before she leaves, she tells Luke that he’s the man of the house now, which makes no sense, really, but rather indicates her feeling of having lost the home she once had with her family.

Mitsuki’s desire for home is even more metaphorical, as it comes through in her desire to find/save Hinata even when the latter is almost certainly dead and gone forever. Recall all of those drawn out shots of their shared space, and Mitsuki’s veritable inability to occupy that space in the absence of her partner.

It’s not home as a physical location, but feeling at home that our characters long for—this is what a home invasion can disrupt. That comfortable space becomes strange and uncomfortable. It’s the uncanny—unheimlich—that Invasion is playing with at a personal level and should work to make more global.

A gaping wound contains a small black spore looking thing

The alien is the Other, and this is the source of our fear more than its hypothetical claws and teeth—or weird spores embedded in large and otherwise clean wounds.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

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