The following contains spoilers for Invasion S1E10, “First Day,” the Season 1 finale
You can make out the contours of the show that Invasion wanted to be: a slow build of impending dread over its first half, with our characters experiencing this existential threat obliquely as we get to know them and invest in their interpersonal dynamics; the tension breaking with little warning, as all of the sudden the monster is in the house in “Home Invasion”; the culmination of forces towards the climax of an apparent victory that nonetheless comes at deep personal cost; wrapping with a contemplative hour in which our friends finally feel like they can breath again, only to discover at the end that threat isn’t gone after all.
It sounds good enough on paper, and at times Invasion has carried it through well in the execution of particular scenes, or even (in my estimation) the totality of its first five episodes, but the execution of the rest wrecks the plan. The tension doesn’t break but fizzles. The action feels more campy than terrifying. The characters somehow lose the depth they had, perhaps because the dialogue begins to be so poorly written. Mysteries are left as dangling threads and become more frustrating than intriguing.
There could be a commentary here on how the powers that be refuse to contemplate what they can’t make sense of, rushing to nuke what they don’t understand, but it doesn’t land that way, perhaps because Mitsuki’s focus remains so thoroughly on her love for Hinata that it’s easy to see her as blinded by it in an irrational way, even if we feel invested in their relationship.
The personal cost fails to land in “Full of Stars” as the apparent victory happens so quickly at the same time, and we’d have to say it was a cost worth paying if the victory was real. No matter how painful it might be to lose someone you love, if the fate of humanity is in the balance…
What we needed was some good foreshadowing—a bit more than a David Bowie song meant to strike a chord—and more weight put on the warning Mitsuki relays about not launching the nukes, to plant more of a seed of the possibility that it is a bad idea.
Instead, we’re mostly led to that through the conventions of television, like the fact that there is another episode in the season after the nuking occurs, and so on.
S1E10 is back to the slow style and pacing that characterized Invasion’s early episodes, and while I found myself strikingly less bored than I had been through the action of the past few entries as I basked in the sound and vision (probably the Bowie song they should have used last week, by the way), it was hard to avoid the thought that, well, something must be about to happen, simply because this is the season finale. That brings back some tension to the hour, but it still feels a little unearned.
Aneesha’s appeal to the quiet voice in your gut that you simply must listen to gives words to that feeling in a way that is wholly unnecessary, exemplifying how Invasion has a tendency to be subtle in the wrong places but then beat us over the head with the obvious through expository dialogue in others.
So of course it’s not over, and of course the aliens reappear, but we still know virtually nothing about them or what they want. We don’t know where or how Luke got the shard of metal, or why Hinata said ‘wajo’—or what happened to her or in what sense she may be alive or dead.
We see Casper in some kind of weird dream/memory space in “First Day” which leads us to infer that he has a kind of undead status now himself, but it’s not entirely clear what is going on there, either. I would guess the resurrection of his mind happens in concert with that of the alien hivemind and that he has now been subsumed into the same, which should give us an entry into what these beings are thinking in a hypothetical Season 2.
This intrigues me, as does the structure in the Amazon, though again there isn’t a whole lot to work with other than some undulating black goo.
Still, I’m curious about what is going on with this structure, and about why Casper sees Ikuro in his dreamspace and how this may relate to what’s happened to his daughter.
The problem is that this is the first time I have been intrigued since Episode 5, so it’s hard to trust Invasion at this point. All of its problems have been in its execution, but it’s hard to enjoy the abstract idea of a TV show.
If we do get a Season 2, I hope that the defunct Buddhist monk Mitsuki meets in the Season 1 finale is in it. He provides a real breath of fresh air to the proceedings. Is he right that we take the world for granted? Does this mean we should drink beer?
These are questions worth exploring.
I’m led to conjecture that somehow the aliens needed the energy from the nuke to get their mothership to the surface, and thus that the strike was a really bad idea. We might further speculate that the ones we’ve seen may be different from the main ones—more like scouts, or pawns.
If the events of Season 1 were a test, as our new defunct monk friend suggests, then it’s pretty certain humanity failed. Where does Invasion take the story in Season 2? All I can say is that I do want to find out.