No matter how you prefer to consume your speculative fiction, chances are that you’ve read/watched more than a few alien invasion stories. What makes Apple TV’s Invasion intriguing is the prospect of seeing an extraterrestrial attack from multiple perspectives. Add in a great creative team along with a fantastic cast, and you’ve got a show worth adding yet another streaming service to check out (if Ted Lasso hadn’t roped you in already, of course).
Despite the first three episodes dropping on the same day, we’ll be reviewing each one individually to help you decide if Invasion is worth watching. As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers. The sequence of events has also been streamlined for the sake of clarity.
The episode opens in Yemen, where a camel herder is stopping for a rest with his flock as they cross the Arabian desert. He looks up in the sky and sees something fall at a very high speed into the sand a few meters away. Things go from intriguing to concerning when whatever just crash landed on Earth begins rushing toward him.
The camels realize it’s time to beat a hasty retreat, but the herder is fascinated by this semi-transparent object, which ends up stopping in front of him. As it starts to uncloak into a solid shape, he reaches out to touch what appear to be tiny suction cups spread across a shiny black rock. He’s rewarded for his curiosity by an ear piercing sound before getting blown back across the desert.
This bizarre scene is not revisited in any meaningful way for the rest of the episode.
The Scorned Perfect Wife
Over in Long Island, New York, Aneesha Malik begins her day with a workout followed by packing a lunch for her two adorable children (Luke and Sarah). She then allows them to awaken her husband (Ahmed), who will be going to work in the city until late that evening…or so she thinks.
Later that day, the children are in band class playing a horrific arrangement of The Blue Danube Waltz when everyone except Luke develops a severe nosebleed. Aneesha rushes to the school, where she learns that that every student developed a nosebleed at the same time except for her son. They have no idea what caused it, but everyone appears to be okay otherwise, including Sarah.
Aneesha drives her children to the hospital. On the way there, she tries to reach her husband, but gets his voicemail. Once they arrive and are seen by the doctor, we learn that she performed a radial bifurcation on Sarah, which leads to us also learning that Aneesha was a Harvard med student before giving up a medical career to have a family.
The doctor informs her that Sarah’s tests all look normal, although he’s unable to tell Luke why he was the only student at the school who didn’t get a nose bleed.
That evening, Aneesha is watching television with her children when the power flickers on and off for no discernible reason. This odd occurrence is put on the back burner when Luke uses the Find My Device function on his iPad and notices that their father is not in city. Aneesha calls his phone and is sent to voicemail again, prompting her to pack the kids into the car (under the false pretense of running an errand) and drive to the Ahmed’s location.
Sure enough, she finds her husband’s car parked at an unfamiliar house. Her worst fears are confirmed when she sneaks up to the window and sees him getting intimate with another woman.
*Side Note: Part of me thinks this guy wanted Aneesha to know he was cheating. Bad enough he’s doing it right in front of a giant downstairs window, but he also left his phone’s location service turned on. If he wasn’t trying to get caught then that’s some incredibly lazy writing.
Aneesha gets back in the car, forces herself to keep from breaking down, and drives home. After the children are asleep, she does a bit of cyber sleuthing and discovers that his husband’s mistress is an Instagram cook/influencer, which is the very definition of “salt in the wound.”
Late that night, Ahmed comes home to find that his wife has cooked him a delicious meal. Things immediately become awkward when she reveals that the recipe came from the woman he’s been cheating on her with. Aside from her being a beautiful woman and wonderful mother, Aneesha also points out that she gave up everything for their family and has done everything she can to be a good wife. When she asks why he cheated on her, Ahmed replies that it’s because “she’s not you.”
What a douche.
Before he can launch into his full narcissistic defense, the house begins shaking the lights go on and off. When the shaking subsides, the estranged couple hears their children screaming and immediately go into parent mode to see if they’re safe. While Ahmed checks on Luke, Aneesha finds Sarah and sweeps the girl up into her arms.
She then looks out the window and sees her neighbors house in ruins. Much like her own world, the one outside appears to be falling apart, as well.
The Secret Lover
In Tokoyo, Japan, a woman (Hinata) awakens as her lover is taking a shower. She also pointedly remarks how much she’ll miss getting to see sunrises. Instead of waiting for her lover to return (on account of how much they “hate goodbyes”), she writes a farewell note, sticks a glow in the dark star on ceiling, and departs for work.
Turns out Hinata is an astronaut who’s about to take part in a mission to the International Space Station to study the affects of long term space travel. We also learn via some chatter between two mission control team technicians (Mitsuki and Kaito) that she’s dating a famous actor.
Mitsuki is then called away to do a communications tests with Hinata. This leads to some extremely unsubtle chemistry between her and the astronaut, revealing that the pair are much more than work colleagues.
Back in the control room, Mitsuki struggles to hide her sadness while the rest of the crew celebrates a successful launch. That evening, she goes home to the same apartment we saw Hinata wake up in. We also see her read the note and touch the star Mauri left, thus confirming that she’s the woman’s lover.
Up in space, Hinata is looking at a picture Mitsuki uploaded to her computer when one of the other astronauts notices something outside. Moments later, the ship is torn open, presumably killing everyone onboard.
The Washed Up Gunslinger
Over in Idabel, Oklahoma, Sheriff Tyson gets ready for his last day of work before retirement. When he gets to the station, his partner (Grady) informs him that they got a call about a stolen truck. The pair head out to the victim’s farm, where he tells them that his mother’s truck was stolen by the same two meth heads who did it the last three times. It’s not something he can necessarily prove, but he’s already started his own investigation into the matter. So far he’s discovered that neither man showed up to work and one missed a check in with their parole officer.
Unfortunately for the farmer, Tyson’s attention is fully captivated by a flock of birds flying in a strange formation over an area of disturbed crops. He climbs to a higher vantage point, which reveals it to be a good old fashion crop circle. He and Grady go in for a closer look, where they discover a scorched crater in the middle of it. They also find the stolen truck, which has been wrecked still has a wallet full of cash on the floorboard.
Before the two cops can figure out what that means, a swarm of locust forces them to take cover beneath the vehicle.
For some reason this inspires Tyson to pay a visit to the meth heads’ drug dealer, who also happens to lead to a white supremacist group. After roughing him up for some intel, they visit one of the men’s girlfriends at the strip club where she works. The woman tells the officers that they had a plan to flee to Mexico (to avoid his massive debts), but she’s now convinced that he simply left without her.
Tyson remains steadfast in his belief that there’s something more to the two men’s disappearance. His frustration at being unable to figure it out also causes him to become disoriented.
On the way back to the station, Grady asks Tyson if he is okay. The sheriff responds with a rambling story about a time he rescued a little girl from captivity only for her to die in a car accident hours before he was to be honored by the governor. This somehow leads him to believe that his entire career in law enforcement has been a disappointment despite being a beloved and appreciated in the community. It’s also completely at odds with his belief that he was chosen by God to wear a badge.
Now, however, he’s convinced that God is providing signs that a case involving two missing meth heads and a crop circle might be the one that makes his life’s work worthwhile.
That evening, Tyson attempts to give a speech at his retirement ceremony, but quits in the middle of it and heads back to the crop circle. He notices something moving under the dirt inside the crater, which eventually sneaks around and jabs him in the neck, presumably killing the sheriff along with Sam Neill’s unsettling fake southern accent.
Whatever stung and killed (?) Tyson then takes on a semi-transparent form before floating away.
Aside from Sam Neill (who I normally love), the acting in Invasion‘s first episode was superb — especially Golshifteh Farahani, who made us feel every bit of Aneesha’s pain and betrayal. The production values were also top notch.
Unfortunately, the story left quite a bit to be desired.
You expect a certain amount of tropes in a story like this, but “Last Day” was chock full of them: The cop taking a big case on the last day before retirement, the brilliant/beautiful wife giving up everything for her family only for the ungrateful husband to be unfaithful, etc.
The most ridiculous, however, was Hinata and Mitsuki’s relationship being treated as some sort of scandalous twist due to the fact that they’re both women. Even a crusty old guy like me who thinks people are too sensitive found that uncomfortably reductive. If anything, openly showing these two in a happy/loving partnership might have made Hinata’s apparent death even more impactful.
Perhaps the fact that their relationship was a secret will pay off in the future, but for now it just feels regressive and pointless.
I’m honestly not sure at all what to make of the Sheriff Tyson plotline, especially since he seemed to bite it at the end. Perhaps Grady (played exceptionally well by DeWanda Wise) will pick things up to figure out what happened to her partner. That makes a lot more narrative sense than Tyson thinking the search for two missing meth heads is a mission from God.
The only plotline that truly gripped me was Aneesha’s, although it wasn’t because of anything involving an alien invasion, which is what I’m assuming most of us tuned in to see. Unfortunately, the most we got from that aspect of the story was a cloaked entity causing a bit of dangerous/lethal mischief and blowing up a space shuttle for no reason.
Hopefully the next episode will iron out some of the issues found within the human drama while interweaving an extraterrestrial plotline that actually makes sense.
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