This week’s Invasion is a series of long exhales as people finally mourn and hope in relative silence for the first time since the aliens arrived. The Apple TV+ sci-fi series prove its worth, even when it’s being as quiet as it is loud and exciting
Invasion recap: Episode 8, ‘Contact’
Trevante (played by Shamier Anderson) has landed in United Kingdom after a tumultuous journey out of Afghanistan. The command doesn’t want him to leave, and doesn’t have a plane to put him on so he can get back to the states. However, they won’t stop him if he wants to risk his life trying to leave the country.
This means, of course, that he’ll be driving around the part of the city where Caspar Morrow (Billy Barratt) and his schoolmates are currently dodging aliens looking for their parents. He manages to call home but his wife has gone, leaving only a panicked new answering machine message.
In the United States, Aneesha (Golshifteh Farahani) finally comes clean to Dr. Barton (Noah Bean) about her lies. He doesn’t really care about the caliber of them because A) They need skilled hands in the surgeries now that victims of the alien attacks are rolling in at higher rates than ever and B) He clearly has a crush on her. He was divorced years ago and is lonely on top of being harried. So when they get a moment alone in a storage room, it’s not all that surprising what happens next. Suddenly, Ahmed (Firas Nassar) is gonna be feeling especially bad about his philandering.
Contacting the aliens
And in Japan, Mitsuki (Shioli Kutsuna) has been arrested by the military for breaking into a satellite facility. She wants to find the radiation signature of the aliens that killed astronaut Hinata Murai (Rinko Kikuchi). A veritable rainbow coalition of important people come to hear from her. They need her to establish contact with the aliens, but she won’t help them unless they agree to let her control every phase of the mission. She still thinks she can save Murai, or at bottom understand what happened a little better. They relent.
And back in the U.K., Caspar and Jamila (India Brown) find what’s left of Caspar’s mom at his flat — and it’s a grim sight indeed. She’s been partially incinerated by the aliens. Caspar lets Jamila in on a little more of his particular madness. Turns out he’s been drawing this invasion for years. Every time his epilepsy comes on, he sees visions of the aliens. So if he can get someone to safely induce a seizure, maybe he can see more of their plan and find a way to stop them. Now all he needs is an escort to the hospital.
I saw them!
The phone call between Trevante and his wife is probably the best moment actor Shamier Anderson has had in the whole series. The show finally lets him exhale and be a regular guy instead of a tensed-up plot device. It also helps that, with him out of Afghanistan, the writers can stop their very misjudged depiction of the place.
The character Trevante has been deliberately trying to keep his emotions in check to survive. And to see him give a tearful apology over an answering machine is exactly the kind of cathartic break this storyline needed. He finally feels like a part of the main narrative, and not just because Jamila and Caspar find him and show him Caspar’s drawings in exchange for safe passage to the hospital.
It’s a hair tidy, I think, for both Luke (Azhy Robertson) and Caspar to have special divination powers vis-à-vis the aliens. The scrap iron Luke carries is perhaps permissible, because it’s a true coincidence and a show can support one of those. (We still don’t know where the hell he got it from eight episodes in.)
Is this a superpower?
That Caspar is shaping up to be one of show-runner Simon Kinberg’s X-Men is way less interesting. I think people are gonna have some interesting things to say about how his epilepsy makes him a superhero, judging by the reaction to Shane Black’s The Predator trying the same tactic with autism. I get why they’d do this, to try and make something that is seen as a hindrance feel more like a gift. But I’m not sold. It just feels like a very convenient writer’s hack more than a deeply felt look at disability.
Farahani and Bean’s debriefing was pretty terrific, but again I have to wonder why the show keeps giving her sixes to deal with when she’s a 10. Feels sexist. (I’m kidding … kinda). Aneesha’s storyline has been one of trying to reclaim her womanhood in the middle of the worst crisis of her life (of everyone’s life, really) by doing her best as a mom for her kids, but also by getting over the cheating husband who threw off her equilibrium. We’ll see how far she chooses to chase this affair with Dr. Barton, but in theory I like it.
Watch Invasion on Apple TV+
New episodes of Invasion arrive on Apple TV+ on Fridays.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the director of 25 feature films, and the author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.