Thursday, May 18, 2006

Invasion - The finale

Wednesday night was the season finale (and probably last episode ever) of Invasion. Inavsion met mixed reviews and ratings, and now ends with a cliffhanger unlikely to be resolved.

I personally liked Invasion. It was slow and melodramatic at times and clearly took inspiration from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and X-files, but did add unique twists and surprises to an old formula as the town of Homestead, Florida is infiltrated by alien "hybrids" following a hurricane.

Some aspects of Invasion may reflect the cultural climate in post 9/11 and post Hurricane Katrina world (although I believe most of the season was filmed before Katrina made landfall.)

One aspect that I've written about before is how one character, Dave Groves, is a blogger. On Invasion, there are no plucky scientists or FBI agents to unravel mysteries. The person seeking out the truth is an overweight 30-something former apartment manager who writes a blog from a local coffee house. He even does podcasts.

Dave is humored at first as the local goofball who sees conspiracies and extraterrestrial critters hiding behind every palm tree. By the end of the show it is clear he was right all along. Dave never trusts the explanations from local authorities or media. Like many real life bloggers and webmasters, he takes it as a given he is being lied too. If he wants the truth that is out there, he will have to do his own reporting. In the final episodes, Dave was videotaping a documentary about the events in Homestead.

Another character, Larkin Groves, is a TV reporter, a member of the mainstream media. She discovers her local TV station is less than supportive as she seeks out story behind strange happenings in Homestead. It is remarkable that a network TV show would use skepticism and distrust of the media as such a prominent plot point.

In the world of Invasion, the human inhabitants of Homestead have to cope with their neighbors and friends becoming hybrids. The alien takeover divides families. Tension grows in the town as people take sides and form alliances based on their biology.

In 1950s sci-fi, all humans are united to fight slimy alien invaders from taking over the planet. Now the lines blur as people are absorbed by aliens, yet retain their human form and memories. The aliens themselves are divided on how to proceed, facing their own moral choice of learning to co-exist with the humans, or to conquer everyone and convert them.

The most chilling aspect of Invasion is the powerlessness and silence of the goverment. Again, it is strange to see this in a mainstream TV show.

In old 50s movies, such as Invaders from Mars and War of the Worlds, the military defends citizens against the martians and their death rays. In later films like Close Encounters and The X-files, the government covers up the presence of aliens to keep a fragile civilian population from panic, or to forward a shadowy secret agenda.

On Invasion, the goverment knows there are aliens and hides the truth, but even they cannot stop the hybrids from plotting and taking action. The military is unaware how much of their power has been compromised by the the aliens. The leader of a hybrid army is a former secret agent, following his own agenda like an alien Mr. Kurtz. The town sheriff is a hybrid, who finds his loyalty torn between his family and his new species.

Only at the last minute does the military defend the public against attack, and then it is because a private citizen (Dave the blogger again) sounds the alarm.

Invasion ends with a tragedy, and the sense that the alien conspiracy is now out in the open. The X-files teased us with the possiblity of an alien conspiracy going public, but ended most episodes with the truth buried yet again, letting the world go about its business. The end of Invasion leaves the impression that the secret is out and a traumatic conflict is to follow.

Unfortunately, we will probably never find out what really happened. We will have to imagine it. Like Dave the blogger, we are on our own now.

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