In this world of instant gratification, in which millions of us spend less than 90 seconds watching a video on our cellphone before moving on to another, it is to be expected that a series with a classic, thoughtful approach, in which various nuances of the characters allow a complex relationship with the viewer to develop has received criticism for being slow or boring. However, anyone who makes some time for Invasion will see all its virtues. The Apple TV+ series is available weekly on Wednesdays (we’re already on the third episode of the second season), and although it is about the arrival of aliens on Earth, it treads carefully and avoids the risks and excesses of the genre.
From the first episode, the viewer follows several groups of people who experience in different ways what at first they do not understand very well: a group of students on the outskirts of London, some American soldiers in Afghanistan, a love story in the Japanese space agency and another of heartbreak and disenchantment in a New York suburb. The formula is old, but it works if it is done well: who wouldn’t stay with them, in their pain, in their way of seeking survival in a new world if we knew and loved or hated them before the disaster? The narrative flows in such a way that, when some of these stories intersect, they do so completely organically, in a way that is plausible despite everything. And the cast is always on point.
Here are several notes on the series, which knows how to reflect without indoctrinating. On the one hand, all the main characters discover in one way or another that only by understanding themselves will they be able to know and defeat the alien enemy. On the other hand, it is remarkable the skill with which fear is talked about, with which it is emphasized, without saying so. It subtly addresses the moral conflict that appears so rarely in ordinary life: how far would you be willing to go to protect your own and your loved ones’ life? The series also knows how to be excessive. There is the magnetism of the young man who suffers from epilepsy and comes to understand the external enemy through communication with it while in a trance. Or the soldier calling from a deserted London to an empty house somewhere in the United States and talking to the answering machine after crossing half the world only to be stranded anyway. Pure Bradbury.
Any action? Of course there is, in small scenes and also in big ones, and the latter, when it comes (from the sixth episode onwards, impeccably structured) it is classic sci-fi. It is well shot, the pace, the photography, and the locations are perfectly done. The creators (Simon Kinberg and David Weil) come from a tradition that knows how to play with spectacle, and it shows.
The risk, after a first season that opened and closed so well, was evident. There were almost no loose ends from all 10 episodes. The second season raises the stakes: each of the characters is still looking for their own way to save the world, while the rest of the world is in open war against the invaders (somewhat disgusting, interconnected machines, by the way). But it also has the ability and the courage to include what seems procedural (a woman searching for the missing in a town at the epicenter of the disaster) in a plot that becomes somewhat conspiratorial but without losing its meaning.
Invasion is, at least, Apple’s fourth successful sci-fi venture, acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, along with Foundation, Silo, and For all mankind. Caspar, Mitsuki, Trevante, and David Bowie. It is not a clue or a riddle: they are just four key names. The rest, you will have to discover for yourself.
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