In the wake of the news that Apple TV+ have renewed Invasion for a second season, showrunner Simon Kinberg talks a good game about what he plans to do with the show:
[…] there's a lot I want to explore with the aliens in subsequent seasons. I mean, there's not a ton of alien information. There's a lot of mystery and suspense, I suppose, in Season 1. And I think in subsequent seasons, you want to pay off that mystery, build more mystery, but start to really get a sense of the aliens as characters? What do they want? What are they doing here? How do we actually stop them? And that is fodder for some really interesting storytelling, again, filtered through the lens of really emotional characters, dealing with complex psychological stuff. Whether it's guilt, or it's love, or it's remorse, or it's anger or escape, whatever it is, I think the alien story for me is always going to be told through the filter of our characters.
The thing is, part of me wants to respect the show for sticking to a humans-only perspective on an alien invasion, especially when telling that story in a medium which all too frequently substitutes spectacle for exploration of how these extraordinary events affect ordinary people faced with extraordinary challenges.1 The thing is, though, the first season of Invasion worked spectacularly poorly on so many levels.
Full marks for not solely showing us the impact of the invasion on red-state American civilians,2 but the array of characters we followed over the ten episodes of the first season didn't really get to develop all that much, and - with the exception of the Japanese Space Agency techie whose lover was apparently lost in space once the encounter developed - didn't know much about how the wider alien encounter was going. We basically got to follow round a bunch of characters who were, at best, on the periphery of what was going on and stumbled along from episode to episode in the wake of the impending collapse of human civilisation. Beyond the basic empathy for any human finding themselves living through such an experience, I don't think the series really had us engaged with the story they were being used to tell.
Most of all, I'm unconvinced that continuing that approach will bring us any of the things Simon Kinberg is suggesting in his talk of season 2 and beyond. Will we switch to an entirely different, and much better-informed, set of characters in season 2?
- Contemplate The Tomorrow War for a good recent example of how poorly that can go. ↩
- Once we got beyond Sam Neill's retiring Oklahoman sheriff's appearance in the first episode. ↩