WARNING: This review covers the first three episodes of Invasion, now available on Apple TV+. Spoilers may be discussed, although we have tried to avoid them as best as possible.
Invasion has the misfortune of being created by Simon Kinberg (Dark Phoenix, but also some very good things) and David Weil (Hunters, please don’t get me started, and Solos). Does it show? Kind of, yeah. There are plotting issues, focus issues, outright wasting of perfectly good characters and actors, a whole lot of unnecessary melodrama, and a lack of interest in the aliens that are invading themselves in the first three episodes, which Apple launched all at once. To say the odds were stacked against it, yet another space-focused show, with these two writers-producers at its helm, in an over-saturated market, is an understatement.
Apple is known to an almost comical degree, in my mind, for giving all of its shows second seasons, so I suspect Invasion will follow that trend, whether or not it deserves it. Because you see, Invasion is a beautiful show, full of great cinematography and visual design. But it’s not a particularly profound show, even though it thinks, in this era of Peak TV, it has to be. Isn’t the rule, you might ask, of Peak TV that a show has to have some deeper meaning beyond its premise to distinguish it? Well, actually all TV shows need a “deeper meaning”: a theme, actually.
But Invasion is so obsessed with petty conflicts and its vast range of characters and global settings, that it never quite figures out what it’s about. Is it about the idea that conflict reigns on Earth, to such a degree that we can’t get our stuff together if there was an alien threat? I’m not entirely sure. There’s a lot of High Drama in this show: a marriage disintegrates, a sheriff disappointedly contemplates his retirement, a young woman losing her nearest and dearest…but none of it is actually related to the alien invasion, except maybe the last one.
Y’see, Invasion has lesbians. Which, good for it, representation of lesbians is a nice thing. A wonderful thing.
But could you, please, please, stop causing them needless pain? It’s unclear why the lesbian couple in this show had to be the ones to suffer more than the straight couple whose marriage is collapsing: why couldn’t it be the other way around? Television still has a serious problem with creators highlighting queer folk’s trauma over their joy, and this show is a perfect example.
The sizable cast acquits themselves universally well, doing their best with some pretty intense, if hollow, material. Like I said previously, the visuals in Invasion are stunning. The sound design is good, and although I was disappointed by the alien design, it’s…interesting at least? Invasion is a well-acted, well-designed, if not well-written, domestic drama/thriller hybrid that just happens to be about aliens. That’s neither a good nor bad thing. It’s just what it is.