“The King Is Dead” continues to present little in the way of actual invasion and plenty in the way of tedious filler.
This recap of Invasion season 1, episode 4, “The King Is Dead”, contains spoilers.
Depicting an alien invasion from the varied perspectives of ordinary people the world over isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard. The conceit of detailing how the minute preliminary weirdnesses of such a thing would inevitably cause all kinds of mundane problems and diversions for those people isn’t a bad one, necessarily. But the problem with Invasion, which crystallizes here with “The King Is Dead”, is that it’s far too pleased with itself about this idea. It thinks so highly of its global cosmopolitan ensemble and its patient pace that it’s forgetting to include any actual, meaningful drama. And it’s forgetting to include an invasion.
Invasion season 1, episode 4 recap
Again, this isn’t the worst thing in the world. There are no rules that state genre television has to proceed a certain way and include certain things by particular points in the narrative, but it’s usually a good idea not to ignore the guidelines entirely, especially when your show was explicitly marketed in a particular way. Invasion feels like an exercise in suckering an audience, baiting them with one thing, and then making them wade through hours of torpid character drama just to get it. Are we even going to get it? Good question. I have screeners of every episode and haven’t been able to bring myself to watch them, so thoroughly uninterested am I in the show’s present form.
There’s every chance all this will end up moot, that Invasion will develop in such an interesting and exciting new direction that all these early criticisms will seem silly, but if I was a betting man, I wouldn’t put any money on that. You can break down most of what happens in “The King Is Dead” in a couple of bullet points – Casper takes charge, Ahmed was putting it about, etc. – which is disappointing for a full hour of television. The whole Lord of the Flies-style deal with Casper and the kids amounts to climbing out of a hole and discovering the Russian satellite debris. Of course, there’s also the fact that Casper has a connection to the extra-terrestrials and has been drawing scarily accurate prognostications in his sketchbook based on his visions, but that’s pretty standard genre stuff.
Everything involving Aneesha – she discovers Ahmed impregnated his lover, Amanda, and the resultant argument causes friction for everyone – and Ward – he tries to track down Chavez based on his emergency locator beacon – feels pretty pointless, in all honesty. There’s at least a bit more meat on the bones of Mitsuki’s subplot. She visits Murai’s father, Ikuro, a former radio engineer at JASA who hadn’t spoken to his daughter for several years. Mitsuki’s assumption that this was due to Murai’s sexuality is neatly subverted when it turns out that Ikuro just wanted her to live her truth openly. This all ties into the wider plot, as the recording of Murai’s final moments, when turned up to a particular frequency, has a tangible effect. The bigger the speakers, the bigger the potential effect, so there’s some movement in the right direction when it comes to actually dealing with the alien invasion aspect of this alien invasion show.
But will anyone have stuck around long enough for this to matter? How much of Invasion’s core audience have tolerated two weeks and four hours of it dragging its feet? Difficult to say. We’ll have to wait and see how it all progresses.