“First Day” spends its entire runtime teasing a potential second season — but does anybody really want to see that?
This recap of Invasion season 1, episode 10, “First Day”, contains spoilers, as well as a discussion of Invasion’s ending.
Since it began, Apple TV+’s Invasion has felt like a colossal waste of time, talent, and resources, the kind of well-intentioned but inexplicable misfire that makes you wonder how nobody involved in the process thought to point out how boring it all was. And yet, having said that, it has nonetheless been fun to pick at and speculate over each week. There was that one good episode that everyone liked. There was a chance, however slim, that the finale would turn things around somehow, make the journey worth the destination, and the penultimate installment certainly felt like it was setting up a big denouement. “First Day” was this bizarre, ambitious, but ultimately disappointing show’s chance to redeem itself.
Invasion season 1, episode 10 recap
Last week, I was so determined to convince myself and perhaps some readers that all wasn’t lost that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I didn’t make the obvious connection that the great flashes of light glimpsed in the sky at the end of that episode were the alien ships being destroyed by the Japanese nuclear strike — several commenters pointed this out, of course, and it was a kick-yourself moment, but I’d been hoping that a show called Invasion, about an alien invasion, wouldn’t unceremoniously kill off its attacking threat in the penultimate episode without having really explored anything about them. Yet, “First Day” opens with a radio broadcast claiming the extra-terrestrials have been destroyed, with Japan taking credit for Earth’s salvation. The invasion is over before it even really began.
Another thing I didn’t notice straight away is that the premiere of Invasion was titled “Last Day”. The implication is clear. The show began on the last day of normality; the last day before a world-changing event that would ultimately alter the course of human history, and it will end on the first day in the wake of that event, the first day of post-alien life. Thus, we return to the focal characters and find them changed. Casper is braindead, and Trevante is furious about it. Ahmed is dead, though admittedly through no fault of the aliens, but Aneesha nonetheless has to explain to Luke and Sarah that their father has been taken away by a bad man — the kind of bad man, though she doesn’t say this aloud, that was there on both the last day and the first and will persist through the second, third, and fourth, and indeed indefinitely, bad men being a fixture of humanity since we crawled out of the primordial soup. Mitsuki goes to Hinata’s place and tears the David Bowie picture from her wall. Despite the poster’s claim, no man, or indeed woman, fell to Earth.
This hook of pre-and-post-invasion would have worked better had we seen more of the actual invasion in the first place. But we have spent so much time rooted in the perspectives of people who didn’t see any of the aliens at all, only glimpsed them, or stumbled into the carnage left in their wake long after they had departed, that nothing feels especially different. And that’s frustrating because it’s easy to see how all of this could be much more emotionally resonant had the effort been made in the build-up. We never really got much sense of Mitsuki and Hinata’s relationship, so her following Hinata’s compass needle north, as Mr. Murai explained a scene or two earlier she used to do as a child, doesn’t mean much to us. The show has been deliberately cagey about Trevante’s backstory and his son’s death, and when he did share details, it was with Casper, so when he begins talking about it to Jamila the dots don’t quite connect. We never really saw Japan or London under siege, so there’s no juxtaposition between fleeing, terrified citizens, and the revelers who dance through the streets, cheering and beating the alien corpses with cricket bats. First day, last — what’s the difference, really?
There are some decent ideas here, but none the show seems all that interested in exploring. Aneesha keeps the kids isolated, insistent that they cannot return to civilization despite the televised revelry, since they’re not safe from other people. Luke undermines this potentially fruitful idea — a family of color being targeted and shot at by white militiamen during a literal alien invasion — by being deeply, irritatingly unreasonable. Mitsuki meets a lapsed monk whose beliefs have been challenged by the invasion, and has now turned to beer and weed in the absence of true answers; through him, Mitsuki continues to grieve but also learns to believe in the power of memory as a way to preserve Hinata and their love. And Trevante, while trying to secure a transport home, is given some scant details of the alien threat — how each individual was seemingly identical to another, coded in the same way, and that perhaps terraforming using the black goo was their ultimate intention. Trev closes the laptop he’s being shown evidence of this on, apparently uninterested.
When I say nothing really happens in “First Day”, it sounds like hyperbole. The episode’s an hour long. But it really feels that way, like there’s so little of consequence actually going on on-screen that there might as well be nothing at all. Soldiers in hazmat suits entering one of the alien vessels, which has crashed in the Brazilian rainforest, amounts to nothing. It’s all in service of a tease, really. As we amble towards the end of the episode, Luke’s magic rock starts glowing, Mitsuki patches into the satellite and picks something up, Trev looks through Casper’s sketchbook and sees he scribbled the kanji for Hoshi, meaning star, and Casper himself, pronounced dead hours later, begins to dream of Mr. Murai giving him Hinata’s compass. The final shot of Invasion, after lingering on the terrified eyes of Aneesha and Trevante, is of a giant alien craft in the sky, the extra-terrestrials not being quite as done with Earth as we were led to believe. That might mean a second season. But does anyone really want to see that?
You can stream Invasion season 1, episode 10, “First Day”, exclusively on Apple TV+. Do you have any thoughts about Invasion’s ending? Let us know in the comments.