You may have been one of millions of viewers who found the first season of Invasion to be both captivating and frustrating. The sci-fi series about an alien invasion on Earth felt sci-fi, even though a bona fide alien only appeared in handful of intense scenes — not counting those mysterious spores, of course. Each week, an aching, unsettling feeling permeated the screen as various characters around the world attempted to understand what was occurring and how to deal with the sudden alien invasion and its potential threat to humanity. It was all a guessing game in season one.
Not so, this time around. Events pick up four months after last season and the aliens are all around. In fact, fan favorite, Mitsuki (Shioli Kutsuna) is among the fearful masses running through the streets as the creepy aliens attack and kill humans. Mitsuki is clever, however, and has found a way — at least temporarily — to fend off the aliens. She’d be fine being in this war zone, but she’s soon being whisked off in a helicopter and taken to high-tech lair to assist a team of scientists and government officials in finding a viable way to fight the aliens.
Being on the offense is a main theme in season two. No longer are the diverse characters here willing to sit back and wonder what will happen to them. Everybody, and everything for that matter, is in attack mode, which makes for great viewing. To that end, this show has reinvented itself. Truth is, it smacks of a fabulous menage a trois between The Quiet Place, Stranger Things, and The Last of Us. It’s yet another achievement for Oscar- and Emmy-nominated producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men and Deadpool films) and David Weil (Citadel), too, and Alik Sakharov’s (Ozark, House of Cards, The Sopranos) direction is as sharp as ever. Let’s unpack the rest.
New Direction, New Characters, New Show
Season two of Invasion consists of 10 episodes. Season one tracked various characters in different locals around the world. Those characters return and fighting for their lives now. Alik Sakharov captures the intensity from the get-go in episode one, showcasing a violent alien attack on humans. The episodes that follow pull back from that gruesome opener and to explore what has become of the characters we’ve come to know and love, with each episode alternative between various groups of people.
There’s Mitsuki helping the World Defense Coalition (WDC), being vetted at the Alien Research Facility, forced to lend a hand in a mission to understand the sentient intelligence. The officials want answers and her previous scientific work, not to mention her unique intuition, has proven to be successful in the past. Mitsuki’s connection with a mysteriously fluid, creatively designed alien form might offer some clues as to how to combat the overall alien threat. These scenes are fascinating to watch and filled with eye-catching special effects designed to take viewers minds off some of the familiar sci-fi tropes we experience elsewhere this season.
Meanwhile, there’s also Aneesha (Golshifteh Farahani), who is on the road with her two children. They snag gasoline and steal food, and after a grim encounter with the military, somehow find hope in a band of rebels hoping to discover more solutions than the government is offering. Enver Gjoka (NCIS: Hawaii, Resident Alien) is a nice new addition here as Clark, a potential ally for Aneesha and her kids.
The Tweens and Teens of Invasion
As for those intrepid tweens, the ones who survived that bus accident last season have embarked on their own adventure. Jamila (India Brown) insists Caspar (Billy Barratt) is calling to her on some ethereal level, a surprise considering Caspar was believed to be dead at the end of the season one, something that still plagues Trevante (Shamier Anderson), who has returned to his Miami home and battling PTSD.
Our favorite teens, however — Monty (Paddy Holland), Alfie (Cache Vanderpuye), Jamila2, and others — attempt to head to Paris from London and sorta-kinda “save the world,” or at least Monty’s parents, only to be confronted with obstacles and yes, aliens, along the way. Whenever this posse is featured, it’s challenging not to draw comparisons to Stranger Things, as the “affect” and kinds of reactions tweens have — or we’re led to believe they have — feel eerily similar to scenes in the other series. Still, kudos to Brown and Holland for grounding these moments as best as the scripts allow. Monty’s character, in fact, has a nice transformation this go-around.
About Those Aliens
What a curious turn season two takes by offering us hundreds of aliens to feast our eyes upon. There was only really one alien in season one as military man Trevante tried to protect Caspar, with whom the aliens seemed to hold a mysterious connection. The showrunners and VFX crew go all out this time.
Between their obsidian tone and shape-shifting, stretchy-spike-ball appearance, these aliens are unlike others we’ve experienced on screen. Crawling around on their spider-like legs, which apparently can emerge from any part of their body, these creatures are fierce, fast-moving, and really get off on piercing humans using their sharp extremities. The alien encounters generate tension and suspense, but it’s here that the series tends to become an entirely new kind of show than we experienced in season one.
There was a bit more intrigue and curiosity in the first season. This time around, the confrontation and survival scenes cull from sci-fi films and TV shows we’ve experienced before. It doesn’t chip away at the overall creative vibe of the show, however. This is still one of the most inventive sci-fi series on right now.
Mitsuki Is the Heart of Invasion
What stands out in season two is the degree to which the showrunners raise the stakes and place the characters in more dangerous chaotic settings. As Mitsuki, Shioli Kutsuna continues to stand out as one of this show’s most intriguing characters, much like Billy Barratt did as Caspar in season one, and to some degree here again. Mitsuki is the heart of the show. She carries tremendous guilt for helping destroy the alien ship in season one. She also lost her girlfriend Hinata, and it’s interesting to see how the writers address that this season again. The scenes involving Aneesha and Clark are captured well by Farahani and Gjoka, which suggests each of them will head into new emotional territory as the series plays on.
Like another dystopian Apple TV+ hit, Silo, Invasion does a stellar job at world-building. Season two may have needed some of those extra sci-fi tropes to remain true to the tone and where the showrunners want to take audiences, but overall, it’s the characters in this series and the way Invasion is executed that allow it to soar. If it hasn’t become your addictive pleasure yet, it’s bound to lure you in with season two.
Season two of Invasion premieres Wednesday, Aug. 23, on Apple TV+. New episodes play every Wednesday.