Friday, January 20, 2006

TV REVIEW: Invasion: "Power"

I think there's a big, green pod growing somewhere in Invasion's collective basement. The molasses-slow, short-on-information ABC series I've been watching with interest (and occasional irritation...) for a few months now has been "snatched" away all the sudden and replaced by a compelling, funny, rich - and fast moving drama. In fact, Wednesday's episode of Invasion was far superior to its lead-in (another Jack-centric, flashback-heavy episode of Lost).

I hope audiences are still watching...

The appropriately titled "Power" deals with Sheriff Tom Underlay's power play to get his wife back. He's taken the kids (Kira, Jessie and Rose) on vacation to a remote cabin, but as far as Mariel and Russell are concerned, it's an abduction. While these former spouses try to figure things out, the Underlay house is plagued with mysterious phone calls. "You betrayed me," the caller says at one point. "You poisoned my house," he says later. Then Russell confronts hooded prowlers...who may just be Tom's minions on the police force. Creepy.

By the end of the day, Mariel has reconciled with Tom, but the cost is her children. She grants temporary custody to Russell, an act that devastates her, but protects the kids.

This episode is so good and so strong in character fireworks, I almost don't know where to begin. Russell and Mariel are clearly feeling drawn to each other again, and they almost kiss a second time in "Power." Their attraction to one another is now palpable, and I wonder where this is going to go. The expecting Larkin is now highly suspicious of Russell, and thinks his affections have been alienated (literally). Meanwhile, Tom - singing a hybrid Karoake version of Frank Sinatra's My Way - orchestrates everything from afar like the puppet master he is. Yes, he's a fan of Sun Tzu, which means that this is all part of his strategy. And in the end, the bad guy wins.

Amazingly, some of Tom's strategy is actually being revealed. This is a new thing for Invasion, which has depended on misdirection and miscues for a while now. In the closing minutes of "Power," we see that Tom is shipping firearms to castaway hybrids inhabiting a key 122 miles from Miami. Oh yeah, the invasion is coming...

But what I really enjoyed most about this installment of Invasion is that for the first time, the writer (in this case, creator Shaun Cassidy) appears to let himself have a bit of fun with the premise and the characters. The protagonists aren't so lugubrious in this installment, and there are jokes about The Shining (a tale of another father gone bonkers...), about the aliens "eating their young," and the like. And then there's Tom's Karoake duet with Rose, a song that clearly has a double thematic meaning. Perhaps more to the point, there's significant suspense generated here, as the audience wonders what Tom is hiding in the duffle bag (in two duffle bags, actually).

This episode moves along at a fast clip, evidences a droll sense of with and humor, and even has a jolt or two. If Invasion had been this good from the beginning, it would have Lost-sized ratings right now.


  1. Out of curiosity, John, did you just give up on your Star Wars blogging? I've been waiting to read your take on Sith ...

  2. The short answer to your question: I'm lame.

    I enjoyed Revenge of the Sith the most of all the Star Wars films, actually, and now I have anticipatory anxiety about writing the essay. I'm afraid I won't do it justice.