Apple TV’s Invasion is a Thrilling Show About People, Not Aliens | TV/Streaming


Everyone is having the worst week of their lives in this series, their spirits challenged by ruthless conditions. But a special honor of nightmarish scenarios goes to Aneesha, played by Golshifteh Farahani, in a role that proves Farahani should be as big a star as she wants to, given the massive weight she carries in scenes that can be heartbreaking and/or scary throughout “Invasion.” Her family of four is in Long Island when the attack happens, devastating the neighbor’s properties. But before that beat, she learns something equally devastating—her husband and loving father to their two children has been cheating on her with an Instagram foodie model, a projection of the perfection that Aneesha has tried to achieve in her own life decisions, down to how she intricately prepares the kids’ lunches. Even worse, her husband Ahmed (Firas Nassar) is a coward about it, and still remains a coward in jaw-dropping but recognizable ways as the family tries to escape. Aneesha is shell-shocked, again and again by the choices he makes, and we ache for her—which makes it even more powerful when she makes certain desperate choices of her own, to save her family. 

Elsewhere in London, a bus full of teenagers has crashed into a massive quarry, driven off the road after fireballs of *something* attacked them on an otherwise quiet, cloudy day. It’s a total “Lord of the Flies” moment, and it becomes rich enough with the story’s interest in intricate empathy, but this time with the power of school bullies. The kids cannot agree on what to do, but they have a dough-faced tyrant named Monty (Paddy Holland) trying to control the entire situation and intimidate those who get in his way. Casper (Billy Barratt), our hero in part because we’re introduced to him with headphones playing Nirvana’s “Drain You,” has visions of strange things that he doodles after having epileptic seizures, and is the specific target of this sadistic bully. One of Casper’s few supporters is Jamila (India Brown), who is also desperate to get back home, and becomes a necessary mediator among her classmates. 

In Japan, there’s a more immediate connection to what is happening in space, with its focus on two women in the space program. Hinata (Rinko Kikuchi) is an astronaut who has just traveled to the international space station; her partner Mitsuki (Shioli Kutsuna), their relationship a secret to many, sits in mission control and is a wizard with communications. But when Hinata’s feed goes dark, Mitsuki tries to figure out what happened, against the space administration’s desire to cover it up, or to lock her out. This story provides some formidable emotional impact—the only loving couple in the series, and they deal with the societal shame of being two women in love—but it’s more that this thread feels more drawn out than others, with repeated notes of Mitsuki going against her bosses, trying to understand what happened, and later wondering what contact can still be made. 

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