Monday, October 13, 2014

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 8: It Never Ends

Flashback opener – New York, 1931 with Bix and Rose in a club, enjoying the music, playing music – and Bix drinking heavily. Cut to later with him dying and Rose grabbing the mouth piece to his trumpet and having the dying Bix focus on it – creating a trigger to bring him back in a future life.

To the present and Jack, having watched Gary jump of the roof and now called the emergency services, now enters the Reverti building, gun drawn. Inside he finds Todd, bleeding to death after Madison/Marcus slashed open his leg. He ties up Todd’s leg and Todd tells him where the secret passage is into the basement.

That’s two people who need emergency help Jack has just left behind.

He walks through the dark, underground corridors and rooms, stalked by Marcus/Madison. It’s the kind of horror scene we’ve seen a lot before – but rarely with a 10 year old girl as the menacing stalker. Jack overhears two men (Shepherds?) planning to kill Richard at Rose’s orders.

Detective Ron is still trying to help Madison’s parents find Madison – but instead has found Todd’s daughter, Meadow. She’s terrified of Madison, but the parents are far too distraught to notice. The emergency services call Jack made, though, is connected by Ron to the address where Meadow said her dad was stabbed.

In the tunnels, Madison/Marcus has flashbacks to Marcus’s last life – when Rose (wait, Rose who looks like Amy? Would Rose have been in Amy’s body then?) had Marcus walled up, alive; apparently part of the process of ensuring he’ll never come back. After being walled up, Richard Shepherd pulls out of a brick and shows him the cracker (way back at the beginning of the series, this is the Trigger he used to bring Marcus back) before re-bricking him up and agreeing to see him in 18 years.

Jack finds a library full of the journal books the Reverti seem to use to return to life or get their bearings or just to record their lives (it hasn’t been clearly explained). Several of them have the names of famous people attached. He also finds a huge archive of Triggers and starts destroying them. He only stops when he hears Madison/Marcus hammering on the brick wall where he was entombed.

Jack sneaks up behind her and takes the hammer and almost gets slashed in the leg for it. Marcus/Madison decides to try and recruit Jack since they both hate Rose. Lots of exposition of who Madison is (Marcus says Madison is gone) and how Marcus was buried alive by Rose. Madison/Marcus points to where Marcus’s old body is and challenges Jack to check – to confirm that it’s all true. And when it’s confirmed, she expects Jack to help her kill Rose.

Jack breaks down the wall – behind which is Marcus’s body. Marcus/Madison wants to set off to murder but Jack insists she’s a 9 year old girl and needs to stay put. Oh Jack, you kind of deserved getting your arm slashed there. Having cut Jack, Madison/Marcus runs off

Jack continues to explore alone and finds a gang of Reverti doing one of their ceremonies with a wrapped mummy – tying him into quite an uncomfortable position in order to store the body in their crypt. Amy/Rose is among them. Jack decides to spread more chaos – and set fire to the library of journals (thereby earning him the undying hatred of every historian who ever lived). No-one seems to have invested in fireproofing and the journals go up awfully quickly.

Richard and another Shepherd smell smoke and investigate - Richard runs to warn the others who evacuate the building. Jack tracks down Rose/Amy and announces he is “taking her home where she belongs”. Rose is very unimpressed by that statement (I doubt Amy would be thrilled).

Madison arrives with a knife, Richard has 2 guns, Jack has a gun and absolutely no-one ends up dead. A highly conflicted Richard suggests they all leave before actually burning. Rose and Richard leave together –Richard firing at Jack when he tries to follow.

Detective Ron and the emergency services arrive at the building, getting Todd in an ambulance and he examine’s Gary’s body and finds the package he had strapped to him – before noticing the fire and calling the fire department.

Everyone escapes the burning building – and Madison/Marcus is spotted by her frantic mother – her calling seems to trigger the real Madison to come back. Madison runs to her as Rose and Richard leave – Rose tells Richard to “end it” and he fires at Madison – as Jack appears from the other direction, shouting a warning and firing back.

Richard and Rose escape in a Reverti vehicle but Madison is injured and not breathing – paramedics rush to perform CPR.

Dreamstate! On a beach Marcus talks to Madison – telling her the only way a body can shed one of its souls is at the moment of death. Marcus is sure it will be him – Madison isn’t impressed, nor is she impressed that Marcus wasted his immortality and many lifetimes on killing and not learning and she’s sure a kid wanting to be with her parents is far more powerful than him. “What goes around, stays right here.” This Madison is goooood.

Madison wakes up – and it’s Madison.

In a hotel room, Richard patches up Amy/Rose and explains why he resurrected Marcus – for the money to care for his brother and so he and Amy could run away together. She’s more focused on Bix – who has disappeared.

Jack is taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and is met by Detective Ron with Gary’s notes. Jack tries to dismiss Gary as “crazy” (wow Jack, Gary died to get that information into official hands and now you’re actively refuting them? If you don’t want to be involved, claim ignorance but don’t actively fight his efforts) but when he asks to see Madison, Ron is putting 2 and 2 together, especially since Madison said a man took her over and Jack previously said Marcus possessed her. Jack claims Marcus’s body is in the basement (true, technically), but the fire destroyed it. Jack even refutes that Amy is his wife.

Jack checks on Madison who assures him that Marcus is gone, but as he leaves a kid in a wheelchair threatens revenge – using the same words as the man Jack killed in his often-referred-to back story.

Jack goes home and decides to leave Gary’s family a message I’m sure he thinks is reassuring but comes across as very very very creepy indeed. He cleans up his house and gets a visit from Richard. Jack thinks he’s there to kill someone but Richard points out that Shepherds don’t kill – they just silence them for a little while (since the whole Reverti ideal is that death doesn’t exist). This is something he expects Jack to learn –because he seems to be offering Jack a job as a Shepherd. This is spun as a last minute explanation for why they didn’t kill Jack: he gets a business card with “Jack Shepherd” written on it.

So that is the end of the first season of Intruders and, sadly, I didn’t like it much. That’s unfortunate because the concept was excellent, the concept had huge potential – but I don’t think it came close to realising it

The storyline felt very incoherent to me. We also had a lot of orphan threads hanging around without much explanation: Why did Richard kill the random Chinese people? Why did we keep having Jack’s back story thrown at us? The whole Armstrong murders that started the series didn’t seem to lead to anything even remotely coherent or relevant to anything else – even his machine that could see ghosts didn’t seem to actually do much in the way of connections to the Reverti. We followed some conspiracy theorists around for an inordinate amount of time and that just… fizzled out. Did they get bored? Why did Richard even kill one? What about the opening scene from the pilot, we belatedly hear later that it’s somehow connected to Gary’s plot, but since Gary himself didn’t actually have a plot except to generally fall apart into teeny-tiny pieces while Jack did stuff, that’s hardly relevant.

While that’s going on we also have multiple long scenes of people staring into space or flashbacking or walking around pensively to try and set the theme and the mood but generally taking a lot of time out of an 8 episode season – a season which didn’t seem to start in any real fashion until the 5th episode.

Then there’s the characterisation – as I complained about before, there’s been very little attempt to allow me to connect to any character, most of them have been too briefly available. There’s only really been Jack – who is singularly unlikeable, spends most of his “characterisation” being drunk, breaking things or breaking things while being drunk or moping while drunk. His central obsession is Amy, but even that comes off as highly creepy given his aggression, lack of control, violence and the fact that Amy may not even want him back even if she were Rose (it’s hard to infer anything about Amy because we never get any real sense of her point of view, but the fact that Richard had a long term relationship with her and was stashing money to run away with her at least suggests a possibility that she wasn’t that invested in Jack). Even at the end, Jack’s burning stuff feels like a temper tantrum of a spoiled, even abusive man determined the drag his wife home whether she wants it or not, willing to kill, fight and break her things until she comes home.

Even his involvement in the plot was forced by Rose constantly taunting him and dragging him in – I know that’s belatedly explained at the very last second with the implication it was all a recruitment effort – but even that makes little sense. What qualifications does Jack have of being a Shepherd? Sure, he doesn’t have many limits – but he’s also highly impulsive, emotionally unstable, unwilling to listen to any kind of reason and prone to acts of random destruction – I can’t imagine a subtle organisation like the Reverti would want Jack around, or sacrifice their library for the sake of recruiting him.

No other character was developed. Sure, Madison’s acting was incredible and the concept novel, but once we got past the shock of a 9 year old doing/saying such terrible things she was just that – a person doing terrible things for pretty much shits and giggles. There was no story or character to either Marcus or Madison.

Richard got some very belated characterisation in the last 2 episodes – but it was too little too late. Again, some excellent acting but there’s nothing to build on.

Rose, some kind of leader of the Reverti, got nothing. She loved Bix, that’s all we know about her, that’s all she’s shown as, the only thing we’re supposed to base a personality on and, since she and Madison are the only female characters, that’s pretty poor. Throw in more minority lacking – we have some random background people (largely killed), Gary appeared, handed some plot hooks to Jack then fell apart before finally dying – no characterisation there, not even any particular depth to his family struggles (we never even meet his family). And Bix (a White man) has possessed an Asian man, so his body is now the fixation of Rose’s attentions – he appears briefly. There are no LGBT people.

Poor pacing, poor characterisation – and just very little exploration of this excellent concept. How can we have these Reverti with all their past lives and experiences and none of them ACTING like it. The closest we got was Rose explaining each trigger – why aren’t the Reverti wonderful, complex constructs of times and cultures and experiences? Why do we not see more of their organisation, the process, the reason for these little diaries, why they’re actually mummifying people? There was more than enough information to include in the series and it just wasn’t there.