The plot, in a very broad sense, is right there in the title: There’s an alien invasion afoot, and Apple TV+’s $200 million drama, created by Simon Kinberg (“The Twilight Zone,” “Star Wars Rebels”) and David Weil (“Solos,” “Hunters”), is giving us a global perspective on how that might play out.
The streamer is wisely releasing the first three episodes on premiere day (with the next seven following one per Friday), because “Invasion” is a slow burn early on. Despite revolving around the great Sam Neill, “Last Day,” the first episode, leaves you with more questions than answers, and without the urgency to necessarily make you wait a whole week to get them. The first three installments as a block, though, pay off nicely, because by episode four, even the most sci-fi agnostic will be pulled in by some breakout performances and character development.
Number one on that list is Shamier Anderson (“Wynonna Earp,” “Stowaway”) as an American soldier named Trevante, stationed in Afghanistan. He’s a leader among his fellow troops, but back at home, his relationship with his wife is rocky; both of those inform the incredible lengths he goes to across continents, without full knowledge much of the time about what is actually happening.
Then there’s Billy Barratt (“The Alienist,” “Responsible Child”) as Casper, a bullied British teen with a notebook full of drawings that have a connection, he believes, to the aliens that are quickly creating terror and havoc all across the world.
In the United States, that has led the president to declare martial law, sending housewife (with a medical education she’s about to deploy for the first time) and mom Aneesha (“Extraction” star Golshifteh Farahani) fleeing her Long Island home with her two children and a husband she has just caught in an extramarital affair. It’s an awkward getaway car ride even before Aneesha is forced to unleash her fierce mama badassery on one of the invaders.
Over in Japan, we meet Shiori Kutsuna (“Deadpool 2,” “Murder Mystery”) as Mitsuki, a brilliant member of JASA (the fictional Japanese version of NASA) mission control, whose personal relationship with an astronaut on a just-launched mission compels her obsession with finding a way to communicate with the aliens.
(Oh, about those aliens: their spider-like outward appearance is sufficiently creepy, and then you get a peep at their gooey, multilayered innards. Enough said on that, because the full range of their ability to bring the scary is a visual horror to witness.)
Back to the humans. We meet characters in New York, London, Afghanistan and Japan, each with their own connections to the aliens (Trevante’s comes when he meets up with one of the other would-be heroes). Each also picks up information that might help save this world from succumbing to the otherworldly beings and their definite intention to do harm.
The various plots and the specifics behind them, particularly the one involving Mitsuki, are not to be spoiled here, but are variously murky and convoluted, and will spark – again, even for the least sci-fi knowledgeable among us – memories of all sorts of genre tropes. There are not a lot of surprises to be had toward the end of Kinberg and Weil’s story.
But that doesn’t mean it’s wise to skip out on the conclusion. And maybe don’t think too much about “Invasion” episode titles. They’ll all make clever sense in the end.
“Invasion” premieres October 22 on Apple TV+.