The following contains spoilers for Invasion S1E9, “Full of Stars”
There is no such thing as a neutral, or disinterested, critical point of view. We can only approach things from our own perspectives, perhaps allow those perspectives to be broadened and pushed, aiming to comprehend or empathize with as many points of view as we can, to read things as charitably as possible in search of the way of thinking that is most fruitful and most interesting.
It’s with all of that in mind that I say that Invasion S1E9, “Full of Stars,” is objectively bad. The narrative is messy, the tone is muddled, and the characters have become cariactures of themselves. The sound design remains excellent, but even that doesn’t feel right when what it’s punctuating is so cheesy.
The best I can say is that certain moments in S1E9 are enjoyable as camp, as when Casper stares down an alien in the hallway of the hospital, or Trev continues to fire his gun at it and laments when he runs out of bullets, even though bullets have absolutely no effect on it at all.
There is something deeply human in that, but it’s not the kind of thing that makes you root for the species so much as bemoan how terribly bone-headed we can be.
That’s something of a running theme in Invasion S1E9, actually, as the American commander insists on nuking the coordinates Mitsuki found, with no knowledge of whether it will work, and some random guys with guns attack the transport the Maliks are on in a move I actually struggled to understand at all for most of the episode, until I realized it was just their small-minded egoism leading them to desire the shard of metal that’s been shown to be able to kill the aliens.
It’s increasingly frustrating that we don’t know where that shard of metal came from, by the way. If Invasion had followed a different path this might have felt like an intriguing mystery, but as it stands it doesn’t any more than any of the other questions S1E9 insists on leaving unanswered.
Why does Hinata say ‘wajo’? I can no longer really say I care.
Invasion has a mess tonally, such that everything that doesn’t feel boring feels cheesy. One might briefly laugh at how stupid the alien looks—kind of like a Koosh ball missing most of its spines—or the terrible dialogue, but it won’t stay quite bad enough to be enjoyed in that way either, as there is just enough of the style the season began with lingering to remind you of a time when these characters almost seemed like real people with rich inner lives and motivations you could empathize with.
The worst sin, though, is that Invasion S1E9 made me roll my eyes at a David Bowie song. Of course it’s the most on the nose song they could have possibly picked, which didn’t help, but I’ve frankly never enjoyed “Space Oddity” less than I did here. It felt like disrespecting the dead.
The big question in Invasion S1E9 is whether Mitsuki was actually talking to Hinata or to the aliens pretending to be Hinata. The David Bowie song is supposed to be an indication that it is actually Hinata on the other end of the line, or at least is taken as such by Mitsuki, but no one seems to be considering the possibility that she has been incorporated into the alien hivemind even though they discovered previously that the aliens form a hivemind.
The opening scenes of “Full of Stars” that show Hinata apparently surviving the impact that occurred in the premiere don’t resolve that question, either, as we don’t know what happened to her after that. But it seems like a pretty good guess in terms of explaining why her voice appears to be synthesized that she’s no longer the Hinata she was, but something else.
Casper is able to tap into the hivemind and get the aliens to stop attacking towards the end of the episode, though it’s not entirely clear whether this is all of them globally or just those in the hospital. My money is on the former, though. (See what I said last week for my problems with the whole premise of this story arc.)
But does any of this matter given that the Americans appear to have nuked the aliens, and this seems to have worked? There is still one episode left in the season, but its title is “First Day” which raises the worry that it is more of a coda than anything.
If so, the ending of S1E9 is terribly anti-climactic, as if we’ve rushed towards a conclusion with various plot threads dangling and at risk of becoming irrelevant if the alien threat has indeed been eliminated.
Casper might be dead, but that seems pretty worth it, except that it’s not clear that he had to go through all of this at all if the nuke is what worked. He could have just hidden somewhere and waited it out.
Ahmed is probably dead, which I’m happy about. I guess there is still the question about those spores Aneesha and the kids stumbled upon in the woods.
Hinata might be dead if she was still alive, but we don’t really know if she was still alive and any rational person would have concluded she was dead some time ago, so that doesn’t land with a whole lot of weight. Plus what the American says to Mitsuki is just clearly right—sacrificing one person to save humanity is kind of a no-brainer as far as ethical dilemmas go.
The aliens actions don’t seem at all ambiguous. We’ve seen them kill people and apparently they have also been turning the atmosphere to poison. I can only hope that there is some nuance added to the overall picture in the season finale—something to make this all at least somewhat interesting.
Frankly I hope the ending of “Full of Stars” was misdirection; that the nukes didn’t work but instead made the aliens all the more powerful, and that humanity will be wiped off the face of the Earth once and for all.
Based on Invasion S1E9 alone, I’d say we deserve it.