Have you ever, even for the faintest moment, had a feeling someone very close to you felt like somebody else entirely? Intruders plays on this paranoia in its premiere episode, She Was Provisional, and lays some solid groundwork for what could be the welcome return of solid, sci-fi suspense to television.
Intruders takes place in the perfectly wet and lonely setting of the Pacific Northwest, and is executive produced by Glenn Morgan – one of the integral minds behind what made The X-Files so great. John Simm (The Master on Doctor Who) stars as ex-cop Jack Whelan whose wife Amy (Mira Sorvino), after acting a bit odd in recent weeks, goes unexpectedly missing on a business trip.
While Jack begins to incorrectly suspect a marital affair with deadly intentions, his old friend Gary (True Detective‘s Tory Kittles) shows up at his house asking for Jack’s help with a recent murder. But the timing of his return and Amy’s disappearance is a little too convenient for Jack, and his cop intuitions starts to suspect something else is going on.
Elsewhere a mysterious man (James Frain) is visiting seemingly unconnected people, awakening something inside them and then assassinating them on the orders of a mysterious group. One such individual is nine-year-old Madison O’Donnell (Millie Brown) and her encounter with this man does not go the way either of them expect, setting up what seems to be an inevitable domino effect.
The debut episodes of Intruders is a big tease, but in mostly the best of ways. None of the ongoing stories intersect in any major capacity, but the mysteries unraveling in each are quite intriguing, setting up a lot for viewers to dissect. It’s obvious there’s a mythology being built here with the mysterious group and their apparent ability to reside in other people, but the episode reveals very little details. This might be frustrating for some, but this show seems to be about setting mood rather than providing flash.
The show is shot very well and every scene feels isolating and cold, with a looming uneasiness surrounding everything that gives the show a sense of style with its washed out color schemes. The pace of the episode is a calculated build up and when things do get a bit slow, the visual style keeps things interesting onscreen.
The cast is extremely talented, but not everyone gets time to shine during the first episode. James Frain is the standout star of the premiere and his character is manipulative, creepy and obviously complex. It’s fascinating watching him circle his prey in one moment and then the next be completely taken out of his element by Madison. Their interactions are the most fun to watch in the episode, and their relationship will most likely be a driving force on the show, whether or not they share much screen time together in future episodes.
Speaking of Madison, Millie Brown’s portrayal will be the most talked about element of the show. The young actress has a maturity and awareness in her eyes beyond her age that just made me uncomfortable, which I’m sure was the intention. It’s unclear by the episode’s end just what her role in the mythology is, but it does not appear to be a benevolent one.
John Simm and Academy Award Winner Mira Sorvino (seen recently on Falling Skies) are tremendous actors in the lead roles, but surprisingly aren’t given much to do in the premiere of Intruders. Sorvino does have one of the more perfectly subtle “wait, was that line intentionally creepy?” moments early in the episode when Amy is celebrating her birthday at home with Jack.
Simm’s Jack is also intelligent and likable enough, but spends most of the episode chasing after Amy, which doesn’t provide him many opportunities to do much other than be confused and annoyed. Hopefully the more Jack gets embroiled into the mystery, the more Simm will be able to display his chops.
Executive producer Glenn Morgan’s hands are definitely noticeable on the show, as it clearly invokes some of the more low-key, creepy episodes of The X-Files. Intruders is certainly holding back the reigns a bit, so it’s unclear how paranormal the concepts of the show will get, but the episode does not skimp on its brutality factor. When Intruders needs to employ violence, it does not hold back and the premiere episode never overplays it hand. There’s not much violence, but when its there – it’s unnerving.
Fans of old school slow-burn science fiction are going to find themselves sucked into this premiere of Intruders. The mythology being built seems to have great potential and while the overall cast isn’t given a ton to work with, standout performances from James Frain and Millie Brown give the chilling suspense show the needed gusto. If Intruders picks up the pace in the rest of the 8-episode first season, the show should have no problem finding its following.
Intruders premieres Saturday, August 23, on BBC America.