At the Movies: Invasion

What if the hybrids are just a bridge species. What if it’s the offspring we really have to worry about?

     – Russell Varon in Invasion #16 (2006)

This is a review of the television series Invasion (2005-2006), with an eye towards using it in Call of Cthulhu games, especially in Cthulhu Now or Delta Green settings.


Stop reading if you want to avoid SPOILERS.

In the weeks after a devastating hurricane in the south of Florida in 2005, Park Service Ranger Russell Varon (Eddie Cibrian) and his brother-in-law “Dave” Groves (Tyler Labine), a conspiracy theorist currently “between jobs,” investigate mysterious activities in the town of Homestead and the nearby Southern Glades, especially the coastal waters. Dave is the classic nerd who always suspected, nay, knew that “they” are among us, in the vein of SaucerWatch (Delta Green, pp. 114-115) and similar groups and individuals everywhere.

They are initially opposed by Homestead Sheriff “Tom” Underlay (William Fichtner), who quickly turns out to by a hybrid himself. He orders the area quarantined, a neat if unrealistic trick to isolate the characters and to discourage them from fleeing the scene or applying to government forces. Roads are blocked, telephones are down.

The originators of the weird events are eventually revealed to be tentacle-sporting, probably intelligent aliens – or Extra-terrestrial Biological Entities (EBEs) – that drop from the sky and now live in the sea. They replicate humans by combining alien and human DNA.

The resemblances to H.P. Lovecraft’s Deep Ones are too numerous to overlook – hybrids living among normal people, many of them being unaware of their condition, and the obvious connection to the water creatures. In fact, their abilities cover most of those commonly associated with the Deep Ones hybrids (Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity, pp. 30-36, Keeper’s Companion 2, pp. 155-163, and The Laundry, pp. 207-208), save for the Innsmouth look. The hybrids have an unnatural longing for water, can dive and swim better than any human should, and display superhuman strength and agility, as well as accelerated growth and healing. They even spawn rather than give birth to babies.

Of course, the government, or at least the US Air Force, already knows what is going on. Can someone say Operation BLUE FLY (Delta Green, pp. 78-79)? The reason why they do not intervene is given as being able to wash their hands of the whole affair if and when it goes wrong. This does not sound very convincing, but the matter remains mostly unresolved in the first and only season.

“Healy,” a broken CIA agent on the run, definitely sounds like a DELTA GREEN agent. No wonder things end badly for him. Eli Szura, the other former CIA agent, appears to be a poster boy for MAJESTIC-12 …

While a lot of time is spent on family and relationship dynamics, there is also considerable emphasis on classic investigation in the best tradition of Call of Cthulhu. The season ends with an epic “ritual” in which the hybrids try to “sacrifice” hundreds of innocents. They are stopped when Varon, S&W Model 6906 pistol (Investigator Weapons 2: Modern Day, p. 84-86) in hand, and Underlay, wielding a Colt M16A3 assault rifle (Investigator Weapons 2, pp. 102-103), burst onto the scene, until they are eventually relieved by the USAF, which seems to have developed a conscience after all.

Invasion’s only season leaves the viewer with many loose ends. The origins and intentions of the aliens are entirely unclear, and we have only seen one of them clearly, once. The purpose of the hybrids and their need to produce offspring is a mystery except for vague allusions to “evolution.” The knowledge and involvement of the US government, especially the USAF, is also unknown. And finally, where did the civilian “contractors” come from so quickly after the hurricane ended, when the storm was supposed to hit the coast 160 km away? Are they a front for the CIA? For MAJESTIC-12? Someone else entirely? All these ingredients would make a pretty good campaign without major work for the Keeper.

Using the rating system pioneered by The Unspeakable Oath, Invasion rates three phobias for horror, five for creepiness, and seven for the overall setting.