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Mr Harvey On INTRUDERS 2nd And 3rd Episodes: Hmmmm.


Episode 2, “And Here… You Must Listen” & Episode 3, “Time Has Come Today”

[Photos: Cate Cameron, © BBC Worldwide Limited]

I’m not sure what BBC America has against John Simm, but of the three main threads running through Intruders, they sure are giving him the least involving part of this story. And it’s a shame really, because Simm is a really good actor, but the material here for him requiring him to just behave in a way that simply doesn’t make any sense.

Seriously. Nobody acts like this.

I wrote in my review of the first episode that I had heard that by the third episode there would be a disturbingly clear idea of where we were going here, and while that is true to an extent, the waters are still pretty muddy. The good news is that there is momentum building, and that is good, but I have this sinking feeling… I am getting a Torchwood: Miracle Day feeling from Intruders, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a very bad thing.

“Really? We’re making Miracle Day comparisons? Dude. That’s harsh.”

Miracle Day collapsed under a mess of a story that required the audience to believe that all governments are all inherently evil, capable of more or less instantaneous actions while dragging things out in a way that even our own US Congress would be embarrassed by, combined with Villains Who Are Terrible At Being Effective and Heroes Who Are Equally Terrible At Being Effective. Well, that and Russell T. Davies forgetting how he himself made Jack Harkness immortal. And a slew of other crimes that effectively killed the Torchwood franchise. Here, we have to accept that Jack Whelan, an ex-cop, surrounded by people who are all behaving extremely suspiciously or clearly lying to him, and a wife acting in ways that should be making him say “Honey? I think we need to take you to see someone”, is going to ignore that people are blatantly lying to him or acting suspiciously and not try and really figure out why his wife is acting not remotely like herself.

“Oooh! Oooh! Does that mean I get to be Gwen? I LOVE Gwen!”

On the other hand, we have James Frain’s Shepard and Milly Brown’s Madison, and if Whelan’s storyline is all kinds of problematic, Shepard’s and Madison’s are thankfully still intriguing. In “And Here… You Must Listen”, Madison and Marcus, the man living inside her, are on the road, and discovering the downside of trying to travel alone while being a child, She seems to have a lot of money, and made a connection with a Chinese woman involved with the 9, who seem to be the folks behind all of this. She’s got a book, apparently some kind of instruction manual for those who are part of this group who seem to be resurrecting in other people’s bodies, but it frustrates her. Eventually she convinces a rather foolish woman to be her ride, which clearly is not going to end well.

Shepard, meanwhile, has been tracking her, after paying a visit to Madison’s parents. They are having problems aside from a missing daughter, and Shepard’s attempt at playing an FBI agent ends with him quite cruelly using that against them. It’s kind of a horrible moment that still makes you laugh, darkly perhaps, as he so causally destroys the illusions they are trying to use to hold their marriage together. He then pays a visit to the Chinese lady that Madison’s passenger visited, and when she tries to have him killed, the ease in which he takes out a room full of men does not bode well for the inevitable confrontation between his storyline and Whelan’s. And there’s an interesting bit where the Chinese lady begs for her life, telling Shepard that it’s almost her time, only to have him kill her, apparently destroying her chance at resurrection. The mechanics of the process are quite unclear at this point.

“Well, I too can play a American like John Barrowman does, so that makes me Captain Jack, right?”

We must, sad to say, return to Jack Whelan’s adventures in his hunt for his wife in Seattle. He’s already established that he wasn’t at her usual hotel, and he’s tracked down the cabbie who found her cellphone. This fellow, one George, finds himself a semi-reluctant ally in Whelan’s hunt. Visits to Amy’s work results in a somewhat surreal waiting room and a meeting with her boss, Todd Craig, where both he and Jack are clearly lying to each other. I mean CLEARLY LYING TO EACH OTHER. Todd is so obviously trying to pump Jack for information while being terrible at his lying, and for some reason Jack either doesn’t see the CLEARLY LYING thing or is playing along with his own lies.

The reason I can’t say for certain that he’s just playing along, is that following the office visit, Jack and George both track Amy’s last visit to Craig’s condo, and get attacked by Generic Henchmen 1 & 2, who in a classic example of drawing attention and suspicion by Attacking the Hero for No Good Reason, manage to clearly identify Craig as a Bad Guy. And Jack does not actually act on this knowledge and is, in fact, confused as to which of them the Generic Henchmen were attacking. George isn’t confused, however, and he splits, smartly determining that Jack is not long for this world, by virtue of being too oblivious to live. Generic Henchmen 1 wants to shoot Jack, by the way, but GH 2 won’t let him, saying “She said no.” This should be a Suspicious Thing as well, made all the more confusing as the only reason for the Generic Henchmen to attack Jack and George is apparently to cause a Suspicious Thing to happen. Seriously, when has an attack by Generic Henchmen ever deterred anyone?

Well, OK. It deters George. But George seems to have some survival instincts.

And then Amy calls, wondering where Jack is. She’s home… where’s he? Dunn Dunn Duuuuuunnnnnnn!!!

“Time Has Come Today” picks up with Madison/Marcus being driven by the Foolish Lady, who apparently likes listening to conspiracy theory pirate radio, which is convenient, since it’s the new Van Guy and his show about Bill Anderson and the first Van Guy, and the Mysterious Organization who is responsible for Bad Things. Shepard killed Anderson’s wife and son and the first Van Guy in the first episode, and Anderson is on the run from the authorities, suspected of killing his family. Madison/Marcus doesn’t react, oddly, to this, since it’s such a convenient thing, but Foolish lady is becoming suspicious of her odd passenger, especially after Madison/Marcus displays a disturbing knowledge of classical music and claims to be over 200 years old. Personally, I’d have pulled out my cell phone and quietly dialed 911, or even pulled over and kicked the demon spawn out the car, but no, not Foolish Lady.

Jack, meanwhile, has come home to find Amy pointing out the very logical reasons why he couldn’t find her in Seattle, and her explanations even make sense and turn Jack’s visit to her boss into a problem, since she was in Seattle looking at different job options. This scene between Simm and Mira Sorvino’s Amy works surprisingly well, although there is something off about it, even beyond the fact that we know that Amy has one of these Intruders inside her. Again, there’s lying happening, and it’s more obvious than it should be, but for a few moments, we can believe that Jack and Amy love each other.

“Sorry Honey. Yes, your American accent is good, this is true, but my character is the immortal one, so that makes me Captain Jack. And I’m sexier than you.”

Of course then it all falls apart for Jack, because as soon as Amy says she would never leave him, she’s telling him that they need to separate, and like the audience at this point, Jack doesn’t know what the hell is going on. We see a glimpse of Jack’s anger management issue emerge, and get some hints about what made him leave the force, but in the end, Amy’s contradictory behavior should have Jack calling for mental health professionals, not drinking himself into oblivion. This whole sequence, combined with the behavior of Madison/Marcus raises the question of how much these personalities are and aren’t integrated. For the M/M combo, the switching back and forth we’re seeing makes sense – it’s new and unplanned – but Amy seems to be both more integrated and yet moments are there where she seems to be switching back and forth. This doesn’t actually seem to be a good plan by the way, as in the real world, people who behave like this are generally considered mentally ill, and the idea that they might be possessed by a dead person is pretty low on the possibility list.

“Sigh. You’re going to make me be Bilis, aren’t you? It’s the creepy voice, isn’t it? I want to play nice people, but noooooo.”

We do get some backstory on Marcus, played by veteran Hi-There-I’m-Evil actor Alex Diakun (X-Files: I Want To Believe, TONS of genre work), who I know has played some not-evil characters, but somehow one only remembers the bad guys. Apparently the mysterious 9 have ordered Shepard to kill him, but Marcus bribes him off with the promise that when he is awakened in his next body, there will be rewards aplenty for those who stand with him. Shepard agrees, but everything seems to have been kicked off by the premature revival of Marcus in Madison, and Marcus and Shepard both seem to want each other dead at this point. Shepard comes close, as Foolish Woman finds his number in Madison’s things when they stop at a rest stop and calls him, but Madison/Marcus manages to convince the daft thing that she is not a psychotic demon spawn long enough to lure her into the bathroom, where somehow a small child manages to pretty much butcher a grown woman.

We end with Shepard cleaning up Madison/Marcus’ mess, and Jack’s friend Gary popping back up to be cryptic about Amy’s involvement with some Bad Things and promising information, and like the title of this article, I’m left with “Hmmm”. We’re three episodes in and I can say that I like everyone’s performances, because we really do have a wealth of talent here, but at this point, and considering we’re almost halfway through through the series, there are just so many vague things and dubious behaviors that I’m not sure I’m enjoying Intruders as much as I’m just trying to figure out what the hell is going on.


Timothy Harvey

Timothy Harvey is a Kansas City based writer, director, actor and editor, with something of a passion for film noir movies. He was the art director for the horror films American Maniacs, Blood of Me, and the pilot for the science fiction series Paradox City. His own short films include the Noir Trilogy, 9 1/2 Years, The Statement of Randolph Carter - adapted for the screen by Jason Hunt - and the music video for IAMEVE’s Temptress. He’s a former President and board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City, and has served on the board of Film Society KC.

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