Can it be possible to know someone and still not fully know everything about them? Does that person have secrets and can those secrets make you think less of that person? That’s only part of the general premise behind BBC America’s new show “Intruders,” which had one man struggling to make sense of something only a few can understand. The premise was promising, but the series premiere set it up rather poorly that made it rather challenging to follow.
“Intruders” followed how a secret society of individuals can manage to live forever by possessing the bodies of younger people for a certain number of years. They lived as that person until it was time to come back as their true identity. The premiere started in the early 1990s with a seemingly ordinary teenage girl sleeping in her bedroom, until a mysterious stranger breaks in. The girl thinks that she’s going to die when the man reveals a black card with the number 9 on it. He leaves after a brief visit and once he’s gone the girl’s whole personality changed. She managed to commit suicide for reasons unknown. The story returned to present day with Richard Shepherd (James Frain) knocking on the door looking for a man, but instead he finds his wife and son. Shepherd claimed to be an FBI agent when in fact that he was truly an assassin hired to kill who he was looking for. He killed the man’s wife and son, while his subject has vanished. His next mission was to visit 9 year old Madison (Millie Brown) who lived with her single mother in a house by the beach. Shepherd called her Marcus and appeared to be close to killing her, until Madison persuaded him not to. While Shepherd was on his mission, Jack Whelan (John Simm) was stumbling across Shepherd’s secret when his wife Amy (Mira Sorvino) suddenly disappeared after days of behaving oddly. Jack was also visited by his old friend Gary Fischer (Tory Kittles) who went through a similar case and went to him for help. Will Jack and Gary be able to find out the truth or will they die trying in the process? What happened to Amy and what was the truth about Madison?
In terms of questions, the show has posed quite a few good ones and a few bad ones as well. The biggest question has to remain unanswered for now in an effort to get viewers interested in what happens next. Will the show depict how the characters are inhabited by other people or how they’re chosen to become passengers in their own bodies? That remains to be seen. The first episode got off to a stellar start by showcasing how a seemingly innocent teenager was driven to the breaking point by a stranger with a card. The scene might have been odd to some, but it also showed how something so idyllic can go so horribly wrong if you looked away for too long. The episode showed subtle signs of things to come in a few of the characters. Jack’s wife Amy showcased a few brief glimpses of trouble coming to the Whelan household. She would have these quiet mood swings that would go away just as quickly, and she seemed to have a fondness for jazz music that never existed before. For most of the episode, viewers only got a glimpse of what these inhabited people could be capable of, but the most shocking transformation was when Brown’s Madison changed rapidly over the course of one scene. The transformation was a frightening one that helped to shock viewers into realizing that anything was possible, especially when it came in the form of a dangerous madman trapped in the body of a nine year old girl. Unfortunately, the show’s sluggish premiere took a little too long to set things up and should have tied Simm’s Whelan into the story a lot sooner to give the show a focal point early on rather than tacking one on at the end of the episode. Hopefully, future episodes will help to better tie in the three separate stories that the show has going in order to keep viewers interested. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
As for breakout performances, Sorvino and Brown led the pack as the inhabited characters for different reasons. Sorvino was able to quietly display the changes in her character’s personality without going too over the top. She was able to show displays of conflict as she tried to be the loving wife while trying to keep her other unknown personality under wraps. It was a shame that she disappeared from the episode too soon, but shell likely return in a rather unexpected way. Brown, on the other hand had the more challenging task of balancing two very different on-screen personas: innocent nine year old to ruthless ticking time bomb ready to go off in a moment’s notice. She had two very strong scenes as Madison. The first one came when she was struggling with her fear that she was going to die. Brown’s Madison begged and pleaded with Frain’s Shepherd not to kill her in a way that would make even the most ruthless crumble. Viewers couldn’t help but root for her to survive, but they were in for a shock when the sweet and innocent routine was just an act. Towards the end of the episode, viewers caught a glimpse of Brown as her other identity, Marcus, who managed to drown her cat in a frantic impulse that could lead to more bodies if people weren’t too carefuly. Brown’s personality changed from quiet child to a killer that exited her house with a confidence that was downright creepy to watch. Frain also deserved an honorable mention by playing Shepherd as a killer with the occasional bout of a conscience. He had a decent rapport with Brown’s Madison/Marcus that could turn very interesting as the season progressed. Let’s hope that viewers do get to see more of them because their dynamic was the strongest thing going on the show so far.
“Intruders” premiered on August 23rd and airs Saturdays at 10:00 PM on BBC America.
Verdict: The show’s first episode set up a promising premise, but it’s lack of finding a focal point made it hard to follow at times. It’s sluggish pace also made it hard to sit through a few times as well.
TV Score: 2 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)