‘Hunters’ Episode 2 Sees the Syfy Series Try to Humanize Its Alien Foe
The second episode of the new Syfy series still can't seem to find the answers to its questions.
After last week’s series premiere we demanded answers, and yet in week two, Hunters asked more questions. It’s a brave move for a show this early in its run to keep an impatient audience waiting, especially when running the risk of letting a seemingly derivative plot become more and more opaque. The show’s aliens-as-terrorists motif is a great little twist on an invasion story and we’ve yet to truly find out what the show will do to pay off that ingenious premise. Will it just be total alien revolution? It may be too early on to gripe, but the mystery of Agent Carroll’s wife’s disappearance is a fairly rickety foundation around which to base the show, especially when we barely know who she is. At least we have Regan (Britne Oldford) to make things a bit interesting.
In “Messages,” we pick back up again after the fallout at the airport, where McCarthy (Julian McMahon) was set to travel to the Middle East with what the ETU hoped would be Abby in tow. Instead of finding his wife, Carroll (Nathan Phillips) comes face to face with a hunter named Slavich posing as the head of security that threatens that his kind is “inside ETU” already before committing sonic suicide. Nearby, Regan, who we already know is a hunter herself, confronts McCarthy, who antagonizes her about what’s inside of her that’s just “dying to come out.” Next thing you know, Carroll is cleaning up hunter guts and Regan is selling him some story about how McCarthy got away. More on that in a bit.
Hunters wasted no time in getting Carroll acclimated to the aliens among us, which could be misconstrued as sloppy. But he seems like the kind of guy who’s a Marine that’s seen some shit before. This is, after all, a show about aliens and you have to suspend your disbelief at some point. Plus, the hunters themselves don’t really seem to bother him at all as long as he’s hot on the trail of finding Abby. We’re teased a little bit early on this episode with McCarthy extracting blood or plasma with an alien contraption from a human, who we think may be Abby, but it just ends up being another victim. Are the hunters extraterrestrial vampires as well?
At the same time, our main baddie unleashes his first act of terrorism by using a sonic bomb to cause an explosion at an outdoor mall. It’s a novel idea, and one that definitely drives home the main the show’s antagonistic themes.
“This was an attack on domestic soil with civilian casualties,” Truss Jackson (Lewis Fitz-Gerald), the leader of the ETU, tells them during a mission brief. But such relatively small potatoes makes you wonder what the leader of an intergalactic terrorist cell is doing causing trouble in suburban Maryland. Since it’s the first lead the ETU has had since the airport mishap they have to follow up on it, which leads them to Slavich’s human wife after McCarthy threatens more violence if they don’t bring him Slavich’s body. Why do they want the body? Another mystery.
For all its early faults, Hunters is doing a great job of making the aliens as other, something frightening and hiding among us without us even knowing they’re there. Slavich’s wife tells Carroll and Regan that she had no idea about her husband before carrying out her own terrorist bombing at a nearby record shop. It drives home the idea that the hunters are even indoctrinating our own kind. The ramifications of her actions, and her relationship with her hunter husband even makes Carroll question whether Abby might be a hunter too.
But the main reason to tune in to Hunters at this point are the titular aliens, specifically Oldford’s Regan. It’s an easy dramatic tool to put an enemy in with the good guys, and again we don’t really know yet why she’s killing those like her. But we do know that she’s having trouble managing her time on Earth. After Slavich’s wife detonates the record store bomb, Regan rips her throat out, and crouches over her lifeless body among the wreckage. “Don’t worry, I’m vegetarian,” Regan told Carroll earlier in the episode. But later, following her surprisingly brutal alien urges, she blurts out, “I tore that woman to shreds — like an animal — and I liked it.”
Regan is definitely hiding something from herself, from the ETU, and maybe even from McCarthy. Is she the mole Slavich was talking about, or is that just way too obvious? There’s a lot that’s still up in the air, and going into its third episode Hunters might benefit from some steady plot progression instead of piling on the mystery. It’s worth knowing why we’d want to tune into a show each week.