Through the first three episodes of Syfy’s new show Hunters, there’s been an unlikely, catchy constant that won’t leave your head. It isn’t the narrative identity tug of war with actress Britne Oldford’s alien commando Regan, though it’s related to that. And it isn’t the fact that the evil alien terrorists led by Lionel McCarthy (Julian McMahon) seem to hate loud noises, though that has something to do with it too. The one thing that keeps popping up throughout the early season is the 1982 song, “Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc),” by semi-obscure Liverpudlian New Wave band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. In fact, every episode title of the show’s first season is named after an OMD song, but what specifically does a 30-year-old track from OMD’s third album have to do with a Syfy show about an alien invasion? We’re still not sure, but we think we know.
“Maid of Orleans” is literally the first thing you hear in the series, emanating from speakers in a dank, ratty old house where the alien leader McCarthy mysteriously keeps a group of rabbits and a woman caged as hostages. He sits at a mixing table with a computer, implanting subliminal messages into the track to his clandestine alien followers. It seems the way to let everyone know that the extraterrestrial revolution is about to begin is through Soundcloud remixes.
But, yes, the leader of the deadly invasion moonlights as a DJ, which is weird. But, in an even weirder way, it makes sense for the allusions to the hunters themselves. The show’s mythology situates them as sound-based organisms whose literal vision is a kind of clicky echolocation point of view. We got to see this hunter-vision ourselves during the series’ third episode, “Maid of Orleans.” Sound familiar?
The song is what allows Regan to “see” the underlying click language intercepted by the ETU, letting her notice that McCarthy is planning on blowing up the Blue Peak record shop in “Messages.” His DJ guise simply lets him get the word out about their violent intentions.
Hunters has skirted around some kind of unsaid connection between Regan and McCarthy in the first few episodes. He confronted her on the plane at the end of “The Beginning & The End,” calling her by her first name, Allison, and saying he knows what’s inside of both of them is “dying to come out.” Later, in “Messages,” Regan corners him in a warehouse, but he overpowers her and is about to kill her, but he stops. McCarthy stares at Regan until Flynn interrupts and McCarthy flees.
The song is also referenced when Flynn lets his adopted daughter Emme listen to the track, and surprisingly she recognizes it from her own record shopping excursion with Flynn’s missing wife, Abby. The song itself could uncover clues that lead Flynn to her, but it also means Abby could be a hunter as well, making a connection between Abby, McCarthy, and Regan one of the main mysteries of the show so far.
But above all, the concealed messages and the song’s connotations seem to refer to Regan, aligning her with the song’s titular French saint as a kind of martyr sacrificing herself for a lost cause. Here are the full lyrics to the song, referencing Joan of Arc giving herself up::
If Joan of Arc had a heart,
Would she give it as a gift
To such as me who longs to see,
How a legend oughta be
Had dreams to give her heart away,
Like an orphan along the way
She cared so much,
She offered up her body to the grave.
When asked about the meaning of the song, OMD frontman Andy McCluskey said, “It’s not meant to ‘mean’ anything specific, just set up a feeling to let the track grow out of the strange noises.” The song’s connection to Hunters may not mean anything beyond the noises of the alien language, but there are definitely links if you look for them. Joan of Arc disguised herself as a man to fight the Hundred Years’ War, and though it’s a bit of a stretch, Regan has disguised herself as a human to fight in the hunter revolution.
Joan was eventually executed for her cause, and we’ll have to wait for the rest of the season to see if Regan meets the same fate for her dealings with McCarthy. In the meantime, we’ll just have to keep listening to the track to see if we hear any subliminal messages ourselves.