Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hunters 1.1 - In which we meet a bunch of weird people and get no answers

Hunters airs at 10pm on Mondays (and will be paired with 12 Monkeys starting next week!)

The latest entry in Syfy's We Don't Suck Anymore initiative feels like it's going to continue the trend of actually being good! I feel like I shouldn't be surprised anymore--they've proved with several shows now that they're serious about it--but it still feels new. Maybe because all the shows still are new? And I am still surprised.

First off: the Hunters are the possibly-but-not-definitely-aliens who manage to live among humans as terrorists and, apparently, DJs, not the people who are out to stop them in another poorly-lit government office.* The humans are the Exo-Terrorism Unit, ETU, out to stop them from whatever totally unclear nefarious plots they have going on.

In this episode, we meet Flynn Caroll, an FBI agent who will be our in--he's got pretty bad PTSD but hasn't been benched for it, so I guess he works through it, and if we're lucky, it'll make him better able to handle something having to do with the Hunters. He's married to Abby, who has hearing aids that seem to actually do the opposite of usual ones; when she gets kidnapped, the baddie, McCarthy**, takes them out and hits her with a sonic barrage that makes her ears bleed (and happens to be built around remastered OMD songs from the 80s?). Flynn and Abby also have guardianship of a dead friend's daughter Emme who has a "spectrum disorder", so I guess she's Autistic in some form? She's not handling her dad being dead and Flynn being sort of unintentionally awful to her very well, and he puts her in a boarding school, but she's about the only one who speaks her mind directly and to the point on the show, so hopefully she'll be back. And rounding out the family is a kitten that wandered in and so far hasn't been named, but also gets a lot of screentime to not be important.

So Abby gets kidnapped and held in a tiny cage with constant music making her catatonic, and as Flynn goes looking for her, he meets the ETU who are hunting these terrorists. They've just lost someone from what looks like their only strike team, and Flynn gets into that spot because he's the main character. The team is weird, too. Reagan flirts by beating people up and no one seems to trust her, and she can sort of do what the Hunters do. The other guy is on loan from Australia and is not very nice to anyone. Their boss seems to be allergic to humor and throws a lot of words at Flynn without a chance to process any of them. The guy who seems to be spokesman for the scientists is nerdy and the most relatable of the team; he won me over when he was explaining OMD to everyone. 

And the aliens are creepy and gross! They wear human skins, but human ways of killing won't stop them and barely slow them down--they have to get hit with a sonic blast right in the head. They communicate with creepy clicking noises and McCarthy has been embedding them into his remixes as a way to communicate with his scattered operatives. This is the first time the ETU has caught one of these transmissions, and it's a manifesto with things like "love will swing the hammer" and "you will cry and you will die" and no real details about what they're actually going to do.

As a pilot, it sets up a lot, moves people into place pretty well, and then doesn't answer any of the questions it asks, but it's classed as a thriller, so I'm assuming the point of the show is to chase those questions till the end. It's intriguing, though. Reagan is snarky and closed off, and has all those quirks that make her a big interesting question mark. Flynn is in way over his head and knows it, but needs to find his wife--and hasn't yet found out that there's something going on with her. The baddies are bizarre and creepy and up to something we've barely discovered yet.

The show as a whole is dark and atmospheric, and scored with a great soundtrack and background music spooky enough that even the kitten scenes and the romantic ones are tense. You're always wondering what's going to happen next--when the next problem is gonna drop. 

The cast is nicely diverse--not just in race and gender, but also in neurodiversity; if they handle that stuff well, it might wind up being important for that alone, regardless of what happens in the rest of the season. 

So much is introduced and so little is answered that I could have used a 2 hour premier, but also it seems as if it's going to be an ongoing story rather than an episodic one, so if you're watching this baby, don't miss any!

I'm definitely coming back. Did you guys see it? What did you think? Let's talk in the comments, or come over and tweet at me on Twitter!

*Seriously, that's one of the trends in weird-TV right now--lighbulbs are so last decade or something.
**Julian McMahon who always makes me want to punch him within thirteen seconds of being on screen. I'm actually happy he's a baddie on this show, because it makes my gut reaction to him easier to handle--you're supposed to want to punch bad guys! I don't even know what it is; he's been around my shows for decades, and I just always want to punch him.

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