Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hunters 1.2 - In which things get more interesting but not much clearer


Hunters airs at 10pm on Syfy Monday nights, right after 12 Monkeys!

I feel a little bad for Hunters, coming right after 12 Monkeys--as a lead-in, it's probably not a bad idea, since they'd likely have a similar audience, but Hunters is gloomier and much newer, and probably suffers from everyone still talking about what happened on 12 Monkeys and not paying attention. I know that's what I was doing, and it looked like a lot of people on Twitter were, too!

The plot was pretty straight-forwardly reactionary to last episode: Flynn is getting ticked that it's taking so long to find Abby, McCarthy is cleaning house by blowing up places that hold evidence, and he's taunting the ETU by calling them by names and threatening to blow more stuff up unless they give him the body they captured last episode. Flynn and Reagan talk to the dead guy's wife, who claims she didn't know he's an alien, and then proves that she actually did all along when she's the one that sets off the next bomb.

The fun stuff is between all these plot-boxes to check off.

Emme is not happy at school--they put gravy on everything and she hates gravy--but Flynn remembers that she has really good memory for details and goes to ask her about the people they're looking for. She's also got Aspergers, that makes her faceblind, so the pictures don't help, but Flynn lets her hear the message-song and it triggers a memory of going to a music shop with Abby. The song was playing loudly out of some guy's headphones, and the music shop in question is the one that got blown up already. That leads them to see that McCarthy has been passing secret messages through the shops and the Spotify channel used for his remixes. 

It's great that Emme is neurodiverse and that it's being presented as a plus, not a problem. Flynn doesn't know what to do with her and would obviously be a terrible single dad, but he knows when her strengths would be needed, and they're the key that unlocks what they need to track McCarthy down!

And the second thing that comes of that song being used in the investigation, is that Reagan realizes she has synaesthetic communication! The clicks and distortions embedded in the song form a picture in her mind and "the colors come from the shapes of the sounds"--and that's very exciting! As a synnie myself, it's super cool when someone comes up with a way to use it that makes it useful for the plot and interesting for the character.* It means the actual language of the Hunters is intrinsically and fundamentally different from human languages. It's built on conveying images though this crossed senses thing, and that's so cool.

Because of what she sees, they know which music shop is going to be hit next, and they get there and evacuate it before the crazy culty wife blows the place up. Reagan manages to save her and Flynn from the blast, but something about the whole day makes her go all animalistic and she tears the woman's throat out with her bare hands--and horrifies herself.

Through the whole episode, there's been beef between her and Flynn because he doesn't trust that she's different from the people they're hunting. She admits that she doesn't know what planet she's from or how she was born, but she is on their side--she's not the mole that the dead guy warned them was in the ETU. Oddly, it's the event with the bomb that makes Flynn warm up to her, maybe because she saved his life. He asks about her periodic skin condition and says that Abby never had something like that, but Reagan says that with enough lotion, it goes away and you'd never know. Flynn digs through Abby's stuff and finds about twenty bottles of lotion, and he's not happy about it. He's been denying that she's an alien and wouldn't have told him--and the culty wife makes that worse by saying so pointedly that her husband wanted her to know who and what he is. 

Meanwhile, McCarthy tortures a blonde girl and takes like a core sample out of her back, then injects it into himself like a drug, and it's GROSS. She's not Abby, but he lets Flynn think she is so that he can get the drop on him and finish him off, except that Reagan stops him. He almost kills her, and then seems to notice that something is different about her--and instead sort of hangs over her with her pinned to the ground in a weirdly about-to-make-out thing while he clicks at her and she seems frozen in place. What is he saying to her? She doesn't say, but she does say that it's harder for her to control herself when the skin condition flares up, and she's scared--she wants some treatment her boss has, but he wants her strong and fast and tells her, basically, to suck it up.

McCarthy also creepily does some other blonde girl in the shower after saying he'll have to "punish you again", and then, later, has a third girl in the car waiting while he meets with a deformed-looking guy in a cloak and feeds some skin he tore off Reagan's arm to a giant mouth in the man's chest. Such a weird and intriguing and gross note to leave it on!

He's creepy, guys. He's got this predatory thing down that makes sense for someone who is actually a vicious alien predator, but it seems to also bleed into being a sexual predator. It's icky as crap how he touches all the women he comes into contact with, like there's no difference between abuse and making out. Does he mesmerize the women? Is it a breeding imperative, or is he a monster in that, too? He's all big talk and violence, and he's incredibly off-putting, but he's also incredibly charismatic. I'm just worried I can't follow where they take him, if he goes too far into that woman-hating mess.

On the other hand, yay neurodiverse characters and helpful aliens and people with near-literal demons! I missed the kitten, and Flynn's PTSD, and there was no new message song, which is a shame because they could have a nice full 13-song soundtrack if they did a new one every week, but the characters are starting to work as a pretty effective team and Flynn is good at getting his butt beat without it stopping his mission. Reagan is so interesting, the alien trying to be human. I mean, she's vegetarian and watches Downton Abbey. I wonder if there's going to be a storyline about assimilation later, where she has to choose which world she'll belong to?

So far, the show is walking a pretty good line between government conspiracy, alien-body-horror gross-out, and scifi action, and it's given depth by the choices they're making with the characters and their roles. If they can keep the balance, and keep showing people's so-called "disorders" as secret strengths in a secret war, this could be an important show. It's already more interesting because of it!

What did you guys think? Comment below, or come talk to me on Twitter!

*And this way is more similar to how I experience it than the way they use it for Cassie in The Librarians, though I can't, as far as I know, communicate with it.

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