Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sami on Hunters 1.3 - In which we learn about Reagan

Hunters airs at 10pm on Syfy Monday nights!

I think it's still being damaged by being after the feels-stravaganza that is 12 Monkeys; it's very hard to jump right from whatever happened in the last few minutes of Monkeys into Hunters that is very much a slow-burn and much less...I don't want to say interesting, because it's very interesting, but it isn't as complex so far, and it doesn't hook me as strongly or as quickly. I continue to basically not care at all about whatever the case of the week is.

This week, it was blah blah blah terrorists funding themselves with drugs blah blah excuse to get into the jungle. There was a child soldier who could have been useful, that they shuffled off much the way they shuffled off Emme, who is also a teen girl who could be useful. There was a guy called Alejandro who was smart enough to figure out that they weren't looking for normal drug people, who then had to be killed because apparently murder is okay if you're in the ETU? Like, it's problematic whenever they try to talk about anything A-Plot on this show.

But there was also a huge focus on Reagan, and I liked that. She grew up thinking she was human until she almost killed someone as a child, then her dad showed her she's alien but apparently didn't tell her how to handle it--she wound up trying to cope by using all sorts of drugs and sex, but since she says in the non-flashbacks that alcohol doesn't work, I'm going to assume the drugs are minimal, too. She has to flee her house at sixteen with no understanding of what she is, and then gets "recruited" by the ETU in a way that sounds more like "do this or die in jail" and "we totally knew who you were all along and were looking for a chance to prey on your insecurities for our own ends". It didn't make me like him more, but did make me feel bad for her.

She's a total badass in modern times, and it's rough seeing her being such a mess in the past. I don't think bossman really cares that much about her, either, and that makes it worse.

Meanwhile, she and Flynn are on better terms. He's still trying to learn about her to understand his wife, who they're not chasing down today, and it feels like a set-up for a ship...which could be cool, if his wife wasn't his main driving point. Maybe after they find the wife and deal with her story in some way. Reagan and Flynn would be a lot less gross than her and McCarthy, who was blessedly absent this week. I think Flynn is basically a good guy, even if they seem to have forgotten that he has PTSD to deal with.

The Hunters had left the camp where they were brewing what looks like actual drugs and creepy alien-taken-from-humans drugs (that's the first the team has seen of that connection, I think), and killed most of the people that were just people, but there's still a monster in the woods. It's stalking them, and it's the reason they kill Alejandro--he freaks out when he figures out that monsters are real. 

But it also gives some of the very rare humor the show feels like it needs to allow--when the boss is all "abort" and Flynn fakes interference and goes "report? we'll finish the mission and then report!" and stops taking calls. I think he could be really fun, if they'd let him. And I think the show could really use the slight breaks from all the scowling and bickering and brooding. It would give the team members something in common, too, because they're not doing a very good job of team-building, and it's making them kind of the suckiest elite team ever.

I hope they start getting ahead of things soon, too, because they're always fumbling around in the dark and not getting much of anywhere. 

I missed Emme this week; she's still an underused resource. I missed the kitten*. I did not miss McCarthy being the grossest person ever, but I think he's probably behind the attack that drove Reagan out of her house at sixteen. It seemed like there's a division between the ones who want to blend in just to blend**, and those who want to blend in just to later come out and blow stuff up, and she grew up on the hiding side. Maybe McCarthy's weird interest in her is because she was pointedly hidden--she's biologically or culturally or historically important. That would be super cool, and it would be very important that she's  on the human side, if that's the case.

Hunters could be so cool. There's this whole pile of awesome, progressive ideas that I haven't seen on any other show. But they seem to be tangled up in a contest to be more gritty than they need to be, with a lot of shock-value choices that keep coming at me so that they aren't as shocking as they could be and ARE more annoying than they're intended to be. And in the meantime, their good ideas keep being underused.

On the other hand, this episode feels like things are coming together, a little, and that's a good sign. If they can get on the ball before the mid-point, they've got a chance! 

Here's what I'm seeing around all the messy gratuitousness:
  • A kickass lady-lead who is alien but wants to be human: she's not happy with what she is and keeps trying to drown it, but that's where all her literal power is, and she's probably important to her own people in a way we don't know yet.***
  • A male lead who is founded on manliness--he's an ex marine--but who is compromised by the trauma of that life so that he can't do it anymore, and then is thrust into a world where those skills are needed but he should have to find other ways to the same results.
  • Music as a weapon.
  • A girl who has perfect recall and doesn't have standard human reactions to things, who could really be an asset.
  • A shifty boss who has a hardass boss of his own, neither of which seem to care all that much about the actual team they're running, and a crew of scientists who look to be poised to get stuck between team and leadership.
  • Aliens who communicate with synaesthesia!
  • A mole in the agency!
I don't care about the terrorism angle. But there's lots else to play with! Go play, Hunters!

 *They showed too much of the kitten in the first ep for it not to be convenient to the story later! Bring back the kitten!^
^Or have I been spoiled by 12 Monkeys, where Everything Matters, and I'm over-estimating this show?
**I feel like her parents should have raised her with some coping mechanisms--"you have sensory problems, things will seem too loud or too bright, here's how you deal with that". Save them the trouble of "oh no, my daughter almost killed a kid"...
***Is she the only female Hunter we know? Would we be able to tell if the others were male or female? Do they always pick the human gender that corresponds?

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