Recap: Intruders, “Ave Verum Corpus” (1×04)

After four episodes, I want to like Intruders so very badly. The actors are talented. The ambient score and the musical themes are used well. A league of creepy immortals (who have neither fangs nor sparkly skin) and dig the Pacific Northwest is a cool concept. I like the way characters make normal use of technology, without either ignoring it or turning it into a panacea. The show is punctuated by genuinely creepy scenes, like the one concluding this episode, where Richard strides into the restaurant, cooly shoots Bill Anderson, locks eyes with Jack, and keeps going right out the back. Or the one where Amy, battling within herself, coos, “Soon” to a documentary segment on long-dead jazz musician Leon Bismarck, then destroys the television in a rage. Or Madison, struggling to remember her mother while slowly being consumed by Marcus.

The problem is that in between atmospheric punctuation, there’s a whole lot of sloppy, bad writing. We’re forced to listen to cloddish conversations such as one between Jack and Greg, where Greg declares, “I hope they weren’t euthanizing or murdering the old man” after spying on a bizarre ritual conducted over his client’s body, and Jack issues such navel-gazing profundity as, “I’m scared my life as I know it is over.” Furthermore, Jack’s heretofore solid investigate prowess evaporates as he gets caught breaking into the ruins of Anderson’s house, impulsively jumps a fence into a heavily-guarded compound, and uses a transposition cipher simple enough that not only Bill Anderson, but the people hunting him, can find him. But, I mean, the bad guys wouldn’t be listening, right, because Tim Truth scolded them not to on the air? They probably just changed the channel out of the goodness of their hearts.

Also, now that shit is getting weird, why have Jack and Gary not discussed Donna yet? These two men have a shared past that includes a girl writing one of them a suicide note full of weird platitudes about death, and that hasn’t come up?

After three episodes parceling out only the smallest slivers of information, we get a massive exposition dump courtesy of Gary, the world’s most diligent lawyer (who is absolutely lying about his real motivations). The frustrating thing is that most of this information doesn’t answer existing questions, but rather is about Gary’s client, Joseph Cranfield, someone we didn’t know existed before tonight, when he is summarily introduced and mummified. Other reveals might be new to the characters – Madison manifested musical talent without lessons, Amy is definitely connected to Marcus and the other Qui Reverti members – but we already knew all this.

Madison finding Todd Crane was probably the most promising development of the hour, although it was marred by Marcus’ creepy pedophilic ramblings. I understand that Marcus is a disgusting, evil character who targets prepubescent girls, but hearing Madison/Marcus coo over Crane’s daughter Meadow, then threaten to accuse Crane of molestation if he doesn’t help her find Cranfield was indulging in a bit too much sexual perversion for one scene. There’s a fine line between subverting expectations in a provocative way and trivializing sexual abuse for shock value. On the other hand, Madison temporarily breaking through (and Crane’s stunned reaction as he realized exactly what was going on but tried to deny it) was a good moment, and that’s the struggle that I’m interested in following.

Bill Anderson – the man, the myth, the legend – is now dead, and it’s up to Jack and Gary to track down his ghost machine, which picks up on infrasonics around 19Hz that are felt, not heard. (I found the montage to go with this revelation to be eerie in all the right ways, because it gave a hint of the expanse of the consequences of screwing with these frequencies.) Sound, music, ghost machines, creepy possession – more of this, please. Less of the clunky humans.

Odds & Ends

– Much of tonight’s action happens as a result of a series of phone calls with either a ethereal, undulating tone or a scrambled voice belonging to a Rose. Rose is clearly important.

– I’m so far past disinterest in the Tim Truth Oz-Turner-memorial-Bill-Anderson-sanctifying conspiracy theory radio program that I get actively angry every time it appears. I’m sure it’s going to be crucial in unraveling the plot because only Tim Truth will have the sound wave expertise to operate the ghost machine. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

– Everything that Jack has done to this point has made the situation worse and worse. I’m ready for him to do something right for once.

– I loved the set for Burnell Lytton’s empty, echoing office. It struck the right balance of elegant and menacing, and it was just enough out of date to be odd but not jarring. Catchphrase on the building: “Unlimited Growth Increases the Divide.”

– Also good: Madison/Marcus figuring out that the kid’s section of a library is a perfect place to hide out without people questioning her (and to steal cookies).

– All of this mystery is linked to the Psychomachy Trust, a London-based charity which is either 100 years old or 200-300 years old – it’s described as both within a matter of minutes.