Hunters: 1.01 The Beginning & the End
The X Files meets Aliens meets Taken meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on acid? That's the only way I can describe new Syfy series Hunters after watching the pilot episode. Because after 45 minutes of frantic covert ops, autopsies, secret government investigations, kidnapping, family dramas, PTSD flashbacks, alien terrorist cells, airport chase sequences and psychotic bunnies, I still don't think I have a clue as to what is going on.
It all began promisingly enough as a group of marines raided an abandoned facility and encountered a group of violent humanoid creatures. It was dark, violent and incredibly atmospheric and after the pilot episode, the one thing that might keep me coming back are the titular hunters. They are the stuff of nightmares, part zombie, part Reaver, with futuristic technology and the ability to fly through trees. The autopsy of one of their kind was particularly gruesome.
The unit sent to track them down are a standard mix of soldiers, a gruff middle-management leader and the standard slightly geeky analyst. There was nothing notable about them, except perhaps Britne Oldford's Regan but I think that's more down to the mystery behind her own abilities (is she part hunter?) then her as a character.
And then there is the central character, Nathan Phillips' Flynn. He went through a lot in those 45 minutes. He was raising the autistic teenage girl of his dead partner and suffering from PTSD. His wife was kidnapped, he encountered hunters after tracking down his kidnapped wife and then lost her again. He was recruited by the ETU. He went on a black ops mission, found his wife was a potential suspect and then discovered there was a hunter spy in his new department. That's a lot for one episode. The trouble is, I didn't get any real sense of engagement from his performance. Was Philips not very good or the dialogue and pacing so bad? I can't tell...maybe both?
And that was the real crux of the issue. The episode jumped around frantically from one scene to the next, never taking the time to really establish who these characters were. The breakneck speed at which the episode progressed made it feel like whole scenes had been hacked or cut out entirely; there was no room to breath and as a result what could have been an hour and a half pilot was squashed into a standard episode length.
I think there is potential here; the mystery is intriguing, the show looks very atmospheric and the hunters are stunningly gruesome, but I have zero connection to any of these characters. Do I care that Flynn's wife is still missing? Not really. And that's where I leave episode one...with a sense of huh? I think I'll watch episode two, but only if it calms the heck down. If it carries on at this pace, I'm out by the half way mark next week. Not necessarily a good sign, is it?