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'Intruders' series premiere review: Fear everyone

Intruders, Season 1, Episode 1, Richard Shepherd (James Frain), Madison O’Donnell (Millie Brown)
Intruders, Season 1, Episode 1, Richard Shepherd (James Frain), Madison O’Donnell (Millie Brown)
Cate Cameron, © BBC Worldwide Limited, used with permission

BBC America may very well have another hit on its hands with its newest series, "Intruders," which premieres Saturday, Aug. 23, with an episode that may have its flaws but still manages to make one thing clear: this creepy drama leaves you wanting more immediately. Welcome to your next must-see show.

First of all, going into "Intruders" knowing that Glen Morgan ("The X-Files") is attached to it sets certain expectations, and it more or less meets them, with a few pleasant surprises along the way. Like the many parts of the mystery, there are many pieces that have to fit together to make the show work, and they do to create one chilling paranormal mystery.

It all begins with the story, and it seems like every scene leaves you wondering if what you thought you had figured out is anywhere in the vicinity of being what's actually going on. Yes, the mystery gets more and more confusing as it goes on, with really the only thing you can count on being that someone's going to get killed or something creepy is going to happen, but that's part of the beauty of the show. It makes you think, and in that regard, it may help fill a (very) small part of that gaping hole left by the wait for more "Orphan Black," even though that series is rooted in science and this one has yet to firmly establish what it is exactly other than a paranormal thriller.

Next, there's the cast. The cast is absolutely phenomenal, and it is Millie Brown who stands out from the crowd in the first episode, going from playing scared, confused nine-year-old Madison to creepy Marcus with an agenda flawlessly. She is easily the one to watch, not just in this role, but in future roles as well. James Frain is the only other one who has much to do quite yet, and his assassin Richard Shepherd is the right amount of cold and calculating to make you fear what's going to happen when he shows up at your front door. Mira Sorvino isn't around too much in the premiere, but in the few scenes she is, she does a tremendous job of playing that there's something more going on to Amy than meets the eye. John Simm is the quintessential, in-the-dark worried husband, while Tory Kittles plays Gary Fischer in just the right way to make you immediately question his timing, even during their first conversation before the one in the woods.

As stated above, the series premiere isn't perfect. It has its flaws, and number one has to be that there is a lot going on in multiple locations. It begins in California in 1990 before moving to present day and switching between Seattle, Birch Crossing, Reno and Finley Beach, covering the three states of Washington, Nevada and Oregon. Fortunately, it's not too hard to see how all these storylines will be intertwining at some point, but it still seems almost too much to throw at an audience in the first 45 minutes of a series. That said, "Intruders" does only have eight episodes, so it does make sense to speed some things up and introduce some components sooner rather than later. That may also explain why Shepherd kills the podcaster when he does; on a show with a season of 13 or 22 episodes, he may have survived to see episode 2.

What if you could never die? That's what this series is seeking to explore, and that's what "She Was Provisional" sets up, albeit in a way that's a bit more subtle than maybe expected for the premiere of an eight part series, but it does build and it's one of those series and concepts where paying close attention to the dialogue is so important. It has all the makings for a great secret society as well, from the assassin in black to the 9 cards to the Unknown callers.

The mystery begins when, in Barstow, California in 1990, following a birthday party, two men from Qui Reverti, including Richard, pay the birthday girl, Donna, a visit to give a secret back to her like she had asked years ago. She fights, as some tend to do, as one of the men explains, and they leave her a plane ticket to Seattle and a black card with the number 9 on it. The next day, Donna wakes up on her front lawn, goes inside, writes a letter to Gary Fischer that includes, "Because in the beginning, there was death" and "I am not Donna" and kills herself.

Then, in present day, Richard goes looking for William Anderson in Seattle, Washington, and kills his wife and son before setting fire to the house. But Richard isn't done yet. A podcaster from Reno, Nevada, speaks to his listeners about Bill Anderson and the Qui Reverti, who tried to kill him, and Richard is listening. "They cannot silence us," the host insists. "This life, it's ours. It's not theirs. It is not theirs. Fear no one. Be loud." Richard contacts him to talk about Bill, and they meet in a bar, where the podcaster explains that Bill, an acoustics engineering professor is working on teaching people how to experience certain frequencies that would reveal how to never die.

When the podcaster returns home from this meeting, Richard shows up at his front door and does a pretty good job of manipulating his way to an invitation inside. "No I Want to Believe poster?" He asks upon looking around. "You should be proud of yourself. They do exist, and we don't die. You do." With that, Richard kills him.

Meanwhile, in Birch Crossing, Washington, it's Amy's birthday, and while she doesn't like to celebrate, Jack does have a birthday cake and champagne to mark the occasion. When he finds her dancing to jazz and comments that he thought she hated it, she tells him, "It was private" and "sorry, honey, I guess the music just took me away." After he gives her an Eiffel Tower to signify that they should make the trip, unbeknownst to him, their celebrating is interrupted by a switch, as seen in her eyes.

The next day, when she leaves, she tells him to call her cell, not the office, and it's only once she's gone that Jack's old friend, Gary Fischer, pays him a visit and tells him they need to talk somewhere – and not in his house. While walking in the woods, Gary tells him about Bill Anderson, claiming it could make a good story for his next book, but Jack thinks either Bill kills himself in a week or is found with some waitress. "It always ends the same," he says. "They have one life to live and can't helo blowing it."

After not hearing from Amy for two days, a cab driver calls on her phone. He found it in the backseat, and he agrees to drop it off at her hotel – for a price – but when Jack calls the hotel, they don't have Amy registered as a guest. Jack checks her calendar, which is completely empty after the day after her birthday. Jack heads to Seattle and gets Amy's phone, and when he tries to call her work, he gets nowhere. Her messages may hold a clue, as a conversation with Unknown shows Unknown's "Never thought it was possible" and Amy's reply, "A good man is hard to find." Another message from Unknown reads "This can't wait anymore," and then there's a message from Amy to Unknown reading, "We must wait until he's dead." When Jack calls Unknown, jazz music plays.

Finally, in Finley Beach, Oregon, Madison celebrates her ninth birthday. Richard approaches her on the beach and leaves her a sand dollar, and that's when it starts getting creepy for her. When Richard returns, he gives her the black card with the number 9 on it and calls her Marcus, pulling out a gun. She begs him not to kill her and tells her she isn't Marcus, she's just a kid, and he lets her go.

That night, however, she dreams of a man and when she wakes up, she picks up the sand dollar and then the 9 card and turns it over to see the phone number on the back. She fills up the bathtub and begins writing in a notebook, but when she sees the cat, she takes it and holds it under the water. After, she seems to be back to herself when she cries about what she did. However, at the end of the episode, she calls Richard, and she's Marcus. "You brought me back too early, and I know why," she warns him. "But Shepherd, what goes around, comes around." Madison/Marcus leaves the house.

"Intruders" airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America. What did you think of the series premiere, "She Was Provisional"?

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