A man’s body washes up on the beach and is discovered by local law enforcement. Other bodies, and even some survivors are found nearby. But they are only the beginning of a deluge. By the end of the day a whole hanger has been filled with the dead, while a smaller number of victims shiver under blankets, claiming to be refugees… from the future.
The opening of The Crossing is one of the most dramatic in recent memory. Bodies hang deep underwater. A little girl wakens and is rescued by her mother. When Sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) and his deputy find the first few bodies, we are then treated to a sweeping aerial shot of the drowning multitude as they desperately struggle to stay afloat. It’s impressive stuff and sets up the kind of mystery that’s bound to have X-Files fans drooling in their beards.
The sheer horror of the future-people’s crossing into our time is then given an emotional payoff that almost matches the visual impact of their watery arrival. They were herded into a cave, there were claps of thunder and they found themselves underwater. Of course, they had no idea where they were, and many didn’t even realise they were underwater before they had drowned. This is all delivered in a series of quick-cuts between the refugees as they undergo interviews, which serves as a shorthand way of making us care about their plight. It’s efficient and effective. So why did they allow themselves to be catapulted through time to an uncertain destination? Apparently there’s a genocidal race of super-humans in the future from whom they had to escape. Understandable.
Not all of The Crossing is as unusual as its brilliant premise. The central characters fall very quickly into common stereotypes, as do certain story elements. The sheriff, Jude Ellis, previously worked as an officer in a major city, and there are hints of some dark happening that led to him becoming a small-town cop. One can assume that he’s there to heal and lead a quiet life. About the most stressful part of his day seems to be attending a yoga class. The Feds then get involved, led by Emma Ren (Sandrine Holt) and the two butt heads as her agents take over and the sheriff has his access revoked.
Thankfully Steve Zahn and Sandrine Holt are excellent in their leading roles. Zahn balances his performance perfectly between wily and burnt out, while Holt as always conveys intelligence and poise in what is one of the few leading roles from this actress that we’ve been treated to. Holt is a performer regularly given recurring or supporting roles in high-profile shows from 24, to House of Cards, to Mr Robot. It’s lovely to see her front and centre for a change.
The refugees themselves provide much of the best dramatic material. They debate among themselves as to whether they can trust the government that has rescued them, and there are hints at a wider conspiracy related to time-travel which will have serious consequences for the present.
The Crossing is a well made science-fiction mystery, with a talented cast, and a striking high-concept hook that packs a certain amount of emotional wallop. It’s hard to guess where this show is going to go, but the first episode leaves a lot of room for action, epic sci-fi, murky conspiracies, and satisfying character relationships between the Feds, the cops and the refugees.
The Crossing looks promising indeed.
3.5 / 5
The Crossing is produced by ABC and is available to Amazon Prime Users.