The ads for ABC’s new high-concept sci-fi drama ‘The Crossing’ very eagerly draw comparisons to ‘Lost’. (The network must really hope that disgruntled fans of that series have finally forgiven it the final season.) It’s not nearly in that league, but it may have some potential.
As far as I can tell, the two shows don’t appear to have any creative staff in common beyond both airing on the same network. ‘The Crossing’ was created by Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie, a pair of journeyman producers who’ve worked on short-lived sci-fi series such as ‘Surface’ and ‘The Event’. Honestly, I expect this one to do about as well as those.
Steve Zahn stars as Jude Ellis, a small town sheriff somewhere on the northern west coast. (The location is not clearly identified.) His quiet daily routine is interrupted by a report of a dead body washing up on shore at a remote beach. When he goes to check it out, he spots several others on the beach and then sees numerous more floating in the water. All told, over 400 corpses are recovered, with only 47 survivors.
Homeland Security quickly sweeps in to take over the investigation, led by Agent-in-Charge Emma Ren (Sandrine Holt). Suspecting a shipwreck or plane crash, they can find no evidence of wreckage. The bodies seem to have appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the ocean. Once they recover enough to be communicative, the survivors tell a crazy story that is nonetheless remarkably consistent among dozens of them. They claim to be refugees from a genocide that will not happen for nearly 200 years, who escaped into the past via time travel. In their time, humanity is under threat from a new race called Apex, supposedly mankind’s next evolution. Unfortunately, something went very wrong during the time travel process, causing the refugees to materialize underwater, killing most of them.
Ren isn’t sure whether she can believe such a wild story, but she does believe that they believe it. She orders Jude to keep most of the details he knows under wraps and gives him an official set of talking points he can disclose to the media, which avoid any mention of survivors. When Ren reports to her superior, Craig Lindauer (Jay Karnes from ‘The Shield’), he suggests that these people are more likely part of a Jonestown-style religious cult. That indeed does sound more plausible, but Ren has her doubts. Regardless of where they really come from, she also worries that, within a group this large, there are bound to be some “bad actors” among them who might be troublemakers or have ill intentions.
One more survivor doesn’t wash up with the others (Natalie Martinez from ‘Under the Dome’). Instead, she gets picked up by a fishing boat. After being brought to shore, she makes her way to the town and searches for her daughter (a weird-looking little girl named Leah) with a cold, single-minded determination. She kidnaps Jude at gunpoint and forces him to take her to the airplane hangar storing all the dead bodies. When confronted by armed agents, she easily fights them off and parkours away, leaping through the air with superhuman strength. Clearly, she must be an Apex.
Homeland Security buses the other survivors to temporary housing in a secret location. Little Leah is taken in by friendly couple Rebecca and Caleb.
An ambitious refugee named Thomas requests to speak to the President (I guess he didn’t study his history books) and tries to cut a deal to be compensated in exchange for valuable information. He claims that their group was not the first to arrive from the future. Ren passes this on to Lindauer, who agrees to speak with Thomas himself. He arranges a nighttime meeting on a dark bridge in the middle of nowhere. This should immediately raise all sorts of red flags. Upon getting a good look at him, Thomas recognizes Lindauer as an Apex.
Mommy Apex breaks into Jude’s house to kidnap him again, but he gets the drop on her and captures her at gunpoint. She tells him that she needs his help to find her daughter, and announces that her name is Reece.
As in, “Come with me if you want to live.” Ugh.
Episode Verdict / Grade: B
I rolled my eyes big-time at the reveal of the time-traveling lady Terminator’s name. Maybe she spells it with a “c” instead of an “s,” but the reference is clear and it’s a groaner. I also have trouble taking Steve Zahn seriously in a dramatic role.
The show’s premise is intriguing and the pilot episode (directed by ‘X Files’ veteran Rob Bowman) is slickly put together, opening with some very arresting imagery. However, it doesn’t engage much emotionally and none of the characters are particularly interesting so far. Compared to the pilot episode of ‘Lost’ (again, the network has bent over backwards to draw that comparison), this one didn’t grab me nearly as quickly. I’ll watch again, but I’ll be very surprised if it’s much of a hit or lasts more than one season.