Season 1, Episode 1:
In a populated city, a tractor-trailer drives out of a garage and makes its way out towards the desert. Its destination — the Fort Jericho waste disposal site.
When the truck arrives at the site, a pair of soldiers working the night shift come out to approve their delivery. They're surprised to see a woman driving the vehicle, and ask her passenger when they added females to the crew. They don't get very far before the driver and her companion pull out assault rifles and gun both men down. The group reveals themselves to be terrorists, and a squad of men on motorbikes drive out of the back of the trailer and begin gunning down every soldier they find. In the ensuing fight, gunfire pierces several of the barrels at the storage site and it begins to drip onto other barrels below it, before an alien hand rises out of the sludge...
The next morning, teacher/scientist Harrison Blackwood is giving a lecture to a group of teenagers at a technology institute. As he finishes his lecture, he's distracted by the arrival of a beautiful scientist who enters the room with an older man. After being momentarily distracted, the older man, Dr. Jacobi, introduces the woman as Dr. Suzanne McCullough, a microbiologist who has been transferred to the institute and is looking forward to working with the team there.
After talking with Suzanne, Harrison discovers that she is looking forward to working on various projects at the institute, but doesn't want to work nights and weekends due to obligations with her eleven-year old daughter, Debi. Harrison agrees to her requests before introducing her to the institute's resident computer technician, Norton Drake, who is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a voice-activated wheelchair to move around. Harrison tells Suzanne that her job will be to brainstorm models and theories about life on other worlds. When she expresses indignation at such a ridiculous job, he tells her that she needs to relax a little.
At the disposal site, the terrorists prepare to broadcast a live video feed with their demands and threats to bomb a nearby populated area with nuclear waste. As the leader gets ready to go on air, one of the henchman discovers an opened vat amid the piles of barrels and wonders what it came from. He is attacked from behind and fires off several rounds as he's dragged off, causing the other terrorists to react in shock and run towards his position. One by one, the terrorists are picked off by several aliens. The remaining female comes upon one of the others, but is shocked when he turns and reveals that he has been seemingly taken over by an alien who speaks an unintelligible language. The woman is kidnapped and possessed as well.
The now-possessed group of terrorists (who refer to themselves as "The Advocacy") begin to speak to each other in the native English language. They wonder how long they were kept in hibernation, and begin to make plans to collect other aliens trapped in the vats and wake them from their slumber as well...
That night, as Harrison (along with his girlfriend, Charlotte) attend a society party and talk about his devotion to his work, the aliens load the remaining barrels with their sleeping comrades onto a truck. At the party, Harrison ponders the nature of his future with Charlotte, but is called away by Norton, who tells him that he's discovered a series of strange alien-like signals coming from a point on Earth. Harrison orders Norton to reserve some time for them to get on a government supercomputer despite the cost.
At an Air Force base, it is revealed that the government has hid three alien War Machine ships in their hangar. As the machine's internal circuitry begins to hum to life and glow green, it is revealed that the aliens are attempting to triangulate their locations. They express happiness over their mission proceeding and then proclaim, "To life immortal..."
The next day, Harrison tells Charlotte his plan to access the government's supercomputer and tells her he'll be back in a couple days. As he goes to pick up Suzanne and they chart their destination to the military installation housing the computer, a Lieutenant-Colonel, Paul Ironhorse, learns that Fort Jericho was compromised and demands answers from the ranking officer on-scene. As he goes to the site to investigate for himself, Suzanne and Harrison are stopped at a military checkpoint nearby. Ironhorse arrives and questions them, and upon learning that Harrison has a copy of the radio signals that the aliens were using to communications, they strike up an uneasy alliance and go to investigate the Fort together.
Upon surveying the remnants of the alien attack, Harrison sees that a number of barrels have been compromised and claims that hundreds of other barrels that were supposed to be present at the site have seemingly disappeared all at once. He storms out past the incredulous Ironhorse and tells Suzanne that they have to leave immediately. At the same time, the aliens (now sporting visible lesions on their faces) stop at a gas station to refuel their truck and have one of their soldiers take over the body of the hapless owner, while a drunk man laying in the back of a car sees what's happening and hides.
Once they're back at the campus, Harrison reminisces while looking at an old family photo. It's revealed that he remembers the 1953 invasion, and in a flashback, is shown as a young boy looking on despairingly at the devastation caused by the aliens. He goes back to the campus offices, only to find Suzanne packing up and claiming she wants no part of his investigation. As she tries to storm out, Harrison tells her that in 1953, Earth experienced a "war of the worlds", and that the government has convinced the populace that it was all a case of "mass hysteria". Although common bacteria stopped the aliens, their hibernation has been broken and they are attempting to restart their mission. Suzanne decides to hold off on leaving for the moment, and suggests that he get in contact with her uncle, General Henry Wilson, who is part of the military...
At the gas station, the drunk man is explaining his account of the attack to a pair of incredulous deputies when Ironhorse and his lieutenant, Sergeant Akin, arrive. Ironhorse dismisses the officers, claiming that the incident was caused by "terrorists enacting guerilla warfare", while Akin confirms that there are radiological traces and that it matches the ones found at the disposal site. At the same time, the terrorists (accompanied by the possessed station owner) continue driving into the night, and eventually set up a camp at an abandoned house, where they begin offloading several of the barrels and attempt to triangulate the signal of the stored War Machines.
The next day, Harrison hastily packs his things (in front of the disbelieving Charlotte) and journeys with Suzanne to the Pentagon, where they meet General Wilson. While Wilson listens to his explanation about the aliens, he tells him he's going to need more than suppositions and theories in order to commit any resources to him. He orders Harrison to bring him hard evidence before the latter leaves, and then calls his secretary and asks her to connect him with Colonel Ironhorse...
Back at the campus, Norton, Harrison and Suzanne are able to track the strange signals to a forest several miles outside the city, and make plans to go and investigate. At the camp, a pair of hunters stumble near the site and witness the aliens (which have now inhabited several more victims) standing motionless in circles around three bonfires. The hunters sneak off and report their encounter with the local police, who subsequently relay it to Ironhorse and his unit, Delta Squadron. Despite Sgt. Akin's doubts about the mission, Ironhorse tells him to prep the team and get ready to undergo a nighttime mission to survey the site.
That night, Harrison and Suzanne reach the outskirts of the site, and he tells her to stay back and record any activity while he measures instrument readings. He doesn't get far before both of them are impeded by Ironhorse and Akin, who restrain them and ask what he's doing there. When he says he was looking for evidence, Ironhorse tells him he has no business interfering in military operations, and orders him to stay back while Delta Squadron takes out the "terrorists". While the trio watches, Akin and the rest of the squadron assault the house, only to find it seemingly empty... that is, until soldiers start getting picked off by the aliens, which are hiding in the ceiling.
Ironhorse witnesses what's happening to his men and rushes in despite Harrison's protests. While one soldier is caught and possessed by an alien in the field, Ironhorse uses an underbarrel grenade launcher to spam the property with More Dakka. The Advocacy, witnessing what is happening, retreat inside, while Ironhorse is knocked down by a bola line thrown by one of the possessed soldiers and falls to the ground. The possessed gas station owner walks outside to see what's happening, only for Ironhorse to see it and fire his launcher at him. The alien catches the round and looks at it for a moment before exploding violently. Ironhorse is further incapacitated by a second bola wrapping around his arms. Seeing this, Harrison commandeers a nearby ATV and rides in to rescue him. He hooks the incapacitated Ironhorse to the back of the vehicle and storms off as the Advocacy exits the barn and begins firing at them. They retreat back to the forest and find Suzanne is gone. Despite Ironhorse's attempt to leave immediately, Harrison tells him they can't leave without her.
The next morning, Harrison and Ironhorse head back into to the house, and find corpses of Delta Squad and a number of alien corpses that have messily melted into the ground. Fearing the worst, they are surprised when Suzanne reveals herself in the trunk of a car, and tells them she went looking for them and was forced to hide as the battle concluded. Before they leave, she takes a sample of the goop from a melted corpse and puts it in her makeup kit.
That afternoon, General Wilson arrives in-person to debrief Harrison and Suzanne, and tells them that he still doesn't quite believe what he's hearing, despite speaking with Ironhorse about it. When Harrison once again expresses indignation at being ignored, Wilson tells him he agrees with him, and says that although he doesn't want the situation to become a political issue, something has to be done about it. Wilson says that he's talked with his superiors, and offers Harrison a job — stop the aliens for good. Harrison agrees, and Wilson says that he will let him and his team have a blank check to continue their work in secret.
The team is given access to a black-site property, nicknamed "The Cottage", which houses a laboratory and armed defenses. While Ironhorse contends that it will be "easy" to stop the aliens, Harrison isn't so sure. Debi also finds herself getting homesick until she sees a horse lives in the barn beside the property, while the group meets Mr. and Mrs. Kensington, the caretakers of the property. At the same time, the Advocacy discover an abandoned nuclear waste facility in a cave on the outskirts of the Nevada desert, and decide to use it as a base of operations.
While the Advocacy rests in preparation for their next move (along with Sgt. Akin, who they've captured and converted), Suzanne surveys the estate's laboratory and decides to work on developing a bacteria that will either harm or kill the aliens, based on the sample she obtained at the abandoned house. Meanwhile, the team gets to know each other better and Harrison convinces Norton to use the "rule of three" (referring to the aliens' need to do everything from attacking to operating in thirds) as a way to track their signals, and suggests cross-referencing it with Dr. Forrester's old research notes. The next morning, the aliens successfully triangulate the location of the War Machines in the Kellogg Air Force Base, while Harrison and his team discover the same information by using Forrester's notes and a substitution program to discover the coded transmissions to the War Machines.
Harrison suggests that the base contains confidential UFO artifacts and property, and suggests that Ironhorse check with General Wilson. Upon calling him, Ironhorse reveals to the group that there are 3 alien aircraft stored within the hangar. Drawing up a plan, the team decides to use C4 explosives to destroy the War Machines, and Suzanne also brings along a synthesized bacteria she claims may be able to harm the aliens. At the same time, the aliens begin to enact their plan by possessing two air force pilots at a bar near the base.
The Blackwood team, using a cover story, gains military access to Kellogg Air Force Base and drives to Hangar 15. When they reach the site, Norton hacks the door for them and they enter, revealing the War Machines hidden inside. Marveling at the machines for a moment, they decide to plant the C4 inside the ships. Using Forrester's notes, Harrison is able to open the access hatches on the ships and they plant the explosives inside. The aliens also reach the base soon after, and deploy an attack force to assault the hangar and activate the machines.
Harrison, Suzanne and Ironhorse move to flee, and notice that the aliens include the now-possessed remnants of Delta Squad. On their way out, they encounter the possessed Akin, who looks at them coldly before raising his gun to fire. Suzanne shoots the bacteria at Akin, causing him to stumble back in pain. When she initially cheers for the success of the weapon, it doesn't immediately take effect, as Akin stands back up and a three-fingered hand shoots out of his chest. Ironhorse pulls out his rifle and empties a full clip into Akin, killing him.
The alien pilots activate the machines and they begin to glow green as the team runs out of the base. Blowing a hole in the ceiling, they begin to rise into the air as the team makes a break for it down the dirt road. The War Machines begin advancing and firing at the team's position as they dodge and run, eventually jumping behind a dirt embankment for cover. Ironhorse checks his watch and notes that the explosives should be detonating, but nothing happens for several moments as the War Machines move closer and begin to charge up their weapons. Suddenly, the explosives detonate and destroy all three ships, with the team looking on in happiness.
The next night, Ironhorse tells them that General Wilson has set up a Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story to mask the truth of what's happened, and Suzanne says she's glad the struggle is over. Harrison turns back the group and asks them if it really is...
At the Mor-Tax base, the aliens lament the loss of the War Machines and say that humanity is stronger than they expected. They pledge to fight on and continue building their numbers before saying, "To Life Immortal"...
- Alien Invasion: It wouldn't be a sequel to the Trope Maker without it.
- All Girls Like Ponies: Debi pouts and complains about having to move away to a new location... until she sees that the estate has a horse, and immediately becomes much friendlier to her mother and asks if they can stay for a while.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Ironhorse witnesses his entire unit get massacred in a couple minutes by the aliens, is easily routed and downed by them (and would have been killed had Harrison not saved him), and sees what happens after they die (their melted remains), but refuses to believe they're anything more than terrorists (and claims it will be easy to stop them) until he sees the possessed Akin at the warehouse, which finally changes his mind. Lampshaded when Harrison asks "if he still has trouble believing in aliens" when the War Machines blow up.
- Arc Words: "To life immortal", the motto of the Mor-Tax/the Advocacy.
- Asshole Victim: The terrorists in the opening who are attacked and possessed by the aliens. It's hard to feel sympathetic for them after they had just gunned down a pair of guards and talked about their plans to bomb a neighboring suburban area with nuclear waste.
- Bullet Catch: One of the possessed aliens catches a grenade Ironhorse fires in his hand, and is blown up moments later.
- Catchphrase: The Mor-Tax aliens' preferred motto (sometimes used as a "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner) is "To life immortal".
- The Cavalry: Harrison drives in with an ATV to rescue Ironhorse after the latter is incapacitated by the aliens' bola weapons at the abandoned house.
- Characterization Marches On: Being the pilot episode, the main characters' personalities weren't completely set in stone yet, and clash with their portrayal in the rest of the series. Harrison's portrayal as someone who effortlessly charms Charlotte into bed and is just as much at-home at a high-society party as he is in the lab clashes with his role as The Spock throughout the rest of the series. Norton's heavy Jamaican accent (not to mention a joke that's an example of Getting Crap Past the Radar) is toned down within the same episode, with him being much more reserved once the team reaches the estate.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- When Harrison speaks with Suzanne about the 1953 invasion and his adoption by Dr. Forrester, he mentions the latter's research notes and how they led the government to discredit him. When the team reaches the estate, they use Forrester's notes to track the location of the War Machines and, once they reach Hangar 15, access the ships to plant the explosives.
- After the team's first encounter with the Mor-Tax at the abandoned house, Suzanne pilfers a sample of the melted remains of one of the aliens and deposits it in her makeup kit. She eventually uses it to develop a bacteria and subsequently uses it against Akin. Subverted in that it takes time to work, isn't completely fatal and has to be used at close range, which prompts Ironhorse to grab the dispersal weapon and use it to beat Akin with instead.
- Chest Burster: A preferred attack method of the aliens is to shoot a three-fingered hand out of their own chest and grab the victim's head.
- Creepy Monotone: How the possessed humans usually speak, whether it's in the aliens' own Mor-Tax language or English.
- Crusty Caretaker: Mr. Kensington, who complains about the team's presence at the estate and grumbles about having to "restock the pantry".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Delta Squad gets completely decimated by the Mor-Tax during their first incursion, with Ironhorse being the only survivor.
- Death Ray: Just like the original film, the War Machines use this as their main weapon.
- Disposable Woman: The unnamed female terrorist, who gets a very small amount of characterization before she's possessed by the aliens and becomes "Advocate #1".
- The End... Or Is It?: The episode ends with Harrison responding in this way when Ironhorse claiming they eliminated the threat for good.
- Grand Theft Me/Human Resources: The aliens move among the public by capturing and hijacking the bodies of innocent civilians, via melding themselves into them. This also has the side-effect of causing the bodies to slowly break down, revealing sores and wounds in the process.
- Hollywood Tactics: Invoked several times by Delta Squad during their assault of the abandoned house. One soldier executes a rolling dive through a glass window for no clear reason, several stand out in the open firing blindly before being attacked, and one soldier panics and fires wildly around a room when a fellow squad member is kidnapped and possessed.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Invokved several times. Most notably, the Advocacy walk out of the house towards the immobilized Ironhorse, wait for several moments as Harrison drives up and attaches him to the back of the vehicle, and only start firing as they drive off, at which point none of their bullets hit them. Later on, three War Machines miss the main trio of characters, who are running straight down the middle of a dirt road, despite firing multiple rounds.
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: Used when Suzanne reveals herself after the site of the group's first encounter with the Mor-Tax, after hearing Harrison lament her likely death. Despite everything he says about her (deriding her decision to run off for no reason), she's more irritated that he called her "uptight".
- Laser-Guided Karma: Several conversations suggest that the populace has completely forgotten about the 1953 invasion, though dialogue from Harrison (who does remember it, seeing as it was the event that made him an orphan), Suzanne (who doesn't challenge Harrison when he brings up the invasion) or General Wilson (who is quick to fund the Blackwood Project once he consults with Ironhorse) suggests that certain characters do acknowledge what's happened but either refuse to accept it or have some kind of mental block in their minds.
- Mildly Military: Played for Laughs — Ironhorse convinces an air force colonel that their Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story (which he claims has something to do with the Middle East) is of utmost importance, while he and Harrison fumble about to leave the area as quickly as possible, including ushering each other to salute, turning and saluting the captain for no reason and refusing requests to get backup for the operation.
- P.O.V. Cam: Several shots are seen from the perspective of the terrorists riding motorcycles and firing their weapons in the opening.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Due to budget restrictions, it is explained that Earth collectively forgot about the 1953 invasion, and Earth has progressed without researching or utilizing any of the aliens' technology (despite having access to several War Machines]].
- Product Placement: One scene late in the episode is dedicated to showcasing the geographic mapping capabilities of the Honeywell Bull computer, as Norton uses it to track the aliens' transmissions to Kellogg Air Force Base.
- Recycled Set: Invoked in-universe. Harrison and Norton's lab at the university looks almost exactly the same as their eventual lab at the Blackwood Estate. Dialogue from Harrison and Ironhorse indicates that the government has replicated their surroundings (including Harrison's office) to be an almost-perfect copy in order to "make them feel right at home".
- Red Shirt: Delta Squad, the first iteration of Ironhorse's elite troops. All of them are either captured or killed by the aliens in the first encounter, save for Ironhorse (who has to be rescued by Harrison).
- Run or Die: The main trio are forced to flee when they see the alien machines power up. Said machines then proceed to lay waste to all of the structures around them (and attempt to shoot the fleeing characters) before blowing up.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: When Harrison returns from his trip to the Pentagon, he goes back to Charlotte's house to make amends with her. The scene cuts from him smooth-talking his way in the front door and kissing her to both of them lying naked in bed in the middle of the night.
- Theme Music Power-Up: The bad guys get this once the War Machines are re-activated — a reprise of the title theme plays as they activate and rise out of the warehouse.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The possessed Sgt. Akin bites it, courtesy of Suzanne's aerosol agent and Ironhorse pumping nearly a full clip into him with a machine gun — at point-blank range.
- Vertical Kidnapping: How the aliens dispatch several members of Delta Squad in the abandoned house.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Sgt. Akin gets a couple of scenes acting as The Lancer to Ironhorse before he disappears during Delta Squad's disasterous attack on the abandoned house. The next time the characters see him, he's a possessed, mute brute who tries to attack the team before being gunned down by Ironhorse.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The dean at the university where Harrison works, Charlotte and Ironhorse's subordinates working in the office all disappear (and are never seen again) once the team officially forms and moves to the Blackwood Estate.
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: Despite witnessing the aliens possessing his men and running roughshod over an elite group of soldiers, Ironhorse seems to think that they will only be staying at the "Blackwood Estate" for a short time and says it will be "easy" to find the rest of them.
- You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Harrison makes a point of saying this repeatedly.