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Series / First Wave

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In 1564, Nostradamus predicted the destruction of Earth in three terrifying waves. The first wave is here.

My name is Cade Foster. These are my journals. They killed my wife, framed me for murder. Now I run, but I don't hide. With the prophecies of Nostradamus as my guide, I seek them. I hunt them. I
will stop the first wave.
Cade Foster, Opening Narration

First Wave (1998-2001) was an early Sci-Fi Channel original series. The show starred Sebastian Spence as Cade Foster, a man trying to expose an alien conspiracy to conquer the earth. After the aliens destroy his life and frame him for his wife's murder, he discovers a book of prophecies by Nostradamus that names him as the "Twice-Blessed Man" who is destined to save the world.

Cade teams up with a conspiracy theorist and skilled hacker, Crazy Eddie (Rob LaBelle), to expose the invasion over the Internet. He later meets a sympathetic alien, Joshua (Roger Cross). Jordan Radcliffe (Traci Elizabeth Lords), a rich woman with her own private militia who vowed to destroy the invaders after they killed her family, joins the cast for the third and final season.

Season 1 finally got an official DVD release in 2011.

This show provides examples of:

  • Adventure Towns: Cade often visits these, particularly in the first season.
  • Alien Abduction: Subverted: members of the Alien Abduction Support Group are revealed to be hypnotized by aliens to recall false memories as part of an experiment.
  • Alien Catnip: Salt is a potent drug to the Gua.
  • Alien Invasion: A textbook infiltration. The Gua aren't quite sure what to expect from humans, and are trying to find ways to weaken Earth's defences and turn humans into slaves, in preparation for an all-out attack.
  • All Just a Dream: Cain captures Foster and puts him into a machine that convinces Cade that it is 20 Minutes into the Future and humans have lost the war with aliens.
    • In another episode, a Gua hypnotizes Cade into believing that everything that happened to him over the past few months was nothing but a dream, including his wife's murder.
  • Artificial Gravity: One of the technologies mastered by the Gua. A Gua uses an anti-gravity field to fake a miracle, when posing as a cult leader. Cade then repeats the trick to break his hold on the believers.
  • Bad Future: A girl comes back from 20 Minutes into the Future, in which the Gua rule the Earth, to keep Foster from being killed.
    • There is also the episode Terminal City where Cade is transported to a future where a bitter, disillusioned Cade has been leading a resistance against the Gua for over a decade.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Nostradamus was an alien refugee. His prophesies come true because the aliens use exactly the same tactics on every world, with zero variation, it seems. Yes, even the prophecies that named specific places, people and current events on planet Earth and clearly predicted future events that happened to the main characters within each episode.
  • Big Bad: Mabus.
  • Bluffing the Advance Scout: A version of this is attempted by Joshua in order to prevent the invasion of Earth by the Gua or, at least, forestall the Second Wave. He continually brings up the experiment that resulted in Cade Foster (AKA Subject 117) becoming their greatest enemy. Joshua argues that, if every 117th human is The Determinator like Foster, then the invasion is doomed from the start or, at least, will be a Pyrrhic Victory. Joshua does not succeed in cancelling the invasion, but it is put off indefinitely.
  • Captain's Log: Each episode starts with a fake Nostradamus quote, followed by the hero's exposition of what it could possibly mean. Sounds like he is reading from a journal. It's heavily implied that Eddie posts his journal notes online.
  • Cassandra Truth: Our heroes try to prevent and reveal the first stages of an alien invasion. No one but a small collection of conspiracy nuts believe them.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Subverted. The Gua are able to send only small objects through wormholes (called "white holes" in the show). Most of these are small spheres encoded with an alien's consciousness, which are later uploaded onto a human/Gua hybrid clone. (The first Gua spheres arrived on Earth in the late 1940s and would erase the minds of any curious humans who chanced pick them up, replacing them with their own.)
  • Clip Show: The episode where the Gua higher-ups are discussing whether or not they should proceed to the Second Wave (i.e. Alien Invasion) is mostly made up of Joshua reminding the brass of all the times that Cade has thwarted them using this trope. The episode "The Trial of Joshua Bridges" could also count, consisting mostly of clips of Joshua interacting with Cade.
  • Combat Tentacles: In the pilot, Cade and his wife are having sex. Except it's not his wife, but a Gua in a husk that looks like his wife (his wife is already dead by this point). During the act, the Gua!wife suddenly sprouts tentacles that nearly choke Cade to death, while she is obviously having the time of her life.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Crazy Eddie.
    Cade: Nice saber.
    Eddie: Sword that killed Lincoln.
    Cade: Lincoln was shot.
    Eddie: That's what they tell you.
  • Cool Plane: One episode involves a top-secret crashed stealth bomber that appears to have been designed by the Gua as part of their preparation for the invasion.
  • The Cracker: Crazy Eddie. "I've been hacking into government databases since I was thirteen."
  • The Corruption: In one episode a Mad Scientist working for the Raven Nation injects Cade with Gua DNA to "improve" him. Instead, it starts mutating him and even changes his personality to become evil like a stereotypical Gua. Connecting with the Gua Hive Mind might have had something to do with that.
  • Cuckoo Nest: The final episodes did this.
    • Very effectively too, considering the whole alien plot of the first wave of invasion was to drive a few people insane as a test, and protagonist Cade grows increasingly unhinged over the course of the series.
  • Custom-Built Host: The Gua started their covert infiltration of Earth by sending spheres containing their minds that would hijack any curious humans who picked them up, but they quickly started cloning Half-Human Hybrid bodies to use instead.
  • Dead Person Conversation: One episode has a girl be hit by a car and wake up quoting the lost quatrains of Nostradamus in a deeper monotone voice. After Cade finds out, he gets to the girl, and she immediately recognizes him as the "twice-blessed man", even though she doesn't know what it means. Cade eventually figures out how to trigger another "episode" and has a short conversation with the dead prophet being channeled by the girl. Nostradamus, though, fails to mention that he himself is an alien from a race destroyed by the Gua.
  • The Determinator: Cade, as well as, presumably, 1 in every 117 human. This is one of the reasons why Joshua works to prevent his own people's invasion. If there are about 50 million humans with the same qualities as Cade, then the invasion is either doomed to fail or will be extremely costly to the Gua.
  • The Dragon: Cain.
  • Dream Within a Dream: A variation. Hypnosis within a hypnosis.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The pilot features a Gua that can sprout Combat Tentacles. We are never shown another Gua like that again.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The Gua, presumably, have an Interstellar Weapon capable of destroying the planet, and they might use it if the invasion fails to keep humanity from coming after them in retaliation.
  • Either/Or Prophecy: The key prophecy from the Lost Quatrains of Nostradamus:
    On the seventh dawn of the seventh day;
    A twice-blessed man will roam the fields.
    Doomed to shadows with his brethren;
    Or savior to all who walk the ground.
    • Basically, it's up to Cade (the "twice-blessed man") whether Earth will be conquered by aliens or not.
  • The Empire: The Gua are an expansionist totalitarian state, where the needs of an individual don't matter when faced with the needs of the state. They have already conquered and exterminated at least one alien race, and Earth is their next target. Only two thing are forcing them to bide their time before launching a full-scale invasion: the great distance between their homeworld and Earth and the desire to avoid massive casualties. Hence the titular First Wave, an infiltration to prepare Earth for a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Expendable Clone: Cade and Eddie manage to temporarily fake Cade's death by having Eddie shoot a husk made in Cade's image on live TV. They gamble on the husk not dissolving due to a Gua consciousness not yet having been imprinted on it.
  • The Faceless: Mabus. For the most part.
  • Fake Guest Star: Rob LaBelle as Eddie shows up in almost every episode, as does Traci Elizabeth Lords as Jordan in the third season, but only Sebastian Spence as Cade is listed in the credits sequence.
  • Fiery Redhead: Jordan Radcliff.
  • Frame-Up: The reason why Cade is a fugitive is because the Gua killed his wife and framed him for her murder. In one episode, a government agent promises to expunge Cade's criminal record in exchange for helping them "recover" a valuable asset. She lies, and Cade barely escapes before the cops arrive.
  • Future Bad Ass: Cade encounters his future self in a Bad Future who has been fighting the Gau for over a decade in the episode Terminal City. Said future Cade has long, wild hair and is completely disillusioned following his decision to sacrifice Jordan for the Hammer. He is convinced that if he prevents his past self from acting, it will prevent the Bad Future from happening at all.
  • Gorn: The episode Blind Wittness takes places in a Horror Hospital, and is noticeably gorier than other episodes.
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: A self-described witch in an episode looks like a typical goth. While her "powers" are initially only shown in the form of baking cookies that poison Gua but are harmless to humans. She claims to have found the recipe in an old book, which then gets destroyed by a Gua. However, during Cade's fight with the Gua, the girl and a few other girls use some sort of ritual that possibly causes the Gua to be split in half by a falling axe.
  • Government Conspiracy: A shadowy government agency knows about the aliens but is not willing to do anything to stop them.
  • Grand Theft Me: Mabus is able to force his consciousness into any human's body without even touching them. Does this to kidnap Jordan.
    • A Gua scientist develops a way to transfer his consciousness by touch. Body Surfs Foster.
    • The first Gua spheres to arrive to Earth took hosts by wiping the minds of anyone touching them and overwriting them with their own. The human/Gua hybrid husks were developed later.
  • G-Rated Drug: The Gua can easily get addicted to table salt, although their High Command frowns on such weakness and orders the addicts killed. This was discovered by accident when Foster was interrogating a wounded Gua and poured salt on the open wound. The result was a seriously stoned Gua. Given the Gua mastery of genetic engineering, it's strange they don't remove this weakness from their hybrid husks.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: A quantum pocket prison built specifically for Joshua, after the other Gua discover that he is a human sympathizer. An entire episode is focused on Foster and Joshua attempting to break the loop, which ends in the destruction of Earth by the Gua. Not only do they succeed, but also trap Cain in Joshua's prison.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: According to Joshua, this is the primary reason why the Gua seek to conquer Earth. Their own world will soon be incapable of sustaining life, so they need another planet. There are not many mentions of that in later seasons, and it pretty much degrades into a typical Alien Invasion plot, especially after it's revealed that Earth is far from being the first planet on the Gua path of conquest, which begs the question of why they didn't move to one of their previously-conquered worlds.
  • Honey Trap: Given that Gua husks are designed to be physically attractive, and that the Gua are perfectly willing to use sex to get their way (especially since, as they discover, human sex is pleasurable, while Gua sex is very painful), this is a standard tactic.
  • Hypno Pendulum: In one episode, Cade is hypnotized with a pocket watch.
    Vanessa: You think I hypnotized everyone? What if you're wrong? (pulls out a watch) What if this was All Just a Dream? (starts swinging the watch) What if the last three months of your life... were nothing but a dream?
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: The Gua can get high on table salt, so high in fact that they often spill their secrets
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: How Cade figures out who was responsible for the events in "Hypnotic": while talking to Vanessa, she mentions the triggers for different people; she mentions one trigger that she shouldn't have known about, and it all comes together.
  • Immune to Drugs: The Gua hybrids are built to be stronger than regular humans and immune to our diseases and, presumably, our drugs. But they get completely stoned on table salt.
  • Informed Ability: Mabus is said to be a seer but never demonstrates this ability. In fact, Foster outwits him pretty often.
  • In-Series Nickname: Foster is nicknamed the "Alien Hunter" by a kid who found Crazy Eddie's website. Of course, Nostradamus nicknamed him the "Twice-Blessed Man". When Eddie asks what the kid nicknamed him, Foster himself makes up the nickname "The Hidden Brain". Eddie likes that.
  • Kill and Replace: At times, the Gua will kill a human and replace him or her with an identical-looking husk. They do that to Cade's wife in the pilot.
  • Kill Sat: Early in the series, Cade finds out that the US Government knows or, at least, suspects about the coming Alien Invasion, when he discovers a series of satellites in orbit armed with nuclear missiles. Except the satellites are facing away from Earth. The Gua find out about this and try to get them to self-destruct in order to shower the planet with radioactive material. This could be one reason why the Gua try to build an army on Earth instead of invade using spaceships.
  • Long-Lived: According to Joshua, the average Gua lifespan is 1000 years.
  • Macho Masochism: While possessing Jordan's body, Mabus tortures Cade by placing Jordan's hand in a fire. Mabus states that pain means nothing to him, but Jordan is screaming internally.
  • The Masquerade
  • Mass Hypnosis: See Alien Abduction above.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: An episode with a self-described witch has a climax in which she and several of her friends hold hands and chant some spell, while Cade is fighting a Gua in a cabin. Suddenly, just as the Gua is about to deliver the killing blow, an ax falls from its place on the wall and cleaves the alien in two. We are left to wonder if the ax falling was the result of the spell or just a random accident. Then again, Cade does speak to Nostradamus's spirit at one point, and Psychic Powers are known to be real in this 'verse..
  • Meaningful Name: "Gua" means "power to overcome" in their language. They named themselves that after overthrowing their alien invaders.
  • Memory Gambit: Mabus claims that Foster is a Gua agent brainwashed to think of himself as human. Neither confirmed nor disproved.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: In one episode a teenage boy who reads Crazy Eddie's website thinks his neighbor is an alien and gets Cade to come to his house. The kid's parents are quite worried when they find an adult man in their son's bedroom, become more worried when they find out they met on the internet, but luckily when Cade claims to be a reporter they buy it.
  • Mjölnir: Thor's hammer is an alien weapon.
  • Neck Snap: Being stronger than humans, the Gua sometimes resort to this method.
  • No Body Left Behind: The partially-human bodies the aliens use dissolve immediately after death so that humans won't analyse them and discover the alien genes, exposing the alien presence. Of course, that means anyone who sees an alien die discovers that something strange is going on.
    • In one episode, Cade and Eddie take over a TV station to try and get the word of the invasion out. Naturally, everyone thinks they're nuts until one tech is shot and turns out to be an alien. Talking to Joshua on the phone, Cade notes the station staff now ready to help with the broadcast and lampshades "funny thing about that dizzolving trick you guys have. It always turns people into believers."
    • But not everyone immediately thinks "aliens". When Crazy Eddie first sees a cut off hand dissolve, a conspiracy nut that he is, he immediately blames the government and their super-secret projects.
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: Cade ends up on the receiving end of these on the regular, where his presence will make someone nervous enough to send a gang of the local boys to beat him into the ground. As this tends to happen when he's getting close to the truth, he seems to take this as the cost of doing business.
  • Only Six Faces: After Joshua is arrested and found guilty of being a human sympathizer, The Dragon Cain arrives to Earth and is given a husk identical to Joshua's, so that he can get close to Cade to capture him.
  • Opening Narration: Cade Foster begins each episode (except for the pilot) with a quatrain from the "hidden chapters" of the prophecies of Nostradamus and spends the episode trying to interpret the archaic wording into the show's reality.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Joshua claims the Gua use "white holes" to transport objects from their planet.
  • Parlor Games: A group of popular high school girls play "Truth or Dare" near a football field, where the players are doing laps. One of them chooses "Dare" and is told to flash the players as they're passing them. She only shows the bare minimum amount of reluctance before agreeing, barely frowning at another girl's comment that most of the players have already seen her boobs anyway. She flashes the players, resulting in an unintentional football pileup. The game then turns more serious, when the girls choose "Truth" for another girl and demand that she tell them about her bruise.
  • Pocket Dimension: The Gua are shown to be experimenting with creating "quantum pockets" (supposedly, they have studied the one in The Bermuda Triangle). Later on, they are shown using them as a flight recorder of sorts, preserving a 3D snapshot of their experimental aircraft just before the crash.
  • Possession Burnout: For those that Mabus the alien leader possessed. If not maintained through various sci-fi tech means, any body Mabus inhabits starts bleeding and decaying. It is said that his consciouness is too powerful for an ordinary husk, and most times he appears he looks like a rotting corpse in a robe.
  • Pride Before a Fall: In Season 2, the Gua bring in a special, extra-deadly Acolyte to test Cade on a military level. When Joshua mentions the idea that they might have 50 million humans like Cade to deal with, she boasts that they'll crush them too. She's killed in that episode, by Cade and Eddie.
  • Prophecy Pileup: Nostradamus and a Gua sage had both made prophecies about how to stop Big Bad Mabus...they disagreed on whether or not Cade Foster should shoot him, however. According to the Gua prophet doing so would stop the invasion, according to Nostradamus it would jump-start it. Nostadamus was right.
  • Psychic Powers: A telekinetic human girl working for aliens in the appropriately named episode Mata Hari. Kills people by crushing them. The main Big Bad Mabus has some too and they are extremely powerul. Then there's Nostradamus, who predicted the whole thing in the first place (he was a member of a prescient alien species that has been exterminated by the Gua). The Gua in general are able to sense one another to an extent, since some information indicates that it would be otherwise impossible for them to determine if the being in front of them is a Gua or not (they change continuously as they age, meaning no two Gua look alike).
    • The episode "Susperience" features a group of human psychics, all with impressive abilities.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Occasional MO of the Gua (though they more frequently used artificial hosts).
  • Putting on the Reich: Some of the episodes imply this about the Gua. To them, humans are not even sentient beings. There's even an episode about a Mengele-like doctor, who cuts up people like lab rats for experiments. The Grand Finale has Mabus appear to implant a false memory into Cade's mind about Cade supposedly being a Gua sleeper agent, wearing a suspiciously SS-like uniform and raising his hand in a salute.
  • Reformed Criminal: Cade used to be a professional thief with his own crew. After meeting his wife, he went legit and worked as a security expert, putting his skills to good use. After his wife's death at the hands of the Gua, Cade is once again on the other side of the law.
  • Retcon: In Cain's first appearance it was shown that he had stolen Joshua's husk and exiled his consciousness for "realignment." In a future episode, Joshua still has his husk and was exiled to a quantum pocket, while it was explained that Cain was simply given an identical husk to Joshua's.
  • La Résistance: At first, the only people who know about the Gua and fight them are Cade and Eddie. Later on, they meet a few other people who use their own means (less ethical than Cade's) to fight the Gua. The third season introduces Raven Nation, an organized force, dedicated to stopping the Gua, whose members have been following Cade's exploits throughout the years and have been using his experience to prepare. Cade is eventually brought in by Raven Nation's leader Jordan to work alongside them.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Part of the reason why Cade is determined to stop the Gua is to avenge his wife's death at their hands.
  • Room 101: When Cade is captured, he is placed in Mabus' preservation chamber which is designed to delay the deteriatration of Mabus' husks. It has the side-effect of triggering the parts of Cade's brain responsible for guilt and regret. While in there he starts hallucinating having failed everyone he ever cared about.
  • Salt Solution: Cade exploits the Gua's weakness to common salt to turn the tables on his interrogator in the episode The Box, by pouring some from a packet into the Gua's coffee. He then forces him at gunpoint to snort more of it so he will talk more.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Gua, complete with Nazi uniforms.
    • According to Joshua, the Gua used to be peaceful beings, whose favorite pastime was contemplating the universe, until they were invaded by a violent race. This forced them to radically alter their society in order to fight off the invaders. The name Gua means "the power to overcome".
  • Self-Mutilation Demonstration: Inverted when Foster is captured by people claiming to be government agents who know the truth about the Gua. To prove he is really human, the agent in charge let's Foster stab him in the hand, as aliens have a Healing Factor. The hand doesn't heal, convincing Foster. Later, it is revealed that all this was an elaborate alien ploy. In fact, it was difficult for them to create an arm that wouldn't heal.
  • Sense Freak: The aliens, downloaded as they were into vat-grown human bodies as the initial part of their invasion, quickly figured out that sex in human form was somewhat more satisfying than in their original bodies, where sex was painful and thus only for procreation.
  • Sensual Slavs: The hot Ukrainian telekinetic in an early episode.
  • Showing Off the New Body: Mabus does this when he possesses Jordan. He takes full advantage of this, even deceiving Cade into having sex with him in Jordan's body and getting pregnant with their child so that he can possess it.
  • Sons of Slaves: The Gua name for themselves means "power to overcome". They are an aggressive, militaristic species because, at some point in the past, they were invaded and enslaved themselves, by another conquering group of aliens. Now they are doing the same thing to Earth to make sure that it never happens to them again.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: Mabus fears the union between Cade and Jordan, but quickly realizes the potential in the two having offspring. To this end, Mabus possesses Jordan's body and then seduces Cade to get Jordan's body pregnant. Cade initially thinks that the encounter is just an hallucination, but becomes horrified when he finds out it was real.
  • Super Strength: While all Gua husks are stronger than the average human, one in particular is given incredible strength, speed, and endurance (not to mention the Most Common Superpower) in order to allow her to kill Cade. She is shown to be easily capable of punching through a metal shipping container, but she can't survive having one dropped on her.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Numerous times and in every variation. They added the further complication that the hero himself was usually also an impostor in the group, and had to spend much of the episode convincing the others to trust him.
  • Thunder Hammer: Mjolnir shows up as an alien device that can create portals.
  • The Unmasked World: After being found guilty of sympathizing with humans, Joshua is sent to a Pocket Dimension that is contains a scripted "Groundhog Day" Loop, in which the Gua have tried and failed to invade Earth, resulting in Gua stragglers being hunted down by the human authorities. Meanwhile, the Gua command decides to destroy Earth in order to prevent humanity from retaliating someday.
  • Walking the Earth
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Common table salt intoxicates Gua like heroin, while also giving them loose lips. Some Gua are addicted to it, and indulge this habit to the deterrent of their mission. Sometimes Cade tries to exploit this: an intoxicated Gua is easier to deal with.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The episode "Deluge" to The Wicker Man (1973).
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: The title refers to the first step of the aliens' three-step plan.
  • You Have to Believe Me!
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Numerous times.