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Series / War of the Worlds (2019)

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A reimagining of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, created and written by Howard Overman (Misfits, Crazyhead, Merlin), set in present day Britain and France. Not to be confused with the 2019 BBC series, The War of the Worlds, nor the 1988 US series with the same name (also set in the-then-present day).

It follows five main sets of characters:

  • Bill Ward (Gabriel Byrne) and his ex-wife Helen Brown (Elizabeth McGovern) in the UK, who are trying to find their son Dan
  • Catherine Durand (Léa Drucker) and Colonel Mustafa Mokrani (Adel Bencherif), two officials with the French government trying to halt the alien invasion in France
  • Sophie Durand (Emilie de Preissac), who's Catherine's sister, trying to find her
  • Sarah Gresham (Natasha Little) in the UK, along with her children Emily (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Tom (Ty Tennant), trying to find their father/Sarah's husband Jonathan
  • Jonathan Gresham (Stephen Campbell Moore) (who was in France on a business trip at the time of the attack), who's simultaneously trying to find his family, and Chloe Dumont (Stéphane Caillard), a Frenchwoman whom he meets up with.

After its original broadcast in the UK and France, it was re-released for US audiences on ePix beginning in February 2020. It had eight episodes.

Season 2 has wrapped up production on October 22, 2020 and it’ll air on June 6, 2021.

For the BBC series released in the same year, see The War of the Worlds.

War of the Worlds provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: The book indicated the aliens had imperial ambitions like humanity, and would be content with a Vichy Earth, while here they clearly intend to kill all humans.
  • Adult Fear: Bill, Helen, Sarah, Jonathan and Chloe are all parents seeking to find or protect their children while aliens invade. Sarah in particular is always reluctant to help others, despite her daughter Emily urging it, because she's concerned with Tom and Emily's welfare over all (plus finding their father/her husband Jonathan). Catherine is also a surrogate parent to her sister Sophie because they lost their parents in Sophie's childhood, who's anxious to learn what became of her.
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  • Alien Invasion: Naturally, one occurs. However, it differs from the usual depictions as the aliens try to kill most humans first with an EMP attack while also disabling technology, after which they send in robots for the rest.
  • Awful Truth: Sacha's paternity is one for him. He's actually the result of his mother being raped by her brother.
  • Bio Punk: The quadrupedal cyborgs sent to Earth have an organic nervous system.
  • Britain is Only London: All the British scenes have been set in London, although much of the show was filmed in Bristol and Cardiff.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Chloe's brother is revealed to have raped her.
  • Cast Herd: The show has three separate groups of characters - a group of survivors in London; Catherine and the French soldiers in the French Alps; and Chloe and her family in Northern France. Jonathan, the father of one of the London families, is with the family in Northern France, but otherwise there is no direct connection between the three groups.
  • Child by Rape: Chloe's son is revealed to have been the result of her rape.
  • Cyborg: The killer robots the aliens sent to wipe out surviving humans are revealed as having organic interiors, with some nervous system driving them. In the finale, we learn humans are being made into cyborgs by the aliens too.
  • Clairvoyant Security Force: Kariam tries to rob an abandoned shop of its food - only to discover it isn't quite as abandoned as he thought.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Catherine and Sophie's parents died in a car accident. Due to this, Catherine had to raise Sophie, who later became a drug user whom she worried for greatly. However, after taking another orphan under her care, Sophie's gotten clean and become much better.
  • Disability Superpower: Emily's able to see again at times and hear things no one else can as a result of the alien signal affecting her brain somehow. This appears to be a result of her blindness (or the condition behind it), since no one else can do these things.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Emily rather matter of factly asks Kariem if he'll have sex with her. He quickly accepts.
  • Easily Forgiven: Kariem holds Emily at gunpoint so that her mother will go get him help with his injury. Shortly after, she's not only over this (though it helps that he's quite remorseful) but she propositions him and they have sex (albeit Emily does ask if it's too soon, but he unsurprisingly doesn't object). Her mother and brother though only begrudgingly accept him.
  • Easily Overheard Conversation: Sacha is able to overhear a pretty shocking revelation from his mother and uncle's conversation when in the bathroom while they speak nearby.
  • EMP: The aliens use one that fatally shuts down most humans' brains along with their technology first. In the series the characters who survive were either immune to this or sheltered by metal at the time.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Chloe's son Sacha overhears her speaking with his uncle while he's in the bathroom next door. Due to this, he learns Chloe's brother not only raped her, but Sacha is the result. It appears that this was accidental eavesdropping, though it's unclear.
  • Happily Adopted: Theo has been adopted in all but name by Sophie after his family was killed, and he's very happy with the situation, as she's a caring, devoted mother to him. Her sister Catherine is very impressed by this, as she'd been a pretty irresponsible drug user until the invasion. Adopting Theo made her go clean and grow up significantly.
  • Invisible Aliens: The aliens were never shown; we only see their cyborg army; although we see a vague remnant of one of them.
  • Kill All Humans: The aliens are clearly intent on this, first wiping out most humans by EMP and then sending in killer robots to hunt down survivors.
  • Left for Dead: Bill accidentally pushes Helen's partner Chris down the stairs whilst trying to convince him about the upcoming attack. He leaves Chris for dead and rushes up to Helen's flat to warn her.
  • Mama Bear: Sarah is only concerned with keeping Emily and Tom safe. They try to convince her to help the others in the group as time goes on.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The killer robots whom the aliens send to kill all surviving humans.
  • Militaries Are Useless:
  • Modesty Bedsheet: After having sex, Kariem and Emily have a blanket over them both up to chest level.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Chloe looks like an older sister of her son, as she gave birth to him at fifteen.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Catherine is horrified to realize that the aliens learned about Earth because of a signal she helped in sending out when they sent a song included in it back down.
  • Noble Shoplifter: The group in London becomes this, raiding now-empty shops for supplies.
  • Not Actually His Child: Sarah tells Bill that she cheated on her husband in the past, and due to this Emily was really fathered by another man. Though he still loved Emily since, Jonathan never entirely forgave Sarah.
  • Not So Different: When talking to Catherine, Mustafa speculates on the aliens' motives. He concludes that, along with coming to take our planet, they simply might like killing, as many humans have.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The aliens never appear. This adds to their menace. However, in one episode where the team is sent to investigate a crash site, we see what appears to be the charred remains of an alien. But since what's left of it is just a charred lump of flesh buried under some twisted metal, it's impossible to tell what it originally looked like.
  • Organ Theft: Not an organ as such, but the alien robots take a fetus out of a pregnant woman.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Bill and Helen discover their son Dan was killed by the aliens when they attacked the British base. Rachel, the government minister, also lost her two young children in the same attack.
  • Parental Abandonment: Catherine and Sophie lost both of their parents in a car accident. After this, Catherine raised Sophie.
  • Patricide: Sacha leaves his uncle/father to die in revenge for raping his mother, which had conceived him.
  • Police Are Useless: In France, there were some surviving Police Nationale officers trying to get around and help survivors. Otherwise, most of the human race was wiped out, including police officers.
  • Promoted to Parent: Catherine had to raise her sister Sophie after both their parents died in a car accident. Later too Sophie essentially adopts an English boy, Theo, left in France when his family was killed.
  • Rape as Backstory: It's revealed that Chloe had been raped in the past (and by her brother to boot).
  • Really Gets Around: Chloe was apparently quite promiscuous as a teenager. She wasn't sure who her son's birth father was at first, but realized due to his eyes he'd been the result of her brother's rape, not any of the boys whom she had consensual sex with.
  • Recovered Addict: Sophie is determined to become this by the end of the series, having stopped using drugs despite it making her suffer for Theo, the boy she's basically adopted.
  • Robot Soldier: Technically cyborgs, they're sent by the aliens to kill all surviving humans after the EMP blast wipes out most.
  • Setting Update: The story is moved to the modern day, with the aliens coming from somewhere unknown.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Emily and Kariem's tryst is off screen. After they're shown getting undressed, the scene fades to them lying beneath a blanket together afterward.
  • Slut-Shaming: Chloe's rapist brother tries to excuse him raping her by saying she walked around wearing only her underwear and had often slept with many different boys.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Colonel Mokrani warned Catherine that the soldiers stationed at the observatory were beginning to desert the ranks and taking what they can. This was likely due to their morale being low thanks to their colleagues being killed by the scout bots, anxiety and worry over the survival of their family/neighbors and the lack of communications with the rest of the French Armed Forces thanks to the invasion/worldwide EMP attack.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Chloe relates that she had her son at fifteen.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: It's not immediately obvious (except she is shown using a white cane in her introductory scene), but Emily is blind. Somehow, the alien signal makes her see again (though only intermittently), when she'd been diagnosed with a condition that was said to leave her permanently blind.
  • Token Minority: Mustafa Mokrani, a Frenchman of Arab descent, and Kariem, a Sudanese immigrant to the UK, are the only characters of color on the show.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Chloe laments that her son's like his father, seeing a lot of similarity between them. It's also a darker example than most, since his father conceived him by raping her. She's clearly afraid of Sacha becoming like him (especially since he already left his father to die).
  • Wham Episode:
    • The first episode has most of the human race wiped out from the EMP attack after the UFOs made landfall.
    • The third episode suggests that Catherine may have been responsible for indirectly making contact with the aliens through a song that was transmitted. The British underground bunker was also raided by the quadrupedal cyborgs dispatched in the UK. The lone survivor, Rachel, killed herself since her children were caught in the crossfire, leaving the British without (partially) a chain of government.
    • The first season's last episode suggest that Emily has a personal connection with the invaders.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Chloe was unsure initially of who fathered her son, because she had slept with a lot of boys and also been raped around the same time. After his birth, she realized her rapist was the father as they had the same eyes.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The aliens' killer robots target children and adults equally. A little French girl whom Sophie finds is killed after being discovered hiding.
  • Zerg Rush: This tactic is used by the robots to avoid being easily taken out by small arms fire and explosives.

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