The Crossing is ABC’s latest outing in the summer(ish) scifi popcorn genre. It’s frequently a short-lived genre, as ABC’s series Prey and Resurrection prove. In fact, TV critics were skeptical about why they should commit to a series that had a good chance of being pulled after the first, or at most second, season, and posed those questions to the showrunners, who tried to reassure them that the show had potential.
I’ve been burned by the big three TV networks myself, and don’t watch them much anymore*. The cancellation of NBC’s Revolution on a major cliffhanger was the one that did it for me. I’m giving The Crossing a chance because Mr Metawitches really likes it. I’ve seen the first two episodes, and while it’s far from prestige television, it is entertaining, with a fun time travel, plague, evil mutant vs good human vs evil human vs good mutant plot. There are two female leads, and minor female characters abound. A child from the future is involved as a major plot point, meaning the show should stay more than just a procedural in scifi drag. This season has 11 episodes, described as the pilot plus 10. So, let’s give these recaps a whirl, and I’ll try to grade on a broadcast network curve!
Our story begins with hundreds of people stranded deep under water off the coast of Seattle. A mother swims to her young daughter and breathes her last breath into the daughter’s mouth, then turns to swim with the daughter to the surface.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) is in yoga class, where he’s a regular. His form isn’t bad. Class is interrupted by his deputy, Nestor Rosario (Rick Gomez), delivering the message that a body has been spotted washed up on the usually deserted Thorn Beach. Yoga class is done for the day.
As Nestor and Jude drive out to the beach, it’s revealed that they are in a small coastal town outside of Seattle. Nestor is a local townie and describes his youthful exploits at Thorn Beach. Jude has recently moved to town from Oakland, CA, but he’s closed mouthed about his time there.
They find the body, then another, then a little girl (Bailey Skodje) who’s unconscious, but still alive. Nestor calls the ambulance and search and rescue teams, then takes a good look around. He realizes that there are hundreds of bodies floating in the water and scattered on the beach.
Hours later, the Coast Guard and dozens of first responders are still bringing people out of the water, most of them beyond resuscitation. Paul (Rob Campbell), one of the few still alive, kisses the sand when he makes it to shore. Others mourn over the loved ones they’ve lost. One couple find each other amongst the living and are overwhelmed to see a sky full of stars.
Nestor notes to Jude that no one was wearing life jackets, like you’d expect if these are passengers from a shipwreck. Jude hasn’t slowed down long enough to think about it yet, but Nestor has already sensed that there’s something unusual about these survivors.
Jude calls his ex-wife and asks to talk to his son, but Oliver is already asleep. She says that she doesn’t want to wake Oliver up, and Jude will see him this weekend anyway. Jude is called away to talk to the federal agent in charge of the operation before they can argue further.
The Homeland Security agent introduces herself to Jude as Emma Ren (Sandrine Holt). They’ve checked data going back 10 hours and haven’t found any signs of wreckage that would indicate where the victims came from. No vessels are reported missing and there haven’t been any distress signals. There are 47 survivors, and that’s all there are likely to be. None of the survivors have been willing to talk to anyone so far. They seem to be refugees seeking asylum.
Jude sees the little girl he pulled from the water and goes to talk to her. Her name is Leah. Jude mentions that her name is from the Bible, but she doesn’t know what that is. She tells him that she came with her mom, but lost her in the water. He asks how she ended up in the water. Leah says that they were running away from the war. She’s from here, in America. Even though there’s no war now, there will be.
Jude doesn’t understand. A man who’s sitting nearby answers instead of Leah. He says that there’s a lot that Jude and Emma won’t understand, because the things that Leah is talking about haven’t happened yet.
The next morning, Jude finds Nestor dealing with a new victim of the town’s serial mugger. Nestor and everyone else in town want to know what’s up with the events of the night before, but Jude doesn’t know what to tell them. Jude tells Nestor to send the town coroner to the plane hangar where the bodies are being stored, so that he can start trying to ID them.
The survivors are being taken care of down on the beach. They’re having their photos and handprints and other information taken, then given food, clothing and blankets.
Caleb (Marcuis W. Harris), the man from the night before, tells the story of the journey:
“People traveled from all over to get to the site. People with no other way out. We were the first group to attempt it. We knew there would be risks, but no one expected to arrive how we did. The water beneath the surface, something went wrong.”
Emma: With the time machine.
Caleb: Look, I know how this must sound to you.
Emma: I’m not here to doubt you, I’m here to help you. But the fact is, you listed a date of birth almost 150 years from now. So please, just help us understand how that’s possible.
Caleb: You can’t imagine what will become possible.
Other characters take over the story:
Rebecca (Simone Kessell): We’d heard that someone had discovered something, a process. A way to bend time./ Paul: A rumor at best. At worst a trap. We didn’t hesitate. You have to understand. We had no other option. We were an endangered species./ Thomas (Luke Camilleri): Not a war. An extermination./ Paul: A holocaust, unlike the world has ever known./ Hannah (Kelley Missal): My dad paid someone to get me past the checkpoints. It was everything he had./ Thomas: The whole process at the site was rushed. People were saying that the plan had been exposed. There was no time to organize or plan./ Paul: It was chaos. No one knew where we’d end up./ Hannah: The long peace. Early 21st century. That’s all they told us. A better time./ Abigail (Aadila Dosani): They packed us onto the platform and took us into the ground. The threshold. That’s what they called it./ Caleb: And when it stopped, we were in some type of cave, you know? There were families, kids. Everyone was scared./ Hannah: And then the sounds started. It was like cracks of thunder. Over and over./ Thomas: And then/ Paul: suddenly/ Rebecca: I couldn’t breathe and it was dark and freezing. Paul: To even realize that we were under water took crucial moments./ Hannah: A lot of people drowned before they even realized where they were./ Leah: My mom kissed me, then she was gone.
Emma asks if the government was responsible for the holocaust. Caleb says that the people responsible, Apex, took over every government. They claimed to be, “man’s next evolution. Our genetic destiny. They said they can do things we can’t.”
Emma and her assistant, Bryce, aren’t sure they believe the stories. They’ll turn the recordings over to their superiors at Homeland Security and let them decide. In the meantime they’ll keep an eye out for troublemakers.
Emma is called to the gate to talk to Jude, who’s been stopped there. He’s upset because his clearance for the case has been taken away, and so has the clearance of everyone who isn’t a Fed. Emma tells him that the operation is being streamlined. She orders Jude not to talk about what happened at Thorn Beach. She’ll get him some talking points so that he’ll have something to tell the press and the town. The only information she’ll give him is that Leah’s mom hasn’t been found.
Leah’s mom (whose name is Reece, played by Natalie Martinez) wakes up on the deck of a fishing boat, coughing up water, lucky to be alive.
Bryce drops off Jude’s talking points at his house, where he’s preparing for his son’s first visit. Jude isn’t happy that the talking points are full of lies and omissions. They say that everyone who washed up on the beach died. He calls Emma to complain, but she brings up his troubled past at his job in Oakland, which caused him to move to a quieter job in a small town. She thinks that keeping the story low key will be to everyone’s benefit, including his, since he can’t handle chaos. He feels differently, but is powerless in the situation.
Emma hangs up from her phone call and moves on to a private meeting with the Deputy Undersecretary, Craig Lindauer (Jay Karnes).
Reeece has made it to shore with the fishermen, who have brought her to a dockside restaurant to eat and wait while they ask around on the docks to find out where her people are. She speaks Russian to the ship’s captain, Kurt Cooper (Roman Podhora), but when he asks if she’s Russian, she tells him she’s nothing.
After Cooper leaves again, Reece concentrates carefully on her environment. She hears a TV in another room, and follows the sound. Jude is doing a press conference to give a vague update on the situation at the beach. He says that there are numerous fatalities and they are notifying next of kin.
Undersecretary Lindauer reads from Emma’s report:
“A revolution in genetic engineering having led to the eradication of major disease markers, but also to the emergence of Apex, a minority population with heightened cognitive function, sensory faculties, fast-twitch muscle development.”
He doesn’t believe the story, and is surprised Emma would consider believing it. Emma says the survivors all believe it, and over 400 people died. Undersecretary Lindauer says that sounds like a lot until you remember the 900 people who died in Jonestown, the mass suicide by a fanatical religious cult in Guyana in 1978. They’ll be laughed out of the full meeting they’re due to attend if they take this report in as it’s written.
He wants to sequester the survivors and have Emma investigate them further. She can have whatever she needs to move them to a new holding facility and to vet them properly.
Hannah, designated refugee ingenue, asks a young agent if he can get sunglasses for her like the ones he’s wearing. She explains that the sun is much brighter now than where they came from. The young man tells her that he’ll have to ask. When she introduces herself, he brushes her off, telling her they aren’t allowed to socialize. As Hannah walks away, he relents and tells her his name is Roy, and he’ll be her love interest this season.
The refugees contemplate what’s going to be done with them. Caleb thinks the situation is better than where they came from, given the supplies they’ve already been given. Abigail is disgusted that their meat comes from real animals, but Caleb says that it’s just a different way of doing things. Thomas is happy to be at the top of the food chain. Caleb makes a long speech about starting over, starting new families, learning to trust again, and how idyllic the 21st century is because everyone has rights here.
I wonder how he’ll feel by the end of the season. Right now, he’s determined to make everyone idealize this era and gloss over any issues.
Rebecca notices Leah sitting by herself and goes to her. She gives Leah a stuffed bunny, but Leah doesn’t know what a rabbit is. It seems that in the future either the natural world is destroyed or the humans are living underground and in hiding, or both.
Emma tells Caleb that the refugees will be moved to temporary housing soon. Then she shares that she understands what this is like for him, because she came to America with her family when she was 6. There were men with her group who were dangerous, but her parents told her not to say anything. She wishes now that she had. Caleb assures her that all of the refugees are just looking for a better life.
Thomas is the next refugee to show up at Emma’s door. He has important information and wants to talk to the president. His information has national security implications. Emma says she’s going to need more than that to get him a meeting. He says that this group is not the first one to come here. Cue the ominous music.
Jude leaves the Sheriff’s office and gets into his car. Reece is in the back seat holding his rifle to his head. She wants him to take her to where the bodies are being kept. He drives her there, but stops outside, since he doesn’t have clearance. She has him drive around to the back, where they disable the electrical panel to cause a diversion.
While the security staff is occupied with the power outage, Reece checks the bodies. Jude isn’t a superstar detective, since he doesn’t notice that she’s only checking children’s corpses. She’s just finished checking bodies and realized that there must be survivors when the lights come back on.
Jude stops cooperating with his kidnapper, since he knows help is coming. She gets a little stupid and turns her back on him when two security guards rush in, giving Jude an opportunity to disarm her. Then the three cops argue jurisdiction, giving her a moment to let her superpowers kick into high gear. She takes out all three cops and takes a couple of flying leaps to get out of the building’s high windows.
Later, Emma and Bryce are shocked at what they see in the security footage. Emma still refuses to reveal any information to Jude, and none of them can figure out why she might have been checking corpses. 🤦🏻♀️ He tells her that he thinks that Reece is one of the refugees and that she’s a danger to his town. Emma helpfully tells him not to engage Reece if he sees her again. Yup, he can just ignore the gun to his head, next time.
Jude tells Emma that he’s not sure what will happen when Reece finds the survivors, but Emma’s certain that no one will find them.
The refugees are being taken to their new homes by bus. Leah has a hive-like rash on her left arm. Reece is approached by the town mugger. She takes advantage of the opportunity to grab a gun and some cash. She also leaves him as a seriously injured present for Jude, ready to be arrested.
The refugees are taken to an old summer camp in the woods. No one but the slashers and monsters will be able to find them there. Leah bunks in with Caleb and Rebecca, who are way too eager to adopt her as a replacement child. Hannah doesn’t know how to work the antique (to her) key and lock to open up her cabin, so Roy rescues her. He hands her a pair of sunglasses while he’s there, and tells her to say she found them if anyone asks.
Emma gets a call letting her know that the agent Reece injured seems like he was hit by a truck. She and Bryce realize that this Apex threat is serious, and wonder if Reece is the only one. There could even be one at the summer camp! It’s already turning into a horror movie!
Lindauer agreed to meet with Thomas about Thomas’ super secret national security information. They meet at opposite ends of a dark, isolated bridge in the country. It’s all very Cold War. Lindauer claims that this was the only secure location. Thomas wants to sell his information. He tells Lindauer that the earlier group time travelers wants to change history. Lindauer moves into the light, and Thomas realizes that Lindauer is part of the earlier group. Lindauer says that he’s been here even longer than Thomas thinks. Cue more ominous music.
Jude settles in at home and talks to Oliver on the phone. Reece is in the house and tries to sneak up behind him, but he gets off the phone quietly and gets the jump on her. His skills are really inconsistent. So are hers. Together they might make one decently stealthy detective. They’re probably meant to be a romantic pairing anyway, so that’ll work out well.
They trade threats, then Reece tells him her name and that she’s looking for her daughter, so she needs Jude’s help. Now that she’s humanized herself, Jude is willing to listen. He tells Reece to start from the beginning.
After viewing two episodes, this show reminds me of the dearly departed Containment, gone too soon from The CW. I’ve seen others compare it to The 4400, which I didn’t watch, but people seem to have liked. Everything scifi with castaways on a beach will always get compared to Lost, but it’s a tired comparison, so I’m not going there, even though ABC did.
It’s also a bit 12 Monkeys meets a watered down X-men universe, just as ABC’s parent company gets the rights to the X-men back. Maybe Disney will make ABC keep this show like they make them keep Agents of SHIELD. With Once Upon a Time about to be gone, they’re lacking in scifi/fantasy.
At this point, I’m happy if a high concept scifi series gets three well thought out seasons and doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. It’s the Original Star Trek Rule. Five to seven seasons is standard and nothing to complain about, and more than that is a Stargate: SG-1 Miracle of Longevity.
Oh, look, it’s a sacrificial angelic blonde girl. I don’t think I’ve seen one of those since I stopped watching The Walking Dead. This one is saved by her sacrificial ethnic mom. There’s a backstory there. At least they both survived the episode. Little Leah and her mom Reece live to become the MacGuffins.
Nestor is a bit of a secret weapon, because he looks and acts unassuming, but he has common sense and great detective skills. The Feds will assume he’s a useless townie who can’t keep up with them, if they follow the usual tropes.
Apex, as in apex predator, top of the food chain.
We were introduced to a lot of characters in this episode, too many to keep up with long term. Some will inevitably be cannon fodder. I liked, or at least didn’t mind, most of them, but wouldn’t mind thinning the herd.
Either the coastline changes in the next 180ish years, or someone messed up the jump coordinates. It seems like this is a one way trip, so we’ll have to wait for another group to make the trip and survive in order to find out the truth. Hopefully they won’t have strict protocols keeping them from gossiping about what’s going on back home, the way the Travelers do.
The showruunners took full advantage of their location and include some beautiful shots of local scenery. More time at the beach would definitely be welcome.
*Agents of SHIELD is the one exception, and that’s constantly on the verge of cancellation.
Images courtesy of ABC.