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Chainsaw Conversions

posted by ellen leventry

I’ve heard of conversion by sword, but conversion by chainsaw?

As another devoted fan of “Invasion,” I was stunned by last night’s episode, in which Deputy Lewis Sirk is convinced by Sheriff Tom Underlay–who is looking more and more like the head alien–to cut off his miraculously regenerated left arm by telling him that “people don’t like change” and that he was going against God’s plan.

Earlier in the episode we learn that Sirk, who lost his left arm in battle, is a devout Christian. He says he “prayed on” a decision to tell a possibly-murdered girl’s birth parents that she was dead. Sheriff Underlay questions why he would do such a thing, why he would go around his authority like that. Sirk responds that he’s “loyal to someone else first,” that someone being God. Sure, it’s cliché, but we know which camp he’s in–and it doesn’t seem to involve glowing creatures with acidic blood.

The Sheriff and Sirk meet later that night at an inlet to check out some possible illegal polluting. The Sheriff doesn’t seem too surprised when one of “the lights” (a.k.a. the aliens) grabs Sirk, drags him out to sea, and proceeds to implant its suckers in him. Props to the director for including the gratuitous closeup of the cross around his neck right before he goes under.

The next day Sirk shows up at Underlay’s house dazed and with two arms! The Sheriff doesn’t seem alarmed to see Sirk alive, but is very disconcerted that he has returned with a new limb. Sirk proclaims that it’s a miracle from God. As Sirk joyously shoots basketball hoops, Underlay discusses the “miracle” with Father Scanlon (also an alien?), who heads the creepy survivors-support-group at his church. The Father recommends that Underlay suggest to Sirk that his miracle should be kept to himself, that it is “a private communion with God.” But Sheriff Underlay thinks “a greater sacrifice is needed.” Oh no you didn’t!

Taking Sirk out to an abandoned poacher’s shack, the Sheriff explains that, ”This isn’t God’s plan… He took your arm for a reason son, to challenge you. It defines who you are now. Wasn’t that his plan?” The Sheriff must certainly be using some kind of alien mind control because any right-minded person would refuse to chop off a brand-new arm, but Sirk falls to his knees crying, looks up to the sky in one final moment of tormented confusion, and then walks into the cabin with the chainsaw revving.

Is Sirk now a born-again, born-again Christian so to speak? And, is the Sheriff scared that the new limb would stir up too much curiosity, or does he really feel that it’s best for Sirk to lose his arm–to stay with God’s original plan, since he knows that the new arm is part of the aliens’ plan and Sirk will become a totally different person? Maybe it’s both.

That’s the beauty of “Invasion,” you’re never quite sure what’s real and what’s not.



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