Warning: contains War of the Worlds spoilers.
By the time the finale arrived, it was clear that this Fox/Canal Plus adaptation was War of the Worlds in name only. No Tripods, no artilleryman, no Thunder Child, no red weed, no heat ray, no germs, not even an identifiable Martian… After the initial alien invasion and mass slaughter, this eight-episode series told a story entirely distinct from H.G. Well’s seminal sci-fi novel.
The story it told was slow and atmospheric. It was more about the bonds of family than a colonial critique or alien shoot-em-up. It tracked the connections between spouses, lovers, siblings, parents and children, as they tried to exist at the end of the world. Part survival horror, part human drama, it followed a handful of characters in modern-day London and France, stripping their relationships down to essentials to see what was inside.
Alongside all that were ongoing mysteries. Who were the invaders? What did they want? What was their connection to some of the survivors? And how could they be stopped?
With major spoilers for episode eight, here’s what we learned from the finale.
Why could Emily see again?
Emily wasn’t born blind, but lost her eyesight as part of a degenerative genetic condition. (Jonathan isn’t her biological father, which he knows but Emily doesn’t). For an as-yet unexplained reason, she and Sacha are tuned into the same wave-frequency connection shared by all the robot dogs, which enables them to feel what the others feel at the same time (similar to the connection migratory birds use to navigate in flocks) and to ‘see’. Emily’s sight is enabled when the aliens are close and she hears the ultrasound-like pulse signalling they’re nearby. It’s not like her old sight, but in black and white.
How did Catherine stop the robo-dogs?
She hacked into the low-frequency wave they use to communicate and to ‘see’, and disrupted the signal, cutting them off from alien HQ, and disabling them.
What is the connection between Emily and Sacha?
They’re both tuned into the same frequency wave as the aliens, protecting them from the invaders and letting them feel what the aliens feel. Through this connection, they both have a shared vision of each other in a loving embrace, with Emily pregnant and her circular wrist tattoo visible. When Sacha sees Jonathan’s family photo, he recognises Emily as the girl from his vision, but doesn’t tell anybody. He pretends he wants to travel to England for safety, but is really searching for Emily.
How did Sacha survive the neural blast?
Everybody who wasn’t underground, underwater or encased in metal at the time of the aliens’ neural attack died, but Sacha survived. Could it be that Sacha’s genetic make-up as the incestuous son of two siblings Chloe and Noah, separated him from the pack, so to speak? We also know that Noah was suffering from the early stages of Muscular Dystrophy, which Sacha could have inherited from him, and might affect his DNA read-out (we know the aliens were scanning human DNA). But that doesn’t explain why other genetic outliers around the world didn’t also survive.
Who was the Alien in the ship?
The finale cliff-hanger saw Emily led by the dogs to the alien HQ (a craft half-submerged in the Thames) where she discovered an unwell-looking humanoid plugged into medical ventilator tubes at the bow of the ship. The Alien (as listed in the episode credits) reached out to Emily, and she recoiled in surprise when she saw the palm of its hand. Was it human or alien? Was it the designer of the robo-dogs (static versions of which you could see lining its ship).
What was the symbol on the Alien’s hand?
Three concentric circles, or an eye shape – the very same as the wrist tattoo Emily got in episode one. The design itself isn’t important (Emily said a friend designed it for her), but the fact the Alien has the same symbol means that it shares a link to her. Could the Alien have travelled back in time and be descended from Emily? Is it the product of the pregnancy Emily and Sacha keep seeing in their vision? It’s clearly dying and perhaps is motivated by wanting to ensure the continuation of its species.
What happened to the babies?
On her way into the ship, Emily sees the incubated babies that the dogs took from the hospital. They look safe and well and are clearly being fed and cared for. The robo-dogs also tried to abduct other babies and foetuses, for an unexplained reason, but our best guess is some kind of genetic experimentation, seeing as Bill discovered a DNA scanner in the robo-dog he dissected.
What do the invaders want?
As Emily told Bill, they want her help because they’re scared of dying and want to live. The question for series two is, will she help, and if she does, will the other humans ever forgive her?
Read our spoiler-filled War of the Worlds episode reviews here.
War of the Worlds is available on-demand on NOW TV.