Drill burns. Wes saves. The aliens arrive -- and don't come in peace.

By Shirley Li
September 01, 2015 at 04:34 AM EDT
Credit: Eike Schroter/ABC
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Behold, the notes I hastily typed while watching the last minutes of this episode:



HENRY OKAY CLAIRE OH NO SAD nods –> “sacrifice”

?? Aliens goodbye ? :(

So… yeah. Aliens! And cliffhangers!

To recap what happened in comprehensible English: Everything was not awesome, Claire sacrificed herself to save Henry, and all of Drill’s friends left Earth so that t h e w h i s p e r s could turn into The Leftovers. (Sort of.) In the end, all Drill wanted to do was send a signal so his fellow Drills could come to Earth and take all the children he befriended, for purposes that weren’t revealed but I’m assuming—just based on what Cassandra said—won’t involve any TV shows or video games that “corrupt children.” Hey, maybe Drill’s race of aliens are just extremely strict babysitters! Babysitters who think kidnapping = “domination” because aliens are nuts.

Speaking of nuts, this show dove headfirst into the “alien invasion” plot and made this final hour something akin to a conspiracy theorist’s fever dream, didn’t it? First, there was Cassandra radiating into a pile of ash, and then there were the creepy adults that I was 110 percent convinced were actually lizard people, and finally, on top of that, there were the spaceships themselves, that formed a spiral and took all the children.

Let’s start with that Cassandra-radiating-into-ash sequence. By the time Claire and Wes have her locked in a Hannibal Lecter-style cage, the adults—save for the POTUS, with his sad glass of liquor—seem to have won. Sean’s revisiting Thomas’ observations and the signal Drill sent in 1982, while Henry and Minx are repairing their friendship. And though Claire and Cassandra-as-Drill argue over parenting styles (complete with little Cassandra’s lisp and Drill’s freaky voice distortion), it’s Wes who provokes her self-destruction. She teases them with one final clue, before doing so: “If you want to win the game, you must be willing to sacrifice.”

That’s when all of Drill’s “friends” stop doing what they’re doing and… turn into mini-monsters. Henry and Minx pack and communicate silently through nods and stares, another girl drugs her mom’s wine, and Nicholas (remember him?) locks his mom in a bedroom and bolts.

After Sean tells Claire that Drill’s friends answered his signal, she dashes out and… gets caught in traffic, because people are trying to run before the aliens invade. She spots a group of the children, though, and ends up following them into a trap—a trap of adults. Menacing adults. They robotically ask her to confirm her identity and surround her. Same with Sean at home—while Sean and Thomas’ father (the man who first noticed Drill’s signal in the ’80s) try to decipher Drill’s message, Henry (now helping Drill) lures Sean into answering the front door, where one of the adults waits. Henry and Minx watch as the Cult of Creepy Adults overpower Sean.

Agent Rollins, meanwhile, also has a visitor: his ex-wife, who, as he described back in the pilot, had left him for another man and gotten pregnant despite not wanting kids during their rocky marriage. He softens when she explains why she’s crashing his incredibly important FBI plans to solve the case of Drill, telling him that if the alien invasion spells the end, she wants to be there with him. It’s a lovely sentiment—if she weren’t a member of the Creepy Cult.

That’s right: Shortly after Rollins spots Harper talking to her Creepy Cult handler, his ex-wife says she wishes he hadn’t seen Harper, and proceeds to stuff him in the trunk of the car. With Claire, Sean, and Rollins out of commission, that leaves only…

NEXT: Restart Game?

…Wes, the hero t h e w h i s p e r s turned into a Jack Bauer-type in some scenes. When he fails to find Claire, Sean, and Minx, for example, he calls Rollins, who luckily still has his cell phone while kept in a trunk, and follows him all the way to the Creepy Cult’s headquarters, where he snaps a photo of the Cult’s map (also shot on the iPhone 6). Sneaky!

At the same time, the Bennigans are struggling to get out of their rope restraints. Claire tries talking her way to freedom; she chats with one of the Cult members (unnamed, but a woman who likes knitting and dressing in autumnal tones) about why she’s working for Drill and what he wants. It turns out the Cult is made up of Drill’s former friends from the 1980s, sleeper agents who have been triggered this time around to do Drill’s bidding as adults. The bidding, for the guard woman, involves making sure the Bennigans don’t get away. For Rollins’ ex-wife, it means pulling a gun on him.

Wes comes to the rescue, shooting Rollins’ ex-wife in the arm and the sleeper agent guard woman dead when she threatens Claire with her needle. It’s all a mess at this point, as Wes tells the others. Harcourt’s dead, the Cult has a Plan, and the FBI has Henry after the redhaired moppet wandered beyond police lines. And just as the four adults are about to plan their next steps, a blue light begins shining on them, and Claire realizes what it means: “They’re here,” she says.

Finally. The long-awaited aliens are here! Not that we see them—the adults learn of blue lights appearing in major cities around the world and head to the FBI HQ to figure things out. There, Claire spots Henry and tries to question him about what’s going on. He doesn’t respond. So, while they all dawdle, two plans come about: Frommer believes they should detonate the nuclear warheads they have available in space, destroying the spaceships the way Drill’s spaceship had been destroyed. Wes, however, thinks they can cure all the children by using Henry, the one child they have who’s connected to Drill.

The warheads plan goes ahead but the detonation only clears the path for the aliens to arrive (and for Wes’ plan to go nowhere). In the sky, a huge cluster of ships have made it into the atmosphere, resting in a peculiar spiral shape that looks vaguely like the drawings Harper and Minx did at the beginning of the season. But while the sky literally falls, Claire keeps her eyes on Henry. When he grows quiet, she suspects he has lost his hearing again, and she uses sign language to figure out that Drill’s message had been a question, asking if the children are ready.

And now, much too late, the Bennigans, Wes, and Rollins know what Drill want: their kids.

With the aliens so close, the adults scramble to figure out how they can save the kids. Wes produces the photo he captured earlier at the Creepy Cult’s hideout, using the powers of TV to zoom in on the blurry shot of a map. The markers, Sean figures out (a tad slowly, if I may), show where the children will be waiting, forming a spiral so the spiral formation of ships above can come down and pick them up.

Claire doesn’t try to save the children en masse—there’s no time. Instead, she asks Henry to lead them to where Minx is, and Henry agrees. And with only five minutes left in the broadcast of the show, the Bennigans and Wes take off to find Minx, who’s been wandering the woods alone, just waiting to be taken by the aliens. The Bennigans take off on their own, and after calling for Minx, Henry tells Claire that Minx is just beyond a hill. Claire and Sean run ahead, but Henry pauses, staying rooted in one spot.

And deeper in the woods, Wes finally sees Minx. But just as Claire realizes what’s about to happen, the lights from the ships shine down on the kids, and we see a montage of those lights taking the likes of Harper and Nicholas and Drill’s other friends, absorbing them and leaving no trace behind. Wes doesn’t get to Minx in time, but Claire pushes Henry out of the way just before she gets basked in the blue light and taken.

With that, Claire, Minx, and all of the thousands of other children are taken. They’re sacrificed, if you believe what Cassandra-as-Drill had been saying, but they could have been taken for any purpose. Either way, Sean, Wes, Henry, and Rollins remain on Earth, with no way to figure out what happened.

And that concludes the first season of t h e w h i s p e r s, an at-times bonkers show that had no problem twisting stories and characters to make the alien invasion mystery work. It was admittedly frustrating in its early run, when it refused to reveal #WhoIsDrill, but now we know #WhoIsDrill—we just don’t know what the ultimate goal is, which is why I turn the questions to you. Why did those aliens need all those children? What will they do to Claire? And, well, will we ever find out? The only whispers (sorry) about the possibility of a season 2 are just that: w h i s p e r s.

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