Secret Invasion episode five brings a brutally violent penultimate episode to Marvel’s latest series and has put Nick Fury on the path to victory against the invaders. It also saw the welcome return of Olvia Colman’s Sonya Falsworth, who’s still enjoying all the harm she’s causing to a psychopathic degree. The episode though fumbles in its story, attempting to rush what should have been a much longer tale.
Gravik feels like an imposter himself in this episode, suddenly developing a violent streak against his people. He brutally stabs his top lieutenant because he’s angry that his plan in the last episode failed, getting uncharacteristically angry that he couldn’t kill Fury or the U.S. President. But this ignores that he still caused a major international incident, and got a huge win by killing Talos.
He continues this downward spiral by brutally crushing a rebellion by some Skrulls and then giving the location of his base away. It’s baffling because only two episodes ago he was making largely sane points about humans leading from the back. Gravik from two episodes ago cared about his people, in this episode he doesn’t care if they die when he intentionally puts them in harm’s way. Sure he was a villain, he killed thousands of people and wanted to take over Earth, but he had a somewhat of a point.
Marvel has fallen into their typical villain trap, giving them somewhat sensible political points for change, but making sure the status quo remains by having their villains turn into ludicrous savages. It’s a real shame, just as the showrunners were looking to stick the landing with Gravik.
This anger is said to have come from the failure to get something called the Harvest, which turns out to be all the Avengers DNA from the final fight with Thanos. It’s a terrifying prospect to be sure, especially because Gravik has already become more dangerous with the strength of Cull Obsidian, enhanced with Groot’s branches and the regeneration from Extremis virus. It immediately raises the stakes, and creates tension for the final episode.
Sonya Falsworth makes her return after being largely absent, and she’s also surprisingly aggressive, though it isn’t out of character. She stabs the Skrull that’s taken the place of another agent and uses that to get to the scientists that have made the Super-Skrull device. And this is all done with a smile and jokes, though Colman pulls this charm mixed with brutality off to perfection.
The only minor quibble is she figures out that her agent was a Skrull off-screen somehow when the Skrulls are supposed to be undetectable in human form. It further shows how this iteration of the Secret Invasion storyline is detached from the comics, not concerned with who’s hiding their Skrull identity and spending a lengthy amount of time uncovering it. Which is a big swing, but ultimately one that doesn’t quite land.
G’iah also goes through some major changes this week though not entirely for the better. She and Priscilla gives Talos an emotional send-off, with Priscilla teaching G’iah the Skrull way of saying goodbye. It’s also the confirmation audiences need to say that he won’t be coming back. Afterwards, Priscilla teachers her the importance of staying on Earth in human form. While it’s a slightly disappointing direction for G’iah’s character and is a missed opportunity, having two violent and unhinged people in a Disney show might be a bit much.
There is a close-quarters action sequence in Priscilla’s house, a tense moment, especially for Priscilla, as she does have the potential to not make it out the show alive. It’s well staged and feels personal, just like Gravik wanted it. Priscilla has been a real strength in the show, so hopefully she sticks around and shows up again in the future.
One cameo that made an unexpected return was Rick Mason, the pilot and engineer from “Black Widow”. He’s here as Fury’s pilot, and his return is surprising but welcome. It’s a fun link, and the third one “Secret Invasion” has had to “Black Widow”. It hlps the show feel more connected to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and not just “Captain Marvel”
“Secret Invasion” though is a missed opportunity. It billed itself as a spy thriller, going deeper into the political espionage than “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” did. And it’s certainly had its moments, and “Secret Invasion” has its political messages, it’s ended up as a violoent action affair, even after it had set up the idea that Skrulls are in the British and U.S government. Apart from Rhodey, the ramifications of this haven’t been explored. And the short episode count has forced Fury to Gravik’s base to have the final showdown, instead of a lengthy and organic development. Perhaps a politcal thriller strayed too far out of Marvel Studios wheelhouse.
Episode five, while having enjoyable moments, does its villain a disservice, something that until now was someone who felt believable and not just like a moustache twirling maniac. But Colman continues to shine in her role, and Talos’ death was treated with the respect it deserved, topped off with a great action sequence. However, this episode, like the rest of the show, feels rushed and strays too far from the genre it could have joined.