The third episode of Secret Invasion delivers a largely strong hour of suspense, but an amazing dynamic between Fury and Talos. Priscilla is an intriguing new character, and the Skrulls continue to show the huge threat they pose to the world, perhaps too big.
The true highlight of this week’s episode is the relationship between Talos and Nick Fury. It continues to be witty, confrontational but never forced. It’s totally understandable why Talos is frustrated as he is, the resentment of being ignored for so long, watching Fury get promoted again and again from the shadows, knowing that this was his work that helped get Fury on top.
And it’s because of these two the final action scene in the last part of the episode works well, because there’s still that back and forth banter between the two. Talos is still just as useless at conflict as the first episode, but what he lacks in skill he does make up for in brains.
The final sequence is tense and effective as well, putting audiences on the edge of their seat as to whether the Skrulls will succeed in their mission. It’s constructed cleverly, shot well, and effective at again showing how much damage the Skrulls can do. Though the only criticism is that it feels like an early season set piece, as it doesn’t really drive Talos and Fury further to their goals.
Fury did get one tidbit of new information, which puts him on the lead of a Skrull imposter. It’s done through a clever connection and call back to last week’s episodes. Fans who paid attention to last week’s episode are rewarded for paying close attention to what’s going on, but the reveal comes a little later for those who didn’t catch on. It’s a major moment, with the huge potential for huge ramifications for the MCU going forward.
Priscilla, Fury’s wife who audiences met last week, gets a lot more screen time. If audiences feared last week she was harbouring secrets from Fury, a quick flashback gets audiences up to speed on what’s happening. She used to do missions with Fury, and audiences even get a quick shout out to the Black Widow villain, Dreykov. It’s a fun connection and helps tie him back to S.H.I.E.L.D, and ultimately Black Widow’s origins.
Their present day relationship is much more strained, Priscilla obviously hurt by Fury constantly leaving her, with Charlayne Woodard delivering amazing emotion. Thankfully she will stick around even longer, as at the end of the episode she embarks on a mysterious mission, which can’t be good for Fury.
G’iah shows her true allegiances this week, but it’s done in a bit of a sloppy way, making her come off as inexperienced and even stupid at times for thinking she could get away with some of the actions she takes. All of this culminates in a rather disappointing moment for the character. Writing women is not Marvel’s strong suit, especially in this series.
But turning to the other side of the Skrull spectrum is Kingsley Ben-Adir’s Gravik. He shows audiences why he’s likely to join the higher tiers of Marvel villainy, not just because he can blow stuff up, but because of his moral convictions and ability to get stuff done. Ben-Adir’s over the top acting in front of the WW1 painting is a more ruthless take on a similar scene from Killmonger, and calls to mind the Flag Smashers political goals.
Both Gravik’s and Talos’ resentment speaks to real life issues, with the generals that stay away from the fight and only pose for paintings also being the ones that take the credit for the achievements they barely had a hand in. It’s a commendable effort, and shows that the show is unafraid to grapple with a myriad of complex political issues.
But where the Flag Smashers didn’t seem that threatening, Gravik and the Skrulls do. At every turn they’ve put Fury on the backfoot, taking risks with their operations but ones that will garner attention, instead of the low levels of the Flag Smashers. Marvel have almost made the Skrulls too strong, not just impersonating anyone but giving them an iron will, it seems they won’t be stopped.
And this ties in with the problem with Marvel going for a slow burn approach, because six episodes are unlikely. Audiences find themselves halfway through Secret Invasion but are only just finding out the Skrulls’ plans and Fury is no closer to stopping the invasion, putting the conclusion in danger of being rushed.
Issues aside, episode three delivers another good hour for the series, with Fury’s and Talos’ bickering being the highlight, Priscilla set up for a fascinating journey, and Gravik’s gravitas (Graviktas) succeeding over its shortcomings. Secret Invasion is shaping up to be a great show, but the last half has to carry through.