Each Saturday, Kevin from @tastienfilm_bad will be recapping the most recent episode(s) of Invincible and giving us insight into the comics on which the show is based.
104: Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out
Is it ever good to lie? Is it a binary for you, or are there grey areas where it’s permissible? This week’s episode gets into that, the entire runtime of “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out” is devoted to deception. We watch characters lie to protect their loved ones, their self, their ego, their identity, and more as Invincible learns to paint with all the colors in Tim Burton’s palette (greys).
-Recap (Show-Level Spoilers)
The cold open this week definitely had me puzzled. We get a classic “nefariously funded expedition to uncover ancient mystic artifacts from another country” scene where some evil Indiana Jones/Nathan Drake type has hired a crew to uncover some old mummy named, well to be honest I’m not going to attempt a spelling. This, again, seems new to the show, but I have a feeling it isn’t as disconnected from what we’ve seen so far as it might seem.
Cut to Nolan and Mark getting some exercise in (accompanied by a great Vampire Weekend track) over the desert. I like the way Invincible does storytelling. On first watch, this is just a nice throwaway scene to show their relationship and show off their cool powers a little bit. But the tricks and advice he learns from this outing are employed in the final fight sequence to show growth. It’s that “show don’t tell” style that makes the show feel organic rather than forced! They race to Mt. Evererst, as one with super flight does, and it’s there where we hear a bit more on Nolan’s Viltrumite parents and his assignment (The World Betterment Committee), more on that later.
From there we go to the house of recently widowed Olga. Her husband, Red Rush, was a member of the Guardians of the Globe, but neither she nor Debbie know that Nolan is the murderer. Don’t you love dramatic irony! We learn that Olga is headed back home, and that she wants Debbie to sell the house for her. I love how the show fleshes out Debbie even more than in the comics, and gives her more to do/work with. Her suspicions and investigation of Nolan is a subplot all unto its own here. This scene also sets up the main theme of the episode: lies. When Debbie asks Olga if Red Rush ever lied to her, she says, “of course, all heroes do. But I only made the mistake of believing him once. When he told me everything was going to be fine.” It’s just the line Debbie needed to start scratching a little harder, and so she looks more into Damien Darkblood.
The episode pairs Debbie and Nolans relationship with the burgeoning one of Mark and Amber. On their first (official, non-study) date they go out to a night market for some Halo-Halo (popular Filipino dessert) and shopping. It’s a nice time, and their chemistry feels great, especially for voice acting. Mark, wanting to impress, shares about the time he went to Everest (earlier that episode) but quickly scuffles the conversation when he realizes he’s about to blow his cover. Just as he’s learning to control his powers, he’s learning to control who knows about them as well. The date goes well and they make plans for a second asap. But just as quickly as they make them, Mark has to break them.
Nolan catches Darkblood snooping around and gaslights him real good. Backed into a corner, Nolan plays the “who do you think they’re gonna believe, you or me?” card and tops it off with the best line delivery of the ep: “Go fuck yourself, Darkblood.”
Best needle drop of the episode, however, goes to the Mauler twin, who is hard at work making a clone of himself scored to “Don’t Get Captured” by Run The Jewels. Huge RTJ fan. More shows should have RTJ songs. This is followed by a quick glimpse of the new Guardians in the old Guardians’ digs. Cecil pops in, and reminds them of their noob status by leaving some blood up on the wall. It will stay there until this fledgling superteam earns their stripes. Oh yeah and Robot tells Rex Splode to lay off Monster Girl, and then draws some of his blood. This scene and the Mauler scene are setting up a couple big dominoes (and a few smaller ones) later down the road. I’ll get into it more in the spoilers below.
Back at the Grayson house, Cecil shows up, a little too close to home, quite literally. Nolan, sensing his presence, choke-slams him into a bookcase, ready to snap him in two. There are scenes, like this one, that remind me of Mission Impossible sequences where two people posing as two different people but wearing the masks of two OTHER people have a conversation. Layers on layers of deceit. Almost nobody’s intentions about this mission to Mars are true. For Cecil, it’s a ploy to get Nolan off Earth for two weeks which would give his crew a little more breathing room to investigate. For Nolan, he has to keep his act up and play the scarred victim of an attack since he’s lying to both Cecil AND Debbie about it. Mark ends up taking the mission up himself, immediately having to reschedule the plans he just made with Amber. We get a scene of him lying to Amber about having to leave on a sudden trip, and it feels like it’s getting easier for him to do. Little by little, he grows more like his father.
Mars introduces new fans to the Sequids, a race of face-hugging aliens that thrive through mind controlling their hosts. (Think Starro from DC) Mark is there just to tail the astronauts and keep them safe. But when he drifts off to sleep he wakes to find they’ve been captured. He ends up saving the day through might and those tricks he learned back in the first scene (see? Good storytelling!) But the ship seems to have a new passenger…More on that later.
Debbie and Nolan get a date of their own as their fighting and suspicions of each other’s actions have reached a boiling point. Nolan flies them out to Italy for a nice meal and it’s here that we get the most upsetting scene from the show. I am aware that Nolan has murdered a Justice League and also an entire planet/species. But in this scene he gaslights his wife to a stomach-turning extent. He preys on the relationship, and uses their history and his vulnerability to farm some sympathy back from her. The man has no vulnerability, and the way he plays her here is upsetting. There is nothing inside of him that holds this planet dear. Not even his family.
Damien, poor Damien Darkblood really can’t catch a break on this show, is caught snooping by Cecil and promptly sent back to hell. On his way down, Cecil admonishes Darkblood for seeing only in terms of absolutes, black and white. Cecil is a man of greys, as is the show, and morality is a spectrum on it.
We get another wordless montage of Debbie, this time of her cleaning and preparing the house to be sold. I love these bits of wordless character development. It’s efficient and doesn’t have to hold your hand with dialogue. Plus, the silence gives it a nice feeling that it’s paying homage to the comics it’s based on.
And we’re left with the biggest wtf moment of the episode! Robot walks in to a lab where some Kuato-from-Total-Recall-looking creature floats in a tube. I have a pretty solid idea of where this will take us in the remaining four episodes but don’t want to ruin anything that hasn’t yet happened on the show. If you want to be potentially spoiled you can keep reading.
-Stray Thoughts & Theories (POTENTIAL FUTURE SPOILERS MAYBE IDK)
- In the interest of fun, I won’t say the exact spoiler from the comics, but instead list key scenes for what’s going on with robot
- Have we seen Robot take his helmet or suit off? Who was talking in that final scene?
- Why would he help the Mauler clones escape?
- What are they good at? What did we see them do in this ep?
- The scene with Rex might have just been to set up Robot extracting some blood, or maybe there was more to it? Did it look like maybe Monster Girl was flirting with Rex a little bit?
- Speaking of Monster Girl, what was that thing with the curse again? She keeps deaging right? Didn’t Robot say he could help? Hmmm
- That’s all for now. 🙂
- Love the introduction of the sequids. They play a prominent role in the comics and the ep lays the groundwork for a really great character.