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.
108: Where I’m Really From
My review for this episode was originally just going to be one four letter F word (not Fire, or Fart…you know the one), but I also figured this would be the last time I recapped Invincible for a little while and I wanted to make the most of it. I’ve had a wonderful time writing for Joe’s incredible site, and worry that Amazon just won’t reup the show for a second sea…*checks Twitter news, sees that Invincible got picked up for a second AND THIRD season* …Folks…WE DID IT. Well, I mean, I probably did it (go read last week’s recap if you don’t believe me) HELL YEAH. Ok time to start getting paid. I figure twenty dollars a view should suffice. Get Joe on the phone.
Ok sorry that was a bit, but the news is still true and still great. Let’s get into the episode which, admittedly, is low on plot but HUGE on fallout
This is a climax, something we’ve been building towards with increasing bumps in damage and violence. Shows like this, and The Boys also on Amazon, have to be careful of what I call the power creep on the show. Meaning as you go on and your heroes survive tougher and tougher opponents, you have to continue to raise the power of both the bad guy AND your protagonist or you will lose the reality of the world. So this episode plays it smart in how unhinged Nola could really get and yet you still get the sense that it could be worse. That he could just death star Earth if he really wanted to. And that fear, that danger always lurking in the shadows, will keep the show going for a while.
Recap (Show-Level Spoilers)
We start out on a beautifully subversive shot of a corn or wheat field of some sort. Usually when you see this, Clark Kent is about to walk on screen and tell his girlfriend he loves her or something. Instead we see the entrails and cleaved halves of The Immortal (a dumber more Wolverine-like take on Superman) rain down blood and havoc, reminding you this isn’t some DC schlock where having a mom with the same name will do you any good.
When we tilt up (not pan up btw, I just realized panning is only horizontal camera movement. Sorry if I messed that up in previous entries) we see that we’re picking up from the exact moment we left off a week ago. Smart choice.It’s time we (really you, I’ve known about this backstory the whole time) find out what dad’s REAL plan has been here all along.
Quick storytime, I’m a sixth grade teacher, and this year a student of mine let slip that he had been watching Invincible. Do NOT report me to CPA or anything, I didn’t recommend the show. But for the past two weeks he’s been in such disbelief about Nolan. Surely there is something going on that would explain this. Some classic superhero trope like mind control or Alien blackmail or that Earth is really a hologram or some wacky nonsense. And so, as a good teacher and TV show watcher, I have remained mum on the delicious reality: Nolan is a space nazi. A character that believes in a master-race and in the violence necessary to spread that doctrine. Again, not going to explain that to a sixth grader at 8:30 in the morning. But I am so excited to see what he has to say on Monday 🙂
That difference in ideology becomes the focal point of Invincible in the comics for a long time. Once he realizes just what his dad is here for (Invincible #11 if you’re interested in the comics) His life becomes one of protection and penance. This is Mark’s home, but also the part of him that is alien (the Viltrumite side of him, which according to Nolan is close to 100% thanks to the purity of their genes) is the part responsible for the “incalculable” loss of life. It’s one thing for your dying uncle to tell you that great power comes with great responsibility. It’s another entirely different thing for you dad to punch you so hard you accidentally nuke a city block when you hit the pavement. That’ll stick with you
This episode does a great job of daring you to watch. Oh you like violence? Well how about hyper violence? Oh you’re digging that too? Fine, let’s make Mark rip apart an entire subway full of innocents. And let’s make you hear every organ being ripped from its proper place. Yes, daddy Nolan goes a little psychotic here, but I have to admit the guy really sticks to his modus operandi. He is here for one reason, and really nothing else, including his own “pet” matters. It’s heartbreaking, but only because you see the conviction he works with. He doesn’t see himself as the villain and so when he almost kills Mark you’re just left with despair.
Well that, and Steven Yeun’s voice acting. He vaulted himself up with the Troy Bakers and Mark Hamills in my opinion. Every line is saturated with pain and confusion and hurt. He doesn’t hold back and shows us why Yeun is really just getting started. Pound for pound, he’s one of the best working right now (though for me his top performance will ALWAYS be the scene in I Think You Should Leave where he accidentally kills Tim Robinson after getting fecal matter on a gift receipt. If you got to ITYSL and started weep-laughing, let’s hang out. If you scratched your head in confusion, please save this page for later, turn on Netflix, and watch every episode. You can come back and thank me after.
To recap this episode is tough. It’s really just forty minutes of the big fight we’ve all been clenching towards with trepidation and the fallout is plentiful, gory, and just what we feared AND hoped it would be. (For me at least) As I said, Mark gets punched so hard his body acts as a meteorite striking Manhattan. The first episode had a lot of blood and guts and you still couldn’t help saying “cool” once or twice. But here we see the gore cranked up one or two notches and it’s truly upsetting. Good job to Walker, Ottley, and all the others who are so talented at depicting human meat pinatas bursting open with viscera.
Then, Nolan leaves. He can’t do it. Mark has “won” and he has really lived up to his name. He didn’t really fight back, but just got pummeled so hard his dad had to look at the caved in face of his son and recoil in horror. He truly was Invincible, and next season will probably play upon that even more.
Let’s talk about next season. The episode ends with the return of my bestie: Allen the Alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) and we find out that the council he works for is freaking out because of his slip up. He returns to warn Mark about the Viltrumite lurking on the planet. A great bit of good info provided too late. As they talk about what Mark will do next we get treated to a great montage reminding us of every character with a dangling plot thread. Also, side note, I think I’m getting old because that “Hate To Say I Told You So” by the Hives gave me chills. Love that riff. Anyway, here’s what we saw:
- The astronaut from the Mars mission (now under the mind control influence of the Sequids) is still “alive” and “well” and wreaking havoc on Mars.
- The Mauler Twins are back in lockup, but for how long?
- The Flaxons (the race of aliens Nolan genocided to near extinction in the beginning of the season) are ready for some revenge.
- Doc Seismic is ready for his Moleman return, this time with a crew of magma monsters at his beck and call (fun fact I thought this was beckon call my entire life until I just looked it up. Guess I’m dumb!)
- Back on the surface, Titan is enjoying his time as head of crime. And he meets a character we have sort of seen already. Mr. Liu from the comics is the head of the head of crime, and his powerful dragon persona was briefly seen in Italy when Nolan and Debbie went out for date night earlier in the season.
- Battle Beast is still battling and still a beast
- And finally, Cecil has kept up production of the killer robots that will maybe someday stop Invincible AND his dad.
Final Observations/Hopes for Season 2
- Honestly wasn’t a huge fan of Amber coming back into Mark’s life. It’s one of those relationships born out of trauma now, and those are always fraught. Plus it just clogs up the runway to getting Mark and Atom Eve together (which gives us some of the most honest, mature plot lines of the entire comic book series) I wonder where they’ll take it.
- This season was a brilliant one. Introduced us to everything we needed and nothing we didn’t. Stayed true enough to the comic that old fans would be happy while updating and refreshing some of the staler bits. Capitalized on the things that made the comic great (ultra-gore plus grounded filial melodrama [just like a good Ari Aster flick]) And filled out the voice cast with so much talent I almost couldn’t handle it.
- I am forced to concede at this point that the John Hamm bit might have just been some weird bit of stunt casting to get nerds like me confused and engaged. He could have just been an updated version of this homeless man from London in the comics, but I am STILL holding out hope that there is more to it in season two. You don’t waste John Hamm like that.
- Also still no idea about what’s up with the pyramid tomb robber. Unless I missed something…Hoping to see more follow up to that in season two as well.
- Lastly I just want to say thanks to Joe for this opportunity. I love this world, the characters that inhabit it, and the stories that come out of it. I have had the best time writing recaps here. And a huge thanks to you, the reader, (I’m assuming there’s only one left at this point so imagine I’m talking directly at YOU right now) as writing for an audience is always one of the most rewarding things I can do. Make sure to keep reading my inane jokes and ideas at @tasteinfil_bad on twitter. I’ll see you there.
- Maybe Joe will let me write another article later listing out all the possible storylines we could get in the next season…make sure to pester him into agreeing to this. tysm
OK, until next season (!!!!!) Invincipals (that was the cutesy name Kirkman chose for the letter writing section at the back) It’s been a blast.