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Invincible (Amazon Studios)
Invincible (Amazon Studios)

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‘Invincible’ episode 3 ‘Who You Calling Ugly?’ recap/review

Invincible’s third episode carefully expands the cast while also kicking some of the series’ most intriguing storylines into high gear.

Invincible‘s second episode saw Mark Grayson begin coming into his own as a superhero as he joined forces with Teen Team to battle the Flaxans. Meanwhile, Nolan/Omni-Man finally woke up from his coma with no one suspecting him of murdering the Guardians of the Globe…although Global Defense Agency chief Cecil Stedman might finally be starting to suspect something.

We now take a look at Invincible‘s third episode, which is the last one until we’re forced to suffer through the pain/indignity of waiting a week for each installment. As always, the recap will contain plenty of spoilers.

Moving Insincerity

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

The episode opens with a ceremony held in memory of the Guardians of the Globe. Despite being the one who brutally murdered them, Omni-Man gives a stirring speech in their memory that’s broadcast all over the world. He also assures the people of Earth that he’ll be there to protect them along with new heroes who will no doubt step up to the challenge.

Later, Nolan presides over a private ceremony for the heroes’ families (and to keep the location of the bodies secret from souvenir hunters). Once again, Nolan provides the eulogy, this one even more moving than the last.

When the ceremony is over, Nolan noticed Damian Darkblood and chastises him for showing up to a private funeral. Damian responds by subtly implying that he knows Nolan is hiding something about the attack on the Guardians. When Nolan pushes back, the demon detective blames his accusatory tone on not understanding human conversation/interactions well. He also asks Nolan to get in touch if he happens to remember anything.

Meanwhile, Cecil approaches Robot and offers him a spot in the Global Defense Agency — specifically as the leader of a new Guardians team, which he would get to pick. Robot accepts, but asks why Omni-Man isn’t getting the the job. Cecil explains that the powerful hero has always insisted on working independently. He also doesn’t take orders from anyone, including him.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

When the Graysons arrive home from the funeral, Nolan cheerily asks if his family would like him to fly to Italy to pick up some pizza. Mark, on the other hand, is still distraught about seeing the world’s greatest heroes be put to rest in front of their grieving families. When Deborah suggests he call Will to hang out, Mark snaps at her. Nolan rebukes his son before explaining that he needs to compartmentalize what happens in the superhero world and not bring his emotions home.

After Mark skulks up to his room, Deborah chides Nolan for telling their son to tamp down on his feelings — especially when it’s because he’s upset about Nolan’s friends being dead. After correcting Deborah that the Guardians were only his coworkers, he assures her that he’s too powerful to be killed like the other heroes were. As you might imagine, this does little to reassure her, both with regards to her family’s safety and their mental well-being.

Unbeknownst to the Grayson’s, everything they’re saying is being watched, recorded, and monitored by Donald and a nearby GDA surveillance team.

Shot Selection

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

After taking some time to process things in his room, Mark sees Amber’s number laying on his bed and decides to call. He’s all types of awkward at first, but the two quickly fall into easy conversation/flirting. He eventually works up to the courage to ask Amber to have a study with him, which she gladly accepts.

Meanwhile, Atom Eve arrives back at Teen Team’s headquarters to find that Rex Splode is cheating on her with Dupli-Kate (and with her utilizing her powers exactly the way you’re thinking). Kate explains that she thought it was okay because Rex told her Eve and Mark were dating.

Instead of showing embarrassment at being caught in a lie, Rex tries to say that he knows Eve is secretly seeing Mark, thereby justifying his actions. When Eve angrily declares that it’s not true, Rex tries to get her to forgive him by saying that his fling with Kate “doesn’t mean s**t.” This rightfully pisses off both women even more, causing Rex to get dumped twice.

Training Day

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

The next day at the Pentagon, Robot gathers a large group of heroes to try out for the new Guardians of the Globe. Invincible drops by, but only to watch in starstruck amazement. Despite Robot’s prodding, he holds firm on he and his father’s decision to help the team when needed — at least for the time being.

The candidates test their abilities against each other and Atom Eve, who channels her anger over Rex Splode into a substantial amount of ass whooping. When the trials are complete, Robot selects the following heroes to join Atom Eve, Rex Splode, and Dupli-Kate as the new Guardians:

  • Black Samson: Superhuman strength, stamina, and durability along with exceptional leadership qualities. He was actually on the Guardians before, but lost his powers, which he currently has again (sort of) via his suit.
  • Shrinking Ray: Basically Ant-Man without the ability to control insects or become a giant. Despite not having those powers, she’s still an exceptional fighter.
  • Monster Girl: Despite looking like a preteen girl, she can transform into a giant, nearly indestructible monster. There’s a lot more to her powers than that, but we’ll dig into it later.
Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

When Rex tries to mock Monster Girl’s selection by asking if there’s an age requirement to be on the team, she responds by asking if there’s a “dick size requirement” he had to overcome to join. Since Rex is a total douche canoe, he decides to teach the little girl a lesson via physical violence. He also missed Monster Girl’s trial, leaving him completely unprepared when she shifts into monster form and begins wailing on him.

The beat down is allowed to go on for a bit before Invincible swoops in and puts a stop to it. After being knocked back into a wall and reverting to her human form, Monster Girl apologizes to a chastened and bloody Rex Splode for kicking his ass so badly.

Once that bit of craziness is done, Atom Eve tells Robot that she refuses to be on the same team with Rex Splode and Dupli-Kate before flying away. After Invincible takes off and catches up to her, she reveals to him that Rex cheated on her. She also tells him Rex wasn’t always the colossal asshole he is now…and that he thought she and Invincible were dating. Mark (barely) manages to tamp down on his joy at hearing about their break up and tells Eve that he’s sorry.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Meanwhile, Robot tells the rest of the new Guardians team that they’ll start their initial training at GDA headquarters until the forensic investigation at the Guardians of the Globe base is complete. Rex complains about Robot’s strenuous training schedule, prompting Black Sampson to remind him how much more visible/important the Guardians are compared to the Teen Team — and that he was an original member of the Guardians as well.

Rex goes into full douche mode and suggests that maybe the last Guardians would still be around if Sampson hadn’t lost his powers and left the team. Sampson responds by threatening to kick Rex’s ass. He then uses up any goodwill he generated by telling Robot that the team needs a real/human leader they can look in the eye.

After Rex goes on a rant about how Sampson doesn’t belong on the team because his powers come from a suit (and sadly does not get his ass kicked) the new Guardians end their disastrous first meeting. Things get even worse when Monster Girl informs Robot that she can’t follow his training regimen because the curse that provides her powers also causes her to get younger every time she uses them. Despite looking like a little girl, she’s actually 24-years old. Robot apologizes and attempts to commiserate with Monster Girl over people not knowing who they really are on the inside. She coldly asks how he could ever understand such a thing when he’s “just a robot” and leaves.

Meanwhile, Omni-Man watches Robot’s disastrous first team meeting declares the new Guardians to be “pathetic.”

Seismic Interruption

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Will is helping Mark prepare for his study date with Amber when she arrives before he’s ready. After hastily cleaning his room and shooing Will out the backdoor, Mark welcomes her upstairs. Just like their phone call, things start off awkward before falling into a comfortable/flirty groove.

Unfortunately, Mark is interrupted by repeated phone calls that continue even after he turns off his phone. When Amber excuses herself to use bathroom, Cecil teleports into Mark’s room. After reminding Mark that being on call is part of being a superhero (and berating him for not answering his phone), he tells him that there’s a rogue supervillain situation near Mount Rushmore and his assistance his required. Mark is hesitant about accepting, but does so when Cecil reveals that Eve will be there, as well.

He then gives Mark an earpiece and disappears moments before Amber returns. When she asks who Mark was talking to, he says it was a friend of his dad’s before making the impossibly lame excuse that he needs to go help them right away.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

As Atom Eve and Invincible fly toward Mount Rushmore, Cecil tells them that Omi-Man is currently engaged in battle with a kaiju and that the new Guardians are a “s**t show,” hence the need for their help.

Their target is Doc Seismic, a crazy mad scientist who made himself a pair of gauntlets that can cause earthquakes (and appear to be contributing to his diminished mental state). He also isn’t making any demands — just causing a ton of destruction.

The pair arrive to find Doc Seismic demanding the tourists visiting Mount Rushmore worship him before dislodging Abraham Lincoln’s head and hurling toward a group of Boy Scouts. Invincible catches Honest Abe’s head and puts it back, earning himself a blast from Seismic. After Eve creates a force field and catches him, they engage the villain in battle.

*Side Note: There’s a lot of great/hilarious banter during this fight that I can’t do justice in a recap.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Things get exponentially more serious when Seismic begins ripping the ground open, causing magma to splash up toward the surface. After working together to save a family from falling into one of the crevices, Atom Eve manages to make Seismic’s earthquake gauntlets malfunction, which causes him to fall into a crevice, as well.

Despite making a good faith effort, the pair are unable to save the insane villain. Still, the victory provides them with a chance to celebrate. When Atom Eve tries to kiss Invincible, however, he barely notices, instead flying away to see if he can still salvage his study date with Amber.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

When Mark arrives home, he surprised to find his father there, who praises him for finding a way to balance his personal and superhero life. He then walks up his room and apologizes to Amber, who is understandably furious at having been left by herself for over an hour.

Just as she’s about to leave, Mark asks why she was even interested in him in the first place. Amber explains that she’s had plenty of guys throw punches for her, but never had one stand there and take them. This leads to the pair talking and flirting like they were before Mark left.

Meanwhile, Donald reports to Cecil that the kaiju Omni-Man took on was defeated, but may still be alive. The battle was also the closest he’s ever seen Omni-Man to losing. Cecil instructs him to put the beast on ice in case they ever need it.

Missed and Suspected Connections

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

That evening, Eve is taking down her pictures of Rex when she hears fireworks outside. After going to investigate, she discovers that her ex is the one putting on the display for her. He then apologizes for his constant philandering and asks for another chance. Instead of giving it to him, Eve tells Rex good luck with the new team (implying she won’t be on the Guardians) and flies off toward Mark’s house.

When she arrives, Eve looks in Mark’s window and sees him and Amber making out on his bed. Despite being extremely disappointed, she’s still genuinely happy that he found someone.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Over at GDA headquarters, a lone security guard wheels a meal tray past a detention block filled with terrifying-looking supervillains. He stops at the first Mauler twin’s cell and gives him his meal without any issues. When he attempts to feed the second one, however, a shadowy figure in the control center keeps the feeding chamber open, allowing Mauler #2 to knock out the guard and use his hand/fingerprints to open his cell.

After Mauler #2 frees his twin, the pair easily cut through a GDA security team before the shadowy figure lowers a ladder for them. Upon making it to the surface, Mauler #1 uses Mauler #2’s body as a shield against a high powered laser and destroys it. As his maimed clone/twin bleeds out on the ground, Mauler #1 smugly declares that he can always just “make another” before taking off toward the city.

Back inside GDA headquarters, the shadowy figure is revealed to be Robot. After watching Mauler #1 escape via a drone camera, he turns off the monitor and greets Cecil as he enters the control room (and appears not to have seen what Robot was watching/doing).

When the GDA director asks if his new Guardians team will be ready, Robot assures him that they are making excellent progress.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

In a mid-credits scene, Damian Darkblood shows up unannounced to the Nolan residence while Deborah is working on the computer. After apologizing for scaring her, he explains that he’s still seeking answers for what happened when the Guardians of the Globe were murdered.

Damian stongly implies to her that Nolan knows more than he is telling. When Deborah asks why he cares about the case so much, the demon explains that he seeks justice for others to save his own soul from having to return to Hell. He then asks why Nolan hasn’t told her anything about the investigation yet (including his unofficial part in it).

Before she can answer, Nolan turns on the lights and Damian disappears. She tells her husband she was just about to go to bed, but Nolan suspects that someone else was there. After seeing his breath, he knows it was Damian.

The Verdict

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Now we’re cooking with gas.

Invincible‘s third episode finally gives us a taste of how expansive the cast will be. Instead of making things feel too crowded, however, the new characters add another layer to the narrative that hooks us even more into the story. It’s also worth noting that rather than generic superhero templates or thinly veiled homages, the new characters are all types of unique/interesting in their own right — especially Monster Girl. Her powers’ origins and the effect using them has on her creates a ton of narrative possibilities.

The revelation about Robot also provides plenty of new intrigue, although I could see how some might find his actions frustrating. It’s one thing when you can keep burning through collected comic editions (like I did), but quite another when you’re waiting a week to answer/explore even more questions than you’d anticipated. In both cases, the central figures (Robot and Omni-Man) have thus far shown virtually no reason/motive behind their nefarious actions.

Those of us familiar with the source material know what’s going on, but someone who doesn’t might be tempted to roll their eyes at yet another character seeming to do a complete 180 from what was established beforehand.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Once again, the fight sequences are great, although the tone during Invincible and Atom Eve’s battle with Doc Seismic’s occasionally strays past the point of banter into pure comedy. Don’t get me wrong — it’s hilarious, but also undercuts the high stakes of superhuman battle that were established last episode.

One area I can’t find anything to criticize is the character work, particularly Atom Eve. Gillian Jacobs imbues her with the perfect mix of confidence and vulnerability that made the comic-version of the character so great. She’s a total badass who will instantly make you her fan and a relatable, good-hearted person who’s impossible not to love.

We also finally got some more screen time for Amber, who shows why she’s much more than just an attractive girl. Seeing how smart/cool she makes Mark and her getting together feel like a good thing instead of a letdown that he didn’t end up with Eve.

And then of course we have Mark, who’s perfectly voiced by Steven Yeun as a normal kid going through an extraordinary life in a way that somehow feels grounded and relatable. Combine that with Cecil Stedman’s expanded role, and you can feel the series starting to build momentum to be something really special. Whether Invincible sticks strictly to the source material or not, it’s clear the people behind the series are mining it for the best stuff and thus far doing an exceptional job. Let’s hope that carries into next week as we hurtle towards an answer for Omni-Man’s horrific actions and the reckoning that’s sure to come.

 

Next Episode: ‘Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out’

Invincible (Amazon Studios)
'Invincible' episode 3 'Who You Calling Ugly?' recap/review
Invincible's third episode carefully expands the cast while also kicking some of the series' most intriguing storylines into high gear.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Despite expanding the cast, the episode never feels crowded.
The character work all around is superb, particularly with regards to Atom Eve and Amber.
Mark is perfectly voiced by Steven Yeun as a normal kid going through an extraordinary life in a way that somehow feels grounded and relatable.
As intriguing as Robot's actions are, it's a bit hard to accept when we're still trying to figure out what Nolan/Omni-Man's up to.
The fight scenes continue to be great, but the banter during the Doc Seismic battle strays a bit too far into pure comedy.
8
Good

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