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'Invincible' episode 4 'Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out' recap/review

Television

‘Invincible’ episode 4 ‘Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out’ recap/review

Invincible’s fourth episode takes us on a narrative thrill ride that should also probably slow down a bit.

Last week’s third episode of Invincible concluded with a number of plotlines being brought into play:

  • Cecil suspects Omni-Man isn’t telling the whole truth about the Guardians being murdered.
  • Damian Darkblood KNOWS Omni-Man isn’t telling the whole truth about the Guardians being murdered.
  • Deborah is starting to suspect something is up wither husband, as well.
  • Cecil put Robot in charge of a new Guardians of the Globe.
  • Robot covertly helped Mauler escape GDA custody.
  • Eve finally broke up with Rex.
  • Mark got together with Amber.

This week, things get even crazier. As always, the following recap will contain plenty of spoilers.

Hints, Allegations, & Things Left Unsaid

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

The episode opens with an evil man attempting to resurrect an even more evil mummy somewhere in the Middle East. His plans are unknowingly thwarted by Invincible, whose low altitude flying reseals the the mummy’s tomb.

In the skies above, Omni-Man chastises his son for accidentally creating a giant dust storm. He also reminds him that his flight skills will only improve if he continues to push himself. The pair then decide to take a detour to Mount Everest, where Omni-Man tells Mark a bit more about his Viltrumite heritage. He also impresses upon him that upholding their people’s heritage of keeping the universe safe will occasionally require sacrifice.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Meanwhile, Deborah meets with Red Rush‘s widow, Olga, who is convinced the GDA knows who killed the Guardians, but simply doesn’t care. She then announces that she’s moving back to Russia before asking Deborah to sell her house. After Deborah agrees to be her real estate agent, she asks if Red Rush ever lied to her.

Olga responds that all heroes lie.

That night, Deborah arrives home and begins searching online for information about Damian Darkblood. She’s forced to quickly close her browser windows when Mark and Nolan arrive minutes later. After giving their son a hard time about his upcoming date with Amber, Deborah tells her husband about how much Olga is hurting. She also reveals the grieving woman’s belief that there’s a conspiracy surrounding the Guardians’ murders. Nolan coldly responds that Olga needs to “quit drinking.”

As you might imagine, this does little to assuage Deborah’s recent suspicions/concerns.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Later, while Mark is having a wonderful date with Amber, Nolan pays Damian a visit and demands that the demon detective leave his family alone. Damian calmly states his belief that Nolan was the one who killed the Guardians. After assuring him that he won’t stop looking for proof, Damian also reveals that Deborah is already suspicious…and that it’s only a matter of time before Mark will know something’s up, as well.

Elsewhere, the recently escaped Mauler begins building a lab and cloning himself a new twin. His actions are somehow being monitored remotely by Robot, who’s interrupted when Rex accuses him of being asleep. After playing his trance off as “defragmenting,” he and the rest of the new Guardians arrive at their refurbished headquarters. The entire place has been cleaned except for one massive blood stain, which Cecil teleports in to say was left on purpose. Once they prove themselves worthy of being Guardians of the Globe, it’ll get cleaned.

After Cecil gets a communication on his earpiece and leaves, Robot notices Rex and Monster Girl starting to bond. He tells his philandering teammate not to let his personal life cost them another team member like it did with Atom Eve. Rex angrily responds that Robot has no place to tell him what to do. He also points out that Monster Girl looks like a 14-year old and that he has plenty of options now that he’s a member of the Guardians.

Robot tells Rex that he’s glad they have an understanding, claps him on the shoulder, and secretly takes a sample of his blood.

Rocket Man

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Nolan notices how stressed Deborah seems and asks what’s wrong. When she replies that it’s “work stuff,” he tells her that being married to the most powerful man in the world means she shouldn’t have to deal with such mundane things. Deborah reminds her husband that she’s much more than just his wife and has a career that means a great deal to her.

Nolan is saved from digging himself into an even deeper hole when Cecil “accidentally” teleports into their living room instead of their front door. After recovering from Nolan nearly killing him, he asks Omni-Man to accompany NASA’s first manned mission to Mars to make sure everything goes well. After the Guardians being murdered, the people of Earth need a win.

Mark arrives back from his date just in time to find Nolan telling Cecil he won’t help — his responsibilities are to his family and Earth. Mark volunteers (for the second time) to go in his father’s place. Nolan protests, but Deborah encourages him to do what he thinks is right. Despite the mission being two weeks, Mark still agrees to go.

Cecil then teleports back to the station the GDA is using to monitor the Grayson home. When Donald expresses dismay that they won’t have Nolan off planet so they can investigate him, Cecil replies that the mission will give them a chance to see if Mark/Invincible is someone whom they can trust.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

The next day at school, Mark laments to Eve about having to lie to Amber so he can justify his upcoming two week absence. Eve pointedly responds that situations like this one are why dating regular people is difficult. She then reveals that being a superhero might not be what she wants to do with her life.

After Mark promises to be there for her if she needs to talk things through (once he gets back), Eve tells him that he better be 100% serious about Amber if he plans to reveal is superhuman secret to her. Instead of doing that, Mark goes over to Amber’s house to say farewell before leaving on his interplanetary mission…which he describes to her as an impromptu humanitarian trip he was inspired to take after hearing about the ones she’d been on…to a place he doesn’t know and/or can’t remember.

Despite being significantly smarter than Mark, Amber believes him. She also promises to still be with him when he gets back.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible zips off from Amber’s house and makes it to the Mars shuttle just as its going into orbit. Once he’s riding atop the ship’s hull, Cecil contacts him to discuss the mission’s primary objectives:

  1. Keep the Mars crew safe, but stay out of sight. This is supposed to be a win for humanity.
  2. Keep an eye on the native Martians and make sure nothing happens.

Invincible is shocked to learn there’s sentient life on Mars, but GDA director assures him that they shouldn’t be a problem since they live underground and mostly keep to themselves.

*Side Note: As the shuttle flies off toward Mars, we’re treated to a hilarious cameo/easter egg of Bi-Plane‘s corpse floating through space. In case you don’t remember, he’s the villain who the Immortal threw into space back in Episode 1 before Omni-Man’s trap was sprung.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Back on Earth, Deborah finally confronts her husband about the strange, evasive, and hostile behavior he’s shown since their son’s superpowers arrived. Nolan explains that seeing what happened with the Guardians makes him terrified that he could lose his family. He then suggests that they take a trip together to the first place they ever went together (Italy) to reconnect.

After the pair reminisce for a bit, Nolan tells Deborah that he knows Cecil suspects him of having something to do with the Guardians being murdered. This “revelation” helps Deborah rationalize why her husband has been acting so strangely, but still causes her a great deal of stress. Nolan tells her they’ll be fine as long as she trust him, a request he continues to make even after a kaiju unexpectedly attacks the city behind them. Deborah says she does, which is a huge weight off his shoulders. He also refuses to do anything about the kaiju, instead letting Cecil “earn his paycheck” via the GDA taking care of the threat.

Meanwhile, Damian is in the middle of searching the Grayson household when he’s confronted and apprehended by Cecil and a pair of GDA troopers.

Life on Mars

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

After arriving on the red planet with the NASA crew, Invincible (barely) avoids detection before finding a spot to scroll through his camera roll and take a nap. He awakens to find that the crew is gone. There are also strange tracks leading away from the landing site to what turns out to be a hidden bunker. Invincible opens it and is immediately swarmed by a group of small tentacled creatures (Sequids).

After fighting them off, he goes down into the bunker and finds even more Sequids. Thankfully, these appear almost lifeless. He also comes face to face with a group of shape shifting Martians, who are both confused and impressed that he’s “unaffected” by the Sequids.

The Martians then take Invincible to their emperor, who is holding the four astronauts hostage. He explains that the Sequids are parasitic, world destroying race that can become unified and powerful with the proper host. Without a host, however, they are scattered and weak. The Sequids crash landed on Mars a long time ago and were unable to take over the Martians due to their shape changing physiology, thus trapping them on the red planet and quarantining them from the rest of the universe. If a Sequid managed to fuse with one of the astronauts, however, they could rise up as one to take over both Mars and Earth.

Because of this, the astronauts have been scheduled for immediate execution.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible feigns agreement/understanding before busting the astronauts out of the bunker. With the Martian army hot on their tail, he gets them to their shuttle, holds off their pursuers, and helps them take off before grabbing a rock to bring home to Amber.

Unbeknownst to Invincible and the shuttle crew, one of the astronauts has been replaced by a shape shifting Martian. Meanwhile, the real astronaut who was left behind is taken over by Sequids and begins taking over Mars.

Walking in Heaven’s Foothills

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible returns home and hears strange sounds coming from inside his house. Upon entry, however, he discovers that it was simply his parents getting frisky after their trip.

The next day at school, Mark gives Amber the rock without explaining anything specific about where it came from. Despite giving him a hard time for being so vague, she still happily accepts the gift and having him back early.

*Side Note: Ugh…Amber, you are so much smarter than this.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Over at GDA headquarters, Cecil tells Damian they found dried blood at his place that matches the Guardians. He also admits it was planted and that he knows Omni-Man was the one who killed them, but the demon detective forced his hand.  He then leads Damian to a casting circle and has Donald perform an exorcism. As the demon is sent back to hell, Cecil explains that he can’t have him bringing things to light until Omni-Man’s motives for killing the Guardians have been discovered.

The next day, Deborah manages to sell Olga’s house. Meanwhile, Robot takes his sample of Rex’s blood to a stasis chamber holding what appears to be a deformed baby. The being smiles and speaks with Robot’s voice, expressing his satisfaction that “Phase 1” can now begin.

In a mid credits scene, Deborah comes home and tells Nolan that she’s close to breaking her agency’s monthly sales record. He responds to her good news by sharing some of his own: Cecil found new evidence in the Guardians case and has cleared him of all wrong doing. As Deborah closes her closet door, the camera zooms in on something Damian left behind (which might have been his notebook, but it was hard to tell). We also hear his distinct growl as the lights go out.

The Verdict

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Told you it was going to get crazy.

If there’s one thing I’m a little uneasy about, it’s how much Invincible is revealing in such a short amount of time. I get that there are only 8 episodes in the first season (and that I gave the series a hard time for a slow first episode), but the reveal about Robot was much earlier I’d bet any of us comic fans expected.

Considering all the other condensed storylines and the preview material that hasn’t shown up yet, it feels like we’ll be a third of the way through the source material by the season finale. Obviously none of us expected a 140+ episode series (as awesome as that would’ve been). But as someone who basically knows what’s coming, I’m still feeling a bit of narrative whiplash. I imagine that folks new to the series are to some degree, as well.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

My only other complaint about the series thus far (and this episode in particular) is Amber, who I actually like much better than her comic counterpart. In addition to being a more integral part of the story, she’s also more likable and much smarter. Unfortunately, that makes her acceptance of Mark’s bizarre excuses for his behavior really hard to buy.

I get that we’re dealing with a universe that has dragons, demons, and super-powered individuals. But part of what makes Invincible so great is its foundation of intensely relatable human drama. Having Amber swing from being the sharpest mind in the room to completely oblivious chips away at that a bit. There’s certainly a chance she already figured out Mark is Invincible and is simply playing dumb for his benefit, but if/until that occurs, her behavior doesn’t make much sense.

Thankfully, Zazie Beetz does such a good job voicing Amber that those inconsistent moments don’t linger in your head for too long.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Those two gripes aside, however, Invincible continues to be consistently fun and engaging. It also has all types of potential to evolve into something truly great. Aside from the proven narrative, the voice acting and character interactions are superb, particularly anything involving Omni-Man and Deborah.

J.K. Simmons is not the way I had his character voiced in my head back when I read the comic, but it definitely will be from now on. As far as Deborah is concerned, Sandra Oh has taken a character I was simply fond of and just might turn her into my favorite. She provides an emotional core to the cast that simultaneously anchors and elevates the narrative.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

The animation on Invincible also continues to impress, especially when it gets to flex its muscle like that first Sequid attack after Mark and the astronauts left Mars. It should be quite a sight when the big battles get started.

Just hopefully not too soon.

 

Next Episode: That Actually Hurt

'Invincible' episode 4 'Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out' recap/review
'Invincible' episode 4 'Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out' recap/review
Invincible's fourth episode takes us on a narrative thrill ride that should probably slow down a bit.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The voice acting is outstanding, particularly J.K. Simmons and Nolan/Omni Man and Sandra Oh as Deborah.
The series' web of mysteries and plotlines gets even more tangled and intense.
In addition to playing a more integral part of the story, Amber is much more likable and smarter than her comic counterpart...
...unfortunately, that makes Amber's blindspot for Mark's absurd excuses much harder to accept.
After four episodes, 'Invincible' has condensed/blasted through a ton of the source material. Even a long time fan (like myself) might feel some narrative whiplash.
7.5
Good

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