Last week’s episode of Invincible concluded with Amber breaking up with Mark and Deborah finally confronting Nolan about murdering the Guardians of the Globe. As if that weren’t intense enough, Will lost his friend/not-so-secret crush when D.A. Sinclair turned him into an undead cyborg. Meanwhile, the Mauler Twins are up to something nefarious involving the Immortal‘s body and their deal with Robot to make a clone using Rex’s DNA.
So yeah…this penultimate chapter of Invincible‘s first season is going to be all types of crazy.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers.
The episode opens with Deborah waking up in bed alone. She then heads downstairs to the kitchen, where her husband stares pensively out the window while his bloody murderer uniform sits in the kitchen counter.
After letting the silence hang for a bit, she asks the question we’ve all been wondering: Why did he keep it? Nolan responds that he used the suit to help generate false evidence against Damian Darkblood, but admits that a part of himself might have wanted to be found out.
Side Note: Still not an airtight explanation, but good enough that it makes sense (and is greatly appreciated).
Nolan also reveals that murdering the Guardians of the Globe was nothing he’d been forced or controlled into doing. It was simply necessary. He then asks Deborah to trust his reasons without explaining them, which goes over about as well as you’d expect. She kicks Nolan out of the house, an order he angrily complies with by insisting they’ll discuss the matter later before bursting through the ceiling.
After her husband is gone, Deborah calls Mark and gets his voicemail. Just as she’s finished leaving a message, a squad of GDA troops uncloak and surround her. Donald walks in tells her that she needs to come with him.
Meanwhile, Mark, Will, and Amber make an incredibly awkward/uncomfortable drive home from Upstate University. Mark attempts to talk with Amber, but she steadfastly ignores him.
Once they arrive at Amber’s house, Mark makes a last ditch effort to fix things by finally revealing that he’s Invincible. Much to his surprise, Amber reveals that she’s known his secret for months. When Mark asks why she’s still angry, she tells him it’s because he constantly lied to her about who he was and what he was doing. She then tells her reeling ex-boyfriend to leave.
*Side Note: If Amber has known Mark was Invincible was for weeks, then why is she blowing up at him now for lying? And why did she seem genuinely angry about him “disappearing” during the fight with the Reanimen at Upstate University when he was right there the whole time?
Elsewhere, a very happy and content Atom Eve prepares for another day of helping other people on her own terms.
After Monster Girl is discharged from the hospital, she returns to Guardians HQ and is greeted by a surprise party from her teammates. Unlike the last time they were all together at the base, everyone is in good spirits and getting along — even Rex and Black Samson. Monster Girl jokingly asks the original Guardian why the beatdown that nearly killed her gave him his powers back, but he doesn’t appear to know, either.
The jovial atmosphere takes a sharp turn for the weird when Robot begins to glitch out while telling Monster Girl how happy he is that she’s okay. Unbeknownst to the rest of team, his deformed human body (and the chamber he resides in) is being transported in a truck to the Mauler Twins’ lab.
After getting over their initial shock/disgust at seeing Robot’s true form, the supervillains show him the cloned body of Rex (as a teenager) they’ve created. Robot is pleased with the work, although he gamely asks them to remove all the time bombs and control mechanisms they placed.
With that bit of awkwardness out of the way, Robot asks for one last thing (a neural transmitter) to be added before finally revealing their payment: The schematics for a GDA control collar that could potentially put the strongest super powered individuals in the world under their command.
He then tells them that the schematic’s encryption will be revealed once they’ve completed their final task. He also makes a show of good faith by disintegrating his drone guardian, essentially putting his vulnerable human body at the Mauler Twin’s mercy.
Meanwhile, Mark and Will have an extremely sad lunch in the Burger Mart parking lot. Mark assures his friend that the GDA will do all they can to help Rick, but Will is still angry that he went off looking for Amber first. If he’d searched for Rick instead, then he likely would have been able to save him.
Instead of pushing back, Mark admits that Will is right, citing his failure to save Rick as one of many reasons he’s decided not to be a superhero anymore. Will tells Mark that his self pity isn’t warranted, especially with regards to how badly he screwed things up with Amber.
Despite his friend’s tough love also being painfully accurate, Mark decides he needs to talk to someone who might having a better understanding of what he’s dealing with and storms off.
Deborah arrives at GDA headquarters, which is in chaos as they attempt to track Omni-Man. After telling Cecil that her husband killed the Guardians of the Globe, he reveals that he already knew, earning him a solid smack across the face. He also admits that they failed to learn why he did it or how to stop him. At this point, Deborah’s son might be their only chance of putting Omni-Man down.
As you might imagine, Deborah is nowhere near okay with this.
Meanwhile, Omni-Man practices the speech he wants to give to his son explaining his actions and why had to kill the Guardians. He then flies home to find Mark, but is instead greeted by four GDA troopers, who he takes down with brutal efficiency. The last one attempts to crawl toward the house across the street, revealing the location of the GDA stake out operation. Donald buys his people just enough time to flee before Omni-Man begins ripping out his spine. With his dying breath, he tells Cecil it was an honor to work with him before setting off a bomb that turns the entire residence into a smoldering crater.
Unfortunately, the blast does little more than piss Omni-Man off, who takes to the skies to look for Mark. Back at GDA headquarters, Cecil tells Deborah that it’s imperative that they find her son before his father does.
Back at the Mauler Twins’ lab, Robot is taken from his drained containment unit, which instantly begins to kill him due to the fact that oxygen is toxic to his lungs. After attaching a respirator to him, the twins place Robot on a table next to the clone of Rex. They explain that the procedure (which will be extremely painful) won’t transfer his mind into the clone body. Instead, it will duplicate all his thoughts and memories, essentially creating two versions of him.
After Robot assures them he understands what will transpire, the twins begin the procedure, which immediately begins to go awry. They’re able to finish the transfer, but not without the original Robot being mortally wounded. Before expiring, he tells his newly cloned self to experience the life and happiness his physical state never allowed him to have.
Once everyone has taken a moment to recover, the twins ask the “new” Robot for the schematics along with the necessary encryption. He gives it to them before immediately declaring that it’s time to go back to jail and launching two previously hidden Robot drones into action (via the neural transmitter). When they managed to take those out, Robot transforms the truck he drove in on into a giant drone that begins wreaking havoc against them and the lab.
Just when the Mauler Twins are about to be captured (or possibly neutralized), Robot receives a call from the GDA about an “apocalypse level event” and takes off for Guardians HQ. Meanwhile, Omni-Man tracks down Will and menaces him into revealing Eve’s approximate location, which Mark (apparently) told him at some point.
Invincible finds Atom Eve and tells her about how disastrous things have been for him since becoming a superhero. As they both commiserate over how complicated their lives are, Omni-Man closes in on their position. Cecil activates a high powered orbital laser beam that blasts him into the Earth’s crust. Unfortunately, the rogue hero is able to burst up from the ground before flying into orbit and destroying the laser.
Atom Eve sees the orbital explosion and decides to check if the situation requires her assistance. Invincible refuses, however, insisting that the world was fine before he started playing superhero. She flies off with out him, but he soon has a (very predictable) change of heart and catches up with her.
Back at Guardians HQ, the team is frustrated at Cecil for refusing to tell them what the “apocalypse level event” is and ordering them to stay put. Their anger is quickly replaced by confusion when a teenage version of Rex shows up out of nowhere. He explains to them that his actual name is Rudolph (Rudy) Conners and that he’s the one who’s been controlling the Robot drones, albeit from a different body.
Rex is understandably perplexed and furious at Rudy/Robot cloning him without his permission. Rudy/Robot then proceeds to explain everything, including the unnerving confession that he chose Rex for his clone body because it looked like Monster Girl was attracted to him. This understandably makes Rex and the rest of the team even angrier and more disgusted.
Monster Girl also points out that it’s hard to understand how Rudy/Robot could think they would all be okay with this when he lied to them about who he was and conspired with known criminals. Before things can get any worse for the Guardian’s team leader, Black Samson locates a video feed of Omni-Man destroying the space laser.
Actions vs. Words
Cecil uses his teleporter to put himself near Omni-Man’s flight path. After getting his attention with a powerful laser blast, the GDA director teleports away from Omni-Man’s attacks while attempting to interrogate him about why he’s turned on everyone. When he refuses to answer, Cecil taunts him over the pain his betrayal will cause Deborah and Mark. He then teleports back to GDA headquarters (less than second a before Omni-Man can rip his throat out) and unleashes a trio of Reanimen.
Turns out that instead of locking D.A. Sinclair up, Cecil put him to work reanimating dead GDA troops into his cyborg super soldiers, three of which are giving Omni-Man a run for his money. Cecil admits that he feels dirty working with a sociopath like Sinclair, but Omni-Man’s actions have given him no choice but to do whatever it takes.
Omni-Man is eventually able to defeat the Reanimen and continues on his way to intercept Invincible. With no other options remaining, Cecil instructs the GDA team to unleash the genetically enhanced version of the kaiju that almost defeated Omni-Man back in Episode 3.
As the kaiju proceeds to kick Omni-Man’s ass, Cecil instructs his team to teleport him to Invincible and Atom Eve’s location so he can give them their own teleportation devices and bring them back. Unfortunately, sending the creature to intercept Omni-Man burned out their teleporter.
Cecil also commands the new Guardians to remain where they are, explaining that if the kaiju fails, they might be the last chance Earth has against Omini-Man. The heroes are both shocked and terrified to learn that they may have to go up against the strongest in the world. Despite her reservations about what Robot/Rudy has done, Monster Girl still grabs his hand for comfort.
Meanwhile, Invincible sees what’s happening and saves his dad just before the kaiju is about to devour him. Still completely unaware of what his father had done, he excitedly teams up with him to take down the beast, which manages to quickly put them both on the ropes.
Back at GDA headquarters, Deborah and Cecil call Atom Eve’s phone. She’s thrown for a loop when Deborah tells her what’s happening and becomes even more flustered when Cecil orders her back to Guardians HQ. Deborah then begs Cecil to call off the monster, but he refuses, explaining that it might be their last chance to take down Omni-Man (and Invincible if it turns out he’s on his father’s side).
Sic Semper Tyrannus
Over at the Mauler Twins’ lab, the pair use the schematics Robot gave them to build the control collar, which they place on the re-capitated body of the Immortal. When the superhero fails to revive, one of the Mauler twins begins pounding on his chest. This causes the Immortal to begin flashing through his incredibly long life, which includes glimpses at the mysterious entity that gave him his powers and the time he lived as the person we know to be Abraham Lincoln.
The final memory of Nolan decapitating him causes the Immortal to wake up, easily rip off the control and fly out of the Mauler Twins’ lab in rage. He quickly locates Omni-Man and begins absolutely wailing on him, leaving Invincible to barely hang on against the kaiju.
*Side Note: I’m not sure how a recently revived Immortal can easily find his target when Omni-Man had to ask Will for directions, but at least this leap in logic resulted in an incredible fight sequence.
Fueled by anger and a desire to help his son, Omni-Man finally manages to turn the tide against the Immortal and punches through his chest. He then rips him in half, all while cameras from nearby news choppers broadcast his slaughter of the returned hero around the world.
Meanwhile, Mark manages to subdue the kaiju with some power lines just in time to see what happened. Omni-Man turns to his son and tells him that it’s time they had an important and long overdue discussion.
Unless you’re an absolute purist about the source material, there was a lot to like about the way this episode led to its climatic moment. Donald’s sacrifice, Cecil’s bargain with the devil/Sinclair, and a good old fashion monster fight combined with a ticking clock made for a ridiculously fun episode.
Walton Giggins also deserves a lot of credit for giving Cecil by far his best episode. Nolan (J.K. Simmons) and Deborah (Sandra Oh) were brilliant as usual, but you could genuinely feel the torment the GDA director felt over what was transpiring and the decisions he was being forced to make.
The sequences with Robot (Zachary Quinto) and the Mauler Twins (Kevin Michael Richard) were fantastic, as well. I also appreciate that the new Guardians didn’t just gladly accept Robot’s actions and instead called them out as being exceptionally wrong/creepy. There was that part near the end where Monster Girl took Ruby/Robot’s hand, but that’s somewhat understandable considering the world ending threat that was facing them.
Also, how weird is it to be on Rex’s side about something?
The animation on this episode was oddly inconsistent. Most of it was brilliant (especially the fight between Omni-Man and the Immortal), but there were a few random frames/cels that stuck out on account of not looking as gorgeous as the rest.
From a story standpoint, there were a few tiny issues (like the Immortal finding Omni-Man so quickly), but the one that bugged me the most was Amber revealing that she already new Mark was a superhero. This would have made a lot more sense if it weren’t for the way she reacted to him “leaving” during the Reanimen attack at Upstate University.
Also, I’m not sure what the point was of sending the GDA units into Nolan’s house. While we definitely got a great fight scene out of it, the laughably futile operation resulted in Cecil losing even more time in his quest to keep Omni-Man from finding his son.
Aside from those nitpicks, however, it’s hard not to like an episode jam packed with so much drama and action. Also, as someone who loves the Invincible comic series, I find myself in the odd position of liking a few of the narrative choices in the series better — especially the crazy roller coaster we rode leading up to Nolan’s big talk with Mark. I’m still not a fan of how compressed everything is, but that’s to be expected when you adapt from such a dense narrative.
I think it’s safe to say, however, that fans of the comic and folks who are just learning about the series from the show are going to be in for a real treat with next week’s season finale.
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