Last week’s episode of Invincible concluded with Nolan about to have the long awaited talk with his son. He also killed a revived Immortal for a second time, which was both brutal and ironically hilarious.
Meanwhile, Robot (aka Rudy) successfully transferred his consciousness into the cloned body he made from Rex’s DNA. This predictably caused anger/awkwardness among the new Guardians, but that was quickly sidelined when it was revealed that Omni-Man wasn’t on their side anymore…or ever.
As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers.
After the Immortal’s blood and body rain down to earth, Invincible attacks his father, who he believes is being controlled by a malevolent force. Omni-Man patiently allows his son to get in a few licks before stopping him and declaring that this is who he really is.
He then explains the real history of the Viltrumites, which is much darker than the benevolent fairy tale he told Mark as a child. In reality, it’s a race of conquerers who culled half their population so that only the strongest would remain. From there, they took other over any planet they could find, often by genocidal force.
Side Note: For comic book readers, this portion of Nolan’s exposition gives us an early peek at Conquest.
As the Viltrum Empire grew, their forces were stretched thin. The Viltrum leadership decided that the best way to continue their expansion was to send their most trusted officers to individual planets and weaken them in preparation to be assimilated. Nolan/Omni-Man was chosen for Earth (hence why he murdered the Guardians of the Globe).
He then tells his stunned and disheartened son that its time to join him in preparing Earth to join the Viltrum Empire. When Mark asks why his father lied to him all his life, Nolan explains that he couldn’t tell him the truth until he was sure his son had powers, thus making him a true Viltrumite.
Mark angrily pushes back, asking if his father would’ve still loved him he if was simply human. He also insists that he knows his father truly loves his mother. Nolan responds by explaining that Viltrumites live for thousand of years, thus making it impossible to form meaningful attachments to species with such a comparatively short lifespan. He does admit to caring for Deborah, but in the same way a human might feel about a pet.
As you can imagine, Mark does not take this well.
He also declares that his Viltrumite heritage means nothing to him. Earth, its people, and his friends are his priority and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect them from enslavement — even if that means battling his own father. Nolan grudgingly accepts his son’s defiance and proceeds to completely whoop his ass, tossing him around like a rag doll before hurling him through the air toward the city of Chicago.
Over at GDA headquarters, Cecil apologizes to Deborah for what she just had to hear her husband say. He then scrambles a pair of fighter jets in the hopes that they might be able to buy Invincible some time to figure out a way to defeat his father.
Meanwhile, Atom Eve arrives at Guardians HQ to find the team is just as confused and scared as she is. They consider trying to interfere, but Rudy/Robot insists they follow Cecil’s orders and stay put.
Omni-Man catches up to Invincible and continues wailing on him. When the GDA fighters arrive, he goes on a brief rant about how pathetic the human race is before engaging the jets in a dogfight. After shrugging off a barrage of missiles, he flies through the hull of one aircraft, causing the pilot to hurtle towards earth in his malfunctioning ejection seat.
Invincible picks himself off the ground and gets back in the air just in time to save the pilot. The man barely has time to thank him before Omni-Man lands and casually crushes his skull. As Mark holds the pilot’s headless corpse in his arms, Omni-Man goes after the second jet. Invincible takes off after him and stops his father before he can kill the second pilot.
Enraged at his son’s empathy for such “worthless” vessels of life, Omni-Man punches him so hard that his body flies into downtown Chicago and tears a path of death and destruction through the city. Invincible manages to stop his momentum in time to witness a building he crashed through begin to fall. After rushing over to try and stop it, he sees a mom and her daughter about to fall from their apartment to the street below. Despite doing all he can to save them, the building still collapses, leaving him clinging to the mother’s disembodied arm.
As Invincible stares in horrified disbelief at the bloodshed around him, Omni-Man arrives and tells his son that all of the carnage surrounding him his fault. If he’d simply followed the destiny laid out for him, none of these people would’ve had to die. He follows that manipulatively dark sentiment up by declaring that it shouldn’t matter anyway since the lives lost were completely insignificant.
Invincible responds by asking if Deborah’s life is “worthless,” as well. When Omni-Man confirms that’s what he believes, Invincible becomes enraged enough to finally get in a barrage of solid hits against him. Unfortunately, Omni-Man manages to stop him before grabbing his son and punching a hole through the street and into the Chicago subway below.
In a truly sadistic final effort to make Invincible see how insignificant human life is, Omni-Man holds him up to an oncoming train, allowing Mark to be an unwitting battering ram as the bodies of countless innocent lives explode off of him.
After providing his blood-drenched son a moment to recover, Omni-Man once again reiterates his belief that all human life is meaningless compared to the Viltrumites. Invincible continues to push back, this time pointing out that he’d seen his father fight and nearly die many times to save people. Even if he was fully dedicated to the Viltrumite cause when he came to Earth, it’s clear that his time on the planet changed him and that he was happy living here.
Omni-Man admits that he was happy on Earth for a time, but his ultimate loyalty is still with Viltrum and not this planet’s “pathetic excuse for a civilization.”
Invincible becomes enraged charges forward, but this time Omni-Man is ready. He dodges his son’s attack, then counters with a devastating one of his own before grabbing him and bursting back up through the ground and into the sky. When Invincible manages to slip free, Omni-Man reminds him that his 17 years on Earth are a mere speck in his long lifespan. He’ll burn the entire planet down before being forced to spend another second of his life among the “animals” that make up the human race.
Invincible punches his father in the face, but he’s virtually unaffected. He then counters by unleashing a barrage of punches back up by supersonic flight. After punching his son through a cruise ship to the bottom of the ocean, he flies them back above water and hurls Invincible into the side of a mountain, causing an avalanche.
Over at Guardians HQ, the team watches with helpless shock as Invincible is beaten. Black Samson finally decides he’s had enough and orders everyone to gear up. They might not be able to stop the fight, but they can at least help save more people from becoming collateral damage.
When Robot/Rudy reminds them of Cecil’s order to stay put, Monster Girl reminds him that he’s not a Robot anymore. He’s human now, which means he has greater autonomy — especially when it comes to doing what’s right and helping other people. Rudy/Robot smiles as she takes his hand and follows her to gear up.
*Side Note: Technically he wasn’t a “robot” before, either.
After picking Invincible out of the snow and punching him into the side of another mountain, Omni-Man lands next to his battered son and berates him for resisting his destiny. Despite being barely able to speak, Invincible continues to insist that he won’t allow his father and the Viltrumites to enslave Earth.
Omni-Man finally snaps, declaring that he can just make another son if he has to before unloading on him with his most vicious/devastating attack yet. As blood and teeth spray out of Invincible’s mouth, we flash back to a few years ago. Deborah is watching a young Mark excitedly step up to bat at a little league game when she notices that her husband isn’t sitting by her. She leaves the bleachers and finds him standing alone. He angrily tells her that watching a little league game is a waste of his time.
Deborah explains to her husband that the point isn’t watching the contest transpiring on the field, but relishing in the opportunity to watch and experience the joy their son feels. At that moment, Mark connects with a pitch and begins rounding the bases. Upon seeing the excitement in his son’s eyes, Nolan’s own eyes soften, as well. He cheers Mark on as he slides into home, celebrating with Deborah while also realizing what a beautiful thing it is to see your own flesh and blood succeed while feeling pure happiness.
When Mark runs over to him, Nolan picks the boy up and proudly takes in his son’s gap toothed grin.
The scene then transitions to the present, where Mark/Invincible is also missing his front teeth and barely able to breathe. Nolan/Omni-Man tries to deliver the killing blow, but cannot bring himself to do it. After collapsing onto the ground, he gets back up and begins to yells at his son, demanding to know why he’s fighting for people who will only be alive for a fraction of his lifetime.
He then asks what Mark thinks he will have in 500 years. Despite blood and fluid filling his lungs, Mark is able to choke out a response: “You, dad….I’d still have you.”
The words hit Omni-Man harder than any punch Invincible managed to land.
As he looks down at his hands covered in his own son’s blood, Mark once again calls out for his father, causing him to nearly break down in tears. He then takes off into the sky, quickly departing Earth’s orbit and flying into deep space, a smattering of crystalized tears trailing behind him.
Later, a fleet of GDA helicopters arrive with Cecil and Deborah to recover Invincible. Despite her hatred of the GDA director, she cries on his shoulder as they both watch the medical team frantically prep her son to be transported.
Meanwhile, Will and Amber watch a newscast describing the massive devastation caused by the battle, all without knowing if Mark is even alive. Atom Eve and the Guardians work tirelessly to clear rubble and rescue those that they can, but the casualty numbers continue to soar.
Elsewhere, the Mauler Twins torch their lab only to find themselves surrounded by GDA agents and taken into custody.
Mark awakens in the GDA hospital to find his body still broken and his mother by his bedside. She tries to say how proud she is of him, but he can only turn away as tears stream down his face.
Deborah goes out into the hallway and begins to break down, but is interrupted by Cecil. He gingerly informs her that to keep Omni-Man’s identity a secret (and her and Mark safe), Nolan has been declared dead due to the explosion at the GDA stakeout home that happened last episode. He also tells her that she and Mark will be financially taken care of thanks to a sales spike in Nolan’s travel books due to his “death.”
Meanwhile, the Guardians return to base completely exhausted from their relief efforts. After collapsing onto the ground, Rex notices the bloodstain Cecil left on the wall and begins to clean it. Black Samson tells him to stop, declaring that they haven’t earned the right to do that yet. When Rex refuses, he attempts to stop him by force, resulting in the rest of the Guardians preparing to attack. Black Samson then smiles and remarks that they finally look like a real team now before they all join in the cleaning effort.
*Side Note: In an episode filled with genuinely impactful moments, this one felt all types of corny.
As the weeks go by, everyone tries to find some form of normal to exist in. Will and Amber glumly go about their days at school while still wondering if Mark is okay. Amber eventually begins working at the community center again, doing all she can to help make things around her at least a little better. The Guardians train together with renewed focus and unity. Art throws away a picture of him and Nolan, who he now realizes was never the person — or friend — that he thought he was.
Later, Eve and Will bump into each other while checking to see if Mark is home yet. Will accidentally lets it slip that he knows Mark is Invincible. He’s relieved to discover that Eve knows his secret too, although she holds off on revealing her own superhero identity to him.
Over the GDA hospital, a much healthier looking Mark awakens to find Cecil standing in the doorway. The GDA director commends him on his bravery for standing up to Omni-Man and refusing to back down in the face of an impossible fight.
When Mark asks where his father went, Cecil leads him to a completely white room in another part of the building. After telling him that Deborah heard everything Omni-Man said (thus sparing Mark the task of telling her about it), he calls for the lights to be turned on, revealing a massive research operation that includes the second reconstruction of the Immortal. Turns out that the fluoride in America’s drinking water is laced with a chemical that inhibits the ability to see certain frequencies of light–including the one in the room they currently stand in.
Cecil then reveals that they lost track of Omni-Man after he left the solar system, but based on his trajectory, he’s headed somewhere in deep space. He then asks if Mark is willing to replace his father as Earth’s defender. Mark responds that he’s not willing to make that commitment yet.
Later, Cecil takes Mark and Deborah back to their home, which has been completely fixed. After they walk inside, Deborah goes upstairs to lie down while Mark struggles to look at the home he once shared with the man he thought was a proud/loving father, but turned out to be a monster.
Mark goes to ask his mom about ordering some dinner only to find her having a long overdue breakdown. He then goes back downstairs to find Amber at the front door. She immediately kisses him, their breakup forgiven and forgotten. She also reveals that she knows Omni-Man is his father (which wasn’t hard to figure out after Nolan died in a mysterious “gas line explosion”).
A few moments later, Will and Eve arrive at Mark’s house, as well. After everyone figures out that they all know everything about their friend’s superhero identity, Mark asks if they can go get something to eat together.
After Mark leaves, Deborah goes to visit Art. The pair share a bottle of whiskey and commiserate over how betrayed they feel by Nolan.
Over at the Burger Mart, Mark’s meal with his friends is interrupted by a call from Cecil. The GDA director informs him that someone is flying from deep space toward Earth and he needs his help. As Mark flies off, Eve reveals her secret identity to the others, which Amber and Will are (hilariously) surprised about.
Invincible reaches space near the Earth’s moon and discovers that the entity flying toward Earth is Allen (who we last saw in Episode 2). After the alien frantically informs him that a Viltrumite is living on Earth, Invincible leads Allen down to the moon’s surface so he can fill him in on everything that’s happened.
Allen is surprised to learn that Invincible is Viltrumite, but he’s even more perplexed at the fact that Omni-Man left without completing his mission — something that conquering alien race never does. He then reveals that the Viltrumites destroyed his world when they attempted to fight back against being enslaved.
Allen informs Invincible that there is a Coalition of Planets working towards mounting a counter attack against the Viltrumites and asks him to help. He agrees, finding himself oddly at peace with being a small part of something much larger than himself rather than carrying the massive burden he is likely to hold on Earth.
After Allen warns Invincible that the Viltrumites will return, he asks him what his plans for life are in the meantime. This leads us to a montage of the many plot threads still waiting to be explored in series:
- The sequids (last seen in Episode 4)taking over Mars with astronaut Rus Livingston as their host.
- The Mauler Twins returning to the GDA holding facility and begin to plot their next escape.
- The Flaxans (last seen in Episode 2) rebuilding their army and vowing revenge on Earth.
- Doc Seismic (last seen in Episode 3) surviving his battle with Invincible and Atom Eve and building an army of molten monsters.
- Titan (last seen in Episode 5) working as a crime boss and taking a meeting and/or battle with a previously unseen villain named Mister Liu.
- Battle Beast (also last seen in Episode 5) kicking ass all over the galaxy.
- Cecil watching as D.A. Sinclair puts the finishing touches on an army of Reanimen.
While all of that awesomeness may await us next season, Mark/Invincible reveals that he has one major focus right now: Finishing high school.
I love, love, LOVE that Invincible wrapped up its fantastic first season with a reminder of all the great storylines we get to explore for at least two more seasons (and hopefully much more). Despite how much the television series compresses a lot of the source material, it still managed to establish the rich world/mythology that made the comic series so great.
One area where the Invincible show might have actually surpassed the comic is the confrontation between Nolan and Mark. Both were incredibly powerful, but what we watched in this episode operated on a completely different level.
For starters, the scene where Omni-Man forced Invincible to be an instrument of death against the very people he wanted to protect was brilliantly sadistic. Any reason someone could have for not completely hating Omni-Man went out the window at that point.
On the other end of the emotional spectrum, the transition from Nolan’s flashback of Mark as a child to his mangled post-battle state about knocked the air out of me. The animation on Nolan’s face as he struggled with what he’d done was beautifully rendered, as well.
Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the superb voice acting by J.K. Simmons and Steven Yeun. They’ve been phenomenal the entire season, but this was their best episode by far. Sandra Oh was her usual brilliant self as Deborah while Walton Goggins turned in a second straight show stealing performance as Cecil.
Also, how weird does it feel to start liking Rex? Those of us who’ve read the comic knew he’d become more likable eventually, but I don’t think we expected it to happen this soon.
The only thing that bugged me about the episode (aside from the cheesy seen at Guardians HQ) was the inconsistent animation. It never looked bad at all, but it occasionally vacillated from brilliant/gorgeous to simply average — especially during moments where a character was standing still.
Thankfully, this episode was packed with plenty of motion via a mix of breathtaking action and heart wrenching drama. Even if you aren’t a fan of superhero stories, it would be hard not to find yourself sucked into the narrative by the exceptionally developed characters and the way they grew/interacted over just eight episodes.
For us unabashed superhero fans, however, Invincible‘s first season was a spectacular success. In addition to telling a great story, it also constructed a world with multiple plot threads that make an even better second season something we don’t just have to hope for, but can likely expect.
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