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Invincible (Amazon Studios)
Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Television

‘Invincible’ season 2 episode 8 ‘I Thought You Were Stronger’ recap/review

Despite not having the same impact as last season’s cliffhanger, Invincible’s second season still ends a tremendously powerful note.

Last week’s penultimate episode for season 2 of Invincible concluded with Mark/Invincible learning that Deborah and Oliver are being held hostage by Angstrom Levy. This would make for a terrible day on its own, but it immediately followed Mark and Amber deciding to break up. Meanwhile, Allen the Alien has infiltrated a Viltrumite prison in what is presumably an attempt to make contact with Nolan/Omni-Man.

This week, these two plotlines and many more are brought to their explosive conclusions and/or escalations as we finish the series’ second season.

As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers. The sequence of events has also been streamlined a bit for the sake of clarity.

Final Reckoning

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

The episode opens with Nolan destroying Viltrumite training robots and guards. Upon seeing his work, Kregg declares him to be ready for his execution. He then takes one last chance to beat on Nolan for a bit before sending him back to his cell. On the way there, Nolan crosses paths with Allen, who makes contact with his mind.

Once the two are in their cells, Allen tells him that the Coalition of Planets wants his and his son’s help defeating their former people. Nolan despondently requests that his son be allowed to live his life and that he be allowed to pay for his crimes. His newfound empathy has made him realize that the pain he’s caused deserves punishment by death.

Nolan then reveals that through his turmoil of emotions, he’s discovered that he also misses Deborah.

Trip Through the Gauntlet

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Meanwhile, Invincible races home to find Angstrom Levy with his hands positioned to snap Deborah’s neck and a terrified Oliver in her arms. When it becomes clear that Mark won’t risk a speed attack, Levy disables his link to Cecil and the GDA before monologuing about who he is. When Mark simply remembers him as “that guy” from one of his previous missions, Levy becomes enraged and tosses Deborah and Oliver to the floor.

Realizing he won’t accept responsibility for what happened to him (and that his mother and brother are in danger), Mark finally charges. Levy responds by throwing him through a portal to a dimension with intelligent/murderous dinosaurs. Before he can be devoured, Mark is pulled back through another portal to his home, where Levy is now holding Oliver and making even more ominous threats toward his family.

When Mark charges this time, Levy’s portal takes him to a world with very clear stand-ins for Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus. After Mark comes back through again, Levy opens a portal beneath Deborah and Oliver that will kill them if they fall through.

Realizing he’s out of options, Mark attempts to appeal to Levy’s humanity. He reminds the deformed scientist that he actually saved his life, causing Levy to flashback to that fateful evening. The memory is accompanied by flashes of other Invincibles in various dimensions doing horrible things, including the murder of Levy’s wife and child.

The resulting crisis of consciousness fragments Levy’s mind even further. After re-convincing himself of Mark’s evil nature, he pulls him back through. Mark manages to get the upper hand this time, but a knife thrown in the direction of his mother forces him through a portal leading to a zombie dimension.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Back in Mark’s home dimension, Deborah uses Levy’s monologuing to break a plant pot over his head and stab him with a piece of debris. She nearly makes it out the front door, but is stopped when Levy pulls Mark through a portal in front of her and immediately tosses him into another world. He then taunts Deborah about how in many other dimensions, she joined her son and husband in their slaughter/enslavement of the human race.

Deborah counters that Levy’s anger originates from her Mark being good while he’s proven himself to be the monster. Levy responds by gruesomely breaking her arm. Meanwhile, Mark is hurled through various dimensions (where time moves at different speeds) before grabbing Levy and pulling himself back. Upon seeing what happened to his mother, he proceeds to beat the absolute hell out of him.

Just when it looks like Mark will win, Levy reveals that his multi-dimensional medical care also gave him superstrength and durability. The pair embark on an epic cross-dimensional slugfest before Mark finally taps into his Viltrumite rage/strength and beats Levy to a bloody pulp.

When it’s over, Mark is left stranded in a dimensional wasteland with no way home and a colossal burden of guilt. Back in Mark’s home dimension, Cecil and the Global Defense Agency arrive to find Deborah and Oliver thankfully still alive.

Days of Future Past

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Mark wanders the wasteland, wrestling with and agonizing over killing Angstrom Levy. He eventually realizes that he lost control, which compounds his despair over being stranded.

Just when all hope seems lost, a portal opens and an older/different version of the Guardians of the Globe comes through. They reveal that in their universe, Mark’s murder of Angstrom Levy happened decades ago. Since then, things in their world have not gone well without Mark. Thankfully, they also have a working portal machine that can send this version of Mark home. Robot also reveals that Mark would’ve survived his ordeal, but he would not have liked the person he became.

Before Mark leaves for home, Atom Eve tells Mark she’s loved him for a long time and that he should tell the Eve of his universe if he feels the same. Once he’s gone, Robot reveals himself to be Rex Splode and chastizes Eve for potentially disrupting the timestream.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

When Mark arrives back home, Cecil informs him that his mom is being cared for at GDA headquarters. Despite being in excruciating pain, Deborah comforts her son as he weeps over all he’s been through. Later, Cecil tries to convince Mark that he’s not like his dad, but to no avail.

Back at Guardian headquarters, Robot apologizes to Monster Girl for his recent behavior. After finally starting to understand each other, the pair reconcile and decide to go on a second date.

Elsewhere, the Immortal arrives at his secluded cabin to find Dupli-Kate. Turns out that she hid a copy of herself away and never told anyone, including him. She was tired of dying and had decided to walk away, but ultimately couldn’t because of him. The revelation causes the reunited couple to embrace.

Love Interrupted

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Following another installment of the Ka-hor running gag, Mark flies over the mummy’s tomb while working through the grief/rage that’s built up over this season. He eventually decides to see Amber, but thinks better of it when he observes her finally getting to live life out from under his shadow.

Later, while Mark and Deborah watch their house being rebuilt, April arrives with Oliver. After Deborah asks her to get him ready for bed, she tries to settle back into a normal routine. That night, she finds her son sitting pensively on the roof, where they both struggle with the realization that neither of their lives ever gets to be normal again.

Mark then announces that he’s quitting college. Deborah attempts to talk him out of it, but understands when he explains why it’s so important for him to train with his powers (and to make sure he can fully control them). He then goes to find Eve, who is able to provide some comfort.

Mark tries to tell her how he feels about her, but can’t bring himself to do it.

The Verdict

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

Invincible (Amazon Studios)

When I watched this episode the first time, I found myself a little disappointed by the ending. It certainly wasn’t bad, but lacked the cliffhanger explosiveness we’ve gotten through the rest of the season. Upon the second viewing, however, the emotional denouement felt much more effective.

These characters have been put through the wringer in massive ways since the start of the series — teammates being slaughtered, dads revealing themselves as homicidal supervillains, etc. This season had similar stakes (especially with the revelation of Oliver), but were coupled with the type of personal tragedies most of us experience at Mark’s age. Watching the relationship with your first love dissolve can feel like the end of the world — that’s got to be exponentially worse when the world really almost has and may still.

That’s not to downplay the episode’s more visceral thrills, of course.

My only complaint with the Levy vs. Invincible brawl was some very poor comedic timing. It worked well for the Spider-Man/Doc Ock gag, but didn’t hit at all when Mark was being thrown through multiple dimensions while Deborah and Oliver were at their most vulnerable.

Thankfully, that very big miscue was overshadowed by an incredible climatic showdown followed by one of the most heart-wrenching moments between Mark and his mother that we’ve ever seen. It also leads us into a much more subdued waiting period for season three, albeit one that’s no less interesting. This time the Omni-Man fallout has implications for an impending galactic war and a potential reunion with his estranged wife — both of which should be all types of explosive.

Invincible (Amazon Studios)
'Invincible' season 2 episode 8 'I Thought You Were Stronger'
Despite not having the same impact as last season's cliffhanger, Invincible's second season still ends a tremendously powerful note.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
The final battle between Levy and Mark is gorgeously brutal and leads to some of the season's most heart wrenching moments.
The series' world ending stakes are coupled with stronger personal tragedies and setbacks for our characters.
The dimensional portals provide some excellent easter eggs and sight gags...
...unfortunately, some of those jokes were made at the worst possible time in an otherwise brilliant climatic battle.
8.5
Great

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