One protagonist lives, another one dies.
Going in to the fourth episode of Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion, titled “Beloved”, I was expecting the body count to rise. And if I’m being honest, I expected a certain character to not make it to the end of the series. But the method with which the character was dispatched still kicked me in the gut. My hats off to the writers of the series for ending the fourth episode in this manner, since it sets up a harsher pair of episodes to bring the story to a close.
Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t watched “Beloved”, the fourth episode for Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion.
Within the first few minutes of the episode, we receive confirmation that the end of last week’s episode was not a fluke. Colonel James Rhodes has been replaced with a Skrull infiltrator (and a female one at that). Skrull Rhodes meets with Priscilla (Fury’s Skrull wife) and orders her to kill her husband. Being that this is Fury, though, he planted a listening device on his wife and hears the whole conversation. You can see the anguish on Fury’s face as he realizes the woman he loves has been ordered to kill him or risk being killed herself.
When the two meet at their dining room table, you can see the tension between them. This is one of the better scenes that Samuel L. Jackson has done in the series, particularly as he lays out how he fell in love with Priscilla despite his internal misgivings. When the pair of them fire their guns but intentionally miss, I couldn’t help but smile. Fury’s remark that he wasn’t sure if they should divorce or renew their vows made me chuckle. But the ending of their scene was the real gut punch. When Priscilla asks if Fury would have accepted her in her true Skrull form, Fury walks away before turning back and stating they’ll never know. For someone who has spent their entire life shrouded in secrets, Fury’s lack of a clear-cut answer stings.
Shifting focus to G’iah, who we learn at the beginning of the episode survived being shot by Gravik. A flashback shows that shortly before leaving the Skrull hideout, G’iah underwent the Super Skrull process, giving herself Extremis in anticipation of needing that healing factor. Unfortunately, while G’iah survives, her relationship with her father is still extremely strained. Talos, ever the pacifist, insists that if he and the other Skrulls can show their worth to the humans, they’ll be allowed to peacefully live on Earth. G’iah, having been immersed in Gravik’s call to action, sees that Talos’ dream is just that: a dream that can’t be fulfilled. Given the ending of the episode, this is the last conversation the two have. I have a feeling that this conversation is going to haunt G’iah as well as give her the drive to seek revenge against Gravik.
I found this short scene to be one of the better ones for Secret Invasion. The ideology divides between G’iah and her father couldn’t be any wider. It’s clear that G’iah is on some level ashamed of her father’s insistence to staying on Earth rather than finding a new home world. For Talos, there’s only the love a father has for his child and the realization that he can’t bridge the gap between them.
The lead-up to the ending is quite good from a structural standpoint. Fury breaks in to the hotel room of Skrull Rhodes. While playing the fool, Fury manages to get Skrull Rhodes to drink an expensive bottle of liquor with a tracking formula in it. Using that, we soon discover that Skrull Rhodes is meeting President Riston, who has just arrived in the UK to meet with Russian leaders. The stage is set for Skrull Rhodes to betray President Riston right into the hands of Gravik.
What follows is one of the longest action set-pieces for Secret Invasion up to this point. Gravik leads a large team of Skrull warriors (along with two attack helicopters) in an assault on the President’s motorcade. As part of his plan to foster hostilities, Gravik and his Skrulls speak in Russian. This will make it appear to the American and British troops that the Russians are attempting to assassinate or abduct the U.S. President. Only the timely arrival of Fury and Talos help to turn the tide in the favor of the President’s forces. Gravik also reveals a new ability gained from his Super Skrull experiments, specifically Groot’s ability to extend his limbs. Based on what we see, Gravik has become a much more formidable and nigh-unstoppable opponent. I have to say I agree with this decision. Gravik needs to be a larger-than-life foe, forcing Fury to change and adapt.
The real gut punch of this episode of Secret Invasion is the fate of Talos. Ben Mendelsohn’s performance up to this point has been fun to watch. With that being said, I had the distinct feeling that Talos was not long for this world. As one of Fury’s oldest allies and the moderate voice among the Skrulls, it’s only fitting that he goes out like a hero. After being shot in the shoulder, Talos can barely move after breaking the President free of his damaged vehicle. Once Fury has secured the President, he sees the soldier carrying Talos and recognizes him as the one who freaked out when Talos shifted back to his natural form. Realizing this was another Skrull imposter, Fury raises his gun and shoots.
Which allows Gravik to stab Talos in the chest, killing Fury’s oldest friend and ally.
While Gravik’s mission is a partial failure, it is at best a bittersweet victory for Fury. President Riston is safe but Skrull Rhodes is still a part of his cabinet. Gravik’s attack will only exacerbate tensions between America and Russia. And Nick Fury has lost his closest ally and probably the one person who could potentially broker peace between Skrulls and humans. To say this is a pyrrhic victory would be an understatement. From a storytelling standpoint, this leaves Fury at a point of both desperation and hopelessness. Once G’iah finds out her father is now dead at the hands of Gravik, she’s going to want revenge. However, that doesn’t automatically make her an ally of Fury, since she could justifiably blame him for her father’s death. With only two episodes left in Secret Invasion, the final run will lead to some interesting developments.
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