Heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to describe this week’s episode of Invincible.
Season 2’s second episode, “In About Six Hours I Lose My Virginity To A Fish” has a ridiculous name, but it juxtaposes hard with what happens this week. Mark and Deborah take center stage as they continue to deal with the consequences of Omni-Man’s actions.
What happens is a heartbreaking look at two individuals struggling, by no fault of their own, and taking the initial steps to recovery. It’s human. It’s relatable. It’s Invincible.
Synopsis: An Invincible Deep Dive
Mark is late to his high school graduation as he is on another mission for the Global Defense Agency where he stops Doctor Seismic’s attack in Washington D.C. After graduation, Eve (Gillian Jacobs) reveals she plans to help with cleanup in Chicago.
Eve, as Atom Eve, attempts to help cleanup efforts, butting heads with the construction crews on site. Mark, on the other hand, declines a vacation with his mom Deborah (Sandra Oh) as he turns his attention to his GDA work.
Elsewhere, a shapeshifting Martian (Ben Schwartz) is posing as Rus Livington, one of the astronauts who visited Mars in Season 1. The real Rus Livingston is leading a Sequid takeover on Mars eventually succeeding.
Eve learns her family has fallen on hard times because of the destruction in Chicago. She attempts to help them using her powers to fill the fridge, much to the dismay of her father.
Marks travels to Atlantis to take responsibility for his father murdering Aquarus. Mark fights a sea monster and attempts to leave after some backup from the GDA. He decides to return once the monster starts running a rampage on the civilians.
The new Guardians of the Globe are fighting the Lizard League when an unknown superhero called Shapesmith, who is the shapeshifting Martian, provides help. Shapesmith attempts to join the Guardians by providing them with a false backstory.
Deborah continues to struggle with the fallout of her husband’s actions and it begins to affect her work life. Mark returns home to her crying on the kitchen floor and he seeks to comfort her.
Eve’s father refuses to sell the golden apple she made and she learns her efforts in Chicago caused more harm than good. She leaves with her father shouting at her to not come back until she stops being a hero.
A mid-credit scene shows a deformed Angstrom Levy (Sterling K. Brown) talking with a captured Mark in an alternate universe before leaving through another portal.
Analysis: What Does it Mean to be a Superhero with Guilt
The exploration of Mark’s character and how it relates to a post-Omni-Man world is done masterfully.
That seems to be what the purpose of this episode is as most storylines from last week were not addressed. In fact, there were several new storylines that began this week.
Initially, I wasn’t a fan of that, but as the episode wore on, I became enthralled with how the writers explored Mark and his place in the world.
But it didn’t stop there. Deborah’s life played a huge role in this episode. She’s holding up as well as you think she would after the utmost betrayal from Nolan and yet she’s still trying to push forward.
I loved how the episode showed her finally breaking down, doing it in front of Mark. We saw her break down last episode, but she was unaware Mark saw that. This time around, she broke down in front of him and still tried to keep him away, showing how she tried to keep it all together before ultimately accepting his comfort.
As a parent, this is powerful. Parents have a sense of needing to be strong for their kids because if they aren’t strong then who can kids look to for that strength and optimism? Deborah’s breakdown hopefully serves as a bonding moment since Mark’s still struggling.
This dynamic was on full display in the kitchen scene where Deborah tried to book a vacation for the two of them only to have Mark refuse. This interaction shows the two don’t know how to fully embrace Nolan’s betrayal between themselves. I think healing can start thanks to Deborah showing her vulnerability in front of Mark and hopefully leading to a reciprocation later.
Mark will have a hard time though. Everywhere he goes, people see him as Omni-Man’s son rather than Invincible. The Immortal hinted at this during the last episode when he made a point to confront Mark and tell him he was watching him.
When Invincible went to Midnight City to take down Night Boy, the rogue sidekick kept referring to Omni-Man’s murders. In a moment, you saw Mark play to this fear and lean a bit into the homicidal persona. At this point, I doubt Mark would’ve embraced that side, but it was unsettling to see.
Conversely, Mark was about to leave the Atlantians to deal with their deep-sea monster and Cecil kept prompting him to go. I found it extremely powerful to see Mark verbally say he is not his father and showed that by going back to save the Atlantians who tried to kill him.
There was so much that happened this week, but the Mark and Deborah dynamic was, far and away, the most powerful. Mark is seen as this Viltrumite son of Omni-Man, but Deborah represents his human side, the part that makes him different from his father. Ironically, he pushes that side away until the end of the episode.
The Atom Eve arc is fascinating too because, similar to Mark, she is dealing with her own family issues. She has been such an interesting character that fully deserved the prequel episode she got this summer. It adds weight to her current situation.
Invincible is such an interesting show in that it addresses corners of the superhero narrative that Marvel and DC rarely touch. It’s refreshing and keeps Invincible compelling week after week.
Final Score (4.5 out of 5 Stars)
I was ready to give this episode a lower score solely based on Angstrom Levy not showing up and minimal follow-up from last week. Levy was a compelling storyline that just disappeared.
This episode justified that departure with a fascinating character study that did a phenomenal job at showing, rather than telling, the struggles Mark and Deborah are experiencing.
It added more storylines to the mix but did a good job of fostering the biggest one. That focus resulted in a compelling look at what it truly means to be a superhero and some of the least desirable aspects.
Actions have consequences in the world of Invincible, whether that’s your own actions or the choices of others. Unfortunately, the characters all learned that hard this week.
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