Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Invincible: Season 1, Episode 4 Review – “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart”

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The fourth episode of Invincible, titled “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out,” feels like a whole different show from first of three episodes from last week. With all of its story pieces now in play, the animated superhero saga finds room to breathe, have fun, and give its characters a semblance of interiority. The episode is funnier, richer emotionally, and at times more introspective, and it feels like a real effort has been put into making each character come alive with nuance. Everything from the choice of subplots to soundtrack selections hints at a series that undoubtedly found itself, despite a handful of lingering issues.After an atmospheric introduction – during an excavation of an Egyptian tomb , whose fallout is sure to occur. the future – the show reintroduces super alien Omni Man / Nolan Grayson (JK Simmons) and his son Invincible / Mark (Steven Yeun) in the middle of a flight lesson, as they twist and flutter through the air to the sound windy from “Sunflower” By Vampire Weekend. Their father-son joke as they run up Mount Everest is a far cry from their overhung exchanges in previous entries. The injection of humor as they beat a seasoned climber to the top is both refreshing and ironic, in a down-to-earth, archer-esque way that permeates the rest of the episode.Even though Mark and Nolan spend much of the episode apart, the story is built around Nolan’s internal struggle to reconcile his actions – he murdered the Guardians of the Globe, presumably at the behest of his planet Viltrum – with his true love for Mark, and for his wife Debbie (Sandra Oh). The Graysons’ family dynamic is a welcome improvement, filled with both winks and arguments where Debbie finally points out when Nolan is unreasonable or distracted, and she establishes, in no uncertain terms, that she has a life and an identity outside of him. . While the motivation behind Nolan feeling irritable and offbeat is particularly alluring, the episode marks a few major deviations from the comics in a way that ultimately works. Where the first three episodes stayed true to the the original plot of the comic, but replaced its satire with bleak, straightforward violence, the show now pulls from a number of subsequent volumes (eg, Mark Accompanying NASA Astronauts to Mars). Originally, Nolan’s betrayal came to the attention of Mark and Debbie shortly after it was revealed to readers in Volume 2, and it also involved the revelation that Nolan never really liked Debbie. The show mixes up this timeline for a distinct narrative purpose: in delaying revealing to Nolan’s family, we, the audience, are faced with a rather difficult dilemma.

Nolan’s affection, in the Amazon series, seems to be genuine from the start – which he only realizes several years after the comics started – and the more time we spend with him here, the more we are. both witnesses and accomplices of his deceptions. His facial animation allows him to struggle emotionally between his colonial obligations and the life he has made on Earth, without needing to express this dilemma in words. He was made to feel clearly human. But when its viltrumite tendencies finally kick in, the series manages to set a more complicated, shocking, and darkly gripping dramatic pace than any of the gore from previous entries.

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Nolan’s vacation to Rome is a trip down memory lane for him and Debbie, but it culminates in asking for his trust and approval to satiate his troubled ego before he outwits a dragon. He doesn’t like being the target of a murder investigation, not because he’s innocent, but because he wants Debbie to believe him. Additionally, once Debbie reasserts her self-confidence, he sits back down and lets the attack continue, leaving one of the men investigating him, Cecil (Walton Goggins) to clean up the mess. Sadly, the show doesn’t dwell too long on that moment, or Debbie’s reaction, but at the very least, it sets up a dynamic where this Superman archetype can easily break away from humanity. It’s an odd prospect, and it’s the first time the series has really felt like responding to the existing superhero zeitgeist (specifically, Henry Cavill’s Superman).

Nolan and Debbie’s date isn’t the only one taking center stage. Mark is dating Amber (Zazie Beetz) for the first time, and he soon finds himself stuttering in conversations and dangerously skirting around to reveal his dual identity. This is something he clearly wants to do, although he is forced by his teammate Eve (Gillian Jacobs) to consider the seriousness of this decision. It’s choices like these that define Mark’s story in this episode, dilemmas that center the tussle between his superhero and civilian life. Chief among them is his decision to chaperone NASA’s manned journey to Mars after his father refused Cecil’s request. Once Mark reaches the Red Planet, he even messes up his mission by looking at photos of Amber on his phone instead of watching the astronauts (which seems to have long-term consequences, given what they report on Earth. ).

Some of the B plots in the series are starting to feel interconnected, although their actual overlap has yet to be revealed. Debbie is allowed to marinate in her doubts about Nolan, which stem from the investigation of Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown) i.e. Rorschach via Hellboy. Darkblood, meanwhile, finds himself at odds with Cecil, despite their shared goal of whether and why Nolan murdered the Guardians. Cecil is perhaps the main weak link in the series; he’s a shadowy government agent who has all the makings of a morally gray character (at one point he even mentions wanting to keep things gray), but his comedian Walton Goggins seems to have been geared towards a strangely monotonous, superficial performance. and thoughtless, who clearly feels at odds with his character.A handful of other subplots feel awkwardly thrown into the episode, such as Robot (Zachary Quinto) spying on the remaining Mauler twin (Kevin Michael Richardson) and stealing a blood sample from Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas). Robot has yet to be established as a significant or friendly enough presence that this trajectory is intriguing. However, the plot as a whole progresses on a number of fronts, so it’s hard to fault the series too much for putting together a few building blocks that seem superficial at the moment. Also, Mauler’s brief scene is marked by Run The Jewels’ “Don’t Get Captured,” a time-lapse banger and such a quick pick for the big blue prison escapee that you kind of have to respect. gall.

Where the first three episodes swapped the ironic irony of the comic for superficial gravitas, the fourth episode takes an entirely different approach: it’s heartfelt. The Graysons are a jovial bunch you want to hang out with – on a minor technical note, their dialogue overlaps this time around, like real conversation – which makes Nolan’s impending heel look even more like a crooked knife. This narrative makes us, the audience, value the time we spend with them, probably as much as Nolan does, as the inevitability of his betrayal draws closer. And while Cecil may have gotten rid of Darkblood by now, a brief post-credit scene hints at something the demonic sleuth may have left behind in the Graysons. Omni-Man is not out of the woods yet.

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