Brief Thoughts On Inhumans, Episode 8

by Erik Amaya

 

And so Inhumans ends its first — and likely only — season on a whimper. Everything you expected to happen happened and even the set-up for a subsequent story appeared in an obvious way. The only true surprise was seeing the royal family adopt their hideous Attilan costumes once more.
Way back when the pilot screened in IMAX theaters, I suggested the series, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might right itself after a dreadful pair of debut episodes. But that hope was tempered with the knowledge that unlike most superhero shows, Inhumans had already completed filming its first season. If there was any course correction to be had, it would be on the producers of the program to notice the faults and address them. And despite being occasionally entertaining, Inhumans never recognized its core problems.
Consider that in the finale Auran finally noticed that Maximus was succumbing to madness. Though his initial argument about the class divisions in Attilan was sound, he always had the air of cartoon villainy about him. Auran herself was pretty cartoonish in the early episodes as well. The show tried to make her more complex, but it left her looking stupid for not seeing the obvious. If she had just been his hopelessly devoted henchman, she might’ve been a more interesting supporting character.
But Inhumans never really treated any of its characters as anything other than action figures to place in an underdeveloped scenario. Medusa provides a handy example of this. Her rage against Maximus fueled much of her story, but she soon wants to find some redemption for him. Black Bolt, after committing to the “kill Maximus” plan for ages also makes the sudden redemption switch in this episode. Sure, what he does to Maximus can be spun as a slow-motion death sentence, but it underlines the production’s own uncertainty about the characters. Would killing Maximus preclude the royal family’s ability to grow and change with the relocation to Earth? I don’t think so. The Inhumans are part of a very different culture, no matter how off-the-shelf the supplies in the bunker may have looked. The ability to use the ultimate sanction may be within their cultural values. Provided, of course, that the writers considered just how different Attilan culture might have been or how it could be used to give the audience the thrill of vengeance while setting up the new morality Black Bolt would face on Earth.
Unfortunately, Inhumans just didn’t have the time to set these things up. Just like it didn’t have the time to properly lay out all of the things requiring flashbacks in this episode. Maximus admitting he forged documents years ago in an effort to suicide-by-Black-Bolt was just plain silly, as was the oblique reference to the new threat awaiting the characters.
And while we’re talking about rushed plot points, taking back Attilan required Medusa to do little else but briefly talk to the people.
This episode also did a disservice to Eme Ikwuakor by lobotomizing Gorgon. In a similar vein, Ken Leung and Mike Moh just looked foolish in nearly every scene. It quickly dispatched Henry Ian Cusick’s character; rendering that plot a waste of time. I feel for Isabelle Cornish, who as Crystal had little to do but tell people to move and call in Lockjaw at a key moment. And while the characters were poorly served, the evacuation of Attilan felt perfunctory instead of a momentous event in the Inhumans’ history.
It also managed to echo Thor: Ragnarok in an unfortunate way.
Nevertheless, the show fascinated me until the end with the ways it got it wrong. Other than the good-faith attempts by the actors, it never stopped feeling like a half-hearted attempt to fulfill a contract. It introduced pointless characters, dropped ideas constantly and always showed its seams.
But as a film put out by a rival company once observed, we fall to learn how to get back up again. Maybe the next time Inhumans appear in a Marvel production, the company will know what to do with them.

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