Brief Thoughts On ‘Invincible’ Episode 7

by Erik Amaya

Well … that was an episode.

(Spoilers for the episode and the comic book follow)

But before we get into the real meat of things — perhaps not the best choices of words, all things considered — let’s go back to the issue of Amber (Zazie Beetz). As we’ve been saying all along, she’s a more compelling character in this series. Her comic book counterpart rarely rose above a stock character who mainly functioned to delay Mark and Eve’s getting together. But here, she’s been take-charge, empathetic, and a potentially better friend for Eve (Gillian Jacobs) than a romantic partner for Mark (Steve Yeun). And this week, she revealed a new layer: better than Mark deserves. That’s quite a transformation. Her key scene with Mark reveals an intelligence and self-possession we scarcely dreamed possible for her — even after Beetz was cast in the role. Sure, reshaping her into a young Black woman will lead to some significant changes, but to put her in a situation where she is fully justified in dumping Mark after he reveals his secret means the writing team really did their work.

In fact, it even makes Mark more of loser when he mopes about it the Burger Mart parking lot.

Which, as it happens, is an interesting facet of this episode. Mark isn’t really the protagonist. His arrogance and self-pity really play against him. As seen in his subsequent argument with Eve, his mood comes off as more self-absorption than a genuine heartbreak. It’s an interesting contrast from the Mark of the comics, who was genuinely run down from all his obligations by the time he and Amber split up. It’s a brave choice to paint him in this light just before The Key Revelation of the season, and it will be interesting to see how the show builds him back up from this place.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about the real protagonist this week: Robot (Zachary Quinto). With the apparent completion of his arc for the season, we’re surprised by just how emotional it ended up being when told through in animation. Qunito’s performance as the dying Rudolph was genuinely affecting. Doubly so was the moment in which the Mauler Brothers (Clancy Brown) completely understood Rudy’s sudden reticence to end Rudolph’s life. It’s a scene that shouldn’t hit as hard as it does because it features villains and a character with dubious intent. Nevertheless, it is a remarkably touching moment in an episode otherwise devoted to mass destruction.

Also, isn’t it interesting that his plan is framed via his affection for Monster Girl (Grey Griffin) from the jump?

Okay, let’s get to that destruction. We always figured the moment Nolan (J.K. Simmons) was exposed as the bad guy would be monumental, but to see his house shot up, the house across the street vaporized and poor Donald (Chris Diamantopoulos) turned to ash was more graphic and intense than we ever expected. Maybe it’s that dissonance of animation depicting beheadings and disembowelments? We’ve seen anime, so we’re no stranger to extreme animated violence and gore, but something in these scenes gave it an special impact; it’s both brutal and tragic. And that’s even before we get the fights with the Immortal (Ross Marquand) and a wonderfully rendered kaiju.

But all of it is in service of this week’s final line. Bookreaders knew it was coming. Hell, viewers no doubt expected a moment like it would come since the first episode’s bloody final minutes. Nevertheless, it still has a physical and emotional heft to hear Nolan say those words. And it’s just a peek of the devastation yet to come and a very good reason for the episode to lack a mid-credit stinger scene.

So, as we predicted, Mark will learn to truth next week’s season finale — he’s a bit dim and distracted at the moment, so we’re going to assume he still doesn’t comprehend what the rest of the world already understands — and as the series has been so successful with its emotional beats and action scenes, we expect it to be the best of the season. Although, considering the quality of this week (arguably the best episode so far), the finale will have to work very hard to top it.

Oh, and also, we appreciate the clarification that Eve is living in forest a few hundred miles from town and not somewhere in Africa. That distinction is important.

Invincible streams Fridays on Amazon Prime Video.

%d bloggers like this: