Following the first two episodes of Secret Invasion, it appeared Marvel had something special on their hands: an enthralling spy thriller loaded with apprehension and paranoia. Now arriving at Secret Invasion episode 4, it seems all but apparent that hopes for a truly great television show are all but lost.
The latest entry in this series, carried on the backs of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), delivers one of Marvel’s worst Disney+ episodes yet. Secret Invasion episode 4 lacks any discernible cohesion, suffers from severe pacing issues, and feels like a cobbled-together mess thrown at the wall just to see what sticks.
*Warning: Spoilers ahead for Secret Invasion episode 4*
Secret Invasion episode 4 review: A disappointing waste of potential
It’s painful to watch Secret Invasion fall flat on its face this week after stumbling in the previous episode. Considering there’s only six parts contained within this season, there’s no time to waste; each scene must be delicately crafted and utilized. With an unnecessarily short runtime of only 37 minutes, Secret Invasion episode 4 fails to accomplish anything short of yet another episode-end mistake.
Having a 30-minute episode of TV within a Marvel series is tantamount to a 1:45 movie. It feels incredibly rushed and completely absent of any connective tissue to help things flow. Imagine you asked an AI to write a bunch of scenes and throw them together as best they can to form an episode. It feels exactly like that. It’s disrespectful to the audience, and we deserve better.
During promotion for this series, Talos actor Ben Mendelsohn said “this is one the grown-ups can dig,“ but Secret Invasion episode 4 feels anything but mature. Each subsequent reveal is followed by a hand-hold explanation, as if the series is playing to an audience that’s never consumed television. If this show was truly “for grown-ups,” they’d leave us to make our own inferences and connections, not guide us through it like a child learning to walk for the first time.
Secret Invasion episode 4 offers two twists for the price of one
After weeks of theorizing about potential shape-shifters, it’s revealed in Secret Invasion episode 4 that Rhodey is indeed a Skrull. It’s unknown at this time how long he has been operating under this fake identity or where the real Rhodey is, but this particular revelation lacks any substance or shock.
Was there supposed to be any doubt that Rhodey is a Skrull? Was this confirmation we’ve been waiting for since episode two supposed to come as a surprise? It certainly doesn’t, leaving more of a “glad that’s out of the way now” taste in the mouth, which is a disappointing narrative failure. If you can see a surprise coming from a mile away, it’s no longer a surprise.
Next up on the list is the show’s gravest mishandling thus far, which is G’iah (Emilia Clarke). At the end of episode three, Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) shoots and kills her (or so they wanted us to believe), although it’s revealed in the opening seconds that she is actually not dead because she, too, is a Super Skrull. The only purpose her fake out death serves is to reveal her newfound powers, but there are far more exciting and meaningful ways to accomplish this than a fake fridging.
It’s abundantly clear that the show runners have no idea how to handle G’iah’s character. Now that the audience is aware of her true nature, it seems reasonable to expect her to play a sizeable role in this episode, right? Well, she doesn’t—in fact, she receives but one scene in which she assures her father she’s on his side because of their connection, only to walk away from him in a head-scratching turn of events less than two minutes later.
The creators have a responsibility to Emilia Clarke and to the audience to write her a part worthy of her stardom. She’s a four-time Emmy nominee for her work on Game of Thrones, and her only job to this point has been doing exactly what her father or Gravik tell her to do. The lack of commitment to fleshing out a meaningful character arc for G’iah is disappointing to say the least.
Talos says goodbye in Secret Invasion episode 4
Piling on yet another shocking ending, Secret Invasion episode 4 concludes with Talos meeting his demise at the hands of Gravik. Three out of four episodes have concluded with a character death (or fake out death), and it’s fair to wonder if Marvel knows there are other ways to produce a cliffhanger. But Talos’ death is hardly the only problem with the final act.
The biggest issue is that this huge fight for President Ritson (Dermot Mulroney) just happens. There’s no build up, nothing to precede it that sets it up as some kind of important event. It feels as if it just pops up out of nowhere. This big battle for the President contains only two noteworthy actions: Gravik stretching out his new Groot arm, and Fury shooting down a helicopter. Both are seen clear as day in the trailers, so why show us that before release if that specific conflict has nothing else to offer?
It remains to be seen whether Talos will stay dead after Secret Invasion episode 4, but similar to G’iah’s fake out last week, this is a loss-loss. Fury and Talos’ relationship is well established within the show, to the point where it seems Fury would be near-despondent over his death, and instead he hardly reacts at all, leaving Talos behind completely. One of many befuddling scenes.
If Talos returns in future episodes, this will be another fake out death for a major character. Using two of those to produce tension for a six-episode season of television proves undeniably there’s a larger problem at play. If Talos is actually dead, this is far from the send-off he deserves, given the amount of time poured into his character so far this season. Head-scratching choices at every single turn.
Secret Invasion episode 4 leaves much to be desired and cause for concern in the final two episodes
With only two episodes remaining to tie things up in a satisfying and meaningful way, things don’t look promising. Similar to many Marvel Disney+ series, there’s a lot to accomplish in the penultimate episode and the finale to reach the finish line.
You can only ride the wave of tone and performances so far. Once you get to a certain point, the cast must be allowed to elevate a project, not carry it. There’s hope yet for Marvel to right this ship so once the finale has come and gone, this episode will seem like nothing more than a bump in the road.
Secret Invasion episode 4 is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for all the latest Secret Invasion coverage.
'Secret Invasion' Episode 4 Review'Secret Invasion' Episode 4 Review
- Good performances
- Horrible pacing
- No discernible flow from scene to scene
- Yet another questionable choice at the end
- Lack of any surprise factor for the series' biggest surprises