This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Before diving into the official review portion for Secret Invasion episode 5, I’d like to share my personal experience with this series and the franchise as a whole so far. I’ve been a fan of this universe since its conception in 2008, and like many people, I go into every project with an open mind, hoping to enjoy it. Being a critic and being a fan are not mutually exclusive, and no one takes pleasure in talking about things they don’t enjoy. It pains me to write negatively about a franchise I’ve adored since I was 11 years old.
I was excited about Secret Invasion for quite some time, and while the first two episodes deliver everything I wanted, the series has been in a downhill trajectory following episode two. The choice to deviate in the opposite direction of the show’s strongest attributes and lean more towards the standard Marvel TV formula is baffling. Although the series offers much in earlier episodes, Secret Invasion episode 5 provides nothing besides messy Marvel fun.
*Warning: Spoilers ahead for Secret Invasion episode 5*
Secret Invasion episode 5 review: fun without feeling
Secret Invasion episode 5 deals with the similar problems that plague The Mandalorian season three. If these episodes existed in a vacuum, free of the responsibility to fit into a larger season and overarching story, they’d be perfectly serviceable, if nothing else. On the rare occasion this show evokes any sort of emotional response, the vast majority of the time it’s just frustration.
If Marvel isn’t going to commit the time nor the effort to build out a world and flesh out characters to fill it, then the plan should be to stick to movies and special presentations. If the six-episode formula cannot be compromised, then at the bare minimum each episode needs to be 50 minutes or longer. There is simply not enough time to tell a meaningful and well-developed story in only six, 30-minute episodes.
But the problem is deeper than that. Secret Invasion needs a hell of a lot more than 10–15 minutes per episode to elevate it to the level of a good television show. Through five episodes, the series feels as if it’s been a complete waste of everyone’s time, with little to no established direction as to where this story is heading with only one episode remaining. If the series plans to lean on the excuse that “the story will continue in The Marvels, we don’t have to finish it here!”, that is little more than acknowledgment of an incomplete, boring product.
There’s nothing wrong with a narrative that spans across multiple projects, but there’s still an obligation to tell a complete story that leaves the door open for more in the future, instead of relying on forthcoming projects for resolution.
Olivia Colman is an underutilized superstar in Secret Invasion episode 5
For a show that has mishandled female characters through the fridging of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) in episode one and the sidelining of G’iah (Emilia Clarke) throughout, it’s refreshing to see Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman) steal the spotlight and shine in Secret Invasion episode 5. However, this doesn’t change the facts. She’s given minimal screen time throughout the first four episodes, despite appearing to be one of the series’ only performers having a good time.
Don’t get me wrong, the performances across the board in Secret Invasion are the most positive thing you can point to, if not the only positive thing. But Olivia Colman as Sonya Falsworth and Don Cheadle playing a Skrull as Rhodey are the only two performances that radiate joy. This energy is infectious, as anytime either one of them is on-screen the only reasonable course of action is to smile. Unfortunately there isn’t a well of examples to pull from as she’s yet another character who’s been severely underutilized.
I’d be remiss to not sing Samuel L. Jackson’s praises for his work as Nick Fury in Secret Invasion episode 5, and the series as a whole. This is his first Marvel outing in a leading role, and he’s remained up to the challenge, and then some. It’s a shame he doesn’t have a better script and story to work with. The now 15-year MCU veteran deserves an excursion worthy of his namesake and the universe he helped build from the ground up, and Secret Invasion just isn’t that.
Secret Invasion episode 5 displays the series lack of emotional depth
Good television elicits emotion in every scene of every episode. Whether it’s happiness, anxiety, or simply a desire to not depart from the character dynamic occupying the screen, that’s the ultimate mark of good storytelling. While Secret Invasion does contain a few scenes that tug on the heart strings of long time MCU watchers, the series as a whole is dreadfully bland and devoid of any sensation of feeling.
There is simply too much left to accomplish in one episode, so the show has no choice but to lean away from resolution and lead into another project like The Marvels, or fail to wrap things up entirely. The good news is, if you’re not high on Secret Invasion, this summer has plenty to offer fans of entertainment with Barbie and Oppenheimer arriving in theaters this weekend, and Ahsoka set to premiere on Disney+ in just a few weeks.
'Secret Invasion' Episode 5 Review'Secret Invasion' Episode 5 Review
- Good performances
- Cool super skrull scene
- Lacking any depth or creativity
- No direction with plot
- Next to no spy craft for a spy-thriller show