Welcome back to my weekly breakdown of Inhumans, where I try to make sense of this quite divisive show. You probably know by now that I am not the biggest fan of this Scott Buck-ed up program, but as an MCU completionist, I feel the need to get through it anyway. So let’s try to have fun with it, right?
The Best Episode of the Season Thus Far Is Still a Weird One
I’m likely going to regurgitate a lot of things I said on the latest pod episode—but long story short, this episode made some right moves. But this series overall is still an oddity, and far from even the most average of the MCU.
The Weed Farm Plot Is the Dumbest Subplot Ever
Well, it’s still up for debate what the dumbest subplot is (they’re all pretty f’ing stupid), but the weed farm certainly has the dumbest characters. Take our Liam Neeson ripoff Reno, who murders his partner-in-crime because reasons, and then tries to take out Karnak and his tent sex buddy Jen, because “sharing was never one of [his] strong points.” And before we can figure out why the hell he’s acting so erratically (is he smoking his own product), we get a neat moment of Karnak karate chopping a bullet in half (though it hits poor Jen), and a strange chase scene where Karnak and Jen fall into a giant-ass pit that they somehow didn’t see—Reno, the genius, abandons his quest for vengeance when he gets a phone call from the real villains here, some angry customers of the farmers, who kill Reno off in an unceremonious and unintentionally funny fashion. He died as he lived, by being a complete moron.
Seeing Karnak start to get his groove back was satisfying to see, as he expertly removes the bullet piece from Jen—but in the first of many contrived elements of the episode, they decide to go back to the place in which they narrowly escaped death, because the plot requires it. Like previous episodes, this episode had some flashbacks peppered in, but these proved to be a little more effective, focusing on the contrasts between Karnak and Gorgon, as they try to apply what they learned from each other in the present day. It’s still pretty overt and far from subtle (“How would Karnak handle this?” Gorgon says to himself at one point). It’s sloppy, but it works somewhat. The subplot itself lacks any logic, but it gets the characters to a better place. Good job, I think?
This Show Might Need a New Editor
As we pointed out in the pod, the rhythm of the episode felt very off. Crystal and friend teleport at one point, and we don’t see where they end up until maybe twenty or thirty minutes later. We skip to a resolution from last week’s gas explosion, with one Inhuman dead and Auran presumed dead and examined by “Desmond” and an assistant (what, you aren’t going to tell the authorities immediately after someone dies on your property?). We see that Laser Eyes and Plant Lady have caught up to Black Bolt’s prison buddy and are already in pursuit of the Royal Family. And even within the episode itself, we have erratic shifts, which a healed Auran killing Desmond’s assistant at the end of one scene, and in her next scene is wearing scrubs with no explanation and suddenly has Desmond as a buddy. Throughout this episode, I kept thinking that I was missing a scene.
Or how about when Karnak and Jen make their plan against the angry weedheads? We see Karnak grab a stick and try to conjure up a stealthy play against them… and in their next scene, we have shifted from day to night. Really taking his time there, right? It’s hard to know who to blame for this confusion and jarring edits—either this is a first and rough draft of a screenplay that did not get attention, or this episode was Frankenstein-ed together pretty quickly in the editing room. Either of those possibilities indicate a no-good-very-bad rushed production.
The Larger Character Arcs Are Materializing
I will finally concede to Black Bolt and Medusa maybe having a nice and authentic-feeling relationship; their lovey-dovey body language at the back of an uncomfortable Louise did work at the moment. And having Locus actually speak for the people feeling somewhat oppressed or left out by the Royal Family gave the show something it tried to set up but lacked from the very beginning—a moral arc for Black Bolt and family. We know about the “rigid meritocracy” and Black Bolt’s sometimes unpopular decisions, but we never get a good feel of the larger conflict and don’t really buy into the idea that maybe Black Bolt has flaws as a leader. Medusa defends her husband, saying that what they do is for the best of the people of Attilan, even if it may not seem so on the surface. Conflict. Character. Story.
And we see the cracks are beginning to show with Maximus’s efforts, as he tries to go through mental gymnastics to justify his recruitment of Inhumans to hunt the Royal Family. “Everyone is free! Also, I need them. So they must earn their freedom! But also, they’re totally free.” It’s like a mini Abbott and Costello bit. The dynamic between himself and his ol’ buddy Tibor is nothing interesting, as we don’t see much movement from their interactions from the previous episode. And the ending had me a bit baffled—are these Inhumans planning a coup… against the dude who staged a coup? Do they support Black Bolt? Where were these people when the coup happened in the first place? Did they support Maximus and then get buyer’s remose? What is wrong with that one guy’s head?
Good? Bad? Both?
Don’t get me wrong, this show is still very, very stupid. There was absolutely no logical reason Jen needed to separate from her new Inhuman friends. Why, because she had to call the police? But no, she says it’ll be an anonymous call and she’ll be fine. So why not go with the super-powered beings who can protect you, and your new beach make-out buddy? I found it quite funny that even the Royal Family was surprised by how fast that relationship blossomed. We feel you. And then Locus drops dead from a bullet taken off-screen, because now the plot is done with her—but she serves one last plot function to tell Medusa that Crystal is in Hawaii, and a thematic function of motivating Black Bolt to be a better king. Good-bye, Locus. We hardly knew ye.
I’d hope that this (slow) upward trend in quality continues, but there isn’t too much to salvage from this bizarre experience that passes as a television show. Hawaii still makes no sense as a locale, and these human characters are unbearable. The Attilan scenes feel like a direct-to-DVD Game of Thrones knock-off. And the show barely mentions anything from the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe (besides the Terrigen contamination from S.H.I.E.L.D.) and does nothing to “enhance” the universe as originally promised, making watching the show so far a pointless affair. But some of us are this deep into the show already, so we might as well catch the rest of the back end of this season.
Official Count of “Times an Inhuman Bonds With a Human By Running Into the Water At the Beach”: 2. Seriously, what? This dude with Crystal is a total meathead who probably lives by this one time he saw the “carpe diem” scene from Dead Poets Society on YouTube.
The Culprits of This Episode: Director Kevin Tancharoen is the brother of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. co-showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen, and directed multiple episodes of SHIELD, Iron Fist and the CW DC shows. Writer Scott Reynolds contributed to the second season of Dexter with Scott Buck, because of course.
Triton Watch: Who?
Best Part of the Episode: “Who are you?” “Gorgon.” “He talks about you a lot.” “Wait. Really?” Genuinely made me smile.
Am I watching the next episode?: Yeah. Hey, nowhere to go but up, right? Right?