As Fury and Priscilla sit down for a long-overdue heart-to-heart, Talos seeks out a meeting with Gravik in an effort to diffuse the possibility of a coming war. But Gravik suspects a traitor in his ranks and sets up what he perceives as a no-lose scenario. He’ll either start WWIII or find his mole…
In a six episode mini-series you wouldn’t expect a lot of padding, but though there’s some nice scenes here, in truth, there’s only a little plot progression. Samuel L Jackson’s Fury and Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos grumble at each other and exchange snark like The Odd Couple they are and there’s a few home truths to be lobbed from both sides.
Fury also has some pointed interchanges with his wife, Priscilla (Charlayne Woodard). Yes, until the end of last week’s episode who knew that Nick had got hitched? It’s this element that produces some more nice dialogue and interplay but doesn’t quite ring true – to the extent that even Priscilla raises the elephant in the room (or, technically its absence). It’s one thing not to know that Fury had a wife, but after disappearing for five years due to the Thanos ‘Blip’, he then willingly vanished off to the SABRE space-station and contemplated the universe… without Priscilla. As she points out, mourning a husband that was snatched away, then resurrected is one thing to bear… but then realising he has chosen not to come home instead certainly raises some questions that the show can’t readily explain. It’s a tribute to Jackson and Woodard that they sell the relationship and the hurt involved but the plot can’t quite sell the situation.
(It has to be said though that Olivia Colman’s Sonya Falsworth, in a brief phone-conversation with Fury, once again steals the episode – helped by her renaming of her spy-on-the-wall ornamental owl which she has now equipped with an eye-patch and calls’ Nick’…)
Elsewhere, Kingsley Ben-Adir’s Gravik jets in from Eastern Europe with relative ease for a sit-down with Talos at The National Portrait Gallery, London. Both sides warning the other of the perils of standing against them. There’s scrutiny of Sir James Guthrie’s painting Statesmen of World War I 1914-1918 and Gravik gives a nice speech about true soldiers being remembered in blood not oils. There are implied threats and physical ones, but it’s more of a showcase for that scene in the trailer where the rest of the restaurant’s clientelle all turn out to be Skrulls – a nice bit of CGI and banging home the shape-shifting-could-be-anyone point – but otherwise the meeting is pretty pointless. It’s also a little weird that Gravik, up until now reasonably soft-spoken and quietly malevolent suddenly has a wider, North London twang to his voice. It could be an artistic choice or just the larger amount of dialogue, but it jars a little, especially when he’s already playing off Mendelsohn’s thicker Australian twang.
It doesn’t take a hardened space detective to smell a rat when Gravik sends Emilia Clarke’s G’iah out on a mission minutes after telling her he suspects a traitor in their ranks yet gives her sensitive information involving settting off the payload of a nuclear submarine that she mustn’t tell anyone ™. Within minutes, of course, she’s passing on the intel to her father and you’re practically shouting ‘It’s a trap!‘ at the screen. Which it is. Obviously. It does lead to yet another stand-off between a Skrull masquerading as a commander overseeing the submarine’s mission from afar and which Gravik intends to see fire on a UN plane (kickstarting WWIII). For Gravik’s it’s a no-lose situation. The nuclear option may have failed when Fury and Talos intervene, but he’s uncovered his mole.
Each episode has finished with something of a surprise (Maria Hill’s death, Fury’s wife) but while killing off Emilia Clarke’s character would be another swerve, there’s a couple of reasons to feel this isn’t the literal dead end it seems. Yes, she’s coldly shot at point-blank range. Yes, she bleeds and reverts to Skrull form. All pertinent points. But…firstly, there are several seemingly key scenes in the series-trailer featuring her that have yet to appear and while that might not be definitive (trailers sometimes do deliberately misdirect), there’s more. Secondly, it’s an off-hand execution that doesn’t warrant the character’s importance and – tellingly – it would be the second fridging of a prominent female character in this run and that would be… well, a bit lazy and disappointing. The only other surprise is the phone-call Priscilla gets after retrieving a gun from a safe-deposit box… which sounds a lot less like Gravik and a lot more like Don Cheadle’s Rhodey.
So, essentially an episode with a lot of talk but minimum walk, which is fine if it progresses things, but this feels more filler and holding pattern than actual staging area. It’s a slower-pace than most Marvel shows and that’s fine in and of itself, but an invasion needs a front-line and this one needs to advance more next week…
- Production Design / VFX9