Fury rushes President Riston to hospital but while securing him immediate aid, can’t then stop faux-Rhodey and his team from taking over that security. They in turn manage to convince the President that striking New Skrullos, the base within the borders of Russia may be the only preemptive move they have left. It seems a bizarre option for Gravik and Rhodey to suggest, but they seem willing to sacrifice their fellow refugees, knowing it will ignite a radioactive war to their advantage.
Even as the fallen Talos is laid to rest, Fury must race to his own grave to find the one thing that Talos is willing to trade, but as forces on both sides gather – and Sonya Falsworth offers her support – will it be too late to prevent Earth becoming a wasteland as Fury’s own betrayals come back to haunt him?
The penultimate episode of Secret Invasion is something a very uneven shape-shifting episode, an entry that seems to suddenly realise it’s heading into the final furlong and is eager to push its pieces into place – yet unfortunately seeks to do so in one of the shortest episodes thus far – just over thirty minutes including credits.
The scenes where Fury brings the injured President Riston (Dermot Mulroney) into the hospital look entirely cheap, budget-saving and unrealistic. Fury is met by one nurse and a couple of orderlies who say he must stay outside the operating room, but where’s the utter chaos that would result from an assassination attempt and the sheer importance of the patient? Even if was a ‘surprise’ visit, one would fully expect that wing to be instantly a triage centre, yet it’s all sterile and quiet. It takes faux-Rhodey and the Secret Service agents ages to turn up and when they do ‘secure’ the area there’s no real attempt to do anything but make Fury leave.
Harvest wants to be profound, filling its time with overt monologuing that never seems truly organic or genuine and with important connective tissue events squeezed in or out to fit… The finale now needs to do a lot of lifting and like a lot of Marvel shows, the infrastructure seems to be buckling as we reach the end…
Emilia Clarke’s G’iah and Charlayne Woodard’s Priscilla lament Nick Fury’s failings for a few moments and then have a big action scene, taking out yet another team of hapless assassins that conveniently shoot like storm-troopers. Then they mourn the fallen Talos in a scene that seems askew on a variety of levels. Firstly, it’s quite bizarre that Talos’ body would be so readily available. Fury sped away from the ambush having to make the conscious decision to leave his fallen friend behind while he got the President to safety and given the situation one would presume that Talos – especially after being identified on news footage – would be under the strictest lock and key as government’s started to panic. Even presuming that Fury’s wishes carry any weight with a lot of the security forces in the aftermath, getting Talos’ body away seems a mighty big ask. Then we have these two brave, proud Skrull agents lighting a very Viking pyre for Talos and yet who remain resolutely in their human forms throughout the ceremony. This would surely be a place, bemoaning their cloaked existence, where both would have reverted to their true forms – and it seems like a budget choice to not have them in full make-up for the solemn moment.
Much has been made of the lack of Marvel‘s active superheroes in the mix – when you’d think a subversive alien attack on the planet would be important enough to need their services. There are pragmatic reasons for not including them on a production level (not least of which is that budget again) but the on-screen reasons have also been nebulous. Samuel L. Jackson’s Fury has said he doesn’t want to compromise them and this week gives a long speech about the history of Brixton, how he was raised by a single mother and the legacy of being a black man in a world still struggling with abject or casual racism… and how he sees the job of stopping this invasion as a personal quest to show he has the life experience to fight for his own planet without calling in the cosmic cavalry. It’s a topical and profound speech but… well…sounds more like a heavy-handed socio-political rallying call and scripted soliloquy than a real reason not to have half the Avengers on speed-dial. And, ironically, the episode’s big reveal that Fury and his team (including pre-villain Gravik) took blood-samples from their heroes injuries in the battlefield aftermath of the great fight with Thanos- experimenting with their DNA in an effort duplicating those powers – actually makes a far better reason that Fury would be wary of calling in his super-friends and having that opportunism exposed. As Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman) notes, Fury’s actions directly led to Gravik’s invasion plan, so the ex-commander of SHIELD has a very personal stake in the clean-up and the hush-up.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but every scene with Olivia Colman simply shines – she’s been consistently the MVP of the MCU’s latest show and her snarky interaction with everyone, especially the often behind-the-ball Fury, is pure gold. “Males in my species are very similar; if they’re not busy gaslighting you, they’re threatening you with murder. That’s what all podcasts are about.” Seriously, someone give this woman a series of her own. (Is it me, or would she be a great acerbic anchor/handler for a Captain Britian / Albion / Pendragon type outing?).
Once again, geography is something of a problem and even with private jets at their disposal, one wonders how characters get from A to B so fast. One minute Gravik is attacking the US president London, the next he’s back in Russia (a journey that would take many hours at least). Equally, Nicholas Fury makes a similar sojourn from the UK to Finland’s border with Russia which might be a hop and skip and a jump by American standards but is still undertaken on a whim.
Harvest wants to be profound, filling its time with overt monologuing that never seems truly organic or genuine and with important connective tissue events squeezed in or out to fit. It’s a pity: I’ve had no problem with the slower speed of this series and the walk-and-talk aspect of its Cold War counter-espionage, but Marvel hasn’t been able to fully commit to its superhero-free adventure, essentially doing too much and too little. The finale now needs to do a lot of lifting and like a lot of Marvel shows, the infrastructure seems to be buckling as we reach the end.
- Production Design / VFX8