Inhumans 1.03 Review: “Divide and Conquer”

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The third episode of Marvel’s Inhumans gives fans a few more intriguing pieces of the puzzle. When we last saw The Inhumans they had been stranded on earth and scattered. Medusa had experienced the trauma of having her head shaved effectively losing her power, Karnak had become lost in the jungle while Gorgon joins up with a group of surfers who turn out to be ex-soldiers. Meanwhile, Crystal effectively remains on Attilan with Lockjaw, forced to speak for the entire royal family and cement Maximus’s rule. The third episode of the series furthers their predicament while Maximus, in an effort to destroy them. There are some new characters introduced and some characters paths, including Karnak’s, become a bit clearer. It also introduces Louise, the aerospace engineer who seems to know more about the inhumans themselves.

Overall the episode adds a few in some places but very little in others, important ones. There are some questions answered about Black Bolt and Maximus’s history, it’s confirmed (seemingly) if Maximus has any powers and abilities, and Crystal finally makes a break for it. There are some pretty swell new powers and Black Bolt and the royal family get introduced to some new Inhumans like Daisy, people who woke up covered in the terragenesis cocoon. That makes the timeline a bit more clear for those paying attention. It’s most likely happening either during season 3 or after season 4 since one of the new inhumans, Sammy, hints that people with abilities are disappearing around the world.

Overall the backstory in it was clearly divided from the first 2 episodes which might be the reason the series has been conquered. While parts of the inhumans feel pieced together, there are a few more moments that make Marvel’s Inhumans episode 1.03 “Divide and Conquer” a better episode.

While Maximus looks to the past,
the Royals have their eye on the future:

Shots of Maximus trying to rule Attilan are intermixed with shots of his past, proving that his terragenesis made him a full-blooded human while it turned his brother, who didn’t want to be king, into a living weapon. There’s a bit more of a dynamic between the brothers made available that could have been in the first 2 episodes and might have made the conflict clearer. Seeing Black Bolt as a teen who didn’t want to be king is a bit of a bittersweet moment, one that also reveals something interesting. In the very first flashback the King has, he says that there are only 1400 people on Attilan when there are clearly thousands more. Could it be that his parents lied, or willingly obfuscated the truth from their oldest son? As the king, it wouldn’t make sense unless he was truly a callous ruler, not to consider the nature of his kingdom or it’s size and scope. If he believed as a child that there was a much smaller population then the one they actually have, then shouldn’t that have changed as an adult? Something else is at work here, one that makes his confrontation with Maximus much more interesting to fans.

Karnak, Gorgon, and Medusa, however, all move forward with their respective arcs, along with Black Bolt. While Karnak is forced to admit his fallible past (apparently the tattoos on his face were a “teenage mistake”) he confesses to a group of pot farmers who he stumbles upon accidentally that he needs time to get his bearings. It’s a far cry from the same overly confident Karnak of the first 2 episodes and a refreshing change. If the fall has somehow damaged his abilities permanently then it’s a unique twist on his origin story. Again in the comics, Karnak has no abilities, something he shares in common with Maximus. It would eliminate the difficult to explain abilities that the audience saw him with and make him a far more sympathetic character. Ken Leung shines in the role and his new friends who offer him work are intriguing figures. It appears as if Ellen Woglom’s Louise isn’t the only human that gets to meet the inhumans. Between Gorgon and his surfing soldier friends and Karnak and his new pot-growing pals, it’s shaping up to be a very interesting trip for the pair.

Medusa proves she’s willing to go incredibly far to get to Black Bolt, breaking into a house and robbing them as well as exchanging her Attilan robes for more earthbound clothes. She also knows how to use a gun and knows what money is, resulting in a sort of funny scene with an ATM machine (do the inhumans have money on the moon? Something that needs to be explored. These are the questions we should be asking!) Her sister Crystal, lies to Maximus to gain his trust, eventually tricking her way off-planet (off moon?) with Lockjaw only to smash (literally) into their own plotline.  She does some clever things in this, somehow melding the Crystal of the comics who was vapid and slightly boy crazy with a more mature diplomatic Crystal from the later series.

Black Bolt’s arc is the most intriguing. While he’s ensnared in a possibly dangerous plot with Henry Ian Cusack’s Doctor Declan (and who knows where, or how, or what that will look like) he gets to meet Sammy, an Islander who shares that he wants to help him and has some pretty handy Inhuman powers of his own. Overall the Royal family has no real stake in the earth – technically they could go back to the moon and retake it with ease and stay up there. They are rightfully defined by their connections and having them mentor earthlings, particularly new inhumans or “nuhumans” is the best part of the comic books. Sammy confesses his concern about his new powers and Sammy looks nothing like the typical superhero. It’s a great twist and a partnership that I for one hope we get to see more of.

Maximus puts together a team:

One of the most exciting things shown in the promos was a collection of inhumans under Auran’s command who are planning on hunting down the royal family. A new group of inhumans with new powers is just what the show needed to get itself up and running. They have some unique abilities and while their names are a bit of a blur (there’s “girl who controls plants”) there is one stand out. Mordis. Both Auran and Maximus seem scared of Mordis and while Auran claims he only “brings death”, Maximus tells her not to fear…all while asking his pet Clairvoyant if he’ll cause more trouble by letting the mysterious Mordis out of prison.

This introduces two concepts. One, the idea that Attilan has a tendency to lock up even the most powerful of inhumans and that while Maximus’s future might have been saved by his parents position, Black Bolt’s was as well, and Two, a human version of the Destroyer from Thor which came out looking pretty good despite the circumstances. Mordis even looks like the Asgardian robot from the original Thor film complete with a rusted appearance and a pair of glowing red eyes that can shoot beams that would make Cyclops think twice.

Auran’s team is taken apart pretty quickly by Gorgon and his surfing soldiers, but Mordis, who is dubbed the 2nd most deadly being in Attilan, gets to use his abilities. Here’s hoping that rumors of Black Bolt not having any lines remain a fallacy. The two of them could deal some pretty impressive special effects, or at least effects close enough to Agents of SHIELD caliber. Mordis’s sarcastic one-liners, however, fell short. He’s got the same speech impediment as Bane from DC’s The Dark Knight Rises and while it’s an intriguing thing to explore in the show as a fan it was a bit hard to follow what he was saying.  As neat as it is to see different looking inhumans on the show, there’s no point in introducing them if the audience can’t follow along with their struggles.

The other thing that Auran and Maximus’s team brought to the screen that was cool was the plant-manipulating inhuman using her abilities. She sounded genuinely excited and it’d be nice to see her meet someone like Daisy Johnson who would, hopefully, be more than happy to take her on a tour of Hawaii and other locations. You’re reminded that the inhumans live on the moon and their lives aren’t very happy, and maybe they all just need to take the time and literally stop and smell the flowers before making any rash decisions.

It ends on an important cliffhanger:

Well. Two important cliffhangers. After Maximus flies away in Declan’s helicopter and Medusa drags Ellen Woglam’s Louise into the fray, Lockjaw is put in a compromising position. The important thing, however, is that Lockjaw is safe, he’s back on television, he’s alive and as functional as a CGI dog can be, and we are all better off for it.

Overall the third episode puts the characters on their paths pretty thoroughly and introduces some new concepts and some twists on the classic origin stories. It confirms that Maximus has no powers, but some might argue that the most “mad” people in the MCU are the humans themselves. It also introduces that the Attilan society is far from perfect and the characters might not all have the pieces that they need to make it so. It remains to be seen if they’ll manage to find some sort of closure in 8 episodes, but Black Bolt is at the very least learning that his kingdom is far bigger then he’s ever suspected and that alone might make the third episode worth it.

While audiences remain divided on the nature of the Inhumans, pieces of the puzzle for each of the characters is slowly starting to unfold. Just what ABC and Marvel will do with them remains a mystery but the genuine and touching moments are there and more available then ever before. Instead of having to dig for the nuggets of gold, many of them, like Black Bolt’s relationship with Sammy the inmate, are struggling their way to the surface.

Final Thoughts

  • There is a reference to Hawaiian History from Gorgon’s surfers that might go unnoticed and it shouldn’t. The blatant reference to colonization makes one wonder if Hawaii, while a gorgeous location to shoot, was no accident. It was a nice nod to a group of people that need more recognition and support.
  • Ellen Woglam’s Louise needs to be given a lot more to do in the next episode then we’ve seen so far. Every other new “human” pair of eyes that we get to see their world through so far has done more then she has.
  • I will defend to the death, the brotp of Black Bolt and Sammy the Inhuman with hot hands. I hope Sammy gets to use his powers. I hope he finds his family. I hope he becomes a superhero. I hope his kids become superheroes and they get their own show. I love the concept of this character.
  • The plant inhuman can also stay.
  • Mordis needs to get his voice fixed
  • If Lockjaw is hurt in any way shape or form the fans riot.

Inhumans airs Fridays on ABC at 9PM.

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