Out of all the episodes, we’ve had so far Inhumans fans, this one is probably this reviewer’s favorite. From fast-paced storytelling to some explanations for how characters are interacting, the circle of the 8 episode season is slowly closing and we’re starting to learn just what brought the inhumans to earth as well as what they might learn about being on earth in the first place (or rather why they’re there?). This episode also marks the return of Lockjaw (everybody start cheering!) and we even get a few jokes in the bargain, and they make sense. What would it take to get more of this show? Or at the very least more shows like this?
There’s a simple answer. Kevin Tancharoen, brother of Maurissa Tanchareon also known as the Royal Family behind Marvel’s other ABC show, Agents of SHIELD. Tanchareon has been making a name for himself in the superhero sphere from episodes of The Flash, Arrow, and SuperGirl to Agents of SHIELD and Iron Fist, Tancharoen knows how to film fight sequences, he knows how to set up pacing, and he knows how to direct actors. It’s no accident that one of the best episodes of Iron Fist was also directed by him (fingers crossed that Lewis Tan will return for Iron Fist season 2.) The fact that Tanchareon had me so engaged is proof that the guy needs his own gig as showrunner. Perhaps, dare I say it, Inhumans Season 2?
Beyond getting to see Ken Leung do some really kickass martial arts, seeing Black Bolt and Medusa reunite, maybe finally seeing the beginnings of what Maximus has planned and has been planning for the Inhumans, this episode was well paced, well written, and well shot for a series that has seen it’s share of negativity. It’s a sign that letting guys like Tancharoen behind the camera is a smart move and one that Marvel should listen to. I’ll be tipping my proverbial hat to the guy and hoping that Marvel and DC both keep giving him work while I break the episode down and you should too. “Something Inhuman this way comes…” was probably (so far) one of the best episodes of the series. If you have time in your schedule, give it a watch.
It Addresses Some Very Important Issues
At the core of Marvel’s Inhumans is 2 relationships. Black Bolt and his brother, and Black Bolt and Medusa. While Maximus and the King of Attilan are going to have some serious talking to do (and with Black bolt that’s never a good thing). It’s important to address what Inhumans did with Medusa, Maximus, and the shaving of her head, and why Black Bolt’s reaction was important. We’ve touched on this before, but inhumans regard their powers as a sacred part of themselves. Removing a person’s power (breaking Daisy or Sammy’s hands, hurting LockJaw, etc.) is tantamount to an assault of a very personal nature. That’s why a lot of people were probably turned off when Maximus shaved Medusa’s head. What is fundamentally a cost-cutting measure for the VFX team is effectively an assault on the character, on a female character. Serinda Swan brought it home beautifully and Anson Mount delivered on his part as her co-star. In my most recent memory, this is the first show to ever tackle a woman being assaulted and having her be comforted afterward on genre TV. Feel free to correct me on twitter if I’m wrong (I hope I’m wrong) but Kudos to everyone involved giving that the pathos it deserved. For a topic that has been on a lot of people’s minds lately, even in terms of metaphor, Inhumans, you did okay.
As for the other relationships on the show, things start to get a little bit better for all concerned. Karnak’s mysterious lady friend gets a name (her name is Jen!) and Crystal gets to let loose a little bit. This is really Crystal out on her own and while a lot of people might think she’s lacking in power and ability and stuff to do, this is what Crystal did in the Kirby version before she got revamped and rewritten to be more of a diplomat and a stronger character. There’s not nearly enough lockjaw (seriously ABC should greenlight a lockjaw show and just have him appear on set at various locations in the MCU because REALLY we need it.) We even get some backstory between Gorgon and Karnak and just how inhumans have influenced the history of the earth, or could potentially influence the history of the earth.
If there’s a particular flaw in this episode, however, it’s the pot farm. The decision to set a lot of the action at the pot farm (first Karnak and Jen run away from the Pot Farm, then they run back to the pot farm, then they end up getting in with the new growers at the pot farm and attacked by the growers at the pot farm.) is a weak one. Marijuana is legal in California and I don’t particularly need to visit a dispensary in order to watch the show, so why the add to it? Is the pot farm important? Is it Walter White’s farm? Is it a SHIELD pot farm? (that might actually explain a LOT about how Coulson manages to stay so chill throughout 4+ seasons of wacky hijinks.) I get that running around cities and such might cost a lot of money but wouldn’t it make sense to show off the beauty, the full beauty of the island?
Thankfully the family is reunited by the end of the episode after some really AWESOME action sequences by Ken Leung. Kevin Tancharoen delivers well light well-fought fight scenes like he always does (bravo sir!) and I would be happy if we NEVER returned to the pot farm ever again.
It Returns Some Inhumans To Us & Introduces New Ones
The biggest strength of Inhumans is how these fish out of water inhumans get introduced to the inhumans living on earth and struggling with their abilities. It’s the biggest strength of the characters in the comics too, from Kamala Khan struggling against her NuHuman friends and enemies to Dante teaming up with Gorgon. It’s what I wanted out of this series, mostly because it’s two sides of the fish out of water element. One person with powers who has no idea what to with them (and they arguably have it worse than most mutants because mutants develop powers as kids while you can be an adult, living your life, totally normal and then mutate into a hideous tentacled bug-eyed creature and have to go to work the next day. And you’re an actor who gets by on your looks and suddenly you’re a bug-eyed tentacled being who can telepathically do stuff. Woops.) This episode brings back Mordis (who still can’t speak) and Sammy!
Sammy is probably the best inhuman that we’ve met out of the earthbound inhumans in this show (stay calm Agents of SHIELD fans, stay calm.) While I don’t like Sammy teaming up with Mordis (sorry Mordis) he’s got some funny lines but Sammy is not something you traditionally see. He’s a POC actor who’s playing an inhuman and I just-I can’t explain how cool it is to see a character like that get some spotlights. Hopefully, he’ll get out of the predicament he’s in (cause, yeesh.) but I have a mighty need to see more characters like Sammy, people of all colors shapes and sizes, in shows like this getting the superpowered treatment. Perhaps under the tutoring of other inhumans, Sammy could become a hero in his own right and inspire his kids. I would pay money for this man. Lots of money.
The other new character introduced is Locust, an inhuman who was a part of Auran’s team. Locust is that opposite side of the coin, an inhuman who hasn’t been to earth and is steeped in these traditions. She’s gone far too soon (seriously? Seriously?) but everything from the “Let the woman out of the trunk” line to her ability and how she uses it was nice to see. Auran’s team had a lot of potentials and they’re gone way too fast for my liking except for Mordis (ugh, dude, ADR thyself, get thee a sound editor who can at least make you audible!). We’re going to see some more inhumans coming next week hopefully (Maximus has a literal catalog of them in the episode) but let’s let a few stick around so they can balance out the number of inhumans on earth.
Or we can also bring Mike Moh back. Where is the heck Triton? Did he swim away to better pastures? Chilling with SHIELD (man that would be REALLY cool). Bring back Mike Moh! And remember Inhumans, your strength is in the royal family and the people of this eugenics-based society learning that things can be better out there, with a little help.
It Draws Everything Together
The episode ends with everybody heading towards the same location, intentional or otherwise. Auran’s more catlike then she appears to be-while she might not have Parabolic hearing like she does in the comic books, the inhuman has enough lives to be positively feline. Things might go a bit worse for big-bad Desmond – I mean Declan. After trying to dissect her Auran takes the phrase “an eye for an eye” a little bit literally. She’s a character I’d like to stick around and those healing VFX were impressive. There’s a shortage of morally gray anti-heroes in Marvel TV and Balmores Auran fits the bill. Let her flee the fight (hopefully) and run off and maybe redeem herself by helping a NuHuman cop named Frank McGee? I’d be here for that 100%.
Pretty much the episode concludes with everybody heading over to Desmond, sorry Declan’s lab. The Royals are back together (sort of, Crystal is still doing her “I’m on my own” thing). and if the promo for the next episode is any indication it seems like Maximus’s time is going to be pretty shortlived. It’s important not to count anybody out, however. Whoever shot Locust is still a mystery and while Tibor seems willing to help Maximus initially even if he’s skeptical (Even if Maximus isn’t a good hero, he’s still trying. There is a lot wrong in inhuman society). It would be kind of funny if the show ended with every inhuman from Attilan on earth and the Agents of SHIELD being forced to track them, and the NuHumans that Daisy created when she fought her mother, down.
Up, however, it looks as if things might be moving fast against Maximus. Tibor is approached by a group of hooded figures who as if he’s interested in bringing the “false king” of Attilan down. Best watch yourself Maximus, once one person starts a coup and tries to overthrow a government everybody is going to want a piece of the pie. It’s another timely message delivered by the best director we’ve seen on the show so far.
There’s a lot to really like about the episode and the majority of it comes from the directing. Tancharoen delivers an almost Joss Whedon in Buffy like feel for every character concerned. Maybe not the best episode of Buffy, but he did the best he could with the material he had to work with and for that, I salute him wholeheartedly. Here’s to a representation of comforting abuse survivors on television (thanks, Anson and Serinda for that) and here’s to Ken Leung getting to kick some ass and take some names. Will October 27th’s “The Gentlemen’s name is Gorgon…” measure up? Stay tuned and find out!
- That same Buffy feel pervaded and I stand firm in that Kevin should ask his sister for showrunning tips. I’d watch an inhumans series written by him (and hopefully Jae Lee, Saladin Ahmed, Geoffery Thorne, I have a list of writers guys.)
- Louise was less there this episode and I’m starting to get curious about where her arc will go.
- Who owned the pot farm?! Now I want to know? Is it SHIELD? Is it HYDRA? is it Walter White?
- Sammy needs to stick around the MCU, I don’t care, make him a regular, put him somewhere. Make more Inhumans like him.
- Crystal is very much “Kirby” Crystal. It’s Crystal written by Jack Kirby angsting over Johnny Storm and being very girly. It’s not bad but we’re in the age of strong female leads. Let her do some more! We’re past the age where women need to shrink down or go invisible to do stuff!
- Lockjaw. Forever and always. Need. More. Lockjaw.
Inhumans airs Fridays on ABC at 9/8C.