Inhumans Review 1.07 & 1.08 “Havoc in the Hidden Land” & “…And Finally: Black Bolt”

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In the wake of Thor: Ragnarok people have had other things on their mind besides Marvel’s Inhumans unfortunately. A lot has happened since the death of Gorgon, and while many might not want to see Inhumans continue, it and the MCU are being pulled in a cosmic direction. The Inhumans are here to stay, however, and Havoc in the Hidden Land proves that there’s a lot more than meets the eye as far as the Inhumans future. Havoc is one of the best episodes of the series by far (the other being the 5th episode by Ken Tanchareon.) It sets the stage for the finale, answers some questions, and provides some new insight into the nature of Maximus’s plan.

It’s also worth noting that And Finally: Black Bolt delivers not only on what was promised with the series but adds some dimension to the entire series. Plus, there’s a singular moment in the season finale that was unexpected and delivered a twist that only Marvel could create. What questions were answered in Havoc however, were replaced with a whole new set of questions that might honestly never get answered if the series doesn’t get a second season. There were some nice moments that were throwbacks to earlier episodes of the series, but beyond that Marvel’s Inhumans went out as noble and as regal as one of their very own Royals, and perhaps with as much arrogance fully expecting a new season to come.

If Inhumans gets another season remains unclear, but it’s worth noting a few stand-out performances. Anson Mount and Serinda Swan were the driving force behind the show, a power couple with incredible chemistry. Gorgon came up next, and Auran, played by the awesomely friendly Sonya Balmores, became a surprise favorite. There’s a lot of potential with these characters if the series can continue, and it certainly left a few strands that it could continue. How they’ll go about it remains to be seen (if they’ll go about it) but let’s just say that the Marvel Television universe just got a whole lot bigger, in a very surprising way.

(for the sake of expediency, we’re going to go out like we came in and talk about the episodes like one big 2-hour movie.)

Maximus’s Plan Is Revealed at last: Spoilers, it’s what we all thought.

Whatever nobility Maximus had in trying to destroy the eugenics based culture of Inhumanity was squandered in episode 7. One could argue it’s been squandered for the entire show. Any man willing to remove a woman’s source of power and strength is not a man who has the best interests of the people at heart. It turns out that he’s working with Declan to try and give himself a second terragenesis. There’s some really fascinating stuff that should have been at the heart of the Inhumans story rather than a quick means to showcase the issues Maximus has in the premiere. According to Maximus, Terragenesis is a living breathing entity that selects inhumans and blesses them. To be ignored is, in essence, to be rejected by their “God.”

The terrifying prospect of an active diety-like …evolution is something the show should have taken the time to explore, and indeed Marvel should take time to explore. As opposed to natural human evolution giving mankind Homo Superior, or the next stage of human evolution, Inhumans don’t have a choice. Agents of SHIELD tried to tackle that in season 2 of the show and there was ample opportunity to discuss it on Inhumans. Apart from Locus’s lines, however, there’s very little done to really dig deep. That’s a must if there’s ever going to be more of the Royal Family. A writer that can showcase the true wonder at their abilities, as well as their abject terror, would really give Inhumans the gravitas it needs to be a good show.

Regardless, The Royal Family plans a coup to take out Maximus’s coup, tries and fails to do so. Crystal gets to use her abilities but she still remains the most unused character on the show. It’s criminal, she’s got incredible abilities but she’s very much a Kirby character from an era where women would “Disappear” in order to contribute to superhero teams or “Shrink down to nothing.” making them utterly useless. Crystal jumping to another Marvel show, especially after she shares with the family that she feels like she belongs on earth, could give her the chance to develop into the strong diplomat people know from the show. Right now, however, she’s very much trapped in the beginning of canon that’s 50 years old. Get with the times’ man.

Anyway, Maximus is determined to be blessed by his “God”, the Royals do their best to take him down and fail abysmally. Attilan citizens are probably very confused at this point, as is the audience.

“Together Again, Gee it’s good to be Together Again.”

While you might think of the Janet Jackson song when you hear lyrics like that, I’m leaning more towards the muppet version sung by Kermit the Frog. Inhumans has Black Bolt leading the family to a Hawaiian beach to see – surprise! The big green operator Triton has returned from the ocean after a good six episodes absence. Just how he healed remains to be seen but apparently, it was all a part of Black Bolt’s plan. It turns out he had a vague sort of idea about Maximus and Black Bolt enlists him to help them take him down with disastrous results.

He’s not the only character who returns either. While Declan’s plan for a second terragenesis seems reasonably feasible, it’s enough for Karnak who has…not been thinking clearly for a while now to try and bring back Gorgon. I took the time to mourn Gorgon in episode 6 so having his death not be a forever thing was a weird sort of blessing. It got even weirder however when Karnak injected Gorgon with Auran’s DNA and stuck him in the terragenesis chamber putting him through terragenesis again.

Truth be told there’s a comic precedent for Gorgon to be a bit more animalistic after a second terragenesis. He also gets more minotaur-like but that didn’t happen in this case and instead, he shuffled around like a zombie. Frustrating to say the least, but people who mess with terragenesis’s plan usually end up in predicaments like this, from Declan to Maximus to Agents of SHIELD. Again, exploring people trying to control a temperamental sentient evolution could be good, in the right hands.

The humans, in essence, do very little. Crystal thinks about Dave, Declan dies (suddenly, but y’know. The method for making new Inhumans is out there, just ask SHIELD). The only person with a bit more to do is Louise who, in a touching moment, gives the space ship with her father’s ashes to Medusa to make sure she fulfills his dying wish to get to the moon. Medusa and Louise had some great Thelma and Louise like chemistry but I can’t help but wish she would have turned out to be an inhuman, for all of the emotional attachment to the rocket ship she was rather child-like, and she was never really rewarded. We never even find out just which organization she works for or what she specifically does for a living.

The pot farmers also don’t return, but we kind of figured that would happen. Karnak, for his part, doesn’t seem all that broken up about it. Oh well.

You don’t know how to write Jack Kirby for 2017

About halfway through episode 7 I realized just what was bothering me about the show and that’s that it doesn’t know how to blend trying to start with Jack Kirby’s roots into the current inhuman storyline in the comics, or the modern look of the MCU. It’s literally trying to give fans Jack Kirby’s brilliant work, but not recognizing the parts of it that were…well, dated.

The biggest clue to this (apart from Medusa’s weird wig which looks a LOT like Medusa’s hair in the comics, Crystal’s infatuation with boys, and the somewhat simplistic storytelling) is Black Bolt. Black Bolt reveals a secret Royal bunker in Attilan that only he knows about. Only he was privy to the plan with Triton. Medusa is furious with him for keeping secrets, but the truth is that…that’s what black bolt does in the old school Kirby comics. Medusa and the royal family just sort of existing to be glorified thought bubbles while Black Bolt bounces around and does stuff. Check out a page below.

In short, a large part of the reason why people might not be relating to the Inhumans isn’t because they’re bad characters (though to many that might be a part of it, it’s hard to love heroes based on a culture that worships eugenics), it’s because the Inhumans on the TV show are stuck in 1965 and unless you’ve read the comics from 1965 it might be hard to connect with them. Kirby is famous for bright splashes of color and larger than life characters but you have to handle it with a deft touch. A good example of how to direct Kirby, indeed how to update it, is ironically Thor: Ragnarok. Everything that Taika Waititi did to create the look, feel, and dialogue of the film was basically what Kirby did. It was broad, sweeping, funny, and colorful. Everything Inhumans was not. In essence, Inhumans found a key building block, but neglected to grab the rest of the lego set. That’s why it feels so weird to me.

Black Bolt, however, keeps his secrets and everyone is honestly surprised he’s acting like his 1965 counterpart. Until Saladin Ahmed’s brilliant series (currently out now on Comixology and available at retailers) Black Bolt has never spoken for himself, and his glorified thought bubbles, also known as the royal family, have been the more developed characters – but the truth is that Marvel in an effort to look for TV properties is now looking to develop them into more than just the Kirby characters because the audience wants to see more They’ve been on that journey that the TV show kept them stuck in.

For what it’s worth, Mount does more than his best with the material and Black Bolt talks, there I said it. All the rumors and the twists were simply meant to be a fantastic surprise. Maximus decrees that if he doesn’t get to be king and get his powers then he’s taking everything down with him and damned be the consequences. Medusa evacuates Attilain, Karnak and Gorgon chill together, and Black Bolt stays behind and confronts the fact that Maximus framed him for their parents’ murder by locking him in the Royal Bunker and then bringing the building down on top of him before leaving for earth. The series ends with them in their new home, fundamentally out of the 1960s and into the modern era, ready or not.

Can It Be Saved?

There is a tendency to decry things that people don’t instantly get, that doesn’t meet with 2017’s standards of respectability. While there’s lots that can’t be saved and shouldn’t be saved, the truth of the matter is that art is art. If one person tells a story about a dog, say a giant teleporting dog, they’re going to tell the story different from another person, possibly different from the person who first said: “hey, what if a giant teleporting wonderful dog existed?” The instant impetus is that “no, these characters can’t be saved, there is no time to save them.” in our quick fix 2017 society where everything is faster, people who are used to checking twitter for instant updates will say “no they can’t” but the truth is that anything can be saved-and people shouldn’t be denied a shot at trying to tell the story.

For good or ill the Inhumans are on earth and there’s absolutely no reason that any enterprising writer in the Marvel Television universe couldn’t pick up Gorgon or any of the others, check if their actors are available, and then include them in another storyline down the line. The great part about that is that they don’t have to mention the series at all. This thing so absolutely utterly reviled by every single breathing MCU fan with a keyboard, occasionally myself included, isn’t nearly as bad as anybody thought and can easily be saved if people find the taint of its writers or it’s cast or it’s set design or special effects by a clever storyteller, and there are more clever storytellers out there then ever.

Fundamentally that’s what Marvel has been doing with the Inhumans. They don’t function well as a unit or in their own universe, their eugenics based society is a problem in a big way, but when you give them to other people to develop or you put them with other people then they start to develop into their own characters.

So can it be saved? Sure. The Inhumans are on earth. They could easily appear in other Marvel shows and given it’s direct connection to a major show like Agents of SHIELD could provide a lot of opportunities. The bigger the MCU gets the more it could be developed and that’s where they work best, in a place that doesn’t showcase their flaws-at least until they catch up with 2017’s writing. Maybe let Taika Waititi take a crack at it if he wants, or let him recommend someone who might want a shot at making a newer show. Or have them guest star in Kamala Khan’s show when she gets one (because she needs one). The fact of the matter is that all of the things wrong with Inhumans are the things that it’s taken 40 something years to fix.

The truth is that while so many people expected so many different things from Inhumans, Marvel is only human after all. Whatever happens to the characters they’re not iron suited warriors, kings and queens, people with supernatural incredible powerful abilities, they’re human beings. We gain very little by having them in the MCU available for any writer, but we have nothing to lose either.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Lockjaw wasn’t that bad but there wasn’t nearly enough of him.
  • Please, a better supporting cast of humans, or at least, more for Louise to do.
  • Maximus is coming back. If Gorgon is coming back, he’s def. coming back.
  • That twist with Black Bolt was probably the highlight of the entire show.
  • Season 2? If terragenesis wills it.

 

 

 

 

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