Skrulls here. Skrulls there. Skrulls everywhere? But how would we know?!
Judging by this episode, I don’t think we would.
So a little backstory. Secret Invasion is the new Disney+ MCU series adaptation of the classic Marvel comic books of the same name. The Skrulls, a shapeshifting alien species originating from Skrullos, secretly infiltrate high-ranking officials and friends of the MCU’s super squad in an attempt to claim Earth as their new home planet.
And eradicate its current inhabitants.
It doesn’t sound good for us lowly humans, does it? Luckily, Nick Fury returns to separate friend from foe and, hopefully, save the world!
Everybody got it? Ok. Cool. *clap clap* places please!
We open with the familiar face of Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), who was last seen in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever but is now in Moscow, Russia. After a brief phone call, he makes his way through darkened alleys, keeping close to shadows. You know, typical spy shit. Eventually, he enters a safe house.
The occupant of the safe house has clearly been going to the Charlie Day school for creating conspiracy boards because that is one chaotic mess. The man, Prescod (Richard Dormer), lays out his investigation for Ross, insinuating that the seemingly typical terrorist activities of late are actually part of a larger plot.
By the Skrulls.
Ross visibly scoffs, asking for proof. Last he knew, the Skrulls were allies, helping Captain Marvel and Nick Fury save the world thirty years ago! How could they be behind this? Prescod reveals his proof, and Ross is shocked. Something isn’t right, though, and the tin foil hat grows suspicious and attacks Agent Ross. Prescod is killed in the kerfuffle.
Everett, armed with proof that the Skrulls are up to nefarious dealings, leaves the safe house. And, almost immediately, picks up a tail. Ross calls Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) for backup. Chase, chase, chase, yadda yadda yadda. Oh no! Ross has fallen from a great height! It doesn’t look good!
But what’s this? The chaser is actually Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), the friendly Skrull who has been popping up throughout the MCU. He can’t be evil!
They look at the dying body of Ross, and he transforms before their eyes into a Skrull. Oh boy, nothing is going to be as it seems here. Fantastic opening.
Emerging from a beam of light, in steps the man himself, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). He looks like a fisherman returning from months at sea. And he’s got those sea legs, too, clearly struggling with one or both of his knees. Hill picks him up and takes him to their Moscow safe house, where Talos awaits.
Talos and Fury catch up, and Fury consoles Talos, hearing that his wife has died. Talos gives much-needed context to the Skrull community. The Skrull Council he once led had since exiled him. He was seen as Fury’s puppet when, after the “blip” (I hate that term for Thanos’ genocide), Fury left Earth to live in space, abandoning the Skrull community. The new council is now led by a fanatic named Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir). Talos all but blames Fury outright for the current situation before the former head of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes for a walk.
A brief scene in Washington, D.C., shows Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and his superior discussing Fury’s return. As they’ve been unable to contact them, both Hill and Fury are now classified as AWOL. This was a bit out of place for the episode, but it’s good to know for future episodes.
It doesn’t take long for people to look at Fury like the kids from Children of the Corn, including a creepy out-of-place girl playing with a ball in the dead of night. Very strange. Does Fury not notice all this weirdness? Has he lost his touch? It seems like it because he’s ambushed and bundled into a van.
His kidnappers take him to the office of Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman), an English spy working in the city. They do the spy double-speak dance, trying to glean as much information as possible from each other while Fury bugs her office, and then he is released.
Outside of Moscow, a young man approaches a fence guarded by military personnel. He says he wants “home in his own skin” and reveals himself to be a Skrull. He is escorted by a woman (Emilia Clarke) inside New Skrullos, a community of 500 or so Skrulls living and flourishing together. She explains that there are two types of Skrull classifications within New Skrullos: Warriors and everyone else. Warriors are those who are allowed to leave the confines of the community, like her.
We see another Skrull take on a human’s form and steal his personality and memories before he is put into storage. There are quite a few humans in storage, but we don’t see any of their faces clearly.
The woman is given a mission to make an exchange with a man in the city. Who’s betting it’s the same man that Fury, Talos and Hill have just learned about? Of course, it is! They’re on a bomb-builder hunt.
The woman makes the exchange and exits before Talos and Fury enter. Maria spots her on the street, recognizing her as a person of interest, and starts to tail her. Talos and Fury discover that the man no longer has possession of the bombs. Oh, and he’s also a Skrull. After a brief fight with Talos, Fury shoots him dead. Talos is upset, wanting Fury to stay out of it. Ungrateful, much?
Hill has followed the woman into a dark passageway. Looks like a trap, and it is. The woman gets the better of her before trying to escape up a ladder. Talos arrives in time to stop her. OMG, it’s his daughter, G’iah! Talos admonishes her and painfully reveals that her mother is dead. And she was killed by the very people she was working for. DUM DUM DUMMMMMM!
Nevertheless, G’iah returns to New Skrullos and delivers the bombs. But, she lies about being able to identify her pursuers, not wanting to reveal her father to the group. There’s hope yet!
Fury meets Maria Hill at a pub, buying a round of vodka for some leery patrons at the bar in the process. Hill tells Fury that he’s lost a step and shouldn’t have come back, admitting that she advised Talos not to call him. He doesn’t look up to the task and could be a liability. Honesty chess is their game of choice.
Meanwhile, G’iah clandestinely meets with Talos. After a little persuasion, she tells her father that the plot is in motion. The bombs will be detonated the very next day. She will help by marking the bags with infrared so they can be identified from afar. G’iah also reveals that her group has at least 100 operatives in the field but doesn’t know their identities. That’s disconcerting.
The next day, Fury, Talos and Hill take up classic spy “hey, look, I’m being so casual” positions to surveil Red Square. G’iah arrives carrying two packs marked with infrared. Things go downhill from there. Although Talos and Fury are wearing glasses that detect infrared (Hill wasn’t for some reason?!), they almost immediately lose the packs in the crowd. After spotting one each, Talos and Fury split up and follow their targets.
Losing his target YET AGAIN, Fury spots the girl with the ball from earlier in the episode. Then, they turn into a woman he’d seen on the street. Then into the leery Russian bar patron. Finally, into Gravik. Oh no!
BOOM! The bombs explode, and so begins the chaos.
In the fracas, Hill catches up with Fury. No, wait. NO. NO! NOOOOOOOO! It’s not Fury, and he shoots Maria Hill in the chest with a smirk. It doesn’t look good for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s former second-in-command. Fury sits with Hill while she bleeds out. With her last words, she is dumbstruck and feels betrayed that her friend and mentor has shot her, not knowing that it was Gravik all along. That’s an emotional bullet to the heart right there.
I’m not crying; you’re crying. Shut up!
The new Disney+ series Secret Invasion is the MCU’s attempt at breaking into the spycraft genre a la John Le Carre novels. You may be thinking: “Hey, didn’t we just get a political intrigue drama from Disney in the form of Andor?”. Why, yes. Yes, we did. And the MCU’s debut, while not as gritty, brings some of the best elements from that show, creating a series that is decidedly more grown-up but with the familiar MCU style. Andor-lite, you could say.
I really enjoyed the opening for this season. It hit in all of the ways that I wanted it to. Intrigue, entertainment, cinematography, and badass spy shit.
So, the elephant in the room: the opening credits. It’s near-as-dammit been confirmed that the art used in the opening credits was created using AI. In an interview with Polygon, an executive producer and director all but validated these claims. I’m furious that Marvel and Disney have resorted to this sort of crap. F*ck AI art. Do better and support real artists!
There were a few negatives in the story, too. The random scene in the Whitehouse took us out of the narrative and could easily have been in episode two. It felt like a cheap “we need a new cameo. Just shove Rhodey in there, somewhere.”
There were also a few moments that were a little bit quick, like the sudden change in G’iah’s character. The unearned hero’s turn was confusing and unrealistic.
But was it G’iah? Did she actually turn back to her father after such a long time, or was it an imposter? And, as I mentioned, Skrull Ross called Hill for extraction before the opening credits, and she was the only one of our trio who wasn’t wearing glasses to identify infrared. Not only is this a classic story, but it’s also like everyone has an unlimited supply of Ethan Hunt’s face mask creator from Mission Impossible. Everyone could be a Skrull, and that Skrull may or may not have nefarious intentions.
This is playing Among Us on ultra-hard mode. AND I LOVE IT!