Inhumans Episode 4 Review: Make Way for … Medusa

Things improve a touch as the Royal Family stops walking and starts kicking some ass.

This Inhumans review contains spoilers.

Inhumans Episode 4

Okay, that was a little better.

So far, Marvel’s Inhumans has been a pretty tedious enterprise in trying to fit a $200 million dollar film into a Once Upon a Time budget. This week, things still look damn cheap with nary any of our heroes using their powers, but through some fun character interactions and some decent action, Inhumans almost scores a win this week. Almost.

I guess we’ll get the nonsense out of the way first. When I first heard that the Inhumans were coming to live action, the character that I was most looking forward to seeing realized was Karnak. I’ve always been a big Karnak fan, with his unique powers, his ice cold demeanor, and his wonderfully big head, there was just something about the character that appealed to me. This appeal was heightened when writer Warren Ellis penned the Karnak solo series a year or two back. So I was totally pumped to see Karnak on TV, but little did I know I would be forced to see Karnak frolicking on a beach and using his Inhuman gifts to help grow marijuana. I mean, really? This week, Karnak grows closer to his drug dealing gal pal while her partner grows jealous over this relationship. So why does this female drug dealer have an attraction to Karnak, and why does Karnak love her back? Reasons, I guess. There is no earthly purpose for these two to be romantically bonding, especially when Karnak’s family is in severe danger. I know he’s concussed, a physical state that limits his Inhuman abilities to discern the weakness in anything, but Karnak isn’t really the fall in love with a drug dealer type. And having a jealous rival just muddies up a series that is already way too busy.

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Anyway, with that out of the way, I must confess I really like the character of Louise. Last week, I made fun of Louise for being the atypical plucky brainy girl archetype. But this week, Louise really shines as a character. She eases the melodramatic tensions of the show with an easy humor and her budding friendship with Medusa, unlike the drug dealer subplot nonsense, feels natural. This week, Louise helps Medusa track down and find Black Bolt which leads to a last second save.

As for Black Bolt. Bolt is still paling around with his new Hawaiian Inhuman pal as the two meet the mysterious Doctor Evan Declan. Declan is revealed to be partnered with Maximus, but is not aware of the villain’s evil intentions. Declan wants to use Black Bolt’s enhanced DNA to find cures for all sorts of earthly diseases which sparks the idea in Maximus that the new Inhuman despot could use his brother’s DNA to try terrigenesis again. See, this is some intriguing plot work. It’s funny how story unfolds when the character are allowed to stop wondering aimlessly. Declan seems like an interesting character, sort of like this show’s version of Agent of SHIELD’s Doctor Radcliffe. And of course Henry Ian Cusick gives Declan all sorts of gravitas.

So Black Bolt escapes Declan when the king realizes he is going to be used for scientific experimentation and runs smack into Auron and Mordis (and think you for the commentator who corrected my spelling of Mordis last week). The best action sequence of the series ensues that sees Mordis using his face blasts to take out a propane tank and a last minute rescue by Medusa and Louise. So king and queen are reunited in a scene that actually had some nice emotional resonance.

As for the rest of our cast, Gorgon is still with his new Hawaiian pals ready to take the fight to Auron and Crystal meets a generic white dude named Dave who calls on his ex-girlfriend who just so happens to be a veterinary student to patch up the injured Lockjaw. And for some reason, we’re treated to a two minute sequence dealing with Dave and his ex’s failed relationship because I guess Dave’s love life is vital for the struggle over Attilan? You know what, screw Dave. He sucks. Maybe Dave and Crystal will have a romantic subplot, but even if they do, we probably didn’t need an exposition sequence on why the vet and Dave’s relationship went belly up.

Maximus has his own trials and tribulations on the moon as he must convince the terrigen council to allow him to undergo terrigenesis again. Honestly, at first I was annoyed the creators behind Inhumans stripped Maximus of his mind altering Inhuman powers, but the irony of the greatest villain on Attilan being a human has grown on me. Especially if he undergoes terrigenesis again and gets his classic powers then. At the end of it all, Maximus just decides to kill the council. That’s a pretty cool bad guy moment, right there.

So this is definitely Marvel’s Inhumans finest hour which isn’t saying much, but the series still has a long way to go. The humor of Louise and the characterization of Gorgon and Crystal this week was a step in the right direction, but the Karnak beach part dragged things down. I also dig the flashbacks that showed us Crystal and Medusa’s past. I wish the series would give us more of the sibling relationship between queen and princess.

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But before we get too excited, let me just point out that, other than Crystal for like a second, not a single member of the Royal Family uses his or her power this week. Not a single damn one. So while I heap on the praise for some nice character moments, I have to take a Lockjaw size dump on the show’s continued super powered stinginess.

Marvel Moments

– Karnak’s hoodie is almost exactly like the one the character wore in the aforementioned Warren Ellis series. At least one thing about TV’s Karnak resembles the comics. Beach party Inhuman my ass.

– The title of this week’s episode “Make Way for…Medusa” was the title of Amazing Spider-Man #62 (1968). The issue was written by Stan Lee and John Romita and saw Medusa visiting Earth and running afoul of Spider-Man. It’s pretty cool that this week’s Inhumans plays homage to this classic Lee and Romita joint. 

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2.5 out of 5