This Inhumans review contains spoilers.
Inhumans Episode 8
Marvel’s Inhumans is over and it’s a complex series to try and sum up. I think we all have to admit that while the show ended up being more enjoyable than the dreadful opening two hours would have indicated, Inhumans is still Marvel’s first swing and a miss. Even Iron Fist was additive to the Marvel Universe; Inhumans just kind of exists in its own low budget bubble. The ending was entertaining enough and was even moving in a few places, but the fact remains that after being set up for years on Agents of SHIELD, Inhumans came and went with a whimper.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t want a second season of Inhumans. I enjoyed just about the entire cast and I grew to even care about some of the characters. I would love to see Marvel lean into a proper Inhumans series and not a half assed one. I mean, who thought it would be a good idea to spend eight episodes with a bald Medusa and Black Bolt running around in a designer shirt rather than his awesome Jack Kirby costume? Who thought that Marvel fans would like to see half a season of Karnak devoid of his powers? I know CGI is expensive, but if Marvel isn’t willing to give us a proper Inhumans series with all its trappings, then why do it?
Those would be questions for a potential second season, but for now, let’s focus on this week’s finale. Through all my bitching, I have to admit, for the most part, Inhumans ended effectively — at least for most of the characters. Other than Black Bolt, Medusa, Maximus, and maybe Karnak, the other Inhumans were just along for the ride in the final confrontation with Maximus. Again, Inhumans loves to save money and really, don’t you think the series deserved a super powered slugfest between the forces of Maximus and the Royal Family?
Other than a brief but pretty awesome Triton action sequence, there was no climactic battle to be had. What we got was Medusa trying to convince Maximus to give up in exchange for a terrigen crystal and Black Bolt confronting his traitorous brother in an underground bunker. Yes, the climax of Inhumans, one of the greatest sci-fi concepts in Marvel Comics, ended not in an epic confrontation between the forces of good and evil, but in a little bunker. The House of Saving Money on Set Design, I guess.
That’s not to say this final confrontation didn’t work on some level. Black Bolt locks Maximus in the bunker while the Inhumans escape from Attilan through Eldrac the Inhuman doorway. Maximus finds himself king of nothing while Black Bolt utters the words, “Farewell, brother.” I freakin’ loved this scene. Black Bolt doesn’t scream in anger, he just heartbreakingly says farewell to his sibling and destroys the building above Maximus’ ironic throne room. One could totally feel the heartbreak both brothers were experiencing as Attilan falls. All this is an effective and deviously ironic way to end a conflict, and it makes the eight episodes we waited to hear Black Bolt speak well worth it.
So Black Bolt has a great moment, but the other Inhumans get short thrift. Auron finally sees what a dick Maximus is and kind of just disappears. Karnak spends the episode lamenting Gorgon’s new state of near mindlessness, Triton gets to spring into action but then fades in the background, and Medusa? Ah Medusa, there’s lots to talk about with Medusa. There is a moving moment this week as Medusa takes the ashes of Louise’s father to the moon as the relationship between the human Louise and the Inhuman queen is surprisingly solid and heartfelt. But the fact that Medusa never gets her moment to fight back against Maximus after the villain violated her by shaving her head is utterly ridiculous.
In the classic Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee Inhumans series of the very early 2000s, Medusa indeed has her head shaved. Maximus keeps the tresses as trophies to mock Medusa until the queen reveals she can control her hair even when it is removed from her body. Medusa uses her shaved locks to strangle Maximus and completely humiliates her traitorous brother-in-law. I was totally waiting for Medusa to regrow her hair or to find her discarded hair somewhere and use it to take revenge or at least help her family. I mean, why even have Medusa and not use her awesome power for seven episodes?
It seems like depowering a female character is never the right thing to do, especially when the powers never really get explored in the first place. Bald Medusa was clearly a way to save money and that’s never acceptable. If you want to save some cash, don’t do an epic Kirby space fantasy. Even though Medusa has some nice moments, I really feel cheated that all I got was the bargain bin Medusa. If there is a season 2, there best be some hair and I don’t care what it costs.
So things end with the Inhumans on Earth as Louise sets it up with her company to find a refuge for Black Bolt and Medusa’s people. Gorgon is still half mindless and I’m sure there’s a whole new set of adventures waiting for the Royals on Earth. But after a season that spun its wheels and aimlessly wandered around Hawaii for five episodes, we may not get a second series. While entertaining at times, Inhumans was problematic and stingy. It introduced characters and plot lines that went nowhere (what was the point of Doctor Declan again?) and went out of its way to make the Inhumans cheaply and disappointingly human.
I do want to see a second season, but I’m afraid that even with a somewhat satisfying finale, the Inhumans have become the first tainted brand of the Marvel Studios era.
The title of this episode “And Finally: Black Bolt” was named after a Jack Kirby and Stan Lee back up tale in Thor #148 (1968). This Kirby/Lee joint explores the origin of Black Bolt, and I have to say, if one great thing came from ABC’s Inhumans it was that it gave me an excuse to read the Inhumans backups in the pages of Thor. They are truly magical and often overlooked in the Kirby canon.
Get ready you guys, Thor: Ragnarok spoilage in
Here we go
Funny how Inhumans and Ragnarok kind of end the same with the destruction of an iconic Marvel setting and an alien race finding itself as refugees. Even with the disconnect between Marvel films and Marvel TV, the same beats usually aren’t hit in two places within the MCU.