This article contains major spoilers for Invincible season 2 episode 4 and some light spoilers from the comics.
Back before Invincible season 2 premiered, Den of Geek caught up with comic series creator and TV show producer Robert Kirkman to discuss many aspects of the show, including the decision to split the eight-episode second season into two parts, separated by a lengthy holiday season hiatus. Kirkman’s response was telling.
“After the fourth episode of season 2, you’re definitely gonna need a break … a breather. You’re gonna need time to digest,” the writer said.
It’s fair to say that we’ll indeed need plenty of time to digest the wild events of season 2 episode 4 “It’s Been a While.” While the previous episode revealed where Mark’s dad Nolan Grayson a.k.a. Omni-Man (J.K. Simmons) had flown off to following their bloody fight. This episode explains how he came to be on the planet Thraxa, why he chose to stay there, and what it means for the Grayson family going forward.
And of course, the episode also features another larger-than-life, bone-crunching Viltrumite brawl. Instead of Mark v. Nolan this time though, it’s Mark and Nolan v. three capable soldiers from the Viltrum Empire. It’s a lot to take in and comic readers will be acutely aware that the Prime Video series has now leveled up the scope of its story in a major, major way.
So let’s talk about the events of “It’s Been a While” to get ready for the certainly intense four episodes to come.
Mark Grayson Has a Brother
Perhaps the biggest reveal in “It’s Been a While” arrives early on in the episode. Nolan didn’t summon Mark (Steven Yeun) to Thraxa just to make amends. He did so so that Mark could help him defend his new Thraxan subjects against the incoming Viltrum Empire and meet his new half brother.
That’s right: Nolan got it on with an insectoid Thraxan woman named Andressa, leading to a little purple humanoid bundle of joy. If you’re wondering “wait…what? How?” don’t worry: Mark wonders the same thing and Nolan has a fairly compelling explanation. Viltrumite DNA is so powerful that any other species a viltrumite mates with will end up 99% viltrumite in terms of appearance and abilities. That’s why Mark basically looks like his dad sans mustache and why this unnamed baby looks like Nolan but purple (since Thraxan DNA isn’t quite as compatible to Viltrumite DNA as a human’s). I suppose Amber (Zazie Beetz) wasn’t too far off last week when she wondered whether Mark had “super sperm” before their first sexual encounter.
Naturally, Mark’s Thraxan/Viltrumite half-brother will prove to be an important character for Invincible going forward. We won’t spoil exactly how or why but if you want to know more (and don’t fear spoilers) check out his Image Comics Fandom Wiki entry here.
The Viltrumites Are Almost Ready to Invade Earth
Nolan understandably thinks he has some time to train Mark up before the Viltrumite delegation arrives to kill him and lay waste to all of Thraxa. Unfortunately, Nolan was unaware that three Viltrumite soldiers were already en route, having just beat up Allen the Alien in the previous episode. When the soldiers arrive roughly 16 minutes in to “It’s Been a While,” they offer up our closest look at the brutality of the Viltrumite Empire yet.
While we’ve seen glimpses of these Viltrumites before, this installment properly introduces us to Lucan, Thula, and a third bespectacled guy whose name sounds like it might be “Vynor.” (sorry, I couldn’t find any comic precedent for him). The trio make quick work of the Thraxans with one noting that they’re a particularly easy species to kill and even successfully take down Mark and Nolan. Poor Mark doesn’t know how to fight like a Viltrumite yet and it shows.
He’ll have to learn soon though as when a Viltrumite general named “Kregg” arrives to haul Nolan off to be executed he informs Mark that he’ll be given Nolan’s old post on Earth. He is to soften up his fellow Earthlings and get them ready to be conquered by an invading Viltrumite crew. This proves to be a real escalation in the threat presented by the Viltrumites. It was only last season that we even discovered planet Viltrum’s whole deal and now a mere four episodes later they’re almost ready for a full War of the Worlds scenario.
This all might seem sudden for a series that reportedly has five or six more seasons planned but things truly do move quickly in the world of Invincible.
There’s Something Up with Donald Ferguson
One of Invincible season 2’s biggest mysteries thus far has been the inexplicable survival of Global Defense Agency drone and Cecil Stedman’s right hand man, Donald Ferguson (Chris Diamantopoulos). If you recall, back in season 1 Donald died about as thoroughly as a human being can possibly die: Omni-Man tore out his spine and then he blew up.
And yet, here Donald is in season 2, no worse for the wear. Donald first got the sense that something was up when Debbie Grayson (Sandra Oh) reacted to him with shock and horror. He then find his own mangled glasses in the blast zone of the Omni-Man wreckage. In this episode his suspicions are finally confirmed when he accesses Cecil’s account at the GDA and discovers video footage of his own death.
Further investigating the matter, Donald takes a knife to his arm and is relieved to discover that he bleeds like any old human but equally alarmed to realize that the knife crumbled on contact with his arm. So what’s the deal? Is Donald a cyborg? A clone? Some unholy combination of the two? The comics have the answer to that if you’d like to check it out over here.
What’s in Nolan Grayson’s Books?
“Read my books, Mark.” That’s the last thing Nolan tells his son before he is carted off to Viltrum for his execution. Lest we forget, Nolan’s secret identity on Earth was that of a successful sci-fi novelist. Is it possible then that the key to rescuing Nolan or maybe even defeating the Viltrumites lies within Nolan’s books?
Honestly, probably yeah. As we see at episode’s end, one of Nolan’s books is tantalizingly titled The Man with the Invincible Gun. That seems like it could prove useful. It’s a shame that a grieving Debbie Grayson has left it, and Nolan’s other books, out of the curb to be claimed by anyone passing by. If you want to learn more about what “The Man with the Invincible Gun” might be referring to, click over here.
The second half of Invincible season 2 is set to premiere in 2024 on Prime Video.