Nolan’s affection, in the Amazon series, appears to be sincere from the get-go — something he only realizes several years into the comic — and the more time we spend with him here, the more we’re made both witness and accomplice to his deceptions. His facial animation allows him to wrestle emotionally between his colonial obligations and the life he’s made for himself on Earth, without the need to express this dilemma in words. He’s made to feel distinctly human. But when his Viltrumite tendencies finally show, the series manages to create a dramatic beat more complicated, shocking, and darkly arresting than any of the gore in preceding entries.
The 25 Best Adult Cartoon TV Series
Nolan’s vacation to Rome is a trip down memory lane for him and Debbie, but it culminates in him demanding her trust and approval to satiate his troubled ego before he thwarts a dragon. He doesn’t like being the target of a murder investigation, not because he’s innocent, but because he wants Debbie to believe that he is. What’s more, once Debbie reaffirms her trust in him, he sits back and lets the attack proceed, leaving one of the men investigating him, Cecil (Walton Goggins) to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t linger on this moment for too long, or on Debbie’s reaction to it, but at the very least, it sets up a dynamic where this Superman archetype can easily detach himself from humanity. That’s an eerie prospect, and it’s the first time the show has really felt like it’s responding to the existing superhero zeitgeist (specifically, Henry Cavill’s Superman).
Nolan and Debbie’s date isn’t the only one that takes center stage. Mark goes out with Amber (Zazie Beetz) for the first time, and he soon finds himself bumbling through conversations and skirting dangerously close to revealing his dual identity. It’s something he clearly wants to do, though he’s forced by his teammate Eve (Gillian Jacobs) to consider the gravity of that decision. It’s choices like these that define Mark’s story in this episode, dilemmas that center the tug-of-war between his superhero and civilian lives. Chief among them is his decision to chaperone NASA’s manned Mars voyage after his father turns down Cecil’s request. Once Mark reaches the Red Planet, he even screws up his mission by looking at pictures of Amber on his phone instead of watching over the astronauts (which seems like it’ll have consequences in the long run, given what they bring back to Earth).
Some of the show’s B-plots begin to feel interconnected, even though their actual overlap is yet to be revealed. Debbie is allowed to marinate in her doubts about Nolan, which stem from the investigation by Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown), i.e. Rorschach by way of Hellboy. Darkblood, meanwhile, finds himself at loggerheads with Cecil, despite their common goal of figuring out if and why Nolan murdered the Guardians. Cecil is perhaps the show’s major weak link; he’s a shadowy government operative who has all the makings of a morally grey character (at one point, he even mentions wanting to keep things grey), but his voice actor Walton Goggins seems to have been directed towards a strangely monotone, superficial and guileless performance, which feels distinctly at odds with his character.A handful of other subplots feel awkwardly thrown into the episode, like Robot (Zachary Quinto) spying on the remaining Mauler twin (Kevin Michael Richardson), and stealing a blood sample from Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas). Robot hasn’t yet been established as an important enough or friendly enough presence for this trajectory to feel intriguing. However, the plot as a whole is progressing on a number of fronts, so it’s hard to fault the show too much for setting up a few building blocks that feel perfunctory for the moment. Besides, the brief Mauler scene is scored by “Don’t Get Captured” by Run The Jewels, an up-tempo banger, and a choice so on-the-nose for the big, blue prison escapee that you kind of have to respect the gall.
Where the first three episodes swapped the comic’s tongue-in-cheek irony for superficial gravitas, the fourth episode takes an entirely different approach: it’s sincere. The Graysons are a jovial bunch who you want to spend time with — on a minor technical note, their dialog actually overlaps this time, like a real conversation — which makes Nolan’s impending heel-turn feel all the more like a twisting knife. This narrative makes us, the audience, value the time we get to spend with them, probably as much as Nolan does, as the inevitability of his betrayal draws nearer. And while Cecil may have gotten rid of Darkblood for now, a brief post-credit scene hints at something the demonic detective may have left behind at the Graysons’ home. Omni-Man isn’t out of the woods just yet.
How Invincible Became a Modern Superhero Icon