REVIEW: Secret Invasion – Season 1, Episode 4, “Beloved”

“Beloved” is, for the most part, a return to form for Secret Invasion, an episode more in line with the first two, which were good spy thrillers, than last week’s “Betrayed,” which mixed some decent elements with another blatant Disney character assassination. There are some inconsistencies and some massive leaps in logic that appear to be coming faster now that the series is heading to its conclusion, but the spycraft is still cool, and the performances are strong.

Priscilla and another Skrull discuss what to do about Nick Fury. Talos comes up with a plan to counter Gravik’s as Gravik makes a bold move to start his war. Expensive bourbon is sipped and gulped, lest you forget this is a spy story. (That’s not a knock; I love this stuff.)

“Beloved” begins with another flashback; this time, we’re taken to 2012, not long after the Battle of New York, where a triumphant Nick Fury has dinner with Priscilla and discusses the Avengers. It’s a good scene, although I wonder whether her compliment to him is backhanded; she describes why Fury put the Avengers together, his determination to save people, and there’s a hint of suggestion that he isn’t doing that for the Skrulls. It’s subtle enough that it doesn’t matter too much, but if that’s what she’s doing, I’m getting a little tired of the Skrulls blaming him for not finding them a home when they traveled the entire galaxy and couldn’t find one. I’m also growing weary of these flashbacks, but I understand why they’re necessary; we have no frame of reference for Fury and Priscilla’s relationship, and the impact of her being an enemy spy is dulled because of it. In this scene, we can see a sweet moment between a loving couple in the wake of perhaps Fury’s biggest achievement.


Secret Invasion Beloved

The jump to the present is a jolt back to reality as Priscilla meets with Rhodey, who is not Rhodey but a Skrull imposter. This was an easy one to guess because the show is running out of characters to reveal as Skrulls. He orders Priscilla to kill Fury, and when she tries to convince him otherwise, he tells her that someone will leave her house dead, and it’s up to her to decide who it will be. This is good stuff, and I like that they’re showing how ruthless the Skrulls are – they’ll kill one of their own deep cover agents, someone who sacrificed decades of her life for the cause, the second she stops being useful. The best part, though, is that Fury had planted a listening device on Priscilla and hears their every word; he’s onto her and Rhodey. This is what the show needed after trashing Fury last week: a demonstration of his skills. He’s constantly being told he’s slipping – Priscilla even says as much to Skrull Rhodey – but he’s actually one step ahead of everyone.

The following scene at the Fury household is mostly excellent; it’s a tense standoff between two people who love each other but have had the spy world come between them. Fury knows Priscilla is there to kill her, and he tips his hand on purpose because it’s her. The beauty in their discussion, the ease with which they talk to each other even as they’re preparing to kill each other, the reference to the poem they spoke to each other over a decade ago, and the admiration each has for the other all ring true. These are adults facing a love that’s about to die – and they’re the ones pulling the trigger – and Samuel L. Jackson and Charlayne Woodward play it perfectly. Their ultimate decision is great, too; neither one could kill the other, no matter what it means to their own lifespan. This storyline needed more time, but what they did with what little they were given is impressive. I hope they both make it, and the Skrulls better hope they don’t hurt Priscilla because Nick Fury is pissed enough as it is.

Secret Invasion Beloved

He’s also on to Rhodey now, which pays off in another good scene between two excellent actors. I do wish they’d cut the racial stuff already, but other than that, I like seeing them have some bourbon together as they try to outmaneuver each other. This is a classic spy showdown; each knows – or, in Rhodey’s case, intuits – that the other knows more than he’s letting on, and they slowly make their way through a bottle of hooch while playing a figurative chess game with each other. The joke about the poison is not only fun but serves a purpose; we know that Fury knows Rhodey is a Skrull, but it’s doubtful he’s about to kill him, so the joke defuses that. But there is a reason behind the Pappy Van Winkle, and it’s to get a liquid tracer into Rhodey. Again, Fury is being written off as a has-been loser barely worth the cost of the bullet to kill him, but here he is, outsmarting everyone.

Also outsmarting those who would take her life is G’iah, who is alive because you don’t waste Emilia Clarke like that. It turns out G’iah took some of the secret serum or whatever Gravik has invented and turned herself into a Super Skrull, so the bullet did to her what Talos’ stabbing did to Gravik last week. That’s a cool way to keep her around, but it also raises some questions that have no answers. The big one is, why didn’t anyone make sure she was dead? Gravik shot G’iah right outside the Skrull compound, and she fell onto the road leading to the main gate. Nobody dumped the body? Were they just going to leave her on the road forever? And in his first scene, Gravik is boarding a plane; wouldn’t he have had to drive past the place where he left her? He seems to be certain she’s dead; maybe he thought a bear ate the corpse or something. Also, I get why she was able to access the missile information last week; Gravik wanted her to do that so he could test her loyalty. But why was she, once again, able to go into the Super Skrull lab and give herself a dose of the serum? Is nobody at all securing that lab?

Secret Invasion Beloved

Regardless, G’iah is alive, but she’s not completely on the side of the angels. She talks to Talos and tells him what she’s learned, and she’s clearly not on board with Gravik’s plan to annihilate the human race. But she knows there has to be an alternative to Gravik, and she wants to know what Talos proposes. He plans to stop Gravik and implore a grateful world to grant the Skrulls amnesty. Aside from this being an annoying allegory to illegal immigration (which is the other shoe everyone watching was waiting to drop), it’s kind of presumptuous to think you deserve amnesty for stopping a disaster that you caused in the first place. G’iah also says it’s naïve of him and walks off, dissatisfied with her father’s lofty notions of fairness. She’s also not thrilled with the idea of having to take human form forever, wanting instead to live as a Skrull. And that makes sense; she wants her own home, and frankly, that’s more honorable than deciding you deserve to live in someone else’s. G’iah remains a mystery, and I’m glad this isn’t just a simple “She’s good now” heel turn.

The finale of “Beloved” is an action scene, which I gather a lot of people were waiting for after a few weeks of deliberately paced espionage. And it’s pretty cool; Gravik’s plan is to attack the President’s convoy with Skrulls disguised as Russian soldiers to initiate the war. I like this because it takes the Skrulls’ unique abilities into account; this isn’t something any other villain could have done. And the shootout is good, replete with Gravik using Super Skrull powers against the Secret Service and British troops. It works until the end, when it gets really, really dumb. Talos rescues the President, and Fury puts the President in the car while a British soldier picks up Talos. But the British soldier is Gravik, who kills Talos and escapes, impervious to Fury’s shots because he’s Super Skrull. If the whole point of this was to kill the President, why didn’t Gravik do so? He has Super Skrull powers and a machine gun; just open fire! Or use your powers to crush Fury’s car and kill both Fury and President Dermot Mulroney. Even after he kills Talos, he’s still got his powers, and Fury can’t hurt him. But he just runs away, leaving Fury to cradle his dying friend in his arms. I get that he wants to hurt Fury, but he could have still killed the President and won. His mission failed for no reason, and unless they explain this next week, it’s really stupid.

Secret Invasion Beloved

“Beloved” is a huge step up from “Betrayed,” but Secret Invasion is showing signs of wear ahead of its last two episodes. They’re taking on too much for a six-episode miniseries, so certain subplots aren’t as weighty as they should be, and the plot conveniences and contrivances are mounting in an effort to keep the story going as long as it has to. I still enjoy the spy trappings and the performances, but it’s slipping.

Secret Invasion "Beloved"

Plot - 7
Acting - 8
Progression - 8
Production Design - 7
Themes - 8



“Beloved” is better than last week’s episode, but leaps in logic and rushed storylines belay the fun spy antics and good performances.

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