“Home” is the kind of finale I probably should have expected from Secret Invasion. Like seemingly all of the Marvel Disney+ shows, it started with a lot of promise and devolved into a grating screed on left-wing politics that got bogged down in a mess of plots and subplots and diminished a great character. It’s not much different from Loki or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier or She-Hulk in that respect. What a shame, and what a disappointment “Home” is.
Nick Fury takes the fight – and the Harvest – to Gravik as the Skrull impersonating Rhodey urges the President to launch a missile strike on Russian soil and bring the world to war.
Right away, “Home” feels like it’s in a rush to wrap up this show. Fury arrives at Gravik’s base, gets past two inept guards (you know your spy series is half-baked when it’s seriously acting out an Austin Powers gag), and just strolls into the compound unimpeded. There’s no other security, no Skrulls lurking around, nothing to suggest this is the bad guy’s lair. This scene encapsulates how Secret Invasion has wasted Gravik and the Skrulls as villains. There were signs of the threat they posed early on, but they never became the formidable enemy they should have been. Gravik is still in his run-down little shack, and the rest are absent, afterthoughts in a finale that should be raising the stakes. This mission should push Nick Fury to his limits, but he never feels at much of a disadvantage (and not just because we know he’s going to be in The Marvels). This is all just moving from point A to point B so the story can end, with the creatives feeling as enthused as we are watching it.
But it does set up the confrontation between Fury and Gravik that has been building since Gravik killed Maria Hill. There are some good parts to this scene; Gravik reveals that the face he’s been using is that of the first man Fury had him kill when he became a spy. Gravik has been wearing that face to symbolize what he’s become, the monster he blames Fury for turning him into, and probably a man with whom he shares a kinship, at least in his own mind: two victims of Nick Fury’s callousness. And Fury admits that when he was snapped out of existence, he felt relief that he could finally stop being at the center of the never-ending struggle, only to be brought back into an even more damaged world. He also agrees to give Gravik the Harvest – the DNA sample of all the Avengers, along with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain Marvel, who’s mentioned in such glorifying tones that the others feel like afterthoughts – in exchange for his promise to conquer another planet and leave Earth alone. Trusting Gravik to do that seems really dumb, so surely he’s got something up his sleeve.
And he does! Well, sort of; this isn’t Nick Fury at all but G’iah in his form, and she’s got the powers of every Marvel character too. Does that mean she took some of it before handing it to Gravik? I guess, but then why bother with this whole ruse? I understand disguising herself as Fury to get in and make Gravik lower his defenses, but once you’re in the room with him, just Hulk-Smash him and be done with it. It also begs the question of how much of that goop one has to take to get the Avengers’ powers; did a spoonful do? Was there an extra vile somewhere that they didn’t show us because setup-payoff is for nerds? Finally, this diminishes the moment between Fury and Gravik because it was never Fury; these two didn’t face off, and nothing Fury said meant anything because he wasn’t actually saying it. But the show confuses this too; at one point, G’iah as Fury insults humanity’s ability to accept those different from them. Coming from G’iah, this makes sense, as she’s lost and angry and doesn’t particularly care for us. But at the end, Fury expresses similar sentiments, indicating that this is how he feels too. Why confuse things like this, and why rob the show of an important character conflict?
The real reason is to have a Super-Skrull vs. Super-Skrull fight to close out Secret Invasion. This is why it was a mistake to introduce Super-Skrull here. You can’t tease a villain like that without showing him using his powers in a big super-battle. However, on top of that not fitting the tone of a fairly grounded spy show (“fairly” because it involves aliens and comic book sci-fi tech), there are no superheroes around to fight Super-Skrull. They should have waited for a Fantastic Four movie, introduced him the way the comics did with him having the powers of the Four, and brought in more advanced versions later. (This also means that, as Gary from Nerdrotic has said, the Skrulls should have been the villains of at least an entire MCU phase, if not a saga.) But now, you’re painted into a corner, so the showdown is not between the main hero and villain but between the main villain and a supporting character who is the only one with the potential to fight him. And to be fair, the fight is pretty cool; I liked them using a variety of heroes’ powers – that initial punch with a Hulk arm is my favorite shot, in no small part because I love the Hulk – but predictably, Captain Marvel’s skillset is the most utilized, and the one with which G’iah finally kills Gravik. It’s been alternately amusing and annoying watching the Disney+ shows desperately try to convince us she’s our favorite character.
What has Nick Fury been doing all this time? He and Sonya Falsworth have been enacting a plan to stop the President from launching his attack and to get him away from the fake Rhodey. There are clever bits to this; they instigate Rhodey having the President moved to a different hospital ward by telling him Fury is coming for him, but since we think we’ve seen Fury at Gravik’s hideout, we believe this is a ruse. But it’s a shell game, and Fury actually is at the hospital; it’s somewhat marred by the fact that this is for our benefit more than Rhodey’s, but at least it’s something. Predictably, they convince the President to call off the strike after exposing Rhodey as a Skrull – which Fury does by blowing his head off. Again, this is a double-edged sword; it’s an awesome moment, and it feels like one of those “I’ve had enough of you” kills of a persistent baddie that I enjoy, but it comes at the expense of Fury having a final verbal confrontation with Rhodey, one where he showed his nemesis that he’d outmaneuvered him. It isn’t as bad as the lack of one with Gravik, and shooting him doesn’t feel out of place, but I wanted more for them, especially since Fury never meets Gravik again. So, the bad guys are dead, World War III is called off, and all is well.
But that’s a fake-out, too, because “Home” spends its final ten minutes or so making it clear that we were the bad guys all along – we being humans, and especially Americans. After almost being assassinated and manipulated into starting a war, not to mention discovering that we’ve been invaded, the President is understandably pissed, so he declares war on the Skrulls, promising to root them all out and kill them. This leads to vigilantes assassinating the Skrulls who have been impersonating world leaders, which is dumb; why wouldn’t the government be doing that? And why is this a bad thing? I understand that some weren’t Skrulls, and innocents got killed because random people were doing it instead of professionals, but the idea of killing these Skrulls shouldn’t be controversial. They infiltrated world governments and were part of a plot to wipe out humanity; excuse me for not caring if they’re Corleoned into oblivion. I also get thinking that wiping out all the Skrulls is extreme, but the idea that they should be allowed to live here after not only arriving without our knowledge or consent but taking over governments and acting like terrorists is insane – and it’s Nick Fury making this argument! Can you imagine this version of the character fighting the Cold War? We’d all be saluting the hammer and sickle. And the final scene for G’iah is Falsworth recruiting her to work for British Intelligence to stop the evil Americans. We’re supposed to lap this up and root for alien invaders to destroy our country? Have Hollywood creatives ever despised their audience the way they do today?
And that’s “Home” and Secret Invasion. There’s a denouement with Fury and his wife flying off to space, but only for a little while before she returns to Earth to be an activist for Skrull rights on the planet they invaded. What this means for the couple is unclear, but really, who even cares? What began as a fun, interesting spy series devolved into a hateful middle finger to America and the human race from a bunch of pampered activist-wannabes. It’s also an unsatisfying ending to a show that ultimately buckled under the weight of too many plots and characters, like its Disney+ brethren. Can’t wait for the next one.