Secret Invasion season 1 episode 2 review: Nick Fury’s humanity is laid bare, leading to escalating tensions.

Secret Invasion season 1 episode 2 review: The premiere of Secret Invasion left us unimpressed, and it seems like the general sentiment on the Internet is similar. Although there was nothing inherently terrible about the first episode of Marvel Studios’ latest Disney Plus show, it felt slow-paced and somewhat boring, despite some intriguing insights into Nick Fury’s role in a world recovering from the Blip, and the undeniable charm of the all-star cast.

In the second episode, titled ‘Promises,’ the groundwork laid in the previous chapter is utilized to delve deeper into Samuel L. Jackson’s complex portrayal of an older, yet still troubled Nick Fury. Simultaneously, the world grapples with the aftermath of a terrorist attack on Russian soil, revealing the true magnitude of the Skrull threat. Secret Invasion continues to struggle in delivering the promised spy thriller experience, but its underlying concepts may manage to hold our attention, provided the writers avoid missteps.

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Secret Invasion season 1 episode 2 review:

A younger Nick Fury. Secret Invasion (Image credit: Disney)

‘Promises’ proves to be a much more engaging episode compared to its predecessor, thanks to an intriguing start that includes a brief recap of Fury’s involvement in Captain Marvel. This leads us to a pivotal meeting that occurred in 1997, where Talos and his group of Skrull refugees returned to Earth after their search for a new home among the stars ended in failure. Fury presents a simple proposition: given the Skrull species’ unique abilities, they could be highly valuable assets as SHIELD agents. In return, Fury promises to continue assisting them in finding a suitable planet to colonize. Additionally, we are introduced to a young character named Gravik. (Secret Invasion)

The way the scene is filmed cleverly avoids excessive close-ups of Samuel L. Jackson’s face, utilizing de-aging techniques that are nearly as impressive as those seen in Captain Marvel. Considering the limited budget allocated across nearly six hours of television, it is understandable that shorter shots and other techniques are employed. However, the execution feels natural and far less distracting compared to the CGI recreation of Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.

Once again, Ben Mendelsohn delivers a captivating performance, effortlessly immersing himself in the role. His portrayal feels authentic and emotionally sincere, as if he has been a major, long-standing presence in the MCU alongside Jackson. However, Talos has remained a secondary character with limited screen time, making Mendelsohn’s energy and talent all the more impressive.

Talos traveling alongside Fury.
Talos traveling alongside Fury. Secret Invasion (Image credit: Disney)

In the present day, it appears that Maria Hill has met her demise, with no signs of potential resurrection this time, as Thanos famously said. Her death has deeply affected Fury, and their subsequent conversation with Talos carries significant weight. As expected, Fury is filled with anger and agitation unlike anything we’ve witnessed before, lashing out at Talos when he reveals that millions of Skrulls arrived on Earth during Fury’s absence.

The dilemma presented in this episode is far more compelling than anything seen in the previous installment, placing both characters in difficult positions despite being allies. Every Skrull not belonging to Emperor Drogge’s colony is seeking refuge on Earth. While their shape-shifting abilities alone make this highly problematic, Fury’s pessimistic view of Earth clouds his judgment. Despite humanity’s numerous flaws and the internal threats faced in the MCU, they have persevered. Furthermore, the presence of alien refugees is not unprecedented, considering the Asgardians. Admittedly, Skrulls may appear more daunting to both citizens and governments, but keeping everything in secrecy only exacerbates the issues instead of going public with the crisis as a whole.

Nick Fury’s refusal to confront the problem openly and his tendency to operate in the shadows have finally resulted in significant repercussions, putting the entire world in jeopardy. The situation of “refugees tired of waiting for a definitive solution” strikes a familiar chord, and thus far, the matter is being handled with sufficient care. Fury must rediscover his empathy and hope that the Skrull population on Earth hasn’t become irreversibly compromised.

The Skrull Council.
The Skrull Council. Secret Invasion (Image credit Disney)

On the side of the rogue Skrulls, Gravik and his group step up to claim responsibility for the attack on Russia during their meeting with the Council. This Council consists of influential Skrulls who have already infiltrated various governments and international organizations like NATO, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It’s a concerning development, as we are uncertain about the extent of their influence and how long they have held these positions of power. However, it becomes apparent that they have mostly operated discreetly, working in the Skrulls’ favor without resorting to aggressive tactics—until now. Gravik aims to change that.

Gravik strongly asserts his point that causing innocent deaths is necessary to resolve their problems. Surprisingly, the entire Council, except for one member who may conveniently encounter an “accident” in the near future, agrees to grant him emergency powers to secure a future for all Skrulls on Earth. This scenario feels ominously familiar, doesn’t it?

Maria Hill’s mother confronts Fury.
Maria Hill’s mother confronts Fury. Secret Invasion (Image credit: Disney)

Following his confrontation with Talos, Fury has a brief encounter with Maria Hill’s mother, who naturally holds him responsible for her daughter’s death in the name of some undisclosed crusade that may not even make sense. Despite already blaming himself, her remarks seem to have a positive impact on him. He realizes that her death, along with the deaths of thousands in Russia, should not be in vain, and this wake-up call might steer him in the right direction.

However, any plans Fury may have had following the attack quickly unravel when James Rhodes turns against him. Rhodes has met with concerned European representatives on behalf of the US government, and their intense argument raises doubts about whether this version of Rhodey is the one we know. The show’s introduction, featuring a green cloud engulfing the White House, further adds to the uncertainty. Nevertheless, there are valid reasons to be angry at Fury and his handling of the situation. Despite Rhodes’ numerous threats, Fury refrains from using force to restrain him.

Sonya Falsworth before torturing a Skrull.
Sonya Falsworth before torturing a Skrull. Secret Invasion (Image credit: Disney)

Olivia Colman delivers another standout performance as Sonya Falsworth, who shines in yet another appearance as she ruthlessly interrogates a captured Skrull, displaying a surprising level of violence. Despite her seemingly friendly demeanor, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and it appears that, for now, she is aligned with the humans. However, we anticipate twists and turns in her character arc, as she may turn out to be one of the most morally ambiguous characters we have encountered in the series thus far.

Meanwhile, Gravik and his strike team successfully retrieve their missing comrade, but not before Sonya is through with him. (Secret Invasion) The subsequent scene, although somewhat predictable, effectively demonstrates the extent to which the main antagonist is willing to go in order to save countless Skrulls. He considers eliminating anyone who could potentially expose their vulnerabilities as an acceptable price to pay.

Secret Invasion: Back at his group’s ruinous base of operations, Emilia Clarke’s G’iah finds something to do (her character isn’t too interesting so far) when she looks into Gravik’s top secret experiment, which has something to do with alien DNA – Groot and Cull Obsidian are among the unsuspecting donors. It seems like the Skrulls have been gathering bits and pieces of extraterrestrials with unique abilities to upgrade themselves in the future. Big comic book aficionados already know where this is going.

The last surprise – and perhaps a huge one for the MCU as a whole despite its intimate nature – comes with the last scene, when Fury enters a peaceful house and embraces her wife: a Skrull who was part of Talos’ original group of refugees. The fact alone that Fury has a wife is a huge shock, but her identity suddenly makes this whole conflict incredibly personal and meaningful for him. (Secret Invasion)How does she feel about him failing to solve her people’s plight for decades? Tune in next week to find out!

Is Secret Invasion delivering the promised spy thriller experience?

The reviewer mentions that Secret Invasion continues to struggle in delivering the promised spy thriller experience.

What makes the second episode more engaging than its predecessor?

The second episode, ‘Promises,’ is more engaging due to its intriguing start, which includes a brief recap of Fury’s involvement in Captain Marvel. This leads to a pivotal meeting in 1997 between Fury, Talos, and a group of Skrull refugees, introducing new elements and possibilities.

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