Secret Invasion continues to impress with episode 3, showing us the consequences of Nick Fury’s actions on his personal life.
Every week, I keep expecting Secret Invasion to disappoint me. I think it’s mostly to do with the other MCU shows we’ve gotten up to this point, which have often gotten off to a promising start, before quickly plummeting down into the realm of forgettable, boring and frustrating by their fourth episode. It happened to Moon Knight (2022), it happened to Ms. Marvel (2022), yet somehow, Secret Invasion seems to be successfully managing to evade that fate, with episode 3 being yet another well-paced, well-written chunk of television that whilst isn’t anything mindblowing, is simply just more of a good thing, and I can’t argue with that.
After the shocking reveal at the end of the last episode, which showed us that Nick Fury’s wife Priscilla (Charlayne Woodard) is a Skrull, it’s fair to say that “Betrayed” had some explaining to do. That initial scene between Fury and Priscilla is incredibly powerful and well-acted, answering some of our questions but also leaving us with just enough to wear we’re still on the edge of our seats, anxiously waiting for more. It’s easily the most effective mystery the show’s built up so far, as up to this point, the overarching question of who exactly is a Skrull has just felt underwhelming. Here though, we know who the Skrull is, so the mystery instead becomes why is Nick Fury’s wife a Skrull, and how exactly does that work? These questions are significantly more interesting, simply because they’re far more personal.
Nick Fury is not the man he once was, and this is consistently evident throughout the episode. His relationships with the people who are supposed to be the closest to him are strained, and his lack of trust in anything isn’t doing them any favours. We see that in his interactions with Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), and their dynamic might just be the most interesting in the entire MCU right now. The dialogue manages to constantly walk the line of not only being thematically fascinating but also being genuinely funny, their exchange about dogs in particular felt like some of the strongest writing to come out of a Marvel product in a long time.
More so than any other MCU show in recent memory, what Secret Invasion does so well is actually deliver high-quality, memorable scenes. They may not be filled to the brim with action, but moments like the brief, amusing exchange between Fury and Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman) stay with me far longer than a random, throwaway quip in the middle of a chase sequence. The dramatic conversation between Talos and Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) features easily my favourite image in the show so far, showing just how well the Skrulls and their shape-shifting abilities lend themselves to crafting striking and unsettling imagery. Throughout the show so far, the Skrulls themselves have felt like the weakest aspect, but here, they’re finally starting to come into their own, and I’m excited to see exactly what they have planned.
It looks like one of the big plot points going forward is going to be to do with the idea of “Super Skrulls”. This was originally a single character featured in primarily Fantastic Four comics, and it looks like Marvel are going to very loosely adapt the concept. Instead of having a supervillain who is a Skrull with the powers of all four Fantastic Four members, they’re going to give multiple Skrulls the abilities of various superhumans featured in the cinematic universe so far. It’s a natural narrative evolution for the villains, raising their threat level significantly, but it does worry me that the show will at some point devolve into a series of action scenes pitting Nick Fury up against superpowered aliens.
Now, done well that could absolutely make for great television, but it also feels like it goes against everything Secret Invasion has established itself as up to this point, and it would be a shame for the show, which has been so character-driven throughout, to discard those values at the final hurdle in favour of something more conventional. Perhaps I’m being overly pessimistic, but I’d hate to see a show that’s successfully doing something different, wind up just like its own antagonists, trying to be the same thing as everything else. Secret Invasion isn’t perfect television by any means, but in an age of frankly boring, uninteresting superhero shows, it’s a brilliant breath of fresh air. I just hope it stays like that.
Episode 3 of Secret Invasion is now available to watch on Disney Plus.