Episode 4 of Secret Invasion features two sensational, enthralling scenes, highlighting just how good its cast really is.
It may have taken me until episode 4 of Secret Invasion, but I think I might have finally figured out what exactly I find so interesting about this show. It’s not that it’s a political, spy thriller revolving around an army of shapeshifting aliens, and it’s not that it’s a lot more mature than the other MCU products coming out recently, but instead, it’s that it lets its actors… act. There are two scenes in this episode that I found to be genuinely enthralling, and both of them were essentially just two actors sitting at a table talking. There are no big reveals, no thrilling setpieces, and nothing particularly visually interesting going on. It’s just two talented performers excelling at their craft, delivering brilliant, engaging performances. That’s what makes Secret Invasion work, which is why it’s always a shame when the show throws that away in favour of a much less interesting storyline.
The first of the two scenes I’m talking about stars Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his wife, Priscilla (Charlayne Woodard). It’s funny, despite one of these characters quite literally not being human, what makes this scene work so well is how human both of them feel, and how real the love that connects them comes across to the audience. They’re not a happy couple by any means, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they now are filled with hatred towards each other. Instead, it’s that love they still feel that is causing them so much heartache and makes this scene particularly moving. Every word feels like it’s been pulled from deep inside of them, every line feels simultaneously raw and meticulously planned out, and it’s all delivered superbly by two phenomenal actors. It might just be the best-acted scene the MCU has ever seen.
As for the second, it sees Nick Fury break into James Rhodes’ (Don Cheadle) hotel suite, as he attempts to reclaim the job he was fired from a couple of episodes ago. If there’s one thing episode 4 is spectacular at, it’s showing Jackson’s range as a performer. In the previous scene, the heartbreak Fury was feeling was there for all to see, whilst here, we can see how that’s transformed into rage, and how he tries to mask that rage behind sheer charisma. Every line’s accompanied by a laugh, by a quick throwaway quip to try and disarm Rhodes, to try and make him feel more comfortable. This scene also gives us a look at a far more cold and calculated side of Rhodey. Cheadle does a fantastic job at taking this character we’ve known for over a decade and making him actually feel like a threat.
Unfortunately, though, outside of these scenes, “Beloved” struggles to maintain my interest. As I suspected last time, the direction of the overarching plot involving “Super Skrulls” means that we’re naturally going to get a lot more action, and I’m yet to be convinced that this show can deliver us a genuinely interesting and creative set piece. It feels like it should be easy, given the Skrulls’ unique abilities, but what we get here is just a conventional shootout that ends up being easily the worst part of an otherwise compelling episode. The Skrull plot as a whole still feels like Secret Invasion’s weakest aspect, especially when compared to everything going on with Fury, and if the show is planning on leaning into it more and more, I desperately hope it can find a reason for me to care about it.
All in all, with episode 4, Secret Invasion proved to me that what makes it an interesting show definitely isn’t the Skrulls, but instead, everything to do with the character of Nick Fury. Jackson’s performance here is genuinely worthy of at least some kind of attention come awards season, but I worry that it’s going to get drowned out in the far more uninteresting and blander aspects of the show. Given my apathy towards the whole “Super Skrull” storyline, I don’t have particularly high hopes for the final two episodes, but if they can deliver anything on par with the two scenes mentioned in this review, then we’ll be in for a treat.
Episode 4 of Secret Invasion is now available to watch on Disney Plus.