Episode 5 of Secret Invasion sees the show return to its more conventional roots, failing to give us a reason why we should be excited for its finale.
I’ve long suspected that the climax of Secret Invasion would wind up being the dullest part of what has otherwise been one of Marvel’s strongest shows thus far, and I hate to say it, but I think I might be getting proved right. On paper, there’s nothing wrong with episode 5, but it just lacks that human touch that made the previous episodes, despite their often unengaging storylines, genuinely compelling and even sometimes moving. It’s a tough one, because I think episode 5 does a great job at giving us what we were initially promised, a spy thriller set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but unfortunately for the show, the last 4 episodes have shown us that the spy aspects are the least interesting part of it, resulting in an episode that feels frustrating simply because it’s doing the bare minimum.
“Harvest” only has one goal in mind throughout its entire runtime, and that’s to set up next week’s finale. It’s only got a tight 38 minutes to do this in, and so what we get feels incredibly unsatisfying and, honestly, underwhelming when compared to the previous instalments. The best thing about this episode is easily the return of Sonya Falsworth (Olivia Colman), who genuinely might just be my new favourite MCU character. Colman continues to flex her talent with every single line she delivers, managing to be simultaneously threatening and hilarious. In an episode that lacks any kind of emotional impact, she still manages to consistently entertain.
After I finished the first episode underwhelmed by Emilia Clarke’s performance as the Skrull G’iah, I desperately wished that my opinion would change by the end of the show. Unfortunately though, that hasn’t happened, and yet again I found that she stood out like a sore thumb. Her performance isn’t bad by any means, but it just lacks that je ne sais quoi that the majority of the cast have in abundance. She’s mostly paired with Charlayne Woodard for this episode, and it never stops being apparent which of the two is the more interesting character. Reportedly, Clarke is meant to be reprising her role in future MCU products, but as is, I have no real desire to see this character again, a sentiment that I hope changes when I watch the series finale.
Honestly, my main takeaway from “Harvest”, above all else, was that the show really felt like it missed Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). There was something about Mendelsohn’s performance that made him the perfect sidekick to Fury, and I don’t think the show manages to do enough in his absence to justify him not being there. One thing Mendelsohn brought in spades to the show was energy, lighting up even the bleakest scenes, and without him the whole thing can start to feel somewhat generic. HIs absence would be alright if it felt like it altered the narrative in an interesting way, or made the story more emotionally engaging, but I can’t say it’s done either of those things. As it is, it just feels like a decision made purely to shock, instead of genuinely enhancing the show.
All in all, I have to admit to being disappointed with episode 5 of Secret Invasion, and I’m not filled with a lot of optimism for the show’s finale. Throughout all four of the previous episodes, the show has felt torn between two stories of varying quality, and unfortunately, it seems like it’s ultimately put its eggs in the wrong basket. It’s somewhat understandable, as the show obviously initially intended to just be a spy thriller, but along the way, it felt like it became something else, something far more emotionally resonant, but I can’t help but feel like it’s happy to throw that away in favour of a far more conventional ending. Maybe I’ll be surprised, but as is, I can’t say my expectations are particularly high.
Episode 5 of Secret Invasion is now available to watch on Disney Plus.