Invincible: That Actually Hurt (Episode 5) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
On this week’s episode of Invincible, THAT ACTUALLY HURT, Mark (voiced by Steven Yeun) teams up with a familiar criminal to take down a cybernetic mob boss while still struggling to balance his superhero persona and normal life.
Mark is certainly gaining more confidence in his hero abilities as he stops criminals with ease and is pretty much thinking that he’s untouchable. He’s texting Amber (voiced by Zazie Beetz) while getting cracked in the head with various objects and is even starting to gain a good social presence. However, his normal life is starting to fall apart with him losing his job, slipping in his grades and attendance, and struggling to maintain his relationship with Amber. His constant tardiness can’t be made up with delicious desserts and the interactions between him and Amber come off really real. It’s great how Amber doesn’t just let him off the hook easily and there’re moments where their relationship could end. It’s easy to see that they really care for each other and that Mark desperately wants to tell Amber the truth. Their relationship is easily one of the most compelling parts of the episode – certainly more compelling than Titan (voiced by Mahershala Ali) and Mark working together.
Titan is a villain that Mark had defeated back in episode one that can create an outer rock layer that basically makes him invulnerable and helps him deliver powerful blows. The entire opening sequence of him taking down a rival gang of his boss, an autotuned mob boss named Machine Head (voiced by Jeffrey Donovan), is both unbelievably brutal and totally badass. Among the bone-crunching and blood spewing blows, there’s something about him that doesn’t scream villain. Although he’s forced to burn down buildings and steal micro-chips, Titan isn’t really about spilling blood for sport and actually tries to help those that are hurt by his actions. Not to mention, he’s shown to be more of an anti-hero as he’s kept under his unending debt to Machine Head and a family man trying to give his family the best life possible.
On a recent episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I talked about how rare villain and hero team ups are and how fun they can be. Titan and Mark teaming up definitely has its moments but isn’t all that special. It’s not delved into much and misses out on an opportunity to delve into some relatable real-life themes about privilege. Titan tells Mark that he really doesn’t understand what being a hero really means, but we never really see what he’s talking about outside of himself. There’re very few interactions between him and Mark and the messaging gets a little wishy washy towards the end. It does open up an interesting discussion on heroism between Mark and his parents about if saving the lives of many greatly outweighs just a few. Again, it’s interesting, but doesn’t really go anywhere.
Frankly, the only great thing this team up leads to is a gruesome and unrelenting action sequence that’s bloody as hell and full of surprises. It’s actually crazy how the set of villains that Machine Head summons really end up being quite a match for Mark and Titan – especially the physically dominating Battle Beast (voiced by Michael Dorn). They’re really pushed to the limits in a way that’s insane to see and even when the new Guardians of the Globe come in, they get their asses handed to them for the most part. They eventually get the upper hand, but at a grave cost. Not only are Black Samson (voiced by Khary Payton) and Monster Girl (voiced by Grey Griffin) put on ice, but Mark is nearly killed in bloody fashion. It was definitely rad as hell to see the new Guardians working well together when they needed to, but it was a total shock to see Mark be brutalized like he was. He’s legitimately near death and it’s no shocker that Cecil (voiced by Walton Goggins) and Donald (voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos) are using the opportunity to find an edge on Nolan (voiced by J.K. Simmons).
Mark nearly dying also seems like it could bring some of the smaller plot threads together – which is great because there’s frankly too many of them going on at once. It’s easy to appreciate the series doing so much and building a bunch of different stories, but it’s kind of frustrating how most of them haven’t gone anywhere. I think Debbie (voiced by Sandra Oh) has finally caught on that Nolan is hiding something. Robot’s (voiced by Zachary Quinto) masterplan is still a big question mark. Cecil and Donald still haven’t gotten much progress on stopping Nolan. Even Eve’s (voiced by Gillian Jacobs) troubled home life doesn’t add much. Add in these other threads of Titan taking over Machine Head’s position, Allen the Alien still around, and the possibility of a new Martian Man and there’re a lot of stones still left unturned. Hopefully, with Mark seriously out of commission, the other plots can maybe get somewhere next week.
Invincible still maintains its enjoyable and thrilling viewing experience and adds in a shocking ender that changes Mark’s superhero career forever but struggles to take full advantage of its villain/hero team up. It’s a solid episode nevertheless, but hopefully Mark being out of commission can help move the series’ many subplots along and tie things together.