Invincible: Season Finale Review
On the season finale of Invincible, Where I Really Come From, Mark (voiced by Steven Yeun) is forced to face Nolan (voiced by J.K. Simmons) in a destructive and devastating power struggle.
Last week’s episode kept us craving for the “why” of Nolan’s destructive and deadly behavior and we finally get answers when he tells Mark where he really comes from. Sure, he’s still from Viltrum and his species is powerful and thriving, but not for the most honorable of reasons. To ensure that the strong survive and persist, the Viltrumites slaughtered the weakest of their kind and then set out to enslave and conquer weaker planets to continue to grow their army. So, Nolan came to Earth in order to start the conquering and decimate the weaker parts of humanity until only the strongest and most loyal are left. It’s a crushing blow that feels like Thanos on steroids with how absolutely brutal it is to see Viltrumites rip each other to shreds. It’s even more crushing to see Mark’s reaction to all this and his furious anger, frustration, and sense of betrayal drives him to fight back.
Cecil’s (voiced by Walton Goggins) attempts to stop Nolan from getting to Mark last week really showcased how unrelentingly unstoppable Nolan really is and that still holds true given how Mark is unable to do much to him. Mark might have Viltrumite blood running through his veins, but that still makes him no match for Nolan’s raw, pure power. It’s emotionally devastating to watch Mark get totally slaughtered by Nolan as he basically gets beaten to a bloody pulp. We’ve seen Mark get his ass beat plenty of times throughout this season, but those were incomparable to what Nolan does to him. By the time everything is over Mark is pretty much dead, but the psychological blows are much more devastating as Nolan tries to make Mark believe in his views of humanity.
Remember back in Man of Steel when Superman and General Zod basically destroyed Metropolis in their fighting? Well, that’s basically what Mark and Nolan do to Downtown Chicago, but the absolute destruction of their fighting is brought out in full force. It’s impossible not to feel a little scared or traumatized by how vicious the destruction is and how it’s affecting normal civilians. People are getting crushed by buildings, cars are decimating people as they tumble through the streets, and Nolan even crushes the skull of a pilot Mark saves right in front of him. The entire sequence of Nolan using Mark to cut through an entire subway makes your stomach turn with how bloody and gory it is. The harshest blow comes in Nolan calling Debra (voiced by Sandra Oh) his pet and it’s what makes Mark realize how to maybe get through to him.
Throughout this whole fight, Nolan berates Mark about how his humanity makes him weak and that he stupidly cares about people that he’ll outlive anyway. As Nolan beats Mark more and more on top of a mountain and questions him about why he’s willing to die for a humanity that will only be with him for a short while, Mark delivers one of the more truly human answers that’s so compassionate and genuine that it evokes a flashback that brings out Nolan’s own humanity. The flashback is pure heart as it takes us to a little league game of Mark’s that shows Debra telling Nolan about the greatness of being parents and re-experiencing life through kids. It’s a deeply emotional moment that reminds us why Mark is so easy to love because his sense of humanity is never forgotten and he’s always willing to fight for the things he loves – even his own father in this moment. More importantly though, it reminds Nolan of his own sense of humanity that he’s been trying to bury for years and it simply makes him give up and fly away. It’s a fitting ending as a whole since it would be tough to believe that Mark would kill Nolan and it’s unique in the way it resolves conflict without any bloodshed.
So, with Nolan gone, we get to see the world reel from the betrayal and destruction of its former world-class hero. The coverage of it and seeing the faces of everyone being devastated by this reality is really heartbreaking and it fittingly plays out like the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster. Mark, after weeks of healing, is left understandably lost and Debra is just inconsolable. It’s really great how the finale digs deep into this aftermath and aside from the forced and unremarkable “coming together” of the Guardians, everything with Mark is pretty perfect and sets up a strong future for the series. Mark now seems to have a strong support system under him with Amber (voiced by Zazie Beetz) now willing to be by his side and William (voiced by Andrew Rannells) and Eve (voiced by Gillian Jacobs) also come to give him strength.
More importantly though, Mark has another run-in with Allen the Alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) and gets told that there’s an inter-galactic resistance building to fight against the Viltrumites that Allen hopes he help can destroy given that he was able to get Nolan to just give up – something that no one has been able to do. It’s very likely that more Viltrumites are coming, and that Mark will definitely need some help so it’s great that there’s something bigger building for him and the series down the road. It’s that simple idea that reignites his spark to be a hero and that’s good because there’s a lot of bad things brewing back on Earth. From old enemies looking to make a big comeback to new threats, Mark is going to need to step into the role his father left, and it looks like he’ll really be the hero that Earth needs.
Invincible ends its season on a bloody, visceral, yet heartwarming note as it further fleshes out the simplest, but most powerful elements of humanity that show why Mark is so special and builds out a strong future for the series with the greater threats its presents.