Invincible S1E2: “Here Goes Nothing”

Invincible sits with Allen the Alien on the Moon. Allen is a large, orange, cyclopean alien in Episode 2.

The following contains spoilers for both Invincible S1E1 and S1E2, as well as the Invincible comic book.

Coming off the shocking conclusion to the first episode, Invincible S1E2, “Here Goes Nothing,” has a lot to live up to. Overall, I think that S1E2 rose to the challenge, even if it still felt as expository as its predecessor. There is a ton of plot in S1E2, arguably more than in S1E1, where I feel the audience was given more of a chance to breathe with the characters. By my count the audience is introduced to no fewer than nine major characters in S1E2 alone, plus there are three full-scale alien invasions.

The first scene of the episode mirrors the opening of S1E1. The first shots of both episodes focus on flags—an American flag in S1E1 and a British flag in S1E2. Steve (Jon Hamm), the security we met in the previous episode, is vacationing with his stepson Matt. The pair are outside Buckingham Palace, again mirroring the previous episode which started outside the White House. Matt is dismissive of the palace, saying “it’s impressive, but who needs that many rooms?” Steve pushes back, telling Matt “It’s not about rooms, it’s about power. That building has one purpose, ‘to say I’m the queen and you are my subjects.’ […] The queen might look like a nice old lady, but she comes from a long line of tyrants who all thought they were better than the rest of us.” Steve is interrupted by Matt pushing him out of the way of the very bag of trash that Mark/Invincible threw into orbit in the previous episode crash landing, and Steve is touched that Matt called him “dad” in the process.

As in my review of the previous episode, I’m a little befuddled by the Steve vignettes. As of this writing, the character is only credited in two episodes, meaning we’ve potentially seen all we’re going to see of Steve. At the very least they serve as framing devices, with the S1E1 scene setting up the father/child relationship that is pervasive throughout the show. While the scene in S1E2 continues to highlight that theme, I think its discussion of power is more pertinent. 

Steve points to the monarchy’s belief in their own self-importance as part of their tyranny. Similarly, we can see a similar attitude in the quote from the comics that I referenced in the previous article: “Council members argued that rather than revel in our newfound perfection, we should take it upon ourselves to ensure that other races, lesser developed than our own, should be allowed to develop to our level of advancement.” While the motives for Omni-man’s attack on the Guardians of the Globe haven’t been revealed by the show yet, in the comics it is revealed that they are not protectors, but rather conquerors. The Viltrumites’ narcissistic self-images apparently allow them to believe that they have the right to rule over the various planets of their empire, just as the British monarchs do. The monarchy uses Buckingham Palace and “nice old ladies” to project benevolence while Omni-man and the Viltrumites use superhero personae to do the same.

Invincible flies next to Atom Eve.

The show leaves Steve, Matt, and Buckingham Palace via a match cut that juxtaposes rotting hamburgers on the sidewalk to the carnage from the aftermath of Nolan/Omni-man’s ambush of the Guardians of the Globe. The military storm the Guardians’ base, and many are physically sickened by the butchery they encounter. Omni-man is clearly alive, and they seem to believe that they can bring back the decapitated Immortal, but none of the other Guardians survive.

After waking up alone, Mark’s mom Debbie is getting ready for her day when she and Mark are taken to the Global Defense Agency, housed in the Pentagon, where an agent named Donald takes them to where Nolan is recovering, and, more importantly, they meet GDA Director Cecil Stedman. We don’t learn too much about Cecil in this episode, he’s largely shown as a no-nonsense, suspicious, government agent tasked with responding to world-threatening crises every day. When Cecil is pulled away due to an invasion by an alien race that we later learn is called the Flaxans, Mark looks at his father and decides to go help out.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t go well. From the get-go, Mark seems nervous and unprepared. When he joins the fight, he foolishly orders an army of alien invaders to stop, immediately leading to multiple civilian deaths and Mark getting hit by a laser blast and going into a state of borderline shock. His efforts to help an older woman escape also does more harm than good. While his back is turned, Mark is almost hit by another laser blast when the Teen Team—a Teen Titan-esque superhero group comprising Atom Eve, Robot, Dupli-Kate, and Rex Splode—join the fight. Although they are all roughly Mark’s age, they are more experienced heroes; however, they still have trouble repelling the aliens until the invaders suddenly start aging uncontrollably. Robot later hypothesizes that time worked differently between the two dimensions, (leading the audience to a classic “why would the aliens in Signs invade a planet that could kill them instantly” scenario).

The next day at school, Mark is still in a fog as he walks through the hallways until he realizes that Atom Eve is really a classmate of his named Eve Wilkins. Mark reveals that he’s Invincible and recognizes her, and the pair strike up an instant friendship. They’re able to commiserate about being superheroes, and Eve invites Mark to meet the rest of the Teen Team.

Atom Eve, Robot, Rex Splode, and Dupli-kate stare up at Omni-man after he has defeated most of the invading Flaxan army.

Back at Guardians of the Globe headquarters, Cecil and Donald encounter a demon detective named Damien Darkblood, who receives visions of what happened by touching the blood and viscera remaining at the scene. Since Cecil is desperate for leads, he allows Damien to continue his investigation.

After Mark cluelessly blows off Amber to meet the Teen Team, he returns to the hospital to check on his father and the woman he saved. A lot of Mark’s insecurity about being a superhero stems back to the father/child themes that were touched upon in S1E1. While Mark is obviously motivated to do good for good’s sake, he is also clearly trying to do it to make his father and step out of his shadow. After the first Flaxan invasion, Mark is incredibly distraught by his failure. This was his first major superhero adventure, and of course his father’s injuries compound his emotions. Debbie finds him at his father’s hospital bed, covered in other people’s blood, saying “I tried my best, I tried to be like dad.” There are multiple times when he confides that his “dad didn’t talk about this part of being a superhero.” There is added pressure because Mark’s father wasn’t “just” a superhero, he is the best superhero on the planet. His picture of superheroes have been skewed by growing up with someone that it came effortlessly to, and now he’s realizing that it’s not as easy as it seemed.

Mark and the Teen Team fend off a second Flaxan invasion. The heroes are initially on the ropes because the Flaxans have had decades in their dimension to correct their mistakes from the first invasion. When it looks like Eve could be killed, Mark briefly loses control, saving Eve but furthering the rift between him and Rex, who is dating Eve and views Mark as competition. After the battle, Mark rushes away from the aftermath to see his father, who has woken up from his coma following the murder of the Guardians. Nolan is excited to hear about his son’s exploits, but Mark’s excitement is short-lived when he discovers that the woman he tried to save passed away. When Nolan tells Mark that it’s “part of the job,” Mark angrily shrugs him off.

A week passes, and we’re introduced to one of the standout supporting characters in the entire series, Allen the Alien (Seth Rogen). Mark’s initial confrontation with Allen is virtually identical to what it is in the comics. Cecil sends Mark to space to stave off an alien who had previously visited Earth and fought Omni-man. When Mark arrives, the pair fight for a while as they telepathically banter. The fight moves to the moon, where they realize that everything has been a huge misunderstanding: Allen goes from planet to planet testing their champions as a member of an organization called the Coalition of Planets, and has mistakenly gone to Earth instead of Urath. This is the first of many times where Mark shows a willingness to subvert superhero tropes by talking out a problem instead of just solving it by punching. The two part amicably, and the scene ends by recreating one of my favorite spreads from the comic: Mark looking up at the Earth from the Moon.

Invincible stares up at Earth from the Moon.

A third Flaxan invasion looks even more dire than the first two, but is this time thwarted by Omni-man himself. Nolan pushes the Flaxan leader into the portal when he refuses to retreat with the rest of his army, and it’s in the Flaxan dimension that we see just how dangerous and powerful he truly is; he annihilates their homeworld, leaving everything in ruins. Ominously, he begins his destruction by telling them “You don’t seem to understand. Earth isn’t yours to conquer,” implying that it’s his to conquer instead. It’s clear that if he has bad intentions for Earth, he could destroy most of the planet and there would be little that anyone will be able to do to stop him.

The episode ends with Nolan returning home from the Flaxan dimension while the news announces the death of the Guardians of the Globe. In the mid-credits scene, Cecil snaps at Damien Darkblood when he implies that the killer was either one of the Guardians or Omni-man. Despite his rejection of Damien’s theory, Cecil orders surveillance on the Grayson household, ostensibly to protect in case the murder tries to finish the job. It’s worth noting that the show seems to imply that Debbie might be slightly suspicious of Nolan as well, as she gives him a couple odd glances at moments when he appears to be losing his temper.

S1E2 continues much of the world building, relationship forming, and status quo setting that we saw in S1E1. If the show has a three act structure, the announcement of the murders of the Guardians begins to move the show into the second act. While both the audience and our protagonists know that the Guardians are dead, the news reaching the wider world establishes a new status quo, one where new heroes will have to fill the void. Luckily, the first three episodes were all released at once, so we get to see that progression continue immediately if we want to!

Written by Nick Luciano

Nick Luciano received a Master’s in Music Theory from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. An avid film fan, Nick loves Tarkovsky, Tartakovsky, Tchaikovsky, and everything in between (stylistically that is, not alphabetically).

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