Wednesday, July 26, 2023

REVIEW: 'Secret Invasion' - Fury Risks It All to Find Peace for Himself and the Skrulls While G'iah Exacts Revenge in 'Home'

Disney+'s Secret Invasion - Episode 1.06 "Home"

All hope for humanity rests on Fury's shoulders.

"Home" was written by Kyle Bradstreet & Brian Tucker and directed by Ali Selim

Secret Invasion turned out to be a massive disappointment. It was no surprise that Olivia Colman was fantastic in her role as Sonya Falsworth. It was simply shocking that she was the only element with a unique and entertaining perspective. Sure, the rest of the actors tried their best with the material. And yes, some themes are easy to understand why they were connected to this property. It just wasn't executed well. It basically became a conflict where paranoia and blind vengeance dictated the overall terms. Fury returned to Earth not knowing who he could trust. A division emerged amongst the Skrulls who have been refugees on Earth for thirty years. Fury failed to find them a new home. He was angry at Talos after learning over a million Skrulls exist on this planet now. Fury acted as if humans were the only beings on Earth. The narrative completely glossed over the Asgardian refugees as well as all the alien species depicted on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. The population of Earth is growing more diverse. That became apparent once humanity learned it wasn't alone in the universe. The MCU continually feels the pressure to scale up every conflict. Everything that happens has to top what has already occurred. That's difficult to accomplish at this point. All sense of intimacy is lost. Moving stories are obtained with G'iah feeling the pain of her parents' deaths and the complexity of Fury and Varra's marriage. Ultimately though, those details were too rushed and thin to deliver much of an impact. The show loved the idea of Fury as a changed man following the Blip. It played into the consequences of Thanos' action. The MCU is still turn over whether that five year absence is significant on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it informs the story heavily. Other times it's completely forgotten. Here, it was an example of everyone telling Fury how he's different. He continually survives even when his allies perish along the way. Maria Hill was killed to motivate Fury into action. And then, Talos was killed for the exact same purpose. It's almost a symbolic reading of one era of the Avengers needing to end in order for the next era to truly take shape. Fury brought the heroes together. Varra knew he was responsible even though he kept everything closely guarded. He couldn't share the details of his life. He has long sought to manipulate people to his advantage. That created Gravik's righteous anger towards Fury and the promises he made. With the proper motivation, a diplomatic opening emerges with the Kree. Fury must rely on Varra in order to finalize the deal. That was happening off world. Fury wasn't at the helm. He no longer has that control. He's grown irrelevant. And yet, he felt the priority of cleaning up this mess.

At the conclusion of the season though, it's much more tantalizing to think about what comes next for Sonya and G'iah. Sonya is at the top of her game in protecting the national security interests of her country. She has the potential to step up as successor to Fury in bringing the various elements together for a common goal. G'iah presents with that potential now. She emerges from the chamber alongside Gravik having been gifted all the powers of the heroes who fought in the Battle of Earth. That trade between Fury and G'iah wasn't seen. It was clear Fury and Sonya were working together. G'iah has a personal vendetta against Gravik. It was just another example of big spectacle being prioritized over consistent characterizations. Gravik is furious how little Fury remembers of the service he asked from the Skrulls. Fury claims to be their biggest protector. But now, he's leaving Earth once more precisely as President Ritson declares war on all Skrulls. The leader of the free world declares the ability to track down these shapeshifting aliens and make them pay. It's payback for the confusion and attempt on his life. Not every Skrull aligned with Gravik. They will all suffer for his actions. He tried his best to execute this plan on a massive scale. It was all ultimately about personal vengeance. He had to develop more skills to become a formidable force on this planet. The Skrulls deserve to inherit Earth as humans can never move beyond their divisions. G'iah doesn't even have much hope for humans. She at least enters a partnership with Sonya knowing they are just using each other. The teases emerge for more stories to be told with these characters. But again, the interest just isn't all that exciting. Fury goes on a search for a home. He yearns for a place to belong. He depends on his relationship with Varra. And yet, she was always confused as to whether he actually loved her true self. She presented as someone else for their entire marriage. Only now is she willing to step forward as who she truly is. That's brave given the President's order. She also has a personal protector. That safety is offered. She sees the value in returning to Earth. She's at peace with that. This relationship is what Fury needed to nourish all along. He accepts that even though he isn't good at communicating his feelings. That's meant to be the season's grand emotional payoff. It doesn't work because the storytelling never gets out of setup mode. It shouldn't take until the finale to lay out the motivations for all that has occurred so far. This is a personal burden for all the characters. And yet, it was nothing more than a story going through the motions. It's bound to have consequences for the future as well. That's notable for Rhodes and Ross waking up and realizing what was done in their names as well as whatever comes next for Fury in his partnership with Captain Marvel in the upcoming film The Marvels. So much of the buildup for that film has been developing for awhile now in the Disney+ shows - notably WandaVision and Ms. Marvel. Based on this project though, it's unclear if the narrative weight can handle all the various elements coming together for a cohesive story anymore. It may be nothing more than a spectacle of special effects even when that is so impersonal to the overall stakes.