‘Marvel’s Inhumans’ Season 1 Episodes 3 & 4: Make Way for… a Slightly Better Show?

After a decidedly iffy start that didn’t promise much beyond a way-too stiff approach, somewhat chintzy look and borderline laughably wooden performances, “Marvel’s Inhumans” has vaguely settled into a slightly better show, thank God. Don’t get me wrong- it’s no “Luke Cage” or even “The Flash” or “Supergirl.” Appropriately enough, it’s more like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” in the early days, before it settled in and became a solid show.

Of course, some would argue that “AOS” isn’t a very good show, and it’s a miracle it was even renewed for another season, but I thought their last season, particularly the back two sections, were amongst the best they’ve ever done. Of course, a lot of what happened in the previous three seasons was scattershot, making one wonder why ABC has such a hard time with Marvel in general, while it seems to come relatively easy to DC, TV-wise.

Meanwhile, Marvel is killing it on the big screen, while DC has been faltering for some time, at least until “Wonder Woman” finally got one right. Might the tide be turning? We’ll just have to wait and see how “Justice League” turns out, but until then, the Netflix Marvel shows continue to rule the Marvel roost, the iffy “Iron Fist” notwithstanding, while ABC continues to struggle with it.

A sense of humor starting to emerge certainly helped proceedings here, with the humorless Medusa (Serinda Swan) proving an excellent comic foil to the super-likable Louise Fisher (Ellen Woglom), by being the straight woman to Louise’s ever-flustered, in awe scientist chick. Obviously, it’s typically the non-straight act that’s the funny one, but here, it’s just the opposite, with the fish-out-of-water Medusa continuing to be flummoxed by the ways of humans in an amusing fashion.

For instance, after observing that humans use cash to pay for goods, and that they seem to get it from a ATM machine, Medusa simply goes up to one of them and hilariously demands money. “Give me money! I am the Queen!” she badgers the ATM, to no avail. Later on, she simply strolls into someone’s house- on Royal Court, natch- and grabs some high-end clothes, a purse and some cash she finds lying around. Ah, rich people. No wonder it was so easy for “The Bling Ring.”

Her spoiled-want it now roots start showing even more when she hooks up with Louise, who finds her at the prison where hubby Black Bolt (Anson Mount) is being held. Medusa just misses him, as geneticist Dr. Evan Declan (Henry Ian Cusick, back on “Lost” island) has arranged for a fellow imprisoned mutant, Sammy (Faleolo Alailima, “The Hangover”) to help aid Black Bolt in his escape, which he does successfully.

Pissed off at her bad timing, she holds a gun to Louise’s head and demands she pursue the helicopter that Declan picks them up in- in a car. Naturally, the two eventually lose the crew, as the helicopter flies where cars can’t go, not to mention they end up getting pursued by the police, with Medusa berating Louise for fiddling around with a pesky cop car chase when they should have been following said helicopter.

It’s basically “Thelma and Louise” if one of them was actively annoyed by the other one (Medusa) and the other basically was highly enamored of the former (Louise). But it’s by playing the role straight that the laughs emerge on Swan’s end- her lack of humor somewhat ironically leads to a lot of it, though I’ve no doubt it is intentional.

This is undeniably the part of the show that works like gangbusters, and part of me wishes we could get more of it, though I suspect things will shift into a new direction, now that Medusa has caught up with Black Bolt and the twosome has become a threesome, but we’ll see. On the plus side, some of the other oddball pairings are reaping dividends elsewhere.

For instance, Karnak (Ken Leung), after hitting himself in the head during a fall, finds himself with his powers of predicting the immediate future on the fritz. This humbles the formerly powerful Inhuman, resulting in his giving up somewhat, after realizing he will be no help to the others with no powers.

He instead falls in with a small group of pot farmers (!) hiding out in the jungle, who, after deciding not to kill him, instead get him to help, which proves to be a fruitful decision, as Karnak proves to have some ace gardening skills. Unfortunately, he also catches the eye of Jen (looker Jamie Gray Hyder, of “True Blood”), which further raises the ire of one of the guys, who is either sweet on her himself, or simply was using the other two to help get things going, after which he planned to kill them, as he does with the other guy at the end of the episode. Probably a little of both.

Either way, Karnak and Jen better watch their backs, as they are probably next. I suspect that Karnak- can we call him Karnak the Magnificent? That name sounds like a magician, right? – will get his powers back just in time to save their bacon, or at least I hope so, as the two make a cute couple. Also, that other guy seems like a real douche-nozzle. Either way, I seriously doubt that they’re going to kill off one of the leads this soon.

Meanwhile, sparks are much-more lightly falling on Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) and Dave (Chad James Buchanan, “Star”), the latter of whom ran down poor Lockjaw with his four-wheeler in the jungle. Although, to be fair, one doesn’t exactly expect a ginormous dog to be laid out on a biker path in the jungle in the first place, so…Whoops? Dave calls for help from his vet-in-training ex, who dismissively refers to Crystal as a “princess.” “How did she know?” says Crystal, amusingly, in the funniest line not involving Medusa and Louise of the episode.

Finally, there’s Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor), who has hooked up with a group of Beach Bros, who waste no time in joining up with his crusade to find his people, for some reason, even though it eventually gets one of them killed. This leads to Gorgon cutting them loose, but I suspect we haven’t seen the last of Holo (Ty Quiamboa, “Snatched”) and the Jungle Bunch.

The fights between them and Auran (Sonya Balmores) and her crew of Freakazoids, as well as the one between the latter crew and Black Bolt and company were definitely among the highlights, though. I liked the various powers of Auran’s peeps, many of which were gratifyingly female, including Flora (Krista Alvarez, “Hawaii Five-O”), who is like a plant whisperer, and Locus (Sumire, “The Shack”), who can… um, talk to the birds? Whistle really good? Maybe she should have been on Sunday’s whistle-happy “Simpsons” instead, lol.

There’s also Mordis (Bridger Zadina, “Bosch”), who looks like he’s auditioning for a lead in the upcoming sequel to “The Strangers” and apparently has some sort of dubious past with Auran, who isn’t too happy about his being on her back-up team. He wears the mask in order to keep from killing everyone in sight with the fire-blasts that shoot from his eyes, so he’s basically like a creepier Cyclops.

This power later backfires, literally, when it causes a gas tank to explode, knocking out his entire team, and possibly killing some of them, allowing Black Bolt and Medusa to escape. D’oh! Maximus (Iwan Rheon) isn’t going to like this new development. Well, Auran did warn him not to send Mordis, so that’s kind of on him.

Speaking of Maximus, we did learn an interesting tidbit- it seems that he’s been in contact with Dr. Declan all this time, and is using him to help capture Black Bolt and company. When Dr. Declan succeeds, Maximus at first wants him to kill BB, which will make his being king back on Attilan that much more of an easier transition, but then he discovers that Declan might be able to pull off using BB’s genetic code or something to give other humans inhuman powers, which Maximus lacks, so he opts to hold off for that reason, in hopes of getting the powers he was denied before.

Not that it matters that much, as BB escapes shortly thereafter, suspecting that Declan may not have his best interests at heart, which he obviously doesn’t. To be fair, though, I don’t think that Declan realizes exactly who Maximus is, and where he’s from. Maximus seems to somehow be bankrolling the doc, in order to call all the shots on his research and tell him what to do, but how the two connected in the first place we don’t know, really, unless I somehow missed that.

Actor Rheon was far more effective in these last two episodes than in the first two. It seemed like he was trying too hard not to repeat his character in “Game of Thrones” in the premiere episodes, resulting in an oddly ineffectual villain that, in no small amount due to the plotting, I actually sympathized more with than the alleged heroes of the piece.

After all, in addition to actually having his inherent powers taken away during that ritual, which sucks, his main desire was to basically free the slaves of Attilan, which isn’t a bad thing, really. The worst thing one can say is that he went about it in a dubious way, and okay, he’s killed some people along the way. Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, though- just saying.

With these last two episodes, though, Rheon is leaning harder into the villainous side of his character, and if it does approach “GOT” territory, so be it, as it’s much more effective than what he was doing before. The slaying of the Genetic Council, for instance, was much more evil than Maximus killing a guy that could have blown the coup he was attempting in the premiere. He could have simply imprisoned them, but he went the Ramsay Bolton route and went with the scorched earth approach of killing anyone who refused to do what he said. That’s more like it.

Of course, he also wants to kill all the Royals and take over, as well, so there’s that. Freeing the slaves notwithstanding, he’s not exactly a Boy Scout. But he’ll need to step it up a bit before I completely accept him as a truly bad guy, and that’s the inherent problem with the way this show was set up in the first place. It’s hard to root against the guy who wants equality for all in his city, even if it’s rooted in his wanting to rule them all as well. He’ll need to chalk up a few more evil deeds before I actively hate him as a villain, you know?

On the plus side, the rest of the leads on the show are getting a bit more interesting, save maybe Gorgon, who’s a bit on the one-note side. But Karnak the Magnificent, Crystal the Spoiled Princess, Medusa the Hangry Queen, and Black Bolt, whose silence speaks volumes, are getting there, as the actors get more acquainted with the nature of their roles and what to do with them. That’s not surprising- most shows take a hot minute to get going, after all.

I’m still not 100% on board with the whole splitting everyone up thing, even though its reaped more benefits in some places (Medusa, Karnak) than others (Gorgon, Crystal), and they really should have allowed for more time with Medusa and Louise as a road-tripping combo. But at least the guy who doesn’t say anything and the teleporting dog aren’t still the only really intriguing things on the show. I’ll take what I can get.

“Marvel’s Inhumans” remains a show that has a lot of problems, and is already a bit of a misfire, thanks to dubious plotting, subpar production values that belie a solid budget, and iffy acting all around. But there’s just a glimmer of something that might be a better show in there somewhere that makes me want to keep watching, so that’s something, I guess.

It may lack the visionary approach of something like “Legion,” or the wow factor of “The Gifted” or even the easy-going vibe of “AOS,” but it could get there eventually. The real question is: will people still be watching? Given the increasingly lower ratings, which have been dropping with each successive week, it seems unlikely, but with the amount of money ABC invested in this, you never know, the show might be down, but not out just yet. Hey, “AOS” squeaked by another season, after all.

What do you think of “Marvel’s Inhumans” so far? Is it growing on you? Or are you about ready to bail? Is there a way the show could save itself? Are there things you do like about it? How about the characters? Or the actors playing them? Any favorites? Sound off on this and more down below, and see you in a couple more weeks!