‘Marvel’s Inhumans’ Season 1 Episodes 5 & 6: Shaken & Stirred

As “Marvel’s Inhumans” winds down its first- and likely only season- the show, better late than never, addressed some of the bigger issues at hand, while at last getting the gang back together just in time to deal with the uprising back home- but not without a big sacrifice. But is it all too little, too late?

Of course, one could attribute all of this negativity towards the show to a simple impatience on the behalf of its intended audience, and the critics in general. After all, the show was wrapped months before its airing, so there was little the filmmakers could do to address the many criticisms leveled at “Inhumans” after the fact.

However, I do have to give credit where its due to the fact that it addressed some of the more inherent faults in the main storyline in the most recent episodes, showing that the plan to do so was already present- it just took longer to get there than expected, and perhaps advisable. But at least they got there in the first place.

Of course, the biggest problem people had with the set-up was the fact that we were supposed to root for a team of Royals and their “court” of right-hand men and the Queen’s sister, Crystal (Isabelle Cornish). If they had been more sympathetic earlier on, perhaps we might have, but, as viewers know, they did not come across very well at first, or even second or third blush.

Medusa (Serinda Swan) has been consistently portrayed as demanding, severe and downright mean towards Louise (Ellen Woglom) in particular, but her demeanor in general wasn’t exactly warm from the get-go, even before Louise came along.

In the most recent episode, Medusa finally acknowledged the fact that Louise was helpful and supportive to her goals and not like the “typical” humans- promptly before she took off, mind you, leaving Louise to fend for herself with whatever fallout resulted from her actions- actions all made under duress to help Medusa.

Medusa’s petulant and somewhat bratty sister Crystal came around to humans a little quicker- and in less time, admittedly, having been on Earth for a shorter period of time than the rest- thanks to Dave (Chad James Buchanan), who helped heal her dog, Lockjaw, albeit after running it over in the first place.

Still, he did so at the detriment of his own well-being as well, as his ex-girlfriend, Audrey (Liv Hewson) tried to call the cops on them. Thankfully, the two were able to work together on their own feet by portraying Audrey as a jealous ex that was acting crazy. Credit where credit’s due, though- Crystal thawed a lot quicker than her sister, in terms of mellowing out.

Likewise, Karnak (Ken Leung), the very definition of brash and unlikable, was humbled by an injury which affected his powers early on, thus leaving him vulnerable and open to change much sooner than his compatriots. As such, he bonded quickly with the human Jen (Jamie Gray Hyder), even falling in love somewhat, albeit, as with the others, having to leave soon after the reunion with his team, and with Jen still suffering the after-effects of a gunshot wound, no less!

Jen seemed much more understanding than the others- Karnak did save her life, after all- though, to be fair, their relationship was much more on the romantic side than that of Medusa and Louise and, to a lesser extent, Crystal and Dave, who were clearly headed in that direction, but were stopped prematurely by the arrival of everyone else.

Meanwhile, both Black Bolt (Anson Mount) and Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor) formed “Bro” bonds with various other humans, with the latter sending his away after a point for their own safety after somewhat needlessly getting one of them killed. (Gorgon could have feasibly used his powers sooner to avoid it, which I think he knew, hence his sending his newfound group of Hawaiian bros packing.)

Black Bolt, though, made it a point to go back to the lab and save both Sammy (Faleolo Alailima) and Dr. Evan Declan (Henry Ian Cusick), after each helped him along the way- the former to escape jail, the latter to find his wife. Granted, part of it was to confront Auran (Sonya Balmores) and her troop of baddies that Maximus (Iwan Rheon) sent to kill them- them being the group of Royal Inhumans, of course- but still, the fact that Black Bolt thought enough about the two to help save them meant he had grown as a person as well.

But the biggest leap forward in terms of growth as characters was undeniably the fact that the primary elephant in the room was finally addressed- that of the ongoing use of the caste system back home, which is to say the fact that the Royals lorded it over the rest, with the humans on Attilan with no powers- save Maximus, the King’s brother- serving as what amounted to slave labor.

In that light, it was easier to side with Maximus than Black Bolt and company, despite the dubiousness of some of the former’s methods. Who doesn’t want to root for the Khalessi of the equation? (Okay, given society’s fractious atmosphere these days, maybe don’t answer that, lol.)

Even more interesting, we discovered that Medusa’s family also felt the same way as Maximus, and that it was Black Bolt’s parents that were the ones who wanted to keep up the caste tradition. Unfortunately for them, Black Bolt accidentally killed his parents when his power to literally kill with his voice presented itself. Medusa’s parents also died soon after, when both Medusa and Black Bolt were still kids, so they didn’t have time to convince Black Bolt otherwise, and the caste system remained intact.

Here, we finally saw Black Bolt start to recognize that all of this might have been avoided had they simply treated people better, not in the least his own brother, who resented both not having powers and being protected from the same treatment as other humans by virtue of his relationship to the Royals. In addition, whereas Black Bolt never wanted to rule, as we saw in flashbacks, Maximus always did.

With this new information, as well as scenes showing how Maximus was already being corrupted by his newfound power, now saying that humans had to “earn” their freedom from having to do back-breaking labor by serving him in certain ways, such as going to Earth to help defeat Black Bolt and the rest; we finally were able to root against the villain of the piece and for the supposed heroes, who have been humbled and changed in earnest from their experiences on Earth, interacting with the “lowly” humans.

It also didn’t hurt that Maximus started eliminating all of those who tried to go against him, such as longtime friend and ally, Tibor (Ptolemy Slocum), who tried to stage another coup to remove Maximus from power with a group of others, but failed miserably when Maximus got wind of it and killed him.

Maximus also cruelly sent off seer Bronaja’s (Ari Dalbert) father to Earth to go after Black Bolt, which had the potential to lead to his death, despite all that Bronaja had done for him, which included warning him about those people who would turn on him- though admittedly, he was hesitant about weighing in on Tibor, preferring to err on the side of caution, knowing that his doing so would get Tibor killed, as it had others before him.

But Maximus killed Tibor anyway, showing that he didn’t really care if the proof was there if there was an opportunity to show what happened to people who went against him in any way, period. No doubt Bronaja will watch his step even more moving forward. But all of this made it much easier to no longer root for Maximus, despite his continued claim to be doing all that he was doing to “help the people.”

As the saying goes, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And as Maximus gains more power, he becomes less sympathetic, and what’s more, becomes less concerned with what his initially stated claim was, which was to free the humans without power from forced labor. Now, they have to “earn” it, and if anyone goes against him… well, let’s just say it won’t end well for them.

So, with only two episodes left to go, the tides have fully turned. Black Bolt and his team are more relatable and heroic all around, and Maximus is much more hissable as a villain overall. Now, is there still room for improvement? Oh, my, yes. For one thing, it will be interesting to see if Black Bolt or any of his cohorts feel compelled to return to Earth and continue their friendships/relationships with the humans they befriended, or just leave them high and dry, never to return.

Further, it will be interesting to see if Maximus is beyond redemption. At this point, yes, he has killed people, but, to be fair, they all went against him, despite his being the ad-hoc King, what with Black Bolt gone. Granted, Maximus himself is the reason Black Bolt and company are gone in the first place, but not everyone knows that.

To outward appearances, it may still seem that Black Bolt and the Royals simply absconded from their post for whatever reason and may not return. With them now returning after all, it will be interesting to see who sides with who, and if Black Bolt can come to some sort of compromise with brother Maximus, now that he’s started to rethink his position on the whole caste system thing.

Keep in mind that Black Bolt never wanted to rule in the first place, and Maximus always did. Might they still be able to work something out? Probably not, given Maximus’ actions to date- especially his cutting off Medusa’s hair, which clearly upset Black Bolt- but you never know. Also note that Black Bolt is now aware of Maximus’ work with Dr. Declan, and his hope of being able to obtain powers for those humans who don’t have them- especially himself.

With only two more episodes, it will be interesting to see where things go from here. Also worth a mention is that Black Bolt’s team is sadly down one member: Gorgon. This was a direct result from Maximus sending Auran after him and the others, though their side was not without losses as well, notably Locus (Sumire). Though Gorgon was admittedly the least developed from a character standpoint, it was still sad to see him go- now we’ll never get the chance.

Such, I suppose, is the downside of doing a mini-series approach: things have to be accelerated all around. Ironically, just as things were somewhat getting going, the show is almost over. Only a couple more episodes and that is likely the last we’ll hear from the “Inhumans,” barring a potential return via “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, I suppose.

But “Inhumans” decided failure in terms of ratings make that seem unlikely. To date, the show has gone from a series high of 3.75 million on the debut episodes, to just under two million on episode five. Given the expense of the show- though, let’s face it, we don’t see a lot of that on screen, as one of the show’s biggest issues is that it just plain looks cheap- and the dwindling ratings, as well as the negative reviews, it just doesn’t seem likely that the show or the characters will be back in any form.

TBH, I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing, as the series has been flawed from the start, but I will allow that it’s grown on me as it has gone along. I admit that, if I hadn’t been tasked with reviewing it, I might have bailed on it sometime ago; but I was, and as a direct result of that, I don’t mind it as much as I did initially, where it was like: what did I get myself into?

By being somewhat forced to watch it, I had to go along with it, but by sticking with it, I am happy to say, it did indeed get better as it went along. Now, it feels like less of a chore to watch than it once did. That may sound like faint praise, and I suppose it is, but it does prove my initial theory that some shows take a hot minute to get going.

Unfortunately for it, we don’t live in a world where shows can take their time getting it together like we once used to. These days, it’s sink or swim, and “Inhumans” is likely past getting swimming lessons at this point, even as it gets better with time. Chances are, it’s one and done for the series, so one can only hope it ends strong in the weeks to come. We shall see.

Until then, thanks, as ever, for reading, and be sure and leave your comments down below. Join me for one last recap after the finale in a couple of weeks!