‘Marvel’s Inhumans’ Season 1 Episodes 7 & 8: And Finally…The End

On the last two episodes of “Marvel’s Inhumans,” Black Bolt (Anson Mount) and the rest of the Royal Court finally made it back to Attilan for one last showdown with Maximus (Iwan Rheon)- but could he be reasoned with, or was all hope lost for everyone? Whatever the case, Black Bolt was determined to give his estranged brother one last chance before resorting to violence- but could the same be said for Maximus?

The answers to all this formed the basis of the final two episodes, which saw the show fall prey to the whole “I’m not quite dead” thing that a lot of superhero/supernatural-oriented shows do more often than not at this point. Basically, what I mean is that someone will seem to be dead, only to be later shown to be alive, typically through some magical hoodoo or convenient plot twist. Not content to settle on one, “Inhumans” went with a little of both.

As viewers know, we lost Triton (Mike Moh) way back on the premiere episode and Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor) on the sixth episode. On the seventh episode, we discovered that Black Bolt had some super-secret plan that had Triton actually fake his death and keep a low profile on Earth until the rest of the crew could catch up to him. Needless to say, the others, particularly Medusa (Serinda Swan), were none too amused at being kept in the dark about all of this, and honestly, I can’t say I blame them, as there was no reason to keep it a secret past a certain point, save for the “surprise” element.

On the plus side, those viewers who were fans of the original comics who complained about the fact that one of the coolest characters was taken out so soon were no doubt happy to find out that such wasn’t the case after all. (The same cannot be said for the ridiculously underused character played by Nicola Peltz, who the writers couldn’t even be bothered to give a name- a true waste of a talented actress.)

Furthermore, after more definitively being killed, Gorgon was likewise resurrected when bestie Karnak (Ken Leung) opted to put him through Terrigenesis again, in hopes of bringing him back to life. It eventually worked, but at what cost? It seems that when one goes through the process a second time, it can scramble the brain something fierce, and such was the case here, as Gorgon went thoroughly mental and ended up killing Dr. Declan (Henry Ian Cusick) in the process.

He very nearly took out Karnak as well, but thankfully, Karnak was able to talk Gorgon down just enough to get him to help the good guys, instead of going on a full-throttle rampage. But at the end of the series, he’s still not in great shape, so maybe not the greatest of ideas there, Karnak? Oh well, nothing ventured…

Meanwhile, Black Bolt managed to secure a public parley for him and Maximus by returning the latter’s people relatively unharmed, save Auran (Sonya Balmores) and the handful that died in the fight on Earth. Of course, at this point, as far as Maximus knew, Gorgon and Triton were also dead, so there were casualties on both sides, technically. Further, Black Bolt had Maximus’ scientist, Dr. Declan with him, and was willing to trade him back and let Maximus go through Terrigenesis again, in exchange for letting Black Bolt reclaim the throne.

Naturally, Maximus being the douche he is, as soon as he gets Dr. Declan back, he proceeds to renege on the deal and tells Black Bolt he will remain the King of Attilan. He demands that the Royal Family leave immediately. They do, but, as aforementioned, Black Bolt has a back-up plan. To that end, Triton takes out several of Maximus’ guards and drags Maximus back to a hidden underground bunker that only Black Bolt knew about.

Black Bolt threatens to kill Maximus, but he has a back-up plan of his own- if he dies, it will cause the protective dome over the city to fall and kill everyone inside. The problem is, it’s a precarious arrangement, and if Maximus doesn’t do something about it sooner than later, it may be irreversible, even if Black Bolt doesn’t kill him.

To that end, Black Bolt concocts another plan to evacuate the moon and send everyone to Earth, with the help of Louise (Ellen Woglom), who gets her boss to arrange a place where the entire population of Attilan can be received, pretty much all at once. (I’m still a bit fuzzy on where exactly that ended up being.) I imagine if the show had continued, we would have found out more about who Louise and her boss worked for, but as that seems unlikely now, it’s open for speculation all around, though I suppose the cast could always crop up on “Agents of SHIELD.”

In the meantime, Maximus is rescued by some more of his guards, and is stunned and angered to find Dr. Declan dead and the Terrigen Crystals missing, thus foiling his plan to undergo Terrigenesis again. Medusa has absconded with them and taken them to Earth, to be looked after by Louise, who she now considers a true friend. She returns to Attilan and tries to reason with Maximus, but to no avail.

The Royal Family make an announcement to the denizens of Attilan, telling them of Maximus’ plot and that they may follow them to Earth instead of going down with the ship, as it were. They tell everyone who wants to leave to meet them at Eldrac, for a mass evacuation. By this point, even Auran- who was disappointed to learn of Maximus’ plans to undergo Terrigenesis again, admiring the fact that he accomplished all he did as a human- deserts Maximus and leaves.

Not that you can blame anyone, as the dome that protected Attilan is clearly coming down, one way or another, so they would be doomed if they stayed anyway. Upon seeing off everyone else, including the Royal Family, Black Bolt remains behind to try and talk sense to Maximus one last time, once again taking him to the underground bunker, where both will be safe from the outside destruction.

There, Maximus reveals that it was he who faked the letter that claimed that their parents signed off on brain surgery for Black Bolt, thinking that Black Bolt would be so upset he would leave the Moon and retreat to Earth- instead, he accidentally killed his own parents when he spoke in their presence. So, basically, by extension, Maximus, in his lust for power and to be King, caused the death of his own parents in his miscalculation.

Upset, but not murderous, Black Bolt opts to take the semi-high road and rather than killing Maximus, leaves him trapped in the bunker all alone as he himself flees for Eldrac, who gets him out just in the nick of time, as the dome falls and Attilan is essentially destroyed, with Maximus without hope of escaping. On the plus side, as Black Bolt informed him, there’s enough food to last a lifetime, so, he’s set. He just won’t have much in the way for company for the rest of his life.

In the final scenes, we see a weird message crop up on the Throne of Attilan, as the city falls, which is left unexplained, and we see the Royal Family address the survivors of Attilan at the aforementioned undisclosed location, as the series draws to a close. Is this the last we’ll see of the Inhumans? Maybe not, as, like I said, they could always bring them back via “AOS,” but as an ongoing series, it seems unlikely that it will return.

Though the ratings leveled out between 3-4 million after the initial premiere high of 5.58 million viewers, which means that after the big drop-off, those who did stick with the show likely watched it to the bitter end, there’s no denying that critical response was pretty brutal and that fans of the comics weren’t too happy with it, either.

TBH, one can’t really blame them. As an “event series” that cost millions to make and premiered in the IMAX format, it looked shockingly cheap and more than a little on the chintzy side. I often found myself thinking of the 80’s sci-fi shows I grew up with, like “Battlestar Galactica” (the old, cheesy one, not the vastly superior reboot) or “Buck Rogers” or even older, campier stuff like the movie “Logan’s Run” or “Soylent Green.” They might have been aiming for “THX-1138,” but where they landed was closer to “Zardoz” territory, if you know what I mean- only not even that fun.

While not without a sense of humor, “Inhumans” was a mostly joyless, dismal affair with a heavily-flawed concept that was inherently dubious and tried to talk its way out of such shady plot points way too late in the game. Yes, the Royal Family learned from their mistakes in the end, but it took a wackadoodle like Maximus to point out that, you know, maybe using humans as slave labor is wrong, you know?

It wasn’t until Maximus finally went off the deep end- which took near half the series, mind you- that we finally started to root for the Royals, and even then, the learning curve on their end was steep. It took to the final episode for Medusa to even acknowledge that Louise was her friend- so foreign was the concept to her- or for Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) to realize she never said a proper goodbye to Dave and might have had genuine feelings for him.

If this weren’t a sci-fi show, all of this would be tantamount to asking us, the viewer, to side with the snooty, emotionless rich folks and root against the common, mistreated salt-of-the-earth type people. To back the boss instead of the working man, in other words. Newsflash: I’m not sure if there ever is a time where an audience would do that in the first place- unless, of course, they themselves are the rich and powerful in question- but this sure isn’t it now, in this day and age, with so many people suffering while a rarefied few hold all the money and power.

So, yeah. Bad timing all around, for a story like this- if people really wanted to see rich people bitch and fight, they probably would be watching “Dynasty,” and judging by that show’s ratings (under a million and falling week-by-week), that ain’t happening, either. If you look at a lot of popular shows right now- “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Good Doctor,” etc.- many of them revolve around underdogs fighting against an oft-merciless system that undervalues them.

“Inhumans” was basically the complete opposite of that, and I think that’s a big reason it essentially tanked. Well, that, and I think people are starting to get a little burnt-out on superhero stuff right about now. I don’t know about you guys, but these days the ones that do appeal to me tend to be good-natured and fun, a la “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool” or gratifyingly adult in content and themes, such as in “Logan” or many of Marvel’s Netflix shows, especially “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage.”

But even beyond all that, “Inhumans” just wasn’t that good of a show in the first place. There were too many missteps, it was poorly conceived, written, and let’s be honest, it wasn’t the finest hour for a lot of the cast, acting-wise, either- and mind you, I like a lot of them, under normal circumstances, particularly Cusick, Mount and Swan. (Props to Woglom and Balmores for doing what they could with underwritten roles, though.)

I suppose I’ve seen worse, and it did get slightly better as it went along, but overall, it was a bit of a disappointment. Honestly, I think it would have been better served as a “phase”- or ongoing subplot- on “AOS.” They had already laid the groundwork for it on the show, as it was, and by doing that, it wouldn’t have led to the show being postponed so long, angering fans of that show in the process.

Yes, I’m aware of the density of back-story from the comics, but be honest: what we got here could have easily been streamlined even more, even clocking in at a mere eight episodes. It often dragged, took forever to finally get going, the Royals were split up most of the time in subplots that went nowhere, and the villains were easily more compelling than the supposed heroes, and even they took a few episodes to make their mark.

By cutting all of that in half and incorporating it into an already-established show, they might have even been able to spin it off properly, later on in the game, with viewers of “AOS” following it into said offshoot show. Instead, by gambling that fans would get in on the show from the ground floor, despite that iffy premise and dubious storyline, the show shot itself in the foot, likely dooming any chance of continuing, even on “AOS.”

But you never know, the “Inhumans” may be down, but not out. I suppose they might make a cameo later on in “AOS” if it can rebound from its necessarily late premiere date to recoup some viewers. My hope is that, what with a lot of shows about to go on hiatus for the holidays, that “AOS” will benefit from being one of the only shows airing new episodes over the course of December and early January. We shall see.

I wanted to like “Inhumans,” but I’m afraid it just didn’t do it for me in the end. Sometimes, as they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Too bad this one took the expressway to get there, when the scenic route would have been so much better.

What did you think of “Marvel’s Inhumans”? Was it Marvel’s first bona fide bomb? At least on TV? (One could make a case for “Iron Fist,” if you count streaming, I guess.) Is Marvel losing its touch? Or was this just an unfortunate fluke? Would you like to see the Inhumans return on “AOS”? Or should they quit while they’re (sort of) ahead? Sound off on this and more down below, and be sure to join me in a few weeks for the big “AOS” premiere!