Secret Invasion – Episode 8

Jul 26, 2023 | Posted by in TV
Secret Invasion

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.


Secret Invasion concludes with a final showdown and questions about what to do following these events.

The word that comes to mind when thinking about this show is “frustrating”. A Nick Fury-centric show rooted in paranoia and political complexity was a strong promise that was arguably a long time coming given how long Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury has been a fixture in the MCU. Delivering a more grounded MCU story after so many large-scale outlandish projects was attractive as well as it serves as a reminder of the versatility of the franchise. The unfortunate reality is that Secret Invasion was a poorly plotted, incoherent mess of a show that rarely managed to go beneath the surface of the ideas it presented and consistently failed to explore its characters in meaningful ways. It wasn’t without its moments as individual scenes could be engaging by themselves but there was no sense of overall purpose to what it was doing which made the experience as a whole very frustrating.

Secret Invasion

A long-awaited conversation…or so you think

In some ways, it’s unfair to judge the finale harshly on its own terms as it suffers from the previous episodes failing to provide appropriate buildup to what it was paying off. Major alarm bells started to ring in the previous episode when it appeared that Gravik’s true objective was obtaining the DNA of the Avengers in order to make himself more powerful. Such a reveal would render much of what the show had explored pointless because it was never actually about the Skrulls looking for a home. Making Gravik a power-hungry liar who makes false promises to his people in order to use them to further his own plan effectively removes the need to resolve what the show promised to be about in its first episode.

It’s notable that one of the themes of the show early on was false promises. Fury failed to deliver on his promise to find the Skrulls a home and debates could be had about whether he truly intended to deliver what he promised or if he was going to use it as an unreachable carrot to keep the Skrulls motivated to be his operatives. The latter is in line with Fury’s previously established ruthlessness and an entire race being disillusioned to the point of looking to claim the planet they’re currently on is an engaging consequence of Fury’s deceit. It’s a problem that he created and dealing with it encourages him to look inward and examine his choices. That doesn’t actually happen as the show pivots away from it in favour of making Gravik an uncomplicated villain that simply has to be stopped

False promises also connect to Gravik in that he has promised to lead his people on a campaign to eradicate humanity and claim Earth as their home but seems to have never intended to carry out that promise. The previous episode contains a scene where some of his followers turn on him after he reveals himself to have been less than honest with them. They were also concerned about how quickly he dispenses lethal punishment when questioned. A leader who doesn’t live up to his own ideals can be a compelling and complex figure, especially if his followers are characterised enough so that losing faith in him is earned as a development but the work isn’t put in for any of that to mean anything. It’s all there on the surface but since there’s no depth or weight to the ideas it all comes across as nothing more than things happening to move the plot in a particular direction so the finale can play out as it did. The false promises theme extends to the audience being promised that the show would be about certain things and getting something entirely different.

Secret Invasion

Time to power up

The most frustrating thing is that all of the ingredients were present for something really engaging to play out. Presenting Nick Fury as a self-serving liar furthering his own agenda by stringing on a race of shapeshifters for decades because their ability to be anyone makes them the best spies he could hope to have access to is a great idea. He could be a morally compromised figure that the audience is encouraged to continually feel uncertain about trusting. He’s the “hero” in the sense that he’s the lead of this show but is he a character the audience should root for? That ambiguity and the idea that Fury is, at best, the best of the terrible options for a victor could have resulted in a project that sticks in the mind for longer than the majority of the MCU output. That is of course contingent on the execution being on point but Fury has already been set up as someone who shouldn’t be trusted because of the lines he is willing to cross so some of the groundwork was already done before the show even started.

On the other side of that, Gravik striking out against Fury and humanity fuelled by anger as a result of this false promise only to become no better than Fury by presenting his people with a different yet equally harmful false promise could have made for an excellent villain. Having him be so consumed by his own desire for power that he lost sight of what motivated him in the first place and engineering his own downfall by angering a million of his people looking to him for guidance and leadership is potentially a very strong setup leading to a powerful payoff. As stated, the ingredients are there but they aren’t combined into anything interesting or even coherent.

It’s especially evident in Gravik’s interaction with G’iah posing as Fury. As far as Gravik knows he is talking to the real Nick Fury so he pulls no punches in being brutally honest about how he views him. It does give some insight into Gravik and how he feels, something that has been noticeably lacking over the course of the season so it’s commendable in that respect but it also comes too late and it’s diluted by the fact that the scene is building to the reveal that G’iah is posing as Fury.

Secret Invasion

That’s enough nuance, let’s fight

Despite that, there are some engaging things about the conversation. Gravik’s perspective reinforces that Fury isn’t a good person and that he used others to get what he wants. It’s mentioned that Gravik wears the face of the first person he killed as a reminder of the stains on his soul gained by following Fury’s orders. Doing what Fury asked negatively affected him as the deeds are difficult to live with while Fury gets to absolve himself of the guilt because he didn’t directly end the lives of whoever he believed needed to be killed. An interesting takeaway from this is that Gravik does see Humans as people as shown by his awareness of the fullness of the lives he extinguished. He resents Fury for making him do that and the fact he was recruited as a child only worsens the psychological damage done to him while furthering how awful a person Nick Fury actually is.

It has been evident since early in this show that Fury is trying to solve a problem he created and Gravik is very much the personification of that. If he had been better explored as a character throughout then this confrontation may have been more satisfying but it’s all surface. There has been no time to dive into the nuances of Gravik’s view of humanity after seeing the worst of them in his role as a spy and assassin. Witnessing all that he did during his career would certainly leave a strong impression, particularly with him starting at such a formative age. There’s plenty for him to resent Fury for and this episode couldn’t begin to explore that because the rest of the show hasn’t provided everything required to feed into this climactic moment.

As stated above, it’s diluted by the fact that G’iah as posing as Fury. All that is said is said by G’iah so doesn’t represent what Fury actually thinks or feels. This means there’s no actual payoff to the barely established Fury/Gravik dynamic as Fury doesn’t actually interact with him to respond to what Gravik has to say. It’s unclear whether she was briefed on how Fury would react to what Gravik might say or if she is responding according to her interpretation of what Fury would say or if she is responding as herself. G’iah as Fury admits that he failed Gravik and the other Skrulls and lied to them but that may not be what he thinks. It’s believably what she thinks because she has been shown to be frustrated that the Skrulls don’t have a place to call home where they can be their authentic selves.

Secret Invasion

A bold flex

Fury admitting to his mistakes and taking ownership of them or equally doubling down on believing that his decisions were necessary when considering the bigger picture were both options but the show doesn’t deliver either of them. G’iah saying the words is the easy way out because none of what she says can be attributed to Fury which effectively means he hasn’t progressed beyond the point he started when the show began.

Her statement “It’s easier to save the lives of 8 billion people than change their hearts and minds” could be attributed to both G’iah and Fury as it tracks with what is known about her and Fury has been previously shown to have a cynical view of humanity as per his statement that they can’t even get along with themselves let alone an alien race. It’s a line of dialogue that’s written to sound profound and Samuel L. Jackson’s delivery certainly enhances it but it’s ultimately meaningless because it’s unclear what the intent behind the statement is. The more likely possibility is that G’iah is playing the part of Fury so that Gravik doesn’t twig that he is being deceived so everything said is her trying to pass as Nick Fury which means there is no clarity on how true any of the statements made are because it’s unclear if she means what she is saying. The same applies to the admission that Fury felt relieved when the Blip happened as it meant that the fight was over. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing for someone with so much responsibility to say but it may not be how Fury felt so it’s meaningless.

It’s difficult not to feel cheated by G’iah posing as Fury during the only meaningful scene Samuel L. Jackson and Kingsley Ben-Adir share. This should be a major confrontation as Fury and Gravik finally butt heads after all that has come before the moment but Gravik -and by extension, the audience- is robbed of the satisfaction of the confrontation because it isn’t really Fury. It also robs the audience of the payoff of what has been set up about Fury since the first episode. Different characters have stated on several occasions that Fury isn’t the man he once was and that the Blip changed him in fundamental ways. The admission of feeling relieved that the fight was over as he faded away only to -from his perspective- instantly return and realise it wasn’t would have a profound psychological effect. Combine that with the notion of returning to a world that has changed and having no grasp on how it works due to the long absence then there’s the recipe for an excellent character arc where Fury is presented with a challenge and he can either rise to it or be overwhelmed by it.

Secret Invasion

There’s no end to my talents

Instead, we get G’iah probably interpreting that he felt relief when he thought his life was over and struggling to deal with the realisation that it wasn’t. It says nothing about Fury and does nothing with a setup that was repeatedly shoved down the viewer’s throat. Outside of a few reveals and insights, Fury ends the show almost as enigmatic as when he began which means there has been very limited progression so that he can be restored to almost factory settings allowing for his presence in The Marvels. Marvel seems to be actively rejecting the concept of their shared universe in favour of leaving characters in a near-default state instead of building and developing them and the world they inhabit.

The reveal that G’iah has been posing as Fury results in another missed opportunity. G’iah has plenty of reason to hate Gravik given that he killed her mother and father as well as trying to kill her. This amounts to nothing more than her stating that he did those things before they have a spectacle-driven fight where they both work their way through the extended laundry list of powers they have both recently obtained. It’s well done as far as spectacle goes but it stands out that neither combatant has had an opportunity to adjust to their new powers yet appear to have mastered them with no practice. Considering gaining power may have been Gravik’s only objective, it’s reasonable to expect that he would take some time to reflect on the powers he has gained rather than going straight into a fight where he cycles through many of them as G’iah retaliates by doing the same. Not to mention the narrative mess that is the tainted DNA samples taken from a battlefield and mixed into a cocktail of powers of some sort that the writers clearly had no interest in addressing at all.

Gravik ends the show as a faceless monster that G’iah defeats with her newfound powers. There’s no satisfaction to be found in his defeat as there was barely any character to him throughout the show and he effectively disappears for his final moment to be replaced with a CGI creature with no personality. There’s nothing to take from it as there’s no emotional weight to him being stopped nor does it meaningfully feed into any narrative threads that may be at play.

Secret Invasion

It’s easier than we’re making it

There are supposed stakes in the form of a ticking clock that will end with the destruction of the Skrull compound at the hands of the United States. This will be quickly followed by Russia retaliating and World War III will begin. The War will supposedly lead to the eradication of the Human race and clear a path for the Skrulls to take over. This seems to be in line with what the show promised to the audience but it comes across as an afterthought in a finale largely geared around the spectacle-driven fight between Gravik and G’iah. The lack of depth is especially egregious as Gravik’s followers -former or otherwise- are entirely absent from this episode meaning there is no sense of how the million Skrulls feel about how things have ended up.

It’s unclear if Gravik still -or ever- wanted World War III to happen though the fact that the compound is empty except for him and two guards standing at the gate does lean towards the Skrulls being evacuated before the compound was bombed as bait for Russia’s retaliation. The real Fury works to convince President Ritson to call off the bombing because he has been misled. Instead of proving his point by simply shooting Raava/Rhodey in the hand to prove that Rhodey has been replaced, he and Sonia continually appeal to Ritson to listen to them. It’s infuriating to witness as it would be so easy to resolve the situation with evidence that they are telling the truth. Sonia has outed Skrulls by using similar methods on a couple of occasions and the point ends up being proven by shooting Raava in the head anyway. It’s framed as an act of desperation as time comes close to running out but it was completely unnecessary based on previously established rules. The intent was to manufacture tension by letting the ticking clock count rather than using what had previously been established and allowing the characters to be consistent.

Raava’s unceremonious death was a wasted opportunity as no sense of who this character was or what she stood for is delivered. It’s clear she followed Gravik without question but it wasn’t clear why. Others turned on him but she remained loyal and it’s never explained why. She was named and given slightly more attention than other Skrulls posing as various people which suggests there was a plan to do something with her beyond posing as Rhodey but it amounts to nothing.

Secret Invasion

Problem solved

Ritson calls off the bombing but declares all off-world foreign species to be enemy combatants. Presumably, this would also apply to the Asgardians living in Norway. Either way, he effectively galvanises the public to enact vigilante justice against anyone found to be an alien. A montage shows this happening to the Skrull Council that appeared earlier in the season using imagery that recalls the January 6th incident. Fury does condemn Ritson for his decision and threatens that his presidency will be short-lived following this but Fury is far from the best person to be lecturing anyone on ethics so the condemnation falls flat. In a better show that would be fine but it’s played as a victory for Fury as the man on the side of the Angels while masquerading as complex by suddenly painting Rison as a foolish Trump-esque figure when the show has done little to establish what sort of a person he is.

The messaging is concerning but it’s also worth noting that the show has nothing resembling a clear line of thought so there’s no way to gauge what the actual point being made is. It could be interpreted that the show is saying that refugees are the enemy but there is a lack of strong evidence to support that claim. The Skrull perspective on Ritson’s declaration isn’t at all represented so it’s nothing more than a shock development that plays out in a montage of people being attacked by a fearful public. As with many things, it’s all surface.

On a personal note for Fury, the question of whether he loves Priscilla/Varra for who she truly is or only loves the Human face she wears reemerges and seems to be resolved by Fury stating that he loves her for who she is. Kissing her without the Human disguise suggests that he means what he says. It’s a nice moment that offers some form of closure on a lingering question but it doesn’t feel earned because the question was raised at an earlier point and resolved in this episode with nothing in-between. Fury and Priscilla/Varra’s relationship was one of the more interesting elements, largely thanks to the actors and some well-written exchanges but there’s actually very little to it when considering the connection as a whole.

Secret Invasion

What film is this?

Fury tells her that there is good news as the Kree have expressed their desire to negotiate. This development comes from nowhere and has nothing to do with what has been offered before this point. It makes everything that has happened over the course of the series arguably pointless because the answer to the problem of the Skrull’s not having a home comes from a line of dialogue presenting a solution that hasn’t been set up in any way. This may result in the Skrulls being declared as enemy combatants to be a non-issue as their next appearance will explain that the negotiations were successful and they were all relocated to another planet. As mentioned above, Marvel seems to be rejecting the notion of their shared universe and ensuring that a given project won’t have meaningful consequences that will impact others.

There are some suggested consequences that may come into play in limited ways at a later point. G’iah being recruited by Sonia along with the mention of her perhaps being the ideal candidate to lead the Skrulls exists to set up G’iah’s return at an undisclosed point and offer a conclusion to the arc she never had. In a better version of this show, G’iah stepping into the spotlight and assuming a leadership position as someone who could be trusted to act in the best interests of her people while also proving herself to have the necessary strength to take on threats is an excellent conclusion to a theoretical arc. She can honour her father by furthering his desire to achieve peaceful coexistence between Skrulls and Humans while tempering his naive idealism with her cynicism which allows her to prepare for threats. In many ways, she could be the ideal mix of Talos and Fury’s attitudes and the best hope for a balanced future. Unfortunately, none of that is in the show and the development is meaningless because it’s essentially a post-credit scene coming before the credits that lacks impact because it doesn’t flow from anything and doesn’t create anticipation for anything.

Rhodey and Everett Ross are freed from the Skrull compound but no indication of when they were replaced was given. G’iah simply says to Rhodey that it has been “a long time” but isn’t specific as to what she means by that. At the time of writing, Armour Wars is on the horizon so there is potential for Rhodey to be cleaning up the mess created by the imposter wearing his face though there’s no indication of what has been done in his name and how long it went on for. It’s likely that he was replaced sometime after the events of Avengers: Endgame as that removes the possibility of Rhodey being a Skrull during the events of any previously seen media -except perhaps his appearance in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier– meaning that no significant events are coloured by Rhodey being an imposter. If that’s the case, it’s certainly the safest option but also the one that makes the most sense as there wasn’t even the slightest hint that Rhodey was an imposter in any previous appearance.

Everett Ross’ appearance creates some timeline confusion as it would seem to place Secret Invasion before the events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever since that film ends with Ross being freed by Okoye and presumably hiding out in Wakanda. That is possible based on the available information but some confusion has been created by the lack of cohesion in a supposedly shared universe. This show failed to be worthwhile as a story on its own terms and will likely have next to no impact on the wider MCU.

Secret Invasion

Acceptance…or is it?


An atrocious finale that fails to pay off the limited setup, does nothing meaningful with the characters and confirms the show to be a waste of time.

  • 2/10
    "Home" - 2/10


Kneel Before…

  • Gravik’s perspective reinforcing that Fury isn’t a good person
  • the impressive action sequence
  • Fury telling Priscilla/Varra that he loves her for who she truly is and proving it visually being a nice moment by itself


Rise Against…

  • G’iah posing as Fury tainting the scene as Gravik isn’t actually confronting Fury
  • the likelihood that everything said by G’iah being her interpretation of how Fury would react
  • no confrontation between Gravik and Fury where Fury answers for what he did
  • not utilising the clear potential that existed to make Gravik an engaging villain
  • suggested ambiguity surrounding Fury that gets no attention
  • failing to capitalise on G’iah’s hated for Gravik
  • Gravik becoming a faceless monster to be defeated
  • no coverage of the perspective of the Skrulls at any point
  • artificially creating tension through trying to convince Ritson that he’s being manipulated instead of using established rules to quickly prove it
  • Raava’s death with no attention given to her character numbering among the many wasted opportunities
  • the concerning messaging surrounding Ritson declaring all aliens to be enemy combatants
  • the development that the Kree are willing to negotiate not being earned as it doesn’t flow from anything established in this show
  • G’iah being recruited by Sonia serving as a reminder of how wasted her character was
  • no suggestion of consequences affecting the wider universe


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