(L-R): Emilia Clarke as G'iah and Ben Mendelsohn as Talos in Marvel Studios' SECRET INVASION, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Des Willie. © 2023 MARVEL.

Secret Invasion Season 1 Episode 3 Review: “Betrayed”

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the actors and writers involved in the project(s) mentioned here, Pages and Pictures would not exist. Pages and Pictures stands firmly behind WGA and SAG-AFTRA members as they fight for fair labour conditions. 

Secret Invasion Season 1 Episode 3, “Betrayed,” continues to lean into its problematic premise and introduces a new slew of questionable storytelling choices. The unfortunate part is that there could be a lot of potential in this series. Unfortunately, at the halfway point, the emotional core of this story is still missing. Opportunities are being missed to delve into characters who could be exciting new additions to this universe.

This episode makes clear that there are some incredibly talented women involved in this project. Olivia Coleman, Anna Madeley and Emilia Clarke are clearly giving their all here. Each of these characters could be a dynamic addition to a franchise that so desperately needs female characters. With this kind of star power on display, it’s disappointing that none of these characters are developed to their full potential. 

It makes sense to start with Olivia Coleman and the fact that she’s nothing less than a force of nature. She’s so diabolical and fun to watch; she is the deserving centre of every scene she’s in. She could be the villain Marvel needs at this moment. This character is the epitome of the dangers of nice white women. She could make an incredible and topical villain in Marvel’s current era. With all of the discussions around white women and the visceral danger that they pose to everyone, ourselves included, it makes sense that this character is a villain for our time.

Unfortunately, Secret Invasion Season 1 Episode 3, “Betrayed,” also features the continued refusal to engage in developing female characters in a compelling way. Each female character that is introduced is simply used as a venue to further a male character’s story. While it may be that aliens have advanced beyond the gender binary, the female-appearing aliens are given the decidedly short end of the stick when it comes to character development. Their stories get lost in the shuffle. 

This episode could also be a further exploration of how Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) perceives himself and his own legacy. Presumably, his time with the Avengers is coming to an end. This entire series could be a chance to delve into what makes Fury tick. He could take his well-deserved chance in the spotlight after playing a critical supporting role. Instead, his own story is lost in the chaos of the rest of the story.

Finally, Secret Invasion continues to miss opportunities to create emotional story beats. It remains difficult to invest emotionally in this story that is rooted in very problematic stereotypes. The Skrulls could have a very interesting and topical storyline about the migrant experience and the tragedy of being forced out of one’s home. Instead, surface-level storytelling is not serving these characters. It cannot even be said that the antisemitic trope is being subverted as it remains on full display. 

At the halfway point of the series, Secret Invasion shows no signs of improving on its glaring flaws. It is getting more frustrating to watch this series progress with the same missteps being made. There are many chances to focus on any of these characters. Hopefully, there is still time to develop these stories in compelling ways. 

Secret Invasion streams Thursdays on Disney+.

Leave a Reply