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Secret Invasion Season 1 Episode 4 Review: “Beloved”

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 4, “Beloved,” continues with misguided storytelling and missed opportunities. The lack of focus in this series serves as a distraction from what could be an otherwise compelling story. In particular, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) could be the protagonist to tie the entire series together. Unfortunately, the uneven pacing and odd storytelling choices are overwhelming the possibilities. 

Like the rest of the series, this episode drops confusing plot points, and it’s unclear who we’re all supposed to be cheering for. To be clear, this can be done very effectively in the right hands. The ambiguity could be used to create a compelling arc for these characters, who are apparently meant to be a critical part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. The Skrulls could be so much more than what has been shown of them so far.

This episode also raises far more questions than answers. If the Skrulls are supposed to be persecuted refugees, why must they infiltrate not only world governments but superheroes as well? This leaning into a very troubling and damaging stereotype serves as a distraction to what could ultimately be a reasonably interesting addition to this superhero universe. Unfortunately, the series lacks the depth to make these topical points. 

Secret Invasion Season 1 Episode 4, “Beloved,” also fails to continue to develop the relationship between Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Rhody (Don Cheadle). This relationship has a lot of potential since it’s been a core of the Avengers team for at least a minute. Unfortunately, any opportunity to really delve into what makes these two tick is retconned by the fact that aliens are involved and this is the main feature of their story. 

This episode also falls short in developing Priscilla (Charlayne Woodard) as a character of her own. She has the potential to be a compelling character in her own right. She has her own history, including being impersonated by an alien. Unfortunately, like every other female character, she is treated as a simple footnote in Fury’s story. She represents another opportunity to have a compelling female to cheer for in this gargantuan franchise. 

Finally, the final action sequence illustrates in many ways just how much this series is struggling. The action feels meaningless since there are no emotionally developed characters to cheer for. Even the moments that are meant to be heartstoppingly dramatic largely fall flat because there is hardly anything to buy into. Tarlos’ demise should be an emotionally charged moment. Because we hardly know him. However, the moment isn’t used to its advantage. 

Secret Invasion is approaching its final episodes, and things do not look good. So many opportunities are still being missed. Characters who could otherwise become integral parts of the MCU are being shortchanged. The series also continues to miss opportunities to reflect on legacy characters and the influence they have had on this franchise. These missed opportunities to tell compelling stories are becoming progressively more tiresome. 

Secret Invasion streams Thursdays on Disney+.

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