Invincible season 2’s focused storytelling from Robert Kirkman and Simon Racioppa continues to stand strong as Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) deftly balances his new collegiate lifestyle with his work as Earth’s (and Cecil’s) dedicated protector.
In its first episode, the show made its great reckoning, picking up after last season’s finale with Mark still struggling to accept his dad’s, Omni-Man (J. K. Simmons), brutality against him and Deborah (Sandra Oh). Looming in the background was Angstrom Levy (Sterling K. Brown), whose multiversal experiment with the Mauler Twins went wrong following Mark’s intervention.
Mark, this season, is in much more of a rough spot: he wants validation by doing the right thing while trying to avoid Omni-Man’s footsteps by following Cecil’s (Walton Giggins) word. Combine that with the transition to adulthood and you’ll definitely get a cascade of trouble.
Invincible Season 2 Episode 2 Recap Review
Right at the beginning, Mark’s already confronting Doc Seismic (Chris Diamantopoulos), your usual over-the-top but mid-level bad guy, at the Washington Monument while his graduation is happening, leaving Samantha aka Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), Amber (Zazie Beetz) and William (Andrew Rannells) waiting for him. Amazingly action-packed as always, it cleverly sets up a necessary message for Mark to understand: he needs to test himself, both physically and mentally, in order to surpass his father. Luckily, he takes down Seismic and returns to the ceremony, giving Mark and Amber a bit of a sweet moment about their middle names to top it.
However, Mark’s double (triple?) life between saving the world, transitioning to college, and caring for Deborah intriguingly weaves itself into key branching stories that converge into tonally darker territory. His confrontations with Darkwing (Cleveland Berto), the mantle taken by the predecessor’s sidekick, and the Atlanteans influence Mark to embrace his Viltrum roots. However, it also agonizingly emphasizes his empathy, supported by his dedication to Amber when he brings her to Las Vegas for lunch as well as being there for Deborah during her emotional breakdown. Mark still genuinely cares for others, which only adds to Mark’s complexity as a conflicted hero and individual (and potential threat in Cecil’s eyes.)
This episode also makes some room to further explore Atom Eve’s troubling familial conflict as she seeks to fix the damage Mark and Omni-Man did last season. Her efforts to repair the damage unfortunately go in vain much like how she tries to help her abrasive, overbearing father. Samantha, much like Mark, only wants to do what’s right, but their superpowers set them apart from other heroes as well as the rest of humanity. Though the writing feels “in-your-face” near the end, this side plot gives the episode a supplemental tonal gravitas that wonderfully complements Mark’s missions.
On the other hand, the Guardians of the Globe’s story is more action-focused as these two episodes continually test their chemistry. This storyline remains split between Shapesmith’s (Ben Schwartz) recruitment and the team’s overall relationships, especially with the Immortal (Ross Marquand) and Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas). While Shapesmith is genuinely hilarious and his story surprisingly maintains this absurd wackiness well, the narrative path the episode takes with the team itself needs more time to simmer as this felt more like plot progression rather than a character-driven story.
Deborah perhaps has the most heart-wrenching setup as she tries to hide her emotional scars throughout the episode. From trying to confront Cecil about Mark’s future to witnessing a reflection of her relationship with Omni-Man, Deborah realizes that she can’t just easily accept the facts. It’s a hard feeling to bear, which is perfectly highlighted by Matt Lambert’s writing and Ian Abando’s direction, as she struggles to keep her true feelings hidden even from Mark.
Invincible season 2 episode 2 does an impressive job emboldening Mark and his personal journey while also emphasizing the painstaking emotional troubles of Deborah and Atom Eve. Though some moments in this episode try to narratively propel the story along, it’s able to maintain a consistently interesting tone to complement this season’s message of grief.
Rating – 8.5/10
Invincible Season 2 is streaming on Prime Video starting November 3. Part 2 will be released in early 2024. Invincible was created by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley.
This review was written during the 2023 WGA (now resolved) and SAG-AFTRA (ongoing) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series/movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.