Invincible season 2 has been very intriguing in its character-centric story following Mark Grayson’s transition into adulthood as he continues to struggle handling Omni-Man’s (J. K. Simmons) abandonment. In the first two episodes, Mark (Steven Yeun) has been trying to re-adjust to being Cecil’s (Walton Giggins) superhero agent while trying to stand on his own (be it with some reluctant restrictions.)
While episode 2 nearly brought out his father’s traits, “This Missive, This Machination!” tries to bring a more calming energy to the season through Mark’s personalized college transition and Debbie’s (Sandra Oh) newly found process of grieving. However, it also continues to heighten the already intensified stakes through every fan’s favorite resident alien and Viltrumite-equivalent: Allen the Alien (Seth Rogen).
Invincible Season 2 Episode 3 Recap Review
In its first half, the episode makes a quick turnaround from focusing on Mark and Debbie, but it continues to build the emotional groundwork of self-discovery as Mark settles into his new university life with Mark as Debbie encourages him to explore who he “wants” to be. Afterwards, Debbie decides to take up Olga’s offer from the previous episode, which is revealed to be an invite to a grievance group for superhero spouses. Though Mark is easily able to fit into his new circumstances, Debbie can’t emotionally let go of Nolan. It continues to beautifully drive that feeling later in the episode, showcasing the show’s more tonally mature perspective as Mark and Amber (Zazie Beetz) ‘enjoy’ their first day at college.
Surprisingly, the episode becomes comically meta (even in the title card drop) as it switches to following Allen’s perspective while giving a lot of exposition as to how Allen became the galactic protector fans have seen in season 1. His meeting with the Coalition of Planets serves to mostly weave the larger narrative threads of Mark’s story on a cosmic scale (and to showcase Peter Cullen‘s menacing performance as Thaedus) through this conspiracy plot, but Allen’s relationship with Telia (Tatiana Maslany) adds a touch of sweetness to liven things.
However, the episode, staying in line with the shocking moments Invincible is known for, throws Allen into the eyesight of some Viltrumite warriors as Allen painstakingly sacrifices his body for everyone’s, especially Mark’s, safety. It plays to the bittersweet mood as witnessing his brief encounters with Mark made him memorable, but this arc shortly falters as it plays into the cliche of the regretful traitor through Thaedus.
Meanwhile, Debbie’s story in this episode paves her overall journey this season with a lot of sincerity as she tries to live on her own without Mark or Nolan. In addition to Sandra Oh’s heartfelt performance, the intricate writing of Debbie’s emotional processing is maintained with respect, keeping the story’s flow brisk while giving her some room for independence through her first nightly meeting, even if she struggles to accept the circumstances due to grief. It’s all the more elegantly melancholy when she realizes that the person who she could relate to her, Theo (Daveed Diggs), can’t trust her since Omni-Man killed his wife, Green Ghost.
As for the Guardians of the Globe, the love triangle dynamic between Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas), Dupli-Kate (Malese Jow), and the Immortal (Ross Marquand) is slowly improving, albeit still limited due to the priority of these other storylines. Dupli-Kate’s motivations for dating the Immortal are made concisely clear as they’ve both lived a lot of times, but given Rex’s persistent arrogance, it doesn’t feel like it’s moving its wheels.
However, the growing relationship between Rudy (Zachary Quinto) and Amanda (Grey Griffin) balances out the emotional connection of this story as Monster Girl tries to help Rudy overcome fear by letting him experience the fun of being human. Inevitably, this brings the two even closer together in this wonderful way.
Back to Mark, he’s still influenced by his youth, holding onto important collectables like Seance Dog, which hints at an important character element in the form of a Thraxian who’s looking for Invincible’s help to save their planet. Though Amber and William understand Mark’s choice, the same can’t be said for Cecil, who’s beginning to view Mark similarly to Omni-Man.
The intentional contrast between episodes 2 and 3 presents how complex Mark has become: he wants to do the right thing at a compromise of following orders. In the end, he decides to do what his spirit tells him, which scarily reunites him back with Omni-Man.
Invincible season 2 episode 3 proves to be a solid stepping stone towards a fiery climax by exploring how Mark and Debbie’s new livelihoods have affected their emotional dynamics while increasing the stakes of the Viltrumite threat through Allen’s adventure. Though this episode did try to compact all of its narratives in order to centralize its seasonal midpoint, it still provides some strong vocal performances and extreme action while gradually improving each and every storyline.
Rating – 8/10
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.