REVIEW: ‘Invincible,’ Episode 4 – ”Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out”

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Invincible Episode 4After its super-sized premiere last week, Invincible Episode 4 literally takes the series out of this world. “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out” features Mark (Steven Yeun) volunteering to chaperone a manned mission to Mars where he encounters the Martian empire as well as another alien threat. Meanwhile, Nolan (J.K. Simmons) and Debbie (Sandra Oh) go on an impromptu vacation while Damien Darkblood (Clancy Brown) continues his investigation into the Guardians of the Globe’s murder.

This episode continues to showcase the same fluid animation that has been the series’ hallmark so far and takes things up a notch by introducing a new environment in the form of Mars. Director Cory Evans brings a rather serene beauty to the Red Planet, with clouds of orangish dust often obscuring the things that lurk underneath the surface. He also makes great use of the Martian race’s shapeshifting abilitieswhen Mark first encounters them, he mistakes them for diamondsand a neat gag about what happens when you try to eat food in space.

“Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out” is light on action but does push the plot forward in a significant number of ways. Chief among them is the unease Debbie has around Nolan, which only begins to intensify throughout the episode. Oh continues to give a subtle, yet wonderful performance that’s laced with anxiety and anger, serving as a neat contrast to the usual depiction of superheroic spouses in fiction. Likewise, Simmons is unpredictable as Nolan; one minute he’s sweeping his wife off her feet, the next he’s threatening Darkblood. Even though the “Superman breaking bad” trope has been worn thin at this point, Simmons puts his own spin on it by actually giving Nolan dimensions.

Yeun and Brown also get their chance to shine throughout the episode. I spoke before on how Yeun’s performance brought Mark to life and that continues here. From his awe at the wonder of space to his worry about his relationship with Amber (Zazie Beetz),Yeun continues to make his superhuman feel all too human. And Brown is a delight as Darkbloodwhat can I say? I love the idea of a demon detective and Brown’s usually deep voice lowers to a chilling octave which helps make this performance stand out.

If Invincible Episode 4 has a flaw, it’s that it feels a bit too packed with subplots. In addition to Mark’s trip to Mars and Nolan and Debbie’s vacation, there’s also the machinations of Robot (Zachary Quinto) and the Mauler Twins (Kevin Michael Richardson). And that’s not even counting the opening, which features an actual mummy. The subplots in the original comic were more carefully layered so that the creative team could pick up on them in future installments. While I appreciate that the animated series is going in its own direction, I do hope that it takes its time when touching on the subplots it lays out.

Invincible Episode 4 continues to add more layers to its cast of characters while packing in a wealth of subplots and a trip to Mars. Now that the series has hit the halfway point, I’m eager to see how the series continues to handle Mark’s heroics as Invincible and how he’ll react to his father’s secret.

Invincible is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

Invincible Episode 4 - "Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out"
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Invincible Episode 4 continues to add more layers to its cast of characters while packing in a wealth of subplots and a trip to Mars. Now that the series has hit the halfway point, I’m eager to see how the series continues to handle Mark’s heroics as Invincible and how he’ll react to his father’s secret.