Ken and Robbie are back, for another week of… fun…
Ken: So, Robbie. I think I figured out the worst aspect of this show.
It’s not the terrible scripts. The direction. The CGI. I mean, those are contributing factors, but not the one that sticks out more for me each episode. It’s the soundtrack. More specifically, how it’s implemented. To put it simply, I don’t think any of the scenes are allowed to breathe on their own without some form of music over it being really out of place. It finally got to me in the hallway scene between Maximus and that dude from the Genetic Council. It could’ve been a -relatively- fine scene, but the slightly bombastic music over just killed it.
Robbie: I was too busy cringing over everything else to really notice at the time, but looking back, you’re right. The soundtrack is supposed to set the mood, the tone, and overall atmosphere, but in every scene the only thing I could think is “Why should I care?”
Ken: Right?! Speaking of, where do you want us to begin, Robbie? Because, well… I feel like this is the “best” episode so far? Maybe?
Robbie: Well, let’s start with our supposed protagonist, Black Bolt. He… continues to be there while things happen to and around him. Then he uncovers Dr. Declan’s sudden but inevitable betrayal, which has all the dramatic impact you’d expect from someone we’ve had all of five minutes to get to know.
Ken: Yeah. Fair credit to where it’s due: It’s not a “oh now the doc is suddenly evil”, it’s obvious, but there’s a slight twist in that he’s being manipulate by Maxiums this whole time. There is that. But you’re right, we knew this guy for all of ten minutes total?
Robbie: And we learned that he’s being manipulated right before Black Bolt does, so it’s not like there’s any tension of seeing him learn to trust Declan while we, as viewers, know it’s a bad idea.
But at least he and Medusa find each other (or rather, she forces Louise to find him, even though Louise was totally willing to cooperate anyways). Right after an extremely unexciting encounter with the hunters. A showdown between the two deadliest Inhumans in all of Attilan? Why would anyone want that?
Ken: Well, I suppose let’s talk about Medusa and Louise because they kind of are the center of the focus this episode (makes sense, considering the episode title). Again, I have to give some credit (in that, after smearing shit on the walls, you praise someone for not doing it), they at least try to create a rapport between the two in an attempt to humanize Medusa a bit instead of coming off as an entitled queen. Not unlike Black Bolt and Sammy, it does a lot more than the last three episodes did.
Although, in flashback, there is something that interested me. Apparently, Medusa and Crystal’s parents wanted to ferment rebellion against the caste system and were banished, so Medusa had to essentially raise Crystal. Now, putting aside some big questions for a minute (like why Medusa would marry the son of the people who did that), the idea of Medusa having to put aside her own desires for responsibilities is an interesting one… you know, in a good show.
Robbie: They tried to have some rapport, yes. Though in this case, “tried” is the key word. Louise was all over the place, and Medusa was a bit unclear on the whole “I’m trying to help” thing. We did get some character moments in the backstory you mentioned, and it helped juxtapose their outlooks and ideals, but even then, it raises the issue you just mentioned.
Speaking of Crystal, how about that subplot of characters I don’t have any reason to care about?
Ken: I…I just…I honestly don’t know who to start with: Karnak and the Pot Farmers (…Ken Leung deserves better than this… and so does Karnak honestly), Gorgon and the surfer-mercs or Crystal and the Dog Hitter (And yes I know his name is David, but he hit the best character in the show and for that must be punished). Pick your poison.Continued below
Robbie: Let’s start with Crystal, who apparently teleported into an entirely different show, because she’s stuck in between some relationship drama between two people I don’t know or care about. Okay, so they dated and broke up, that’s nice, but what about Lockjaw?
I agree with Crystal, in that I just want Lockjaw to be better fast, so he can teleport us out of this unnecessary and unoriginal subplot.
Speaking of unnecessary and unoriginal subplots, how about Karnak and his new apparent love interest? Yeah, that’s a relationship that came out of nowhere.
Ken: First off: Karnak in a romance subplot. That’s just… you don’t get Karnak. Like, at all? And I agree: Maybe if it had time to develop it could work. Well, it’d still be trite as hell, but it wouldn’t have come out of nowhere. But even so, this is Karnak. Go read anything with the guy (and yes I know in very early Inhumans stuff he was involved in a love triangle but I feel like the plethora of other material outweighs that) and this feels very wrong.
I guess we should move on to perhaps the most coherent subplot? The Maximus stuff. Now, while the show still had done very little to contrast Maximus’ goal, we do now see that part of his goal involves trying to figure out why he was turned human by the Terrigen. We are starting to see him unravel a bit here, getting sloppy, getting obsessed. But at the end of this, he has the Genetic Council violently removed. And it’s supposed to be this big moment, like seeing Maximus turn to a darker path…
…But again, this is the Genetic Council. They’ve been enforcing an oppressive caste system. I’d pin a damn medal on Maximus’ tunic right now!
Robbie: And we get a bit more backstory, with this friend on the council that abandoned him post-Terrigenesis. Great, that’s character work! … Now what are you going to do with it? I mean, are we supposed to know or care about this guy?
I just get the feeling the show keeps introducing characters and expecting us to like and care about them without giving us a reason why.
So Maximus, who is actually being active and reveals his backstory, motivation, and flaws remains the most compelling character. For a villain, that’s typically a good thing, but only if the heroes opposite him are equally compelling.
Ken: Exactly! There’s no balance to it at all! The villain should be a foil to the protagonist but not one of the “good guys” works as that. Maybe Black Bolt, but as it stands, there’s not enough meat on the bone in comparison to what we know of Maximus. Everything outside of Maximus is simultaneously spread thin and yet rushed to get everything in. It’s a fricken paradox!
I am seriously running out of stuff to talk about in this show. You have anything else to add?
Robbie: Just want to get back to Karnak for a moment. Look, I get what the show is going for – we saw his social awkwardness first episode, and she’s supposed to teach him how to live without his powers. So she’s Karnak’s equivalent of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but also a pot farmer working with a psychopath. As much as I hate that trope, would it kill them to at least build it up properly? Develop them a little? Let us ship it before they start screwing randomly?
And I guess Gorgon is doing things too. But the hunters are no longer after him, so he’s just out there, feeling sad about getting Lucky killed, while Lucky’s friends seem totally cool with it.
Ken: I really generally have nothing else to say. The episode did give us tidbits of things that could be interesting, but I’m fearing this is going to be a drag here on out.
Robbie: Well then, we can wrap it up on that note, and hope for better luck next week. Until then.