Royal Guard

Source: ABC Studios/IMAX (Press Release). Marvel’s Inhumans. Sumire Matsubara as Locus, Jason Quinn as Pulsus, Krista Alvarez as Flora, Matt Perfetuo as Sakas, Sonya Balmores as Auran.

After a very flawed but ultimately okay start to Marvel’s newest series and critical punching bag, let’s jump into the meat of the series. This will be the first episode after the IMAX special, so the quality can either dip significantly or improve drastically. The title for this episode comes from the A-story from Fantastic Four Annual #5, the Inhumans-themed story titled “Divide — and Conquer!”.

When we last saw the Royal Family, Maximus had overthrown his brother King Black Bolt’s questionable rule of their moon kingdom Attilan and won the hearts of the people. Black Bolt is on Earth prison for theft, destruction of property, and other crimes. His wife Medusa had her head shaved, robbing her of her power, and is making her way towards her husband, as is her cousin Karnak, who fell off a cliff, injuring himself and causing himself to lose his powers. Karnak’s brother Triton is on Earth as well, injured and missing, and is being searched for by Black Bolt’s cousin Gorgon, who has allied with surfers and has challenged Maximus to come fight him. Medusa’s sister Crystal is trapped on Attilan with Maximus and her giant teleporting bulldog Lockjaw, who is currently unconscious. Maximus has sent his seemingly invincible bodyguard Auran down to Earth to “take care” of his family. Meanwhile, a scientist named Louise is investigating these strange happenings.

In a research facility in California, Dr. Evan Declan is leaving his office when he is chased down by an assistant with footage of Black Bolt’s arrest. He speculates that Black Bolt is an Inhuman, and is being held in jail in Oahu. Declan asks the driver to take him to the airport. On Oahu, a large Hawaiian prisoner named Sammy gets a call from his lawyer. The “lawyer” quickly explains that he is not his lawyer, he is Dr. Evan Declan, and he is on his way to Hawaii. He asks if Sammy can help him.

In Black Bolt’s cell, he remembers a conversation he had with his father Agon as a teenager, before his Terrigenesis rendered him unable to speak. Black Bolt is not interested in ruling Attilan, but his younger brother Maximus is. Maximus wonders if he would be king if Black Bolt died, and Agon assures them that they are not at war and both his sons are destined for great things. (For what it’s worth, it’s significantly better than the last Agon/Black Bolt scene. Strong Thor/Odin/Loki vibes.)

Outside the jail, Captain Peña is doing his best to avoid the press swarm on his way inside. He denies the existence of a “giant cow-dog” and refuses to speak to the press further when he is stopped by Louise, who is technically not the press. He examines her Callisto Aerospace badge and notes that she works for the “billionaire who wants to build a hotel on the moon”. She asks if Black Bolt had unusual powers, and the captain denies this. She points out that a cop car went flying through the air, and asks Black Bolt’s name. The captain doesn’t know, and refuses to let Louise speak with him. Inside, he tells the guard to put Black Bolt in general population, but to “stick it to him” to see if they can make him talk.

Medusa walks through the beaches of Honolulu, trying her best to keep to herself with her shaved red hair and loud purple and silver dress. She sees a man take money from an ATM, and demands the ATM to dispense money for her, as she is the queen of Attilan. The ATM refuses to comply, so she orders it again, and adds in a “please”. Medusa then wanders through a gated community and breaks her way into a rich person’s house as they are leaving. She takes their food, clothes and money. As she is leaving, she catches a glimpse of her shaved head in the mirror and gets emotional. She sees a newspaper of Black Bolt’s arrest and knows where he is.

Gorgon and his surfer friends Lucky, Holo, Pablo and Makani are armed to the teeth, waiting for Maximus to send his Royal Guard down to fight them. The surfers aren’t afraid of a fight: They used to be soldiers. Gorgon warns them that this is his fight: if they stay, they take orders from him. He trained the Royal Guard, and they aren’t going to be easy to kill.

Crystal relaxes in her room listening to music through her headphones when Maximus enters. He asks if she reconsidered his offer, and she refuses to side with him. He hands her a speech and explains that if she makes a statement before the Genetic Council, then the transition of power will be peaceful and their family will have a way back home; If Crystal supports Maximus, there will be no use in fighting. (Dammit, Maximus, stop making sense.) Crystal reluctantly agrees to make a statement, and Maximus thanks her for coming to the conclusion of her own free will – without him having to make her.

In the hallway, Maximus pages Auran on the com-link. He gives her Gorgon’s coordinates, and explains that he is waiting for them. She worries that she won’t be able to take him down herself, and Maximus tells her he is sending backup… and Mordis. Auran tries to persuade Maximus not to send Mordis as he is uncontrollable, but Maximus tells her that he is their best weapon on Attilan aside from Black Bolt. The team will assemble to teleport down via Eldrac shortly. Maximus approaches his seer Bronaja and asks what happens when he opens Mordis’ door, but Bronaja has no visions. Maximus orders the door open anyway, and the pair look away as a man in a mask with glowing eyes steps out. He asks where Black Bolt is, and Maximus tells him to follow as he explains.

He’s bordering somewhere between pretty cool and cheesy Power Rangers villain. I dig it.

As Auran awaits, Locus pages her and tells her that Eldrac is sending them through. Shortly after, the Royal Guard appears on Earth: The aforementioned Locus, Pulsus (who paralyzed Medusa in order to have her head shaved), Flora, Sakas, and Mordis. Mordis tells Auran that he is no happier to be here than she is, but Maximus promised him freedom. They walk through the wilderness, and Mordis complains about too many trees. Flora, on the other hand, is fascinated – she has never seen so many plants. Mordis asks her to help out, and Flora uses her powers to clear a path through the forest.

Karnak wanders through the wilderness and comes across a marijuana grow op. The man there, Reno, threatens him, and he explains he is just looking for his king. Reno claims he is making a huge mistake, and Karnak stammers out that he doesn’t make mistakes as another man, Ted, puts a large knife to his throat. The men tie him up and their  so-far-unnamed female companion reminds them that this is kidnapping. Reno thinks he might be a cop, but Ted points out that he has face tattoos and is babbling nonsense about needing to find his king and Medusa and Gorgon. Alongside his female friend, he advocates letting him go. Karnak analyzes the situation and sees that if he kicks the table, it will collapse the roof on the three. He kicks the table and it does nothing. Looks like your powers are still broken, bud.

In prison, the guard Rivera walks Black Bolt through gen pop and tells him that the officer he put in the hospital was his brother-in-law. Sammy sees him being led to his cell and asks him to bring him by to his cell for a little playtime. Rivera remarks that he is making friends already. Black Bolt is brought to Sammy’s cell, and Sammy asks how he got his powers: Experimented on like Luke Cage? Bitten by a radio-active spider like Spider-Man? Or did he just wake up covered in a rock-like Terrigenesis crust? Black Bolt reacts to the last one, and Sammy tells him he needs to escape before his family is taken. Black Bolt signs, asking why Sammy is helping him. Sammy says that in Hawaii, they help their friends.

In the woods, the Royal Guard is approaching Gorgon’s com-link so Auran orders Mordis to stay behind with Locus. She finds the com-link but no Gorgon, and warns them to stay alert. Gorgon growls from the bushes as Holo fires on the Guard with an assault rifle from the trees. Gorgon runs out to face the Royal Guard and begins sparring with Auran. Pulsus charges up his hands when Lucky shoots him with a bolt from a crossbow. In retaliation, Sakas sprays Lucky with venomous acid and he falls from the tree, dying. Holo fires at Sakas and Flora uses her powers to shake the surfers from the trees as Gorgon and Auran continue to fight. Auran has the upper ground, so Gorgon sends her flying with a kick. Gorgon starts to finish the job, so Auran calls for Mordis. He steps from behind a bush and removes his mask, blasting the area Gorgon just was with a large beam of energy. Gorgon stomps, sending them flying with a shockwave, and runs off. He orders the surfers to go, picks up Lucky’s body and follows them.

At the grow op, the woman patches up Karnak’s head wound. She tells him that he needs to be less guarded as to who he really is if he wanted Reno to trust him. She asks about his facial tattoos. He says he got them when he was a teenager, and it seemed like the greatest idea at the time. Now it’s a reminder of how far he has come. (I’m not sure if he is lying or not). He tells her he is someone who never made mistakes, and now after his head injury he can’t see the consequences of his actions. He tearfully decides he is of no use to his family. She reassures him that family is family, but he asks to stay there with them. Later that night, Reno approaches with a knife and tells him that they took a vote on what to do with him. Karnak accepts his death, but Reno frees him and tells him he lost the vote. He can stay, as long as he makes himself useful.

In the Attilan throne room, Maximus calls on the new head of the Genetic Council, Tibor, and tells him to draft an edict abolishing the caste system. Tibor argues that this would destroy society as they know it, where every Inhuman knows his place. Maximus disagrees – it just forces people to work in the mines. He has the support of the princess, and hopes he has the support of the Council, as well. He summons Crystal, and she asks where Lockjaw is, noting that her speech without Lockjaw by her side would look suspicious. Maximus admits that he is heavily sedated, and it would look suspicious anyway. Crystal begins her prepared speech, and says that Maximus is king…

Of no one. Damn, girl!

She then freezes the guards with her elemental powers and escapes.

Maximus remembers the old head of the Genetic Council, Kitang, telling him as a teenager that the nature of his transformation has been determined: He is no longer Inhuman. From a cellular level, he has been rendered human, and a human cannot lead Attilan. As Crystal runs, Maximus tells the people that this is how the rest of the Royal Family treats their problems: They run – but he will never turn his back on Attilan. They applaud as Crystal makes her way to the isolation chamber where Lockjaw is held and freezes the door. She is unable to wake Lockjaw up, so she zaps him with a small dose of electricity and he comes to. She asks him to teleport her to the others.

Outside the jail, Louise is waiting in her car researching Black Bolt. Peña approaches her car and tells her that if she is still there when he comes back, he is going to have her towed. Inside, Black Bolt and Sammy are playing chess. Rivera orders Sammy out of the cell to “talk”, and takes Black Bolt where he can get some “exercise”. He takes him to the yard, and the prisoners go quiet. A large man approaches him and then fist-bumps and hugs him for beating up the cops. The guards are not pleased with the prisoners playing nice with Black Bolt, and Rivera drops some weights off the barbell onto the ground, ordering Black Bolt to pick them up. He doesn’t, and Rivera beats him with a billy club, starting a prison riot. As the prisoners are tear-gassed, Black Bolt fights his way through the guards and into the prison with Sammy, who leads him out. They approach a large steel door and Sammy heats it up with his hands, revealing he is an Inhuman too. He says he woke up in a Terrigenesis cocoon and burned down his house by accident, saying that his family is lost to him now.

In a flashback, Kitang tells young Black Bolt’s parents Agon and Rynda that his voice is the most powerful, dangerous gift in Inhuman history, and it will only get more powerful as he matures. He could destroy all of Attilan, on purpose or accidentally. They will never again hear his voice. Kitang suggests locking Black Bolt away, but Agon refuses, saying he is the heir apparent of Attilan. Maximus watches angrily.

The door melts and Black Bolt and Sammy escape. In her car, Louise is confused by helicopters overhead. She is even more confused as she sees Medusa approach, take out the guard and break her way into the prison. The helicopter lands and the pilot, Dr. Declan, ushers Sammy and Black Bolt inside, saying he is here to help. They fly away as Medusa tries to wave them down to no avail. Louise runs up and asks who is in the helicopter and who Medusa is, and Medusa pulls a gun on her, ordering her to follow that helicopter.

In the post-credits scene, Crystal and Lockjaw teleport to Earth in the woods. Lockjaw immediately goes back to sleep, and Crystal is unable to wake him up. All of a sudden, a man on an RTV crashes into Lockjaw, sending the man flying and causing Lockjaw to whimper.

Am I going crazy? I actually kind of like Inhumans. My big complains with the pilot were pacing, acting and cheapness and it honestly looks like that was all cleared up by the third episode. I genuinely have no real complaints with this episode.

I give it a 7.5/10. Good job, Inhumans. Maybe I am going crazy.

Join us next week as I recap the fourth episode, “Make Way For… Medusa”.