After less than two short months, we have reached the finale of Marvel’s Inhumans – the last episode, quite probably forever. But does it deserve a second chance?
Following the naming scheme of the whole season, this episode’s title, “…And Finally: Black Bolt”, is derived from a Lee/Kirby era comic. This week is Thor #148, with the issue “The Mighty Thor – Introducing: The Pounding Power of The Wrecker!” including an A-story (“Let There Be… Chaos!”) and a B-story (“And Finally… Black Bolt!”).
Our episode starts in Black Bolt’s secret bunker in Attilan. Maximus is explaining his evil plan to Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal and Triton: if he doesn’t scan his hand print every hour, the protective dome encasing the city will collapse – and it’s already been half an hour. Black Bolt and Medusa angrily accuse Maximus of being self-serving, but he reminds them that they abandoned the city, he didn’t overthrow them. (I remember it differently.) Black Bolt warns Maximus that he is not prepared for Attilan’s enemies. Maximus argues that he is less afraid of humans than his brother is, and Black Bolt signs that there are worse enemies than humans which makes Medusa falter in her translation. Black Bolt then sends Medusa and Crystal to plan an evacuation route just in case they can’t stop Maximus, as Triton and the king haul him away.
Using Lockjaw, Medusa teleports to Earth, into Louise’s room. Louise asks what Medusa is looking for, saying that she isn’t the type to show up unless she wants a favor (though she wishes she was.) Medusa says she needs Louise’s help, and Louise tells her she wants to go to Attilan in return. Medusa informs her that Maximus is destroying their city’s dome, and they may all be leaving – that’s why she’s here.
As Declan hides in the Terrigenesis ceremony room, the reanimated monstrous Gorgon angrily destroys everything. He spots Declan, who tries to talk him down, saying he understands that he is confused; he died and is back now. Gorgon doesn’t want to hear it and throws Declan through a glass and metal Terrigen chamber, killing him. Some guards apprehend Gorgon and the one that sedated Lockjaw in the first episode puts him to sleep with her powers.
Triton and Black Bolt make their way through the tunnels with Maximus, and Maximus gleefully points out that there is no one to stop them in the tunnels specifically because he freed them. He also says that the people hate Black Bolt for keeping them in their caste system. Triton argues that Maximus is no better, and Maximus is all ears. He even points out that Black Bolt kept Triton – who has aquatic powers – on the moon without water, until a guard patrol is heard nearby and Maximus cries for help. Triton hangs back to dispatch them with his knives in the coolest way.
(For someone who wasn’t in most of the series and looks kind of silly, Triton is the coolest Royal by far.)
Walking through Attilan, some guards apprehend Karnak. He tells them that he can kill them in three different ways, but a guard sneaks from behind and captures him, sending him to Black Bolt’s meditation cell, The Quiet Room. As Karnak fiddles around for a way to escape, guards throw Gorgon into the room as well. His happiness to see his cousin(‘s cousin) fades as he notices that something went wrong. Gorgon is ready to kill Karnak as he pleads with him until he screams that they are family. Gorgon pauses and asks Karnak to help him. He apologizes and talks him down, until Gorgon becomes enraged again at Karnak for reanimating him. Karnak tries to think and Gorgon decides he is going to smash his way out, and starts stomping on the curved walls with his hooves. Karnak tells him that he built this room to contain Black Bolt, the most powerful weapon on Attilan, but Gorgon doesn’t listen – and smashes through the wall anyway. Karnak points out he could have kicked down the door. As they escape, Karnak hears something and tells Gorgon to challenge his rage, but it turns out to be Karnak’s brother Triton. Karnak has to explain that Triton didn’t really die, and that he put Gorgon through Terrigenesis again. However, there are bigger concerns at hand.
Elsewhere on Attilan, Crystal explains to Eldrac that they may need his help evacuating Attilan. He agrees to help.
Black Bolt and Maximus proceed through the tunnels, and Maximus makes fun of Black Bolt for having no idea which way they are going – he was too high and mighty to ever come down here. He tells Black Bolt that this is all his fault: he was going to cede the throne to Maximus, and then after killing their parents, he suddenly changed his mind. In a flashback, the old head of the Genetic Council Kitang is prepping Black Bolt for life as a ruler. Maximus stumbles in the room upset, and Kitang asks him to leave, saying that this was between the Genetic Council leader and the king. Black Bolt, not surprisingly, says nothing. In the present, Black Bolt tries to explain himself, frustrated without Medusa there to translate. Maximus admits he figured out Black Bolt’s sign language long ago. Black Bolt signs that he didn’t want to be king, he had to, and Maximus isn’t buying it. Suddenly the dome starts to falter, so the pair hurry. While escaping the mines, Black Bolt and Maximus run into Loyolis and the new Royal Guards that were assigned to repair duty. The guards swarm Black Bolt and he fights them off, but not before Loyolis escapes with Maximus.
Maximus makes his way to the Terrigenesis room, seeking Declan for his second Terrigenesis. One track mind, that one. Auran shows him Declan’s body and tells him that a reanimated Gorgon did this. Maximus looks in the Words of Creation box, and the Terrigen crystals are gone. He angrily orders Bronaja to be brought to the Grand Hall. In the Grand Hall he demands to know where the crystals are. Bronaja reminds him that that has never been how his power worked. He will simply tell him what he sees. Maximus touches Bronaja, who tells him that he saw Maximus as the undisputed king of Attilan – Black Bolt was gone. Maximus is happy to hear this, but the dome starts to collapse again so Maximus orders everyone into the control room. (Bronaja sneaks away.) Maximus projects himself onto the dome, and gives a speech to the people about how the latest terrorist act by the Royal Family is stealing the Terrigen crystals, and calls the whole city to arms against them. Karnak, Triton and Gorgon see this and realize that Black Bolt no longer has Maximus as a fugitive.
On Earth, Medusa and Louise meet with Louise’s superior George at Callisto Aerospace. They tell him they need to bring the entire population of over a thousand moon-people to Earth, and need to talk to the boss. He calls Louise crazy, so Medusa calls Crystal on the com-link and she teleports down with Lockjaw. He agrees to help, as long as the boss gets exclusive access to the Inhumans and leaves. Medusa entrusts Louise with their Terrigen crystals, saying she is the only friend she trusts (Crystal points out it’s her only friend at all), and Louise asks for a favor in return – she can’t go to the moon, but she asks Medusa to take the rocket-ship pendant containing her dad’s ashes.
That’s actually kind of sweet.
In the control room, Karnak is unable to stop Maximus’ plan. He tells Triton that he thinks Maximus will only realize the flaw in his plan once the city is destroyed. Black Bolt arrives, and Gorgon starts having a rage fit again. Karnak explains that he disobeyed an order from the king, and is sorry – he brought back Gorgon through a second Terrigenesis. Black Bolt signs, asking if they can stop the dome from collapsing, and Karnak says they can’t. Black Bolt goes to look for Medusa, finding her in the bunker. Karnak and Gorgon arrive, leaving Triton to guard the control room. Medusa is upset to see that the still raging Gorgon was brought back, and warns Karnak that if Attilan were not collapsing, this would be dealt with very seriously and they will discuss it later. Medusa decides that they need to prepare the people for evacuation, and she tries to make one last effort to talk Maximus down. She says they need a go-between; someone who cares for Maximus and Attilan.
Auran escorts Medusa to the throne room, declaring that she is to ensure the safety of both parties. Maximus dismisses his Royal Guards. Medusa asks how long the dome has left, and he refuses to tell her. He will only terminate the destruction plan once he has rounded up the family. Medusa says that she is his family, and makes him feel her hair and asks if he likes seeing her like this. He says that now she knows how he feels: almost human. He accuses her of treating him like all the others once he became human. She sadly agrees and admits she was a terrible friend, but says that becoming king to fill an emptiness inside is not a foundation for stable leadership. She tearfully tells him that if he cared about Attilan, he would never destroy it. The dome begins to falter again. Maximus agrees to spare only her life, but Medusa reveals a Terrigen crystal and offers to trade if Maximus steps down and fixes the dome. He demands she give it to her, but refuses to accept her terms. She smashes the crystal. He calls for Auran and orders her to kill Medusa, but Auran says she promised to keep them both safe. Medusa leaves.
In the control room, Triton, Karnak, Black Bolt and Gorgon are able to access the cameras. Karnak points out they don’t have much time. They return to the bunker, where Medusa and Crystal are waiting. Medusa tells them that Maximus will not back down, and Black Bolt signs to begin the evacuation of Attilan.
As Black Bolt signs, Medusa makes an impassioned speech to the people, explaining Maximus’ true plans and how to proceed going forward. She admits that Maximus forced them into an era of change, but they would like to continue it positively. However, because Maximus has compromised Attilan, they need to continue it on Earth. She asks everyone to head to Eldrac for evacuation.
Watching from his balcony, Maximus complains to Auran that every word of it is a lie (even though she knows it is all the truth). He says that if he can’t have Attilan, no one can – he will watch the people die. This appears to be close to the last straw for Auran. She tells him to fix the dome and he tells her he can fix it whenever he likes. The people need to know that he is in control. He thanks her for her loyalty and asks her to wait guard outside his room.
As Medusa finds a place to put Louise’s dad’s ashes, Crystal helps the people evacuate through Eldrac. Elsewhere, Gorgon is in a rage again. Karnak calms him down. He apologizes again for the selfishness of bringing him back to life, and tells him that the choice is in his hands: He can choose to evacuate or stay and die again. However, Karnak wants him to live, and if he chooses life, he will help him. The Royals meet in the throne room, and Medusa says (in a line mirroring another recent line in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), that Attilan is a people, not a place. They all prepare to leave, and Black Bolt decides to stay to confront Maximus. Medusa doesn’t want him to, but understands. She tearfully kisses him goodbye, wishes for his safety and tells him she loves him as the rest of the Royals leave.
As the city flickers, Black Bolt approaches Maximus. Maximus tearfully admits that it’s too late, he can’t stop it. Attilan will be destroyed, and it is his fault. He decides it is time that Black Bolt knows the truth. Years ago, Maximus showed Black Bolt a document from the Genetic Council advocating to lobotomize him to protect the city from his voice, signed by their parents. This is the event that led to Black Bolt accidentally killing them as he demanded to know why. Maximus admits that he forged their signatures, hoping that Black Bolt would run off to Earth. As penance, he asks Black Bolt to kill him. Black Bolt punches him out instead.
Maximus wakes up in the bunker, and tells Black Bolt that it was the first structure they built on the moon; even if the city fails, the bunker will hold. He asks who the bunker was built to withstand an attack from, and Black Bolt signs that he hopes he never has to find out. Maximus asks why they are in the bunker, and Black Bolt leaves, locking Maximus in. As Maximus pleads to let him out, Black Bolt says “Goodbye, brother” and destroys the facade of the building, collapsing the exit so Maximus can’t escape. As Bronaja prophesied, Maximus is the sole king of Attilan. As the city collapses, Black Bolt sprints to Eldrac, finding the living door mostly destroyed. Eldrac tells Black Bolt that he must die with the city, but Black Bolt must leave now. He exits through the door. With Maximus in the bunker and the dome gone, the city begins to collapse. Suddenly, the Words of Creation on the throw (the Kree etchings that fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may remember) start to glow blue.
On Earth, the Royal family are in (fairly comic accurate) ceremonial garb. Medusa tells Black Bolt he should be happy, but he ominously signs that they traded one danger for another. Louise tells them it is time to address their people. Medusa steps forward to address the citizens, and as we notice familiar faces in the crowd such as Bronaja, Auran, and Flora, Medusa makes a passionate speech about hope and welcomes the Inhumans home… to Earth. She glances up at the moon.
This show has been a roller coaster, except not as exciting. There were a lot of things it did right and a lot it did wrong. Overall, I didn’t hate it. It found its footing as the series progressed, and I think it is a real shame that we likely won’t see these characters again. I would love a second chance with a budget and time on their side. Some acting missteps aside, the characters were great and the character development was actually really strong. The writing and clear corner-cutting is where this series fell short. It felt almost like the series moved too fast while, for a large chunk of it, not much was happening. I understand the time constraints, but it would have been infinitely more effective to see the Royal Family together more before they were torn apart; them playing off each other were some of the best scenes in the series and by far the ones that felt the most like the Inhumans comics I know and love.
Overall, I give the finale a 7/10.
I feel like it is worth saying that I have rated the show is rated on it’s own merits, not standing up against others. Inhumans is still probably near the weakest of the Marvel catalogue – A 7/10 Inhumans episode may not reflect the quality of 7/10 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, but the enjoyability – at least for me – is about the same.
But was Inhumans as bad as everyone says? I really don’t think so.
Inhumans is done, but stay tuned: Next week we begin our discussion about the newest MCU TV series: The one that is based on my all-time favorite comic book.
Check back next week to read all about Marvel’s Runaways!