Secret Invasion Episode 5 review: Brutal and empty

Cameron Frew
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Secret Invasion Episode 5

Secret Invasion Episode 5 is an improvement from last week’s episode, but it all feels a little hollow; there’s a nagging sense of futility to the narrative at this point.

These are the words of a once-impassioned Secret Invasion convert. The concept seemed like it would have been perfect for a major MCU movie event; imagine if one of Earth’s mightiest heroes had been playing the long game to facilitate a planet-wide infiltration and extinction of mankind.

Instead, the story has been relegated to the realm of Disney+, and after a really strong start, Episode 4 felt like a catastrophic stumble, aiming to blow our minds and shatter our hearts with weak-sauce rug-pulls and deaths.

To its credit, Episode 5 is better. It ratchets up the violence – in an almost performative way – and there’s a throughline of mercilessness that makes for entertaining viewing… but it’s about to end, so what was it all for? Spoilers to follow…

Secret Invasion Episode 5 changes Gravik’s plan

In the final sequence of Episode 4, Gravik and his crew ambushed President Ritson’s convoy. He survived, while Talos was killed, and everyone in New Skrullos is feeling a little off about it. While Fury sits guard in the hospital, Pagon confronts Gravik about his reluctance to kill Fury and their constant efforts to find the Avengers’ DNA, which Fury has supposedly hidden.

As Pagon flies off the handle, Gravik shuts him up by impaling him with his Groot powers, ripping through his flesh and killing him almost instantly. “Pagon thought he had a voice. But none of you do – you’re faceless, and you’re nameless,” Gravik says, a sentiment that clearly troubles Beto and others. Gravik orders the killing of “the traitor” Varra (aka Priscilla, Fury’s wife) and phones Rhodey (whose real name is Raava) to reveal a change of plan: he wants him to tell the president that Skrulls were involved in the presidential attack and that they’re based in Russia.

Gravik’s plan has logic to it, albeit it’s a bit of a Hail Mary: Fury won’t let innocent Skrulls die, nor does he want the world to be consumed by World War III, so he’ll give Gravik the DNA when push comes to shove.

Fury confronts Rhodey the Skrull

As Rhodey walks into the hospital and towards the president’s room, Fury holds a gun to his head and threatens to unveil his true alien identity. “In order to kill me, you’re gonna have to out me… and you’re not prepared to die,” Rhodey says, and there’s something else: he’s already timed the footage of him – but not him, as it’s Gravik – killing Maria, and Fury is about to become the “most hated and wanted man on the planet.”

He yields and leaves as the Secret Service hold him at gunpoint. “Consider this a preview Nick, because if you get within 100 yards of the president again, I’ll make sure you see the whole show,” Rhodey tells him.

Rhodey in Secret Invasion Episode 5

We skip ahead to the video of Fury’s apparent crime being shown on news channels all across the world. As Derrik (played by Tony Curran) watches his TV, Sonya marches in and shoots him in the leg. At first, security guards rush in to stop her, but Derrik’s hand soon turns green. “The SIS has no official policy on killing Skrulls,” she tells him, and demands to know the whereabouts of Dr. Dalton, who created the Super-Skrull machine.

Back at the Skrull base, Beto stages a coup against Gravik, with several Skulls battering him and putting a bag over his head – but their strength is nothing compared to him. He goes ham on them; breaking arms, pounding chests, slamming bodies into tables, and eventually slicing Beto’s neck in front of everyone. “Who wants it?” he screams, intimidating them into subservience.

Meanwhile, Fury hides out in Brixton, where he meets G’iah. After explaining how the area became a “haven” for immigrants in the wake of World War II, they talk about Talos’ death. “I ran away from my father because I knew he would lose,” G’iah says, but Fury disagrees. G’iah tells him about Gravik using Cull Obsidian (Thanos’ orphan goon) and Flora Colossus (Groot’s species), but he’s yet to find the Harvest.

It doesn’t take long for the red-and-blues to arrive, so Fury tells G’iah to take Talos’ body to Priscilla, so she can help her bury him. “You gonna be alright, kid?” he asks. “I’ll put on a good face,” she says – oh how we all chuckled.

Sonya takes no prisoners

Every time Olivia Colman is on screen, she’s having tremendous fun. When Sonya arrives at Dr. Dalton’s home, she tells her and her partner that she’s “devilishly good at not being your bestie… cake or death.” After forcing Dalton to tell her about the ins and outs of the Super-Skrull machine, she torches their house.

The Skrull supervising her then holds a gun to her head and threatens to kill her, but Sonya isn’t fazed in the slightest. “If they’re not busy gaslighting you, they’re threatening you with murder. It’s what all the podcasts are about,” she says, before shooting him in the head. The CGI splurt is a bit ugly, but it’s quite disorientating to see so much bloodshed in an MCU property.

Sonya in Secret Invasion Episode 5

Rhodey briefs the president on the plans to strike New Skrullos after the attack. Ritson is worried about starting World War III, but Rhodey tells him: “I’d rather face a war than extinction.”

Gravik then calls Fury and sets out his demands: bring him the Harvest, and the strike will be called off. It’s quite the tradeoff: millions, if not billions of lives saved, in exchange for one of the most dangerous men on the planet also becoming the most powerful. So, as the most wanted man in the world with an Interpol red notice on his back, he sets off in a private jet to meet Sonya in Finland, where we get a brief reunion with Rick Mason (O-T Fagbenle) – remember him? The guy from Black Widow? Yeah, we thought not.

Priscilla and G’iah come under fire

While Fury is in the air, G’iah arrives at Priscilla’s home. Priscilla reminisces about the earlier days of their relationship in the “privacy, security, and light” of their home, when she’d “get lost” watching him read his book while basking in the sun. G’iah is more cynical, asking if he ever got lost looking at her in her own skin. Priscilla takes offense, but she brushes it off. “You’re young… you think you know everything,” she tells her.

Soon after, Gravik’s men arrive with hails of bullets pinging through countless lasers, and Priscilla and G’iah kill them all with relative ease. There’s a few awkward beats, but the choreography is mostly solid, not obsessed with frantic cutting or maneuvering around any action.

G'iah and Priscilla in Secret Invasion Episode 5

In the closing scenes of the episode, Fury arrives in Finland using a disguise known as the “Widow’s Vail” – easily the worst version of the Mission: Impossible mask we’ve ever seen – before meeting Sonya and driving to a grave site. He explains the Harvest: it’s a collection of Avengers DNA from spilled blood during the Battle of Earth (aka Endgame), and Fury tasked Gravik and other Skrulls with finding it, giving him the inspiration for Super-Skrulls in the first place.

As they stand in front of Fury’s tombstone – one of many, he says, as “dead people need options” and Skrulls like the cold, at which point Sonya realizes that Priscilla is an alien – she asks why he hasn’t called his “special friends” to help. He says they can’t keep relying on superheroes to “swoop down and save our asses”, instead wanting to rely on his own powers, the ones he’s developed without any superhuman abilities, serums, or spells. It’s a noble position, but come on: if you have superheroes, use them.

He enters a cathedral and gathers his things: his classic trench coat, the eyepatch, and a gun. “Let’s finish this,” he says, as the show’s theme intensifies into the credits.

Secret Invasion Episode 5 review score: 3/5

Head-splatting violence and a sturdy sense of momentum make Secret Invasion Episode 5 a solid penultimate chapter – but it needs a whopper of an ending to make this whole endeavor worth it.

Secret Invasion Episode 6 hits Disney+ on July 26. Check out our other coverage below: