Inhumans "S1E1&2" - Review: Not quite as bad as you've heard
Would Guardians of the Galaxy have been better as a TV show? There’s no denying that the films were awesome and that the property has become such a big cultural phenomenon by having that cinematic platform but would the overall experience of a TV show have been better? Why was Guardians great? Because of its characters and cast chemistry rather than its bigger action and effects which play into the strength of a TV show. If the first film was set 12 hours of TV rather than a 2 hour movie, think of the story they could have told slowly bringing the separate Guardians together through their animosity rather than rushing them together. Or the ways they could have deepened Ronan’s problematic villain role giving their ultimate conflict purpose. Alright, we wouldn’t have got the likes of Pratt, Batista and Cooper on a TV budget but it’s still an interesting concept to consider. Especially now that Marvel’s Inhumans series has arrived. The projected that started out life planned as a film but now arrives as a TV show. We may never know what the film would have been like but considering it’s a similar ensemble cast affair to Guardians.... will it be better off as a TV show? I think so but maybe not this show.
Episode 1, Behold.... The Inhumans – The Inhumans, a race of enhanced beings live in hiding in their city of Attilian on the moon led by their Royal Family. After his requests to expand and conquer the Earth are refused, The King’s brother stages a coup leaving the rest of Royal Family stranded and scattered on Earth
So for anyone that hasn’t been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or had any previous Inhuman encounters, they are the long discarded weapons of an alien war. Ordinary humans can have a dormant Inhuman gene which when exposed to a process called Terragenesis unlocks unique special abilities, and in some cases, changes their physical appearance. In short, think X-Men without the M-word. In the context of this Marvel TV world, the existence of Inhumans has been exposed following a mass contamination of Terragensis components into the water supply causing an outbreak of humans becoming Inhumans.... and right now, the public opinion is against them, seeing Inhumans being hunted down and killed. However, within this new show, we are seeing the two biggest parts of Inhuman lore for the first time. The hidden city of Attilan (here on the moon rather than floating in the sky) and its ruling Royal Family of Inhumans lead by Black Bolt (Anson Mount – Hell On Wheels) and Medusa (Serinda Swan – Graceland), all of which look great on screen with Attilan seeming like a futuristic King's Landing and many Royal family members representing their comic companions well. There are good depictions of their various powers with Karnack’s (Ken Leung – The Force Awakens) error avoiding do over being the highlight.... and there’s a giant teleporting bulldog.
However, like a Kardashian, once you get beyond the physical appearance, the problems kick in. First up, the show makes welcome attempts to inject occasional humour into its scenes, breaking up the more serious tone and providing lighter distractions. It’s something that suits the majority of superhero-based shows but Inhumans seems to be genetically unfunny. It fires off jokes like a blasting stormtrooper from Scott Buck’s script but nothing hits the mark. Then, there is the pacing of the story, which can be a bit bipolar. While we need a gradual introduction to so many characters and concepts, those already familiar may find some scenes dragging whereas others try to cram a lot of information into a short space. This isn’t helped when your main character doesn’t speak (Black Bolt’s voice is so powerful, even a whisper can cause destruction) as telling all his lines through sign language and a translating Medusa keeps things crawling. However, the overall theme is strong; with population and resources strained, the King’s scheming brother pushes for them to expand (and rule) Earth before the humans discover them anyway. Especially when said brother, Maximus, is played by none other than Iwan “Ramsay Bastard Bolton” Rheon. He immediately feels at home within the character as schemes towards a coup against his brother, which is also well-executed. Rheon is the best thing about this show by far.
Episode 2 Those Who Would Destroy Us ,– While Maximus reinforces his takeover among the people of Attilan, the separated surviving Royal Family members adjust to their new Human surroundings while looking to find each other.
So after showing us a grand Attilian, the show has now dumped most of the main cast on Hawaii as this episode part/episode seems to stall in deciding what to do next. Not to mention immediately contradicting itself. The first episode sees Gorgon going to lengths to keep Attilan secret only to causally tell some surfer dudes that he’s both Inhuman and from the moon. Similarly, we see Karnak accidentally hurting himself with a big fall yet doesn’t use his powers to correct the mistake like in the first episode. Does continuity get lost in Terragenesis? Rather than wasting time giving these two nothing plotlines to tick over the episode, it would have been better off cutting them entirely and focusing just on Black Bolt and Medusa. Make this episode about the lead characters then expand to Karnak and Gorgon as the group works towards reuniting.
I also don’t like the way the show is building towards the lead human character of Louise (Ellen Woglom). There doesn’t seem to be much purpose to her actions and her intuitive leaps are way too farfetched. Plus, in both looks and personality, she feels like a poor knock-off of Arrow’s Felicity Smoak. If the main focus going forward will be the stranded Royal Family’s return to Attilan, then of course she’ll be a vital link in their navigation of human society but right now we need a bigger reason to care about her.
Although it’s a late starter, the best feature here is Black Bolt’s story within the city. It sees the show find more effective comedy through ever reliable fish-out-of-water material as he reacts to his unfamiliar surroundings through various facial expressions. Then things transition well to his arrest and detainment by the police being unable to explain himself or his actions. Although a brief moment of police brutality is rather distasteful. His scenes at the police station even have a hint of Man of Steel to them as a he sits complacent in co-operation while all around him are on edge.
So after this opening, offering my thoughts are that all waves of criticism leading up to the show’s release do have some points. The show is certainly not what it should be for the material it has available with the script being the biggest let down. Yet this is far from unwatchable with some promising characters and being only an 8-episode run (including these 2) is hardly requiring much of a commitment. So for now, let’s throw this 2,000lb dog a bone.