Inhumans "S1E3: Divide and Conquer" - Review: Divided But Not Conquering
Divide and Conquer – After being transferred to prison, Black Bolt finds an unlikely friend to help him survive inside. Gorgon and his new friends prepare to battle against Auran and the Royal Guard. Crystal is asked by Maximus to make a speech to the Genetic Council while Medusa works her way back to Black Bolt.
Sadly, this is more of the same for Inhumans being a similar affair to the last episode (part 2 of the double bill). It really should have listened to its own name because the episode fails by overly dividing itself among too many separate character stories (some are nothing but time-wasting holds) to deliver the kind of impact it wants. We don’t need multiple scenes to Karnak tied to a post wondering why his powers aren’t working, just leave him for an episode and come back to him. The other big problem is too much ineffective goofy humor. The show wants to create lighter superhero-esque tone and some jokes do land that. Black Bolt’s prison inmate tension switching to sudden popularity when people realise he beat down on some cops is great. It uses play on expectations to great laughs and that’s something we could get behind. Watching Medusa ordering an ATM to give her money. - that is Trump tweet level dumb. It looks like a classic case of material that works better on paper than in practice. That’s definitely the case with the new superpower henchman Mortis; a.k.a. sarcy whiney Masked Rider without the bike. From his heavy build-up to an awful looking reveal and an incredibly unimpressive action sequence debut, this guy can’t be killed off fast enough. Mortis aside, the ensuing action scenes between Gorgon’s surfer dudes and Auran’s red shirt bad guys are good with plenty of different powers in action.
Once again, all the best material from the episode comes from Black Bolt’s scenes. I was tentative in the first episode about how such a mute central character would work out but silence continues to be golden. The simple setup that he’s unable to verbally defend explains himself while the humans misunderstand him provides great entertainment. Yet as Teller would try and tell Penn, every great mute needs a talkative partner in crime. Enter Sammy, fitting the bill well as a well meaning prison-heavy. I liked the way the story greyed his motivations; seemingly in it only for himself before other factors emerge. The childhood flashbacks also function as some good character development for both Black Bolt and Maximus, particularly why Maximus would hold a grudge following his father’s rejection in favour of Black Bolt despite the highly dangerous nature of his powers.
There is still some promise of development here. Medusa and Louise uniting at the end is exactly what they both need as their individual storylines falter. Similarlym putting Black Bolt together with the introduced geneticist Even Declan (Henry Ian Cusick - Lost’s Desmond) feels like a step towards something meaningful. Yes, some characters are still floundering about, adding Crystal to that doesn’t help and Maximus may be staging the most boring coup in history..... wow, I’m really not selling this, am I? Okay, the point is the show is still inside its cocoon terragenesis. Honestly, I could live with most of this short series being mediocre as long as it leads to somewhere worthwhile that sets up better future seasons. That’s right, my superpower is blind optimism. At least now, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is now coming back before Christmas.