Inhumans: The Premiere

Once upon a time, there was a Royal Family ruling the race of Inhumans on a secret location on the Moon. They were so important that their story was going to be told in a movie. But something changed and they were relegated to television. Without further ado, herein I present to you, gentle readers, a review of the first two episodes of...

A Tale of a Constipated King and a Hair-Shaved-For-Budget-Reasons Queen

Snark aside, the premiere of Inhumans wasn’t the trainwreck I anticipated. To be more accurate, the first hour wasn’t, the second one kind of was, which is unfortunate because there were many good ideas throughout the premiere, but they never gave birth to a strong story.

Dare I say “Behold... the Inhumans” was enjoyable, though? I won’t even backpedal and say that my perception might have been biased by extremely low expectations. No, here it is: this episode was enjoyable. It was average at best and awful in several aspects, but it had enough of good elements to make me want to watch the second hour – which I did.

The show starts with an action scene – an Inhuman being chased by some armed guys in Hawaii. Triton, an Inhuman from Attilan, finds her and explains to her the basic premise of the show WHILE THEY ARE STILL IN DANGER. It’s terrible introductory dialogue and it’s ridiculous that Triton wouldn’t guarantee their safety first. To make it worse, after the men shoot her, one of them says to the others “now, the target,” to indicate to the audience that Triton, not the girl, was their original target. This is dumb, dumb writing, especially considering that a twist later – a good twist, actually – would clarify who was the intended victim there. This is a recurring problem in this premiere – that things are spelled out for the audience when they don’t need to be.

The opening scene made me think that the episode would be terrible all the way through, but once we get to Attilan things improve. Black Bolt and Medusa, the royal couple, get nice introductions and I found their scene on bed together lovely, what with Medusa using her amazing hair to keep his comms away from him. The basic interactions between the members of the Royal Family are quickly established, as well as the tension with Maximus, Bolt’s powerless brother and the villain of this tale.

The ritual of Terrigenesis is used to show how Inhumans are “born,” in case you missed the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the role genetics play in the society of Attilan. Those who either don’t get powers or whose powers are not pretty and useful are relegated to the lower castes of society. Which means this society sucks and I have no idea why we are supposed to root for the Royal Family. It’s not like we can root for Maximus either because he is clearly in it for the power, not the justice. My guess is that this season will have Black Bolt and Medusa grow and become better rulers to their people.

Other characters of note introduced in this episode are Crystal, Medusa’s younger sister, bland character, terrible costume; Gorgon, chief of security, hooves, quake powers similar to Daisy’s, very dumb; Karnak, tech guy, cool guy, weirdest power ever guy. And, of course, Lockjaw, the adorable giant teleporting dog. He got the best lines of the episode: dog sounds.

There is also Auran, Maximus’ right arm and the blandest character of the premiere, and Bronaja, the boy who has visions and the character I liked the most. He got the most interesting arc out of everyone and the actor did a nice job with the role. Under Black Bolt’s reign, he is considered a lower caste Inhuman, at least initially. Under Maximus’ reign, he will be valued, but only because Maximus wants to use the boy’s power to his own advantage. See, where are the good guys that will neither subjugate nor exploit the kid? He was one of the brightest spots of this premiere, here is hoping he gets a good story in the rest of the season.

The episode goes south when the coup takes center stage. It all happens too fast, with no proper context. How does Maximus have all the guards, or at least most of them, on his side? Why do Crystal and Karnak decide that teleporting to Earth is the safest and best solution? They still couldn’t tell how dangerous the situation was nor if it was necessary to take such drastic matters, and neither did we. I couldn’t stop asking myself why the Royal Family was fleeing instead of fighting. There was no way for the audience to understand the severity of the coup and how far it reached because the script was too poor.

One moment that perfectly sums up that major flaw in the plot is the cut to Medusa walking in a hall and contacting Black Bolt to tell him something is happening. EXCEPT THEY DIDN’T SHOW US HOW SHE NOTICED SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING. Jesus. It’s like Scott Buck wrote some ideas and notes, linked them without no proper development and called it a day.

One good bit is the twist I mentioned earlier: that the men who shot Triton on Earth weren’t part of any anti-Inhumans group, they were sent by Maximus. Then there is the big dramatic moment of the hour: Medusa’s hair is shaved. I’m not a comic book reader, but I did my research and the shaving of Medusa’s hair does happen in the comics. But not in the first issue she appears! I’m so very sorry for you guys who are fans of the Inhumans and only got to see Medusa in her full glory for like thirty seconds. The scene is well done, but it should have been saved for either later in the season or the next season. I know, budget reasons, whatever, I don’t care.

The episode closes with Lockjaw teleporting most of the Royal Family to Earth, but he leaves each person in a different location because the plot demands so. It’s another arbitrary writing choice that impoverishes the story. But, like I said, there were enough of good elements, and even though the rushed conclusion of the episode was a bummer, I still wanted to see what happened next. Who knew, maybe the second hour would be an improvement.

But it wasn’t. “Those Who Would Destroy Us” is just a bad outing and killed any good will the first hour built. You know what I said earlier that there were good ideas? They are still around, but, dear god, their execution is terrible.

Here is an example of a good idea: Gorgon befriends some surfers. Here is the bad execution: Gorgon “searches” for Triton by screaming his name. Gorgon decides to go into the sea even though he can’t swim. I blink and Gorgon is already in the middle of the ocean, drowning. How? How did he get there so fast? Why did he keep going further into the sea if he couldn’t swim? Jesus Christ, Buddha and Yahweh, rescue me from this scene! The surfers rescue Gorgon. They gather at the beach. It’s kind of cool, I can see the potential of this new scene. Gorgon enters full disclosure mode. The surfers convince him to fight back, so he calls Maximus – so Maximus can track his location – and tells the usurper to come after him. And then he just waits there, with no plan whatsoever. I can’t with the absence of logic. I can’t!

And let me sum it up for you: none of the heroes, except for Medusa, do anything useful to fight back. Medusa has a clever moment when she realizes Crystal has been set up and their call is being tracked. She cares about returning home, whereas Gorgon is hanging out at the beach and Black Bolt decides to pay a visit to the freaking prison. A human prison! Dude has just been dethroned by his brother, but hey, no rush.

See, I thought Black Bolt’s scenes were rather amusing, there is something about him and his confusion on Earth that is kind of adorable. But his decision to let the police arrest him makes no sense.

And Maximus... he spends the episode trying to turn Crystal by bringing up some interesting backstory. By the sounds of it, her parents, killed by Black Bolt’s parents, whom Black Bolt accidentally killed with his powers, are the heroes I’d like to be watching. Maybe that’s who Crystal will become? A good leader, as opposed to everyone else in her family? If written well, that could lead to better episodes.

In the acting department, Iwan Rheon (Maximus) gave the strongest performance of all. Serinda Swan (Medusa) did a good job and made me care about her Medusa. As my previous snark indicates, Anson Mount (Black Bolt) looked constipated most of the time, but he did manage to deliver different facial expressions while looking constipated, and I swear this is not a backhanded compliment. He can act, I just wish the director had told him to loosen up a little bit. The remainder of the cast navigates between mediocre and terrible and I don’t want to be mean to anyone specifically so that’s all I’ll say.

To be honest, I think Inhumans belonged on the big screen and I’m not referring to the IMAX presentation. This is clearly a story that needed money to be told properly and the MCU should have followed its original plan. The budget constraints are obvious and harm the story.

But it’s neither budget nor acting that are responsible for the glaring problems of this premiere, it all comes down to the writing. I read that Marvel TV had to rush the production because IMAX gave them a tight deadline. Maybe that was it, maybe that’s why the scripts are so shallow and poor. Or maybe Scott Buck simply isn’t a nice fit for Marvel TV.

The thing is... ten minutes into “Those Who Would Destroy Us,” the show is already stalling. When it ends, there is barely any progression. So why rush the first hour and leave the second one without any significant development? This is the result of a severe lack of aptitude to break down a story. Still, maybe they didn’t have the time to perfect the first two scripts and the next episodes will be an improvement. Will I watch the third episode that airs tonight? Yes, if only because Henry Ian Cusick guest stars. If I like it enough, I might come back with a review. If not, well, then you will know that I have given up.
--
Lamounier

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Honestly, this does not sound encouraging. Sigh.

Gus Brunetti said...

I agree with virtually every word. Except, considering Scott Buck was responsible for seasons 5-8 of Dexter and for Iron Fist, I'm not as optimistic as you are.

Gus Brunetti said...

Man, I've watched the 3rd episode, and Gorgon's plan is probably the dumbest one I've seen on tv in a very long time. Only nepotism can explain how he got so far up.

Anonymous said...

Episode 4 and 5 are ok/decent. Scott Buck is the problem...It has the exact same flaws as Iron Fist..Buried beneath all the stupidity there is glimpse of a decent story and the possibilty of good characters.

Lamounier said...

Gus, I agree. And I couldn't go beyond episode 3, the writing is too bad.

Anon, even though I haven't watched episodes 4 and 5, I agree that there is a decent story underneath the terrible plotting and bad dialogue.

Anonymous said...

I managed to finish it.

OMG. Just stay away. What a POS. It's incredible that after all the time they were working on it and thinking if it should be a movie or a TV series, we only got this trash.

The only good thing is that Agents of SHIELD is going to look even better by comparison.

Let's never talk about Inhumans again.

yodudeyo100 said...

Do the Agents of SHIELD characters make a cameo in it?

Lamounier said...

yodudeyo100, they don't. There are rumors that some characters from Inhumans could appear on the next season of Agents of SHIELD (which premieres next Friday, yay!), especially if Inhumans gets cancelled. But, so far, nothing confirmed.

Katie Hart - Freelance Writer said...

I finally finished it, out of sheer loyalty to Marvel and liking to complete things. So, so awful. Worse than Iron Fist. (Not quite as bad as the first 30 minutes of A Christmas Prince, which I started the next day because of Rose McIver of iZombie, and which seems to exist solely to raise my opinion of other terrible movies and shows.)

No connection to the greater MCU, other than inhumans existing on Earth because of events in Agents of Shield. There is a hint at a danger from space approaching (basically someone pointing at a spot on a map of the galaxy - Thanos?) and mystery surrounding a boss's boss that hinted it could be someone we knew.

Basically 8 hours of somewhat interesting characters doing stupid things with illogical motivations, and becoming less interesting ever episode.