A key character loses their life in the struggle against Maximus
This episode of Inhumans ended with explosions and death, though I’m not quite sure if it was calibrated correctly. Anyway, it began with Maximus having a nightmare about the royals storming his throne room. They accuse him of killing Triton, which in the absence of any other mention of Triton’s status, seems like confirmation he’s dead? I hope Mike Moh enjoyed his five minutes of screentime at the beginning of the pilot. These visions also suggest that Maximus killed his parents, which seems likely since we saw Black Bolt destroy them with his voice . Unless Maximus manipulated that to happen? Guess we’ll find out eventually.
Once he wakes up, Maximus is determined to crush all opposition. He sends his new conscripts after Black Bolt and the others, even though many of them have mostly worked in mines and others are still minors. When Tybor brings up that the people of Attilan won’t like their new ruler as much when they learn that he’s drafting minors, Maximus insists that the people will love him no matter what. Furthermore, he says that if this leads to Black Bolt killing the young soldiers sent against him, then it will all rebound to Maximus’ benefit. The precognitive Bronaja isn’t too happy to hear that, however, since his father is among the new recruits. And, of course, Maximus isn’t exactly beloved by the people, especially after Tybor informs him of the existence of a conspiracy against him (which seems like a risky move to make as a member of that conspiracy). Things are closing in on all sides for Attilan’s new king.
Freshly reunited (but still missing Crystal), the royals debate how to handle Maximus. Gorgon insists that they storm his keep without further delay, but Medusa wants to wait until Karnak recovers and can come up with a strategy. She also insists on taking Maximus alive, much to the chagrin of Black Bolt, who wants to “take down” his brother in the final sense. Thank God for Serinda Swan; the personality she shows in this scene is much needed on Inhumans.
After getting a call from Auran, revealing that she’s holding Declan and the rest of his group hostage at his own facility, the group agrees to split into two teams. Karnak and Gorgon will take the facility and free the hostages, while Black Bolt, Medusa, and Louise look for Crystal.
Thankfully, the latter group’s task is made easier by the fact that Crystal is also looking for them. She hits a roadbump, though, when Dave’s ex-girlfriend Audrey returns to the farm angry. She’s seen enough of the news to know that most Inhumans are being rounded up by the government, so she takes out her phone to film Crystal and turn her in to the police. Crystal responds by burning the phone out of her hand.
Dave then has the brilliant idea to send a signal to the rest of her family so they can find her. After ascending the highest peak around, she shoots blasts of lightning — and even the oblivious Louise recognizes that lightning doesn’t strike twice. They make for that point, and soon the sisters are reunited. With a little help from Lockjaw, they’re even able to shake off Audrey’s suspicions.
Since Auran and Mordis are so in need of fresh blood to throw at their royal enemies, you’d think they could at least manage to be less condescending. Auran complains that they still smell like the mines, and Mordis tells them to get out of his way. Man, I hate Mordis. What a lame villain. His sarcastic attitude is totally unearned, especially since we’ve seen so little of the destructive power that it’s supposedly balancing against.
Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter how Auran and Mordis treated their subordinates, since it probably wouldn’t make much difference against the combined forces of Karnak and Gorgon. After scaring the bejeesus out of Auran just by saying hi to her, Karnak disarms one soldier and even manages to get the drop on Mordis. Again we see the masked Inhuman’s attitude totally fail him, as he confidently asks Karnak to explain how he’ll beat him, the same way Karnak does to everyone else he faces. Be careful what you wish for, you know? Karnak disarms the second-most powerful Inhuman alive just by talking. He says that when Mordis first emerged from Terrigensis with his destructive power, it was Karnak who pleaded for his life against the wishes of the Genetic Council. Mordis responds that life imprisonment isn’t much better than death, but Karnak insists that things can be different now. Mordis orders his foe to come out of hiding, but gets a greeting from Gorgon instead. When Mordis turns around to face his new opponent, Karnak comes out of hiding and chokes him into unconsciousness. After he’s out, Karnak admits that everything he said was a bluff to stall Mordis, and that he wanted to put him down as much as anyone else. If you ask me, that seems like a pretty good reason to just kill Mordis then and there! But, tragically, Karnak declines to do that. But, as expected, he makes quick work of Bronaja’s father and the other soldiers.
Gorgon is next up to bat, and he and Auran have a savage fistfight in close quarters in Declan’s lab. Auran, perhaps spooked by Declan telling her that she won’t be able to regenerate forever, gets taken down, and surrenders after Gorgon threatens to earthquake-stomp her face in.
Karnak and Gorgon free the hostages and tie up their enemies, and that’s when Mordis wakes up with a start. He refuses to go back to prison, and decides to unleash a hellish blast. Gorgon grabs him and uses an earthquake stomp to bring the building down on top of them to protect everyone else from Mordis’ blast.
I’m glad to be rid of Mordis, but Gorgon’s death is a bummer. It’s a tired trope that the black character always dies first in science fiction — even in films like X-Men: First Class, where Darwin’s power was literally to adapt and survive any situation, he still died before any of the white characters. So it’s unfortunate to see Inhumans continue the trope here, especially since he and Karnak were finally back together creating a fun stoic/goofy dynamic. Gorgon didn’t even get a fun romance with a cute human like the rest of his cousins!
Gorgon isn’t the only one who dies in this episode, however. Having discovered the plot against him, Maximus murders his friend Tybor, and sends every other conspirator to their death as well. As with everything else he does, this comes from Maximus’ insecurity about his lack of Inhuman powers. “Do you think I’m a stupid human??” he screams.
So we’ve set up an emotional final act here, with the vengeful Black Bolt coming after his increasingly desperate brother. I just wish it didn’t take Gorgon’s death to do it.