The battle to decide the ruler of Attilan is on — if there even will be an Attilan after this
Well, now we’re done. After eight painstaking episodes, we have finally reached the end of Inhumans‘ first season — and judging by the less-than-stellar reception of this first batch of episodes, likely the last. I have to be honest, I was hoping that the feet-dragging of earlier episodes was pointing towards a loud, action-packed, climactic finale. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.
The Inhuman royals don’t start out this final episode in the best place. Back in Attilan, Karnak is quickly captured by loyalist troops and sent to the “Quiet Room,” the prison he himself originally designed to contain “the most powerful weapon in Attilan” — that is, Black Bolt’s supersonic voice. We certainly haven’t seen enough of that voice to get why it’s so powerful, but nevertheless, this is not the kind of place Karnak could escape on his own. Luckily for him, Maximus’ troops soon round up the resurrected Gorgon as well and throw him in there with his cousin. Karnak succeeds where Declan failed, and is able to break through to his friend even through the confusing haze of his post-resurrection madness. Gorgon asks Karnak to help him. But first, he needs to help Karnak. This prison, after all, was built to contain sonic waves, but is not nearly as resilient against brute force. A couple earthquake stomps later, and Karnak and Gorgon are successfully freed from their prison.
I’ve complained in recent weeks about the show’s treatment of Gorgon — namely, how the creators seemed to be killing the show’s only main black character for plot motivation, in keeping with some of the genre’s most unfortunate tropes. Luckily they did bring him back in the end, but it really just shows how low the stakes have been in this show. If you’re going to kill characters, you should at least make them stick.
Thanks to a Lockjaw teleport, Medusa returns to Louise on Earth. The queen needs the scientist’s help escaping her own prison — the ticking time bomb that Maximus has transformed Attilan into. Louise’s price is being able to visit the moon with them and fulfill her dad’s dream, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. The Inhumans won’t be on the moon for much longer themselves.
Escorting Maximus through the halls of Attilan, Black Bolt and Triton are soon ambushed by some of the usurper’s troops. Triton takes care of them easily in the most badass way possible, which really just makes me regret the way he was kept off-screen for 80 percent of this show. I feel the same way about Black Bolt’s vocal powers, which we’ll get to in a moment. (Recap continues on page 2)
Medusa and Maximus soon have a heart-to-heart. Medusa, after all, has spent the last few episodes pleading with her family members to spare Maximus’ life, and now we find out why. In those halcyon days before his coup, Maximus and Medusa were apparently friends — more than that, she was his only friend. Maximus notes that but for her, he had nothing and no one. Medusa correctly deduces that this must have been why he was so eager to usurp the throne — so that he could finally be someone. When he refuses to compromise, however, Medusa takes away his last chance at that false self-meaning by destroying the last Terrigen crystal. I was wondering if this show was all building up to Maximus going through Terrigenesis again and thereby becoming Maximus the Mad, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Soon after, Medusa makes her pitch to the people of Attilan. She acknowledges her own revolutionary parents, who had a plan for a more equal future in Attilan, and admits that no one can be blamed for thinking Maximus was on the same page. But he clearly is not, as his reaction to Medusa’s speech shows. He’s not on the side of the people after all; as far as Maximus is concerned, if he can’t rule Attilan, no one else can either. His failsafe has now made the city so vulnerable that it must now be evacuated. Luckily, Attilan has its own version of Mother Willow from Pocahontas — a face in the wall that can transport people safely back to Earth, even more efficiently than Lockjaw! Everyone starts taking that route, except for Black Bolt, who still has some unfinished business.
Finally confronting his brother, Black Bolt learns Maximus manipulated him into killing their parents. The younger brother faked a royal decree saying Black Bolt needed to be lobotomized; when the heartbroken young prince asked his parents “why,” the power of his voice killed them. Maximus now admits they died for no reason but his own ambition, because he assumed Black Bolt’s reaction would have been to depart for Earth and leave him the crown.
Black Bolt takes his wife’s advice and doesn’t kill Maximus. Instead, he takes him to Attilan’s secure bunker, an outpost that predates the city itself and is therefore self-sustainable even without the dome that’s about to be compromised. There’s enough food and water inside to last lifetimes, so Black Bolt locks Maximus inside. Outside, he finally uses his voice. Uttering “goodbye brother,” the supersonic effect destroys the outer wall, caving it in and locking Maximus inside forever. As Black Bolt leaves to join his fellow Inhumans on Earth, Maximus utters to himself, “I am the king of Attilan.”
And so Inhumans ends, with all of the major characters now on Earth. I suspect this show will probably be forgotten in the greater MCU, though it would be kind of fun to check in on them at some point. In the meantime, I would recommend checking out some of Marvel’s several Inhumans comics, all of which are much smarter and entertaining than this show.