Thursday, November 9, 2017

Marvel Makes A Miserable Attempt At Inhumans Season 1!

The Good: There are a few hints of potential in the performances, characters or ethics
The Bad: Far too many characters to service them all well in such a short season, No truly stellar performances, Very dull and often-predictable plot, Second-rate special effects
The Basics: Inhumans translates poorly to television with its awkward and derivative first season.

The more Marvel Comics that are translated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the more crowded the Cinematic Universe becomes and the less likely the new material is to have content that feels original. With the adaptation of Inhumans to television, the feeling that "it's all been done" for the Marvel Cinematic Universe reaches its peak. While Inhumans Season 1 introduces the Attilan Royal Family and other Inhumans on the moon, the Inhumans are not at all new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. was preoccupied with humans being transformed into Inhumans in Season 2 (reviewed here!) and Season 3 (reviewed here!). The Inhumans have been around and some of the major Inhumans were even a part of Season Three of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., which gutted the potential of Marvel Studios producing an Inhumans feature film.

But with Inhumans Season 1, the problems of the Inhumans who have already come and gone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are pretty much the least of the show's problems. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are likely to find the main plot and character conflicts in Inhumans Season 1 to be entirely derivative of Thor (reviewed here!) and the cast is exceptionally crowded, especially for an eight-episode season. Inhumans alternates between the familiar and the boring in its first season, making for a lackluster addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

On the moon, in the cloaked city of Attilan, Black Bolt silently rules with his wife, Medusa acting as his mouthpiece. The two rule over the citizens of Attilan, enforcing a caste system and celebrating in the transformation of young Inhumans after they undergo terrigenesis. One day, an Earth probe knocks into the cloaking field around Attilan and the security chief of the city, Gorgon, stomps on the probe, which draws the attention of the humans monitoring the feed, including Louise. When Triton is murdered on Earth, Maximus makes a move on Attilan to seize the throne.

With Black Bolt, Karnak, and Gorgon teleported to Earth and Medusa's powerful hair sheered and then transported to Hawaii as well, Maximus gains control of Attilan. The massive dog Lockjaw manages to teleport Crystal (the princess) off Attilan moments after her act of defiance against Maximus. Maximus vows publicly to free the lower classes of Inhumans and made Attilan into a more egalitarian society, while purging the city of the Genetic Council. The Inhumans who were sent to Hawaii meet humans and struggle to come together following the coup, while Maximus's security chief, Auran hunts them down. With several of the Inhumans running into Dr. Evan Declan, a human who is researching Inhumans on Earth (for Maximus), the conflict for the Attilan throne moves toward an inevitable showdown.

The plot of Inhumans Season 1 is, ultimately, a painfully simple one. The Inhumans are separated and work to reunite with one another and then they move to fight one another. The season includes subplots - Karnak loses his powers and ends up helping a woman fight pot farmers who are surprisingly militant, Crystal falls for a human and Lockjaw needs a veterinarian - but basically, Inhumans is a meandering series of characters the viewer does not much care about finding each other again and preparing to go to war with Maximus.

Maximus, for his part, actually seems like he has a decent goal - to liberate the lower classes of Attilan - before he is repainted as simply power hungry and megalomaniacal. Much of Inhumans is him consolidating power on Attilan in a generic dictator style, while Medusa learns to actually appreciate humans.

For those unfamiliar with the characters, the Inhumans (and other major characters) in Season 1 include:

Black Bolt - The King Of Attilan, he has a powerful voice that causes immense destruction, so he willingly remains mute. After the coup, he ends up in Hawaii, where he is arrested and aided by a human Inhuman. He wants to return to Attilan to retake his throne to continue to enforce the traditions of the royal family,

Medusa - The Queen Of Attilan, she has super-powered hair, which Maximus has cut off during his coup. She ends up on Hawaii, despondent, where she teams up with Louise to reunite with Black Bolt. In the process, she learns there is some merit in humans and she advocates for change on Attilan,

Gorgon - The head of the Attilan Royal Guard, he has massive hooves and is not overly smart, though he is ethical and loyal to Black Bolt. He teams up with human mercenaries and then takes on Auran and her team, with disastrous consequences,

Karnak - An Inhuman who has the ability to see all potential outcomes for an action and act accordingly to influence events. He arrives on Earth without his powers and has a romantic relationship with a human before she is killed and he is reunited with his King,

Crystal - Medusa's younger sister, she has ill-defined powers and a strong relationship with the massive teleporting dog, Lockjaw. She defies Maximus on Attilan before fleeing to Hawaii where she falls in love with a human and gets Lockjaw medical attention,

Louise - A human working on the moon probes, she figures out that an entity destroyed the probe. She encounters Medusa and works to keep her safe as the manhunt on Hawaii progresses,

Auran - Maximus's head of security, she has the ability to resurrect, which comes in handy when she is sent to bring the other Inhumans in. She starts to see how Maximus is corrupt and quietly aids the royal family at key moments,

Dr. Evan Declan - A human scientist, he is studying Inhumans and terrigenesis. He manages to figure out the genetics behind each Inhuman power and he develops a way to artificially initiate terrigenesis and guide the powers a new Inhuman might get,

and Maximus - The Inhuman brother of Black Bolt, he lost his Inhuman powers and became human when he underwent terrigenesis as a child. He seizes power and tries to free the lower classes and purge the militant Genetic Council on Attilan. He works with Dr. Declan to get powers back so he might better lead the Inhumans.

Inhumans Season 1 features a fairly decent cast, though none of the cast is given the chance to truly show off their acting chops. Anson Mount does a decent job periodically of making Black Bolt watchable without ever speaking and Serinda Swan does well as Medusa starts to develop empathy for non-Inhumans. Ken Leung is fine as Karnak when he is not forced to play the character without powers. Iwan Rheon starts Inhumans with more depth and nuance than he was able to play Ramsay Bolton . . . before the season pushes him to play Maximus in a monolithic evil way.

Such is the downfall of Inhumans Season 1; the few characters who are interesting or well-performed are diluted in a crowded cast, forced to go where the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already gone many, many times before.

For a better understanding of just what this season entails, please check out my reviews of the individual episodes in this season at:
"Behold . . . The Inhumans"
"Those Who Would Destroy Us"
"Divide And Conquer"
"Make Way For . . . Medusa"
"Something Inhuman This Way Comes . . ."
"The Gentleman's Name Is Gorgon"
"Havoc In The Hidden Land"
". . . And Finally: Black Bolt"

For other works from the 2017 - 2018 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Stranger Things - Season 2
Rick And Morty - Season 3
"Return Of The Mack" - Legends Of Tomorrow
"Girls Night Out" - The Flash
"Damage" - Supergirl
"Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" - Star Trek: Discovery
Twin Peaks - Season 3 ("The Return")
Game Of Thrones - Season 7
The Defenders - Season 1
Friends From College - Season 1


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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