Once Debbie learns the truth, it’s all over — the Grayson marriage, but also the charade put on by Nolan and the military organization secretly tracking his every move. There’s no more reason for Nolan to hide after Debbie confronts him about killing a bunch of people, so it’s time for Cecil and the GDA to take him out, before they find out what he really has planned for this planet. “We Need to Talk” has some important conversations, sure, but this episode puts us back in action-extravaganza mode as Omni-Man reveals his true self to the world and obliterates his domestic human life. He fights GDA agents, D.A. Sinclair’s cyborgs, a gigantic tentacle-faced monster, and a revived Immortal, all of which fail to stop him. The most gruesome deaths happen in the Grayson home, when Omni-Man is ambushed by GDA agents that are basically walking, talking blood balloons waiting to be burst. Many skulls are smashed, and at one point he halves a person on the edge of the kitchen island in an especially visceral bit of violence.
The main plot of this episode has a lot of momentum, starting with a blowout fight between Debbie and Nolan that ends with him flying through the roof after she tells him to get out of her house. It’s a very public display that things have gone wrong, prompting Cecil and the GDA to retrieve Debbie and come clean about what they’ve been doing. The voice work is very strong this week, and the performances from Sandra Oh and Walton Goggins capture the sense of betrayal felt by Debbie and Cecil, as they realize the extent of Nolan’s monstrosity. Omni-Man in battle is a huge contrast from Nolan on his own, and J.K. Simmons’s voice acting brings out the sensitive side of the character during the scene where he rehearses how he’s going to tell his son he’s a mass murderer.
It’s surprising to hear that it’s been eight months since the Guardians’ murders; the passage of time could have been clearer over the course of the season. That would heighten the tension of Debbie’s story line, given that she lived with her suspicions about her husband for over half a year, and Mark’s romance with Amber would have greater stakes because of just how long he lied to her. Mark has no idea what’s going on with his dad in this episode, because his phone is broken and he’s caught up in the end of his relationship with Amber. He finally realizes that telling Amber about his secret identity is the only way to repair the damage, but it’s too late.
I really enjoy how this show contrasts Mark and Amber’s relationship with the Grayson parents’. “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out” showed the two couples’ different versions of a first date, and this week’s episode puts their breakups side by side. For both Debbie and Amber, it comes down to trust being broken. Debbie is willing to hear an explanation for why her husband killed the most powerful people on the planet — who were also their friends — but he’s not willing to give her one. It’s a violation of trust with potentially apocalyptic ramifications, and Debbie is dealing with the heartbreak of losing her husband as well as the fear of knowing what he could do if he didn’t have a hero’s intentions.
Amber’s situation isn’t nearly as fraught; she just wishes her boyfriend would have talked to her about being a superhero instead of thinking she was an idiot that couldn’t see through his extremely obvious attempts to cover up his costumed life. Mark was scared of taking that step, but all Amber saw was someone unwilling to open up about this incredibly important part of his life that has a direct impact on their relationship. She’s not impressed by Mark telling her he’s Invincible because that doesn’t erase the months of lies. Given that Amber was introduced as someone who takes no shit, it feels right that she would kick Mark to the curb after being disrespected.
Mark goes to Will and Eve for comfort, but they don’t have a lot of sympathy for him. Will points out that Mark was a bad boyfriend and got what he deserved, and Eve sees a self-involved superhero who is sulking when he could be saving lives. She’s helped more people in three days than she did in three years with the Teen Team, and now that she’s realized her potential, she expects Mark to step up and do the same. Alienated from his closest friends, Mark is eager to help when he sees his father under attack, giving him a chance to punch out his frustrations while connecting with someone he can always trust. But like everyone else, Mark’s about to learn some hard truths about his dad.
Invincible’s first season has been building to the revelation at the end of this episode, and the Robot subplot ends up playing a big part in Mark’s horrific discovery about his father. That story reaches critical mass as Robot reveals his master plan: get the Mauler twins to create a teen Rex body and transfer his consciousness into it. The person in Robot’s tank is actually Robot’s human self, and his love for Monster Girl has compelled him to stop living through drones and feel the world again. It’s an interesting story line but it does feel like a distraction from the more compelling Nolan thread, and the scenes with Robot and the Mauler twins could use some tightening. A lot of time is spent on the process of transferring Robot’s mind, and the fight between the Mauler twins and Robot’s giant mecha-van isn’t very exciting, especially when compared to the action elsewhere in the episode.
The Guardians have some issues with their leader working with criminals to put his brain in the younger cloned body of one of his teammates, but they don’t have time to unpack that before finding out Omni-Man’s gone bad. Meanwhile, Robot’s accomplices successfully revive The Immortal, under the assumption that they’ll be able to control him, which is very much not the case. When he wakes up, The Immortal has one goal: kill Omni-Man. He immediately rips off his collar and flies off to find his target, and voice actor Ross Marquand relishes the opportunity to go berserk as The Immortal has a rematch with his killer.
That fight ends with Omni-Man punching through The Immortal’s torso, an act that exposes Nolan’s true colors to both his son and news helicopters broadcasting the brutality to the entire world. The slow-motion shot of fist breaking through flesh heightens the impact of this turning point, getting in close to channel the terror and disgust Mark feels as he sees his father rip his former colleague in half. This episode really succeeds at building a sense of dread for the moment when Mark finally sees his dad for who he really is, and the increasing “oh shit” factor makes it clear that this isn’t going to lead to a calm mountaintop convo.
Instead, it ends with Mark getting a front-row seat to daddy in murder mode. It’s not the ideal environment for a clarifying conversation, and the episode leaves us in the tension of Nolan telling his son that they need to talk. There’s no music over the credits or an extra scene, just the uneasy silence that comes after watching your father tear somebody in two. Nolan is ready to come clean, but is Mark going to listen? And if he does, what happens if he doesn’t like what he hears? If this turns violent, Mark doesn’t stand a chance. It’s hard to imagine any positive resolution for this cliffhanger, which is a good place to be heading into the season finale. No matter what, everything is going to change next week, and it will be exciting to see what the world of Invincible looks like when the dust settles.