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Inhumans - Divide... and Conquer - Review

Inhumans “Divide—and Conquer” was written by Rick Cleveland and was directed by Chris Fisher, whose other credits include The Magicians, Person of Interest, and Warehouse 13. Cleveland’s credits range from the sublime – The West Wing, Six Feet Under, and House of Cards – to the… odd – Nurse Jackie, Scoundrels, and Under the Dome. The title is actually an apt description of the plot which divides itself between the various characters. Henry Ian Cusick joins the cast as the somewhat mysterious Dr Declan. I’ll be interested to see if he has some connection to S.H.I.E.L.D. Rather than dividing my attention and conquering my doubts, this episode pretty much solidified my previous conclusions about the show.

The episode gives us some history about Maximus (Iwan Rheon/Aiden Fiske) and Black Bolt (Anson Mount/Loften Shaw). Maximus has apparently always coveted the throne, and Black Bolt really wasn’t interested in taking over from his parents. I found both Michael Buie as King Agon and Tanya Clarke as Queen Rynda delivered terrible performances, but I did very much enjoy Fiske as the young Maximus – lots of good calculating looks and brooding in the background. It would also seem that Maximus’s “transformation” actually made him completely human – and thereby disqualified him from ever being King. We also learn that there about 1400 people total on Attilan, which really makes the caste system even less reasonable.

While Maximus tries to use Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) to solidify his position in Attilan, the followers of Black Bolt try to find their footing on earth. Karnak (Ken Leung) manages to stumble upon an illegal pot farm. Reno wants to kill him, but his out voted by the other two. Leung delivers another great performance. I loved his story about his tattoos, mainly because it seems like he’s about to say that he had them done when he was a teenager and now regrets them, but playing against that expectation, he says that they now remind him of all he’s been through. Surprisingly, he asks to stay on the farm because his powers are still offline and he doesn’t think he can help Black Bolt in his current state. Of course, you have to figure that the others are going to be worried about him when they find out he’s on Earth and alive.

Eme Ikwuakor as Gorgon is still failing to impress, but a lot of that has to be the blame of the writing. Why is he disparaging the capabilities of the surfers who have signed on to help him? It’s a bit amazing that they want to help him when he’s a bit of a jerk to them. I did really like, however, that they bring in the history of Hawaii as they pledge to help Gorgon get his King back on his throne in honor of their own King who lost his throne due to the mainland. And it’s also hilarious that even though they know what he is, he’s now wearing regular boots – how and why? Other than the “hooves” he was wearing looked like crap?

We get a fairly decent fight scene between Gorgon and his surfers and Auron (Sonya Balmores) and her Inhumans, including Mortis – a quick search revealed nothing about who plays him. Mortis’ powers are basically those of Cyclops in X-men. The best quote to describe him that I read – and I’m sorry I didn’t come up with it is that he looks like the Gimp from Pulp Fiction! (Credit to Christian Holum at EW) He’s snarky and sarcastic and everybody hates him and is afraid of him. Maximus really does come across like a real bully – who are cowards at heart.

I also remain completely underwhelmed by Serina Sinden as Medusa. Again, some of this has to be blamed on the lame writing. We see her watching people getting money out of an ATM. Surely, she has seen them put a card in and punch in numbers. What possible reason could she have for thinking she could demand it give her money by talking to it? If Attilan is a hidden city that no one on Earth knows about, why would telling anyone that she is Queen of it get her anywhere?

I did enjoy the Black Bolt storyline. Anson Mount is impressing me. Of course, maybe that’s in part because he doesn’t have to actually say any of the dialogue that the other characters are forced to say… Black Bolt is sent to prison, and Declan calls ahead to a mysterious prisoner – Sammy (Faleolo Alailima). I have to say that I was pretty much tipped off right away that he had undergone terragenesis. Regardless, Declan makes sure that Black Bolt has someone in the prison to look out for him. And how is it that Sammy is clearly able to understand that Black Bolt can’t speak whereas the rest of the world can’t figure this out. The rest of the world might not realize that Black Bolt’s voice is a weapon, but surely they could assume that he has some physical problem that doesn’t allow him to speak – and Black Bolt can apparently confirm that with a couple of quick hand gestures. I assume that Declan figured it out from watching the video footage of Black Bolt and told Sammy, but still…

There’s another real inconsistency in the plot. Black Bolt is supposed to be in danger from the other prisoners. One of the guards clearly has it out for him. However, later in the episode, we find out the guard’s brother was injured by Black Bolt and that’s the source of his animosity. So, why would he think the prisoners would have it out for Black Bolt? It’s obvious that the other prisoners are going to welcome someone who’s had a run in with the cops – and that’s exactly what happens. I loved Black Bolt getting picked up by one of the other prisoners and the look on Mount’s face! The guard then starts a fight and Black Bolt and Sammy make a run for it – Declan is waiting. We see – and hear – Sammy’s power and backstory.

Meanwhile, Louise (Ellen Woglom) has showed up at the prison and is pestering Captain Pena (Carlos Arellano) to let her in to talk to Black Bolt. It’s clear now that she works for an equivalent of Elon Musk – only instead of colonizing Mars, he wants to colonize the moon… I can’t say that Woglom impressed me in this episode, but then none of the women really did. Medusa, meanwhile, has broken into someone’s home and stolen food, clothes and money. She shows up with a gun and tries to blast her way into the prison. It was pretty hilarious when she gets there just as the helicopter takes off. And then she takes Louise prisoner to follow it.

Back on Attilan, Maximus has been working on convincing Crystal to endorse him as King. He tries to convince her that it’s all just a misunderstanding. Given how irredeemably terrible Cornish is, we can forgive Maximus for assuming she’s stupid. Maximus does appear to be in the right in attempting to have the Genetic Council abolish the caste system. Crystal pretends to go along, saying “Maximus is king…. Of no one!” She then freezes the guns and gets to Lockjaw who teleports her to Earth where he is promptly injured by some guy on an ATV. I can’t remember the last time I saw acting as bad as Cornish’s in this last scene…

If there was some way to get rid of everyone other than Black Bolt, Karnak, Maximus, and possibly Declan, this show might improve. The writing really needs to improve. A fish out of water story is all well and good, but it still has to be believable on some level. The dialogue is still sub-par in many scenes – it’s hard to blame the actors for that! Overall, the parts that I like will keep me watching. I keep reminding myself that the entire run is only 8 episodes – but then I also remember, we’re missing S.H.I.E.L.D. for this – and this took the place of the Mockingbird/Hunter spin off and/or Agent Carter… What did you think of the episode? Will you keep watching? Did Sammy, Declan, or Mortis improve the show for you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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