Secret Invasion season 1 episode 5 review: Pain and Fury

Scene from the Marvel TV show Secret Invasion. Here we see a still from Secret Invasion season 1 episode 5 - G'iah and Varra meet.
G'iah and Varra meet. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

As we approach the end of Marvel's Secret Invasion, more and more viewers wonder if the show was always meant to be so limited in scope. We know it was reshot to hell and back, and the plans never were to make it a close adaptation of the famous comic book event, yet this entire Skrull conspiracy – supposedly far-reaching and world-threatening – ultimately feels like a bunch of terrorists playing dress-up. With only one episode left, one can see why Nick Fury refuses to call in his superhero friends.

Nonetheless, 'Harvest' might be the strongest episode so far. We'd already made the effort to accept the series' nature, flaws and all, and within those parameters, the fifth chapter is an entertaining one which didn't make us roll our eyes too hard. There's no scene here as head-scratching as Gravik murdering Talos among soldiers who have no reaction whatsoever to that, nor the villain getting shot in the head. In fact, the beats of action in episode 5 are surprisingly solid and bloody. As for the character work, Emilia Clarke finally finds something half-compelling to work with.

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Spoilers ahead for Secret Invasion episode 5: 'Harvest'

Fake Rhodey behind his goons. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Things are off to a bloody start as Gravik tells his "agents" about their failure to kill the POTUS. Moreover, Pagon – Gravik's second-in-command – failed to grab samples that could've helped the main bad guy destroy the convoy on his own. There's a clear unrest growing at New Skrullos, and Pagon voices his concerns and doubts. That costs him his life, and it becomes crystal-clear that Gravik has become just another tyrant too lost in a personal vendetta against those who personally failed him.

With all the racial commentary peppered throughout the series, there's an interesting angle to explore here: hateful men leading all of their people to war as the only way to fix past injustices and create a better future. But, of course, it's all surface-level. Despite the writers' intentions, 99% of the time you can only get so far within the limitations of the Disney-Marvel box. We've seen it happen before with the Black Panther movies and their commentary on imperialism and the tensions with the "outside world," only to end up reaching bafflingly conservative resolutions.

Elsewhere, Nick Fury is trying to warn a wounded and seemingly unconscious President about fake Rhodey and the Skrull threat. He also jumps as soon as he can on the mole when he shows up, but that's not the right place nor situation. In this episode, we also learn about why they haven't killed Fury after Varra's failure: they need to find the Harvest (DNA samples from the Avengers) as soon as possible, but they're struggling and it appears that only Fury can bring it to them. No issues at the moment, but this tells us Gravik would've been kind of screwed had Varra gone through with her assignment.

Sonya starts cleaning house. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

In London, Sonya Falsworth has done all the necessary homework to effectively start cleaning house on British soil, and so she goes on a crusade to remove Skrulls loyal to Gravik from the equation. Again, Olivia Colman's natural comedy chops work great in tandem with her character's crude nature, and she continues to deliver what's by far one of the funniest MCU performances in recent memory.

Folks at New Skrullos aren't happy with Gravik either, and a group of soldiers tries to take him out following Pagon's murder. It's all working out just fine until his powers kick in and he wrecks everyone. How long can he keep his followers together? It seems like, right now, he's the biggest killer of Skrulls around. As someone short on resources, being a bully is getting him nowhere.

We're also due for a chat between Fury and G'iah after Talos' death, and it's a good one for Emilia Clarke's character, who might finally have something meaningful to do, even if it's just making her father proud. Clarke does really well with doubtful and vulnerable characters, and you can tell she's more comfortable here. This seeps into her next scene, where she meets with Varra in order to give Talos a proper (albeit rushed) funeral. We only wish we could've learned a bit more about Skrull culture in this show.

Rick Mason helps Nick Fury. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

Oh, by the way, fake Rhodey has told the world Fury was responsible for Maria Hill's death, so travelling around the globe is a bit harder now. No problem, however, as he's smuggled to Finland by Rick Mason, a cheery bloke we first met in Black Widow. No, we didn't remember him either. No offense to O.T. Fagbenle.

Meanwhile, fake Rhodey (sorry, we like calling him that) is talking the President into bombing New Skrullos to the ground because Gravik's train of thought has totally gone off the rails now. Baiting the U.S. into launching an attack on Russian soil while also putting innocent Skrull lives at stake will force Fury into meeting with and giving him what he wants: the Harvest. Or at least that's the plan. Not even fake Rhodey seems to be fully on board with it.

G'iah and Varra fend off intruders. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

The show hadn't forgotten about the loose end that was Varra refusing to kill Fury. And so, a group of Gravik's hitmen break into her house. But there's a slight miscalculation: G'iah is there (and she knows how to kick ass) and Varra had been trained for years by Fury. The following action scene isn't especially impressive, but there's a refreshing punch and clarity to it, plus those goons bleed a lot. After countless MCU installments in which gun violence is extremely tame, seeing blood splatters all over the place was kinda shocking. The studio is letting fans know they will no longer shy away from harsher violence where needed (i.e., Blade and Deadpool 3, for starters).

Nick Fury gets to Finland, and we're treated to a small Mission: Impossible-ish moment where he uses the Black Widow veil and a wig to mask himself in order to (illegally) enter the country. There's more fun spy stuff in episode 5, but they're shy efforts and we can't help but imagine a more inventive version of this show that doubled down on those elements and created entire sequences around them.

Fury's secret cache in Finland. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel)

The final stretch has Fury meeting with Falsworth (100% a good lady now) and visiting a graveyard in the Finnish countryside. After a short chat about why he refuses to call in his superhero friends to help clean this mess (he makes some good points), he shares a few poignant words with his ally and opens up a secret cache. He's got plenty of fake grave-caches around, and this one's special because he and Varra honeymooned in Finland, plus he stored there a sample of what Gravik wants.

This is yet another indication the former SHIELD director is actually a warm and kind person, he just can't open himself to anyone in his line of work. Looking back at the heroes' darkest moments in past MCU entries, he was always great with inspiring discourses that highlighted what made humans special, so it's rewarding to learn he doesn't consider himself to be an outlier.

Fully equipped and with his iconic eye patch back on, Kris Bowers' original score rises and we get a final tease as Fury calls a mysterious someone to "finish this." Is he just reminding the bad guys he's coming for them, or are we gonna see some familiar faces in the finale? The most optimistic fans are hoping for Agents of SHIELD cameos (Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk opened the Marvel T.V. floodgates). We don't want to get our hopes up, but nothing's off the table. With everyone likely forgetting about Secret Invasion in a few weeks (except for the major character deaths), it could make a bit of an impact with fitting fan service.

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Fran Ruiz

Fran Ruiz is our resident Star Wars guy. His hunger for movies and TV series is only matched by his love for video games. He got a BA of English Studies, focusing on English Literature, from the University of Malaga, in Spain, as well as a Master's Degree in English Studies, Multilingual and Intercultural Communication. On top of writing features and other longform articles for since 2021, he is a frequent collaborator of VG247 and other gaming sites. He also serves as associate editor over at Star Wars News Net and its sister site, Movie News Net.