After around two years, the second season of Invincible is finally here! Judging by just the trailer, it is evident that this season is definitely going to be worth the wait. That statement is further backed and supported as we are presented with a fantastic opening episode. However, before we praise Episode 1, let’s first take a look at exactly what makes it so good. From a prestigious cast of voice actors (both returning, and new) to an enticing animation style, it’s got it all. We’ll be breaking down everything from plot, cinematography, acting, pacing, music, and more! This is our review of Invincible Season 2 Episode 1 – “A Lesson for Your Next Life.”
Invincible is available to watch now on Amazon Prime Video. Episode 2 releases November 10, Episode 3 releases November 17, and Episode 4 releases November 24. Afterward, there will be a mid-season break, and episodes 4,5,6,7, and 8 will air in early 2024.
Story & Plot
This show has always been about grabbing the attention of the viewers, making them unable to look away. This has been the case ever since its debut with a jaw-dropping pilot. Episode 1 steps away from shock value and instead focuses more on the emotional side of things. We get to peek into an alternate reality to see the results of what could have been as well as peek into the thoughts of a depressed Debbie (Sandra Oh). There are a lot of things to unpack here, so let’s jump right into it as we review the plot of Invincible Season 2 Episode 1.
The episode starts strong, presenting us with something not many expected. We get to see an alternate reality where Mark (Steven Yeun) had teamed up with his father Omni-Man and took over the entire world. Of course, this is basically the opposite of what happened but showing the audience this ‘what if’ scenario truly adds to the depth of the story. This is because it shows us the other side of things which are dark and undesirable, thus amplifying the importance of Mark’s heroism. A glimpse into what could have been is what the audience needed to further understand Mark’s pain and sulking. This was a great creative decision, truly elevating the show’s narrative.
Once we’re back in our reality, we see Invincible living out the typical hero life. One moment in particular that was creative and cool to watch was when he created an entire tidal wave to put out a huge fire. Whilst embarking on his heroics, the audience can clearly notice that Mark is holding back his rage. One can assume that this stems from the fact that Invincible does not want to end up like his father. Mark replies saying ‘I’m not so sure’ when Amber explains to him that he ‘does not owe anyone, anything’. This implies that Mark feels guilty over the actions of his father and that it is his responsibility to commit to cleaning up the mess by staying heroic and just.
New season, new threats. Angstrom Levy is the newest antagonist introduced and despite this, he isn’t fully evil. He possesses the ability to hop between dimensions via portals, rendering him able to recruit allies and learn valuable information about practically anything. However, his powers don’t end there. With the ability to teleport and his enhanced strength and durability, he proves to be one of Mark’s most formidable foes. Robert Kirkman (creator and writer of Invincible) has said that this iteration and adaptation of the villain will be more ‘lively’. Therefore, we can expect him to be somewhat of a likable villain as he definitely is interesting, to say the least.
Inspired by Kang the Conqueror and the multiverse story, we can expect a lot from this incredibly well-written character. During the alternate reality, Invincible is about to kill Levy when he gets saved via a portal created by another variant of himself. Eventually, we are introduced to the Maulers, twin genius villains with one being a clone (both not knowing who is the original). A separate variant of Angstrom breaks the twins out of prison using a portal, showcases his powers to them, and then explains his plans. He then brings them to ‘the family’ which is a direct reference to ‘The Council of Kangs’, showcasing many variants of Levy gathered in one place.
While they do not possess his portal powers, their knowledge of their respective universes is of high importance to Levy as he wants to take it all. Of course, at the time, his plan seemed noble as he wanted to use this information to help billions of people. However, we end up learning that this isn’t the case and that he has a sort of God complex. The frequent Marvel and DC inspirations are surprisingly refreshing as they are presented in smart ways.
The Mauler twins inadvertently lead Invincible to Angstrom who is using a machine to absorb all of the knowledge he sought. This then leads to a very interesting showdown. Levy explains that his plan is for the greater good. Invincible scoffs at him claiming that he has ‘heard that one before’ (a reference to his father). Levy then summons variants of The Maulers who then begin beating Invincible to death. Despite their differences, Levy did not want Invincible to perish during his pursuit of knowledge. Levy is a complicated man with confusing morals. However, one thing is for certain, he did not want to create his utopia on blood and death.
He then removes the helmet which prompts the robot machine to explode, killing the Mauler variants. Cecil Stedman explains to Invincible that what he did was for the greater good and that he should not feel guilt for the deaths of the Maulers. We are then presented with a close-up of Invincible’s bloody hands, a shot that speaks a thousand words. Mark is obviously having flashbacks to when his father, Omni-Man, had a similar mindset, explaining that bloodshed for the greater good is nothing to worry about. Invincible is constantly reminded of Nolan’s betrayal. This creates even more stress on an already tired Invincible. Furthermore, Immortal still does not trust Invincible, further adding to the list of complications in Mark’s life.
New Villain is Born
Yet, we see that one Mauler survived alongside Angstrom who is severely injured. The machine brought upon him permanent damage that infused all variants of himself into his brain. As learned throughout the episode, most versions of Invincible in other universes are evil. As a result, a new-found hatred for Invincible grows within Levy, marking the start of a rivalry between the two. The ending of the episode ties everything up nicely while setting up future episodes and conflicts.
Pacing & Editing
The entire episode’s pacing feels incredibly fitting. There is a sense of looming hopelessness nestled within the slightly slower pacing which matches the bittersweet nature of the story well. That being said, this ‘slow’ pacing present in the first half of the episode is not at all boring but instead fills the audience with melancholic feelings. Towards the second half of the episode, we are presented with quicker pacing that better matches the high-intense action scenes. The pacing and editing truly add to the stakes of the episode, making the viewers’ experience all that more seamless.
Cinematography & Music
Karma Police by Radiohead is a notable song alongside intense and emotional scores present throughout the episode. Not much can be said about the music as famous composer John Paesano nails it. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, he composed music for Daredevil, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Detroit: Become Human. As a result, the soundtrack for this series is definitely in safe hands.
In terms of cinematography, there are some incredible shots present. One of which is the close-up of Invincible’s bloody hands near the end of the episode. All establishing shots are phenomenal and the action scenes are full of intriguing angles and effects that make us want to glue our eyes to the screen. This is of course without even mentioning the clean animation style of the show which never gets old. Overall, Invincible excels in many aspects, these two categories being especially refined.
Final Verdict – An Emotion-filled Introduction
All in all, this episode is a psychological journey into the mind of Invincible and the new antagonist Levy. We are presented with many interesting scenes that develop the superhero story and further build Mark Grayson’s character. Levy is incredibly well-written, leaving us all wanting to see more of him. The episode is full of depth and emotion, scattering bits and pieces of exciting narrative throughout. We are incredibly interested to see where the story goes next. If the following episodes are anything like this one, the first season, or the comics, the series is in safe hands.