The way the last episode of this ongoing second season of Invincible ended, with the long-overdue reunion of the Grayson father and son, Mark and Nolan, an impending cataclysm was on the cards. But as the midseason finale revealed, that doesn’t come to pass in the way viewers would have expected; instead, a new threat emerges that unexpectedly reunites the duo against a common enemy.
In the previous episode, Coalition of Planets representative Allen shared the news of his encounter with half-Viltrumite Mark Grayson with the organization. Eventually, it was revealed that the Viltrumite empire had been made aware of their meeting as well, as they beat Allen within an inch of his life when he refused to share further information with them. In her efforts to seek some help from a superhero spouse support group, Debbie was left even more distraught and guilt-ridden after realizing how much Nolan’s past actions have affected the lives of innocent people. On the other hand, even before starting his first day at college, Mark was approached by an insectoid messenger from the planet Thraxa, seeking his help to save their planet. As Mark agreed to accompany him to their planet to help prevent a calamity, he was shocked out of his wits to see Thraxan, the monarch, and his father, Nolan Grayson, welcoming him. More shocking revelations are made in the course of the midseason finale, the fourth episode titled “It’s been a while,” as Mark continues to feel the pressure of his alien heritage.
An Unexpected Meeting: Why Did Nolan Bring Mark to Thraxa?
The beginning of the episode takes viewers back to the tumultuous battle between Mark and Nolan, which took place during the finale of the previous season. After utterly pulverizing his own son, a remorseful, horrified Nolan left the earth, abandoning his post as a Viltrumite infiltrator. In a beautiful sequence, the pain even a hardboiled genocidal maniac can feel for his loved ones is shown, as the blood on Nolan’s hands burns up as he leaves Earth’s atmosphere, but the tears do not. After wandering aimlessly, a broken, dejected Nolan contemplates taking his own life by entering a singularity when he spots a Thraxan ship almost meeting the same fate due to technological malfunctioning. Nolan saves the Thraxans on board and their empress Andressa from near death and takes their space vessel safely back to Thraxa. Grateful for his heroic gesture, the Thraxans acknowledge their savior as their monarch, and Nolan finds a purpose in life once again while living amongst them. Flash forward to the present timeline: Nolan sent a messenger to bring Mark to his new home, but the purpose is not merely to reconcile and patch up old wounds.
Mark is obviously livid with his old man for his past actions, and it almost seems as if a second round of father-son battle will begin, but forgetting the sordid past for a moment, Mark embraces Nolan. Despite the horrendous actions his father has committed, Mark can’t lie to himself about how he still longs for his presence. Moments later, Mark lashes out in anger, calling out Nolan for the rampage he caused, for abandoning his family, and for how the lingering effects of those actions continue to haunt everyone back on Earth while he continues to enjoy a new life. Nolan admits his acts are unforgivable, but just as a disgusted Mark prepares to leave Thraxa, Nolan stops him in his tracks as he states the Thraxans still need his help. Despite his reservations, Nolan’s appeal to his humanity softens up Mark, and he agrees to listen to the problem that they need his help with.
To further add to Mark’s shock, Nolan reveals that he has a child with Empress Andressa, and technically, he is Mark’s half-brother. Nolan fears that the news of the abandonment of his post as Earth’s conqueror has reached the Viltrum Empire, and if they track him down on Thraxa, they will annihilate his son and the entire Thraxan population just because they are physically extremely inferior to them. He asks for Mark’s help to save them and is willing to train him to make him strong enough to battle a Viltrumite. The influx of information puzzles Mark, and he is too dumbfounded to even process whatever he just learned.
Earth Updates: Did Debbie Finally Move On?
Back at Earth, after getting berated by Alana’s husband for Nolan’s actions, a crestfallen Debbie staggers her way to Nolan’s makeshift grave and pours her heart out. In her son’s absence, her loneliness is even more palpable, and apparently, there isn’t a soul to whom she can confide. Fortunately, she finds someone to listen to, as Art Rosenbaum, the supersuit maker, stops by her household and, seeing Debbie in agony, assures her of his faith in her mental strength. Truly, in the Grayson family, where two of the strongest superpowered individuals used to live, Debbie, the powerless mother, held the family together on her own. His reassurance brings much comfort to her, and she realizes that she doesn’t owe anything to anyone—not Nolan, not the rest of the world—for situations that aren’t under her control. The next day, Debbie calls Cecil and asks him to withdraw any help that he previously provided for Mark, along with the royalties from Nolan’s books (yeah, fans will surely remember the vocation of Omni-Man’s alter ego). She no longer needs any favors from anyone, which can be used as leverage later, and it seems she is finally ready to turn a new leaf in her life.
Elsewhere, Donald, Cecil’s loyal associate, discovers the footage of his ‘death’ at the hands of Omni-Man and learns that he might not be the average human employee of the GDA he thought he was. In a conflicted state of mind due to her father’s admonishments regarding her being a superpowered individual, Samantha makes a horrendous mistake while battling the supervillain Killcannon, which almost jeopardizes the lives of a couple. She eventually saves the duo, but her resolve to continue being Atom Eve has been broken as she returns to her parents’ home after dropping out of college.
What Happened To Mark And Nolan At Thraxa?
Back at Thraxa, even before Mark has the opportunity to make up his mind regarding helping his father and the Thraxans, three Viltrumite operatives launch a vicious attack on the denizens of the planet. Nolan instructs Mark to take Andressa and their son to safety, and following the Empress’ instructions, Mark arrives at a cavern. Having a moment to spare, Mark chats with Andressa, and eventually it seems he has softened up a bit regarding a new family situation.
However, one of the Viltrumite operatives, Lucan, attacks them inside the caverns and recognizes Mark as Nolan’s half-human child. His attention goes to Andressa and Nolan’s half-Thraxan son, and disgusted by their seeming physiological inferiority, he tries to obliterate them both. Mark stops him in his tracks, but as an experienced Viltrumite soldier, Lucan is easily able to pin him down until Nolan arrives in the caverns and engages with him in a grueling battle. Eventually, Nolan is able to defeat and disembowel Lucan, and Mark saves Andressa and her son from the collapsing caverns. Ensuring their safety, Nolan and Mark rush back outside to check up on the rest of the Thraxans at the capital.
A horrifying scenario awaits them as innumerable Thraxans lay decapitated, slain in vicious manners, and for the first time in a long time, Nolan feels immense pain, remorse, and sympathy for them as tears roll from his eyes. He is in a conflicted state; as a battle-hardened Viltrumite, he has been able to negate these feelings and emotions and therefore finds it difficult to comprehend why he cares about their lives so much. Mark opines that feeling this way is a human thing, which he should have felt for the people of Earth as well. The realization shocks Nolan, but they have hardly any time to spare as the remaining two Viltrum operatives continue their murderous onslaught, and the father and son engage them in a bloody brawl.
Mark isn’t able to match up with the skill and strength of Viltrum veteran Thula, and he almost gets beaten to death when Nolan buys him some time and instructs him to not hold himself back while fighting someone as vicious and strong as a Viltrumite. Mark fights back stronger this time and almost incapacitates Thula, but he lets his guard down at the last moment and allows her to fatally stab him. Just as Thula is going for the death blow, Nolan saves his son and incapacitates both the Viltrum operatives. His victory is short-lived, as it turns out Lucan is still alive and fractures his spine with a vicious kick. Later, Viltrum General Kregg appears in front of Mark and, after patching him up, praises his battle prowess, remarking that his strength has earned him a chance to live—unlike his Viltrum father, Nolan, who is being escorted to his home planet to be executed. Kregg instructs Mark to operate just like Nolan was instructed: prepare Earth for a Viltrum invasion by taking the necessary steps, even if it means killing a few, or else remaining prepared for total annihilation. Moments before being taken away, a distraught Nolan asks his son to remember his few good deeds and, most importantly, to read his books, which might hold the key to countering the Viltrumites in the long run.
The eventful fourth episode has taken the series in a new direction, as the shocking turn of events has already set the stage for momentous events to come. The Viltrum invasion has teased the most important story arc of the series as well, which we will discuss in a separate article.
Mid-Credit Scene: What Happened To The Mauler Twins?
Meanwhile, after the accident during Angstrom Levi’s deadly experimentation, the surviving, half-mutilated Mauler has created another of his clone twins, and this time there is no scope for confusion regarding who is the original due to his disfigurement. Taking advantage of the numbers proverb seriously, the prime Mauler decides to create multiple clones at once and enjoys goading his twin about his apparent superiority as the original one. However, in the mid-credits scene of the fourth episode, it is shown that the twin poisons the prime Mauler, opining that some things are better left unchanged. The Mauler twins’ shenanigans make for a funny subplot, which will surely continue with their confusing, conspiring antics in the seasons to come.