Invincible is back for Season 2, and the world is a lot worse for wear, with Mark (Steven Yeun) solidly on the side of his evil father, Omni-man. Now working to assimilate Earth into the Viltrimite Empire, the start of the episode, “A Lesson For Your Next Life,” is a stark departure from the end of Season 1 until it isn’t. After opening with an alternate reality that sets the foundation for the larger narrative of the series, fans are snapped into the timeline we know and into Mark’s life in Invincible Season 2 Episode 1. This is a series that is about to take on portals, variants, and a new dimension, and somehow it’ll aim to not lose Mark Grayson at the center of it.
Invincible Season 2 is based on the Image Comics series by Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, and Ryan Ottley and the second season of the adult animated series aims to dive deeper into its characters. From showrunner Simon Racioppa, Invisible Season 2 is about the fallout of betrayal, grief, and the guilt that Omni-man left at the end of the first season. In Invincible Season 2 Episode 1, Mark is set to graduate high school, his relationship with Amber is going extremely well, and Willaim is back to being his best friend. All-in-all, his personal life seems to be back in order. Only the grief left by Nolan Grayson’s (J.K. Simmons) betrayal is a chasm between him and his mother, Debbie (Sandra Oh).
While Mark is okay in his daily life as Mark when he’s Invincible, he is now trying to atone for the guilt that he feels for having survived his father’s attack while so many didn’t. Each life he saves becomes a small way to try to balance the scale in his heart and prove that his greatest fear, to become his father, isn’t coming true. Invincible Season 2 Episode 1 is able to capture the emotional toll that his fight with his father took on Mark without eschewing the gory action that the series has become known for.
As a setup for the season ahead, Invincible Season 2 Episode 1 works perfectly. We get a chance to see the new Guardians of the Globe, their dynamic, and how Robot has changed irrevocably now that there is a human inside. The first episode also shows how Cecil Stedman (Walton Goggins) is managing the superheroes after Omni-man, which includes keeping Mark on a short leash and adding the newly rejuvenated Immortal to the Guardians again.
But in the action that we see, which includes Mark, the Guardians, and the Mauler Twins, who are part of a clearly larger narrative thread for the season with another man looking to take on consciousness from others, the season premiere doesn’t lose the emotional grounding that is clearly important making this second season different from the first. The dark humor, the gore, and the hallmarks of the season are here, but so is the trauma.
In one shot, we see Mark and his mother part ways, clearly on different sides of their own pain. Debbie is confronting a loving monster, and Mark is trying to make up for being fathered by one. This is clearly the heart of the series moving forward, and that deep guilt that both of them feel is heartbreaking. I can’t understate the emotional power of the series so far in just one 43-minute episode.
It’s some of the series’s best writing, and the way it’s expertly weighed against the standard adult animation affairs is stellar. Mark’s duality of hero and abused son is astonishingly poignant, especially as we see him growing smaller from his guilt, a stark difference from his face projected on a jumbotron in the alternate reality where he chose to side with his father and the Viltrumite empire.
We also get glimpses of Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), who still wants to use her superpowers to end world hunger. The Guardians are struggling as Robot adjusts to having a real human inside him, the Immortal comes to take the reigns of the Guardians, and Cecil just generally isn’t trusting anyone anytime soon. There is actually a lot to see happening around Mark in this episode that makes these series larger and even establishes multiverses in a more concrete way than the last season. That said, it’s not as important as the ripple effects of Chicago on the Graysons and while it’s going to offer fruitful storytelling, I’m held in place and in awe by the series’ approach to Mark’s grief.
Invincible Season 2 Episode 1 doesn’t disappoint. It’s filled with everything you would want from the series, and it builds itself even bigger with a heartfelt impact as well. Not only do you go “oh sh*t” when a truly gruesome battle happens, but you also feel the palpable sadness of the characters attempting to pick up the pieces of their lives.
Invincible Season 2 Episode 1 — "A Lesson For Your Next Life"
Invincible Season 2 Episode 1 doesn’t disappoint. It’s filled with everything you would want from the series, and it builds itself even bigger with a heartfelt impact as well.