In just four episodes, Invincible Season 2 has delivered its signature ultra-violence, the complexities of heroism, guilt, and so much grief for an idea of who you thought someone was—and it’s hilarious. This season has captured the highs of the last and is filled with even more emotional moments that hit a climax with Invincible Season 2 Episode 4, “It’s Been Awhile.” This one episode ups the animation depth, the emotional complexity, the action’s intensity, and it leaves the audience hanging so perfectly for Part 2.
In the last episode, Mark (Steven Yeun) wound up on a bug planet, taken there to save the population from impending doom. He’s brought to the Monarch instead. Only the Monarch is his father, Omni-Man. In Episode 3, they don’t exchange many words, but in Invincible Season 2 Episode 4, the anger and the sadness flow. While both men expect to fight, squaring up solidly in silence first, Mark’s embrace of his father shows the difficulty of hating a parent even when we should.
Nolan Grayson (J.K. Simmons) doesn’t exist. Omni-man doesn’t exist. Both ideas of who his father was are gone for Mark, but in the moment where they see each other for the first time, you see a son embracing his father. It hits like a ton of bricks. We know that Nolan almost took his son’s life, and we know his evil, as does Mark, but for a split second, we see our titular hero as a child. It’s a small moment in a dense episode, but it carries so much narrative weight that the audience is immediately forced to reckon with the complicated feelings we have for parents we should hate.
As Invincible Season 2 Episode 4 continues, we learn that Mark isn’t the only Grayson. He has a baby brother. Paying off for the exposition-heavy first half of the last episode with Allen the Alien, Mark’s brother shouldn’t exist. As beings that see themselves as the supreme species of the universe, Viltrim bans procreating with species that are not similar to them. Mark is fine. His blue brother birthed from a bug? Yeah, not so much. While Mark should immediately want to protect the child, he has to face the selfishness that comes from watching the man who was his father not just call a new place home but have a new wife, a new son, and ultimately, a new family. It hits differently.
For Mark and Nolan, their episode is about closing a hole that was ripped open in Invincible Season 1 and fighting Viltrimites as they come to take Nolan away and destroy his new family. The battle is intense emotionally and action-wise and stands as some of the best moments of the series (yes, in a season filled with series heights).
But despite their arc in Invincible Season 2 Part 1 getting the ample time it needs, Episode 4 doesn’t forget the other characters too. We see Debbie (Sandra Oh) trying everything she can to close the grief she feels for someone who isn’t dead yet, and it’s gripping and extremely lonely. Additionally, Samantha’s (Gillian Jacobs) path of Atom Eve comes to an end when she sees the impact of failing. The last episode showed Samantha having to confront her humanitarian hubris when a sinkhole under a park she built collapsed, and no one got hurt. In this episode, people don’t make it through.
Samantha, for better and sometimes worse, has represented a near-true north for morality in the series. She doesn’t want the money or fame of the other Guardians of the Globe that she fought next to, she just wants to make an impact, save lives, save people, and do something for the world. Here, though, it’s shattered sharply when she is forced to understand that she can not save everyone and she has limits. It breaks her, and for a character as resilient as Samantha, that is devastating.
To say that Invincible Season 2 Episode 4 is brutal somehow doesn’t seem to encapsulate just how intense it is. From Debbie’s continuous downward emotional spiral to Mark and Nolan’s confrontation, and finally, their bloody battle against the Viltrimites, everything here is dialed up to 11, and it never stops. Throw in the setup for the multiverse, the hidden Martian addition to the Guardians of the Globe, and a Doug who isn’t Doug. Well, this all just works. This mid-season finale is Invincible at its best. Now, we just have to wait for what’s next.
Invincible Season 2 Episode 4 — "It's Been Awhile"
To say that Invincible Season 2 Episode 4 is brutal somehow doesn’t seem to encapsulate just how intense it is. This mid-season finale is Invincible at its best. Now, we just have to wait for what’s next.