Episode 3 of Secret Invasion, “Betrayal”, is less about moving the plot along than about moving the characters and their relationships along. As Gravik’s plan (seemingly) plays out, Fury, Talos, G’iah, and Fury’s wife — revealed in the cliffhanger from episode 2 — all cooperate and collide with each other, themselves, and the history that hangs over the secret invasion like an abyss of a shadow.

If you’re not caught up yet, check out our recap-reviews of Episode 1 and Episode 2 of Secret Invasion.

Setting Up the Culmination of The Secret Invasion

Gravik in Secret Invasion episode 3

Episode 3, “Betrayal”, begins in New Skrullos. Gravik gathers the Skrull Council to show them the secret weapon G’iah discovered in episode 2: a machine that gives Skrulls the ability to cycle through superpowers like they do faces. As Gravik explains his plan to manipulate humanity into war and then use these “Super Skrulls” to wipe out the survivors, Beto — the Skrull G’iah welcomed to New Skrullos in episode 1 — and Pagon — Gravik’s lieutenant who remorsefully killed Brogan in the previous episode — are shown impersonating British Navy officers.

Afterwards, we see that, in the past, Varra (now named Scilla) was one of Nick Fury’s Skrull spies before they got married. (Evidently, I either misinterpreted the cliffhanger from the previous episode; or Marvel was very desperate to get people to come back for episode 3.) Like Talos, Scilla feels angry and abandoned over Fury leaving after the events of Avengers: Endgame; and it doesn’t help that Fury openly suspects her of working with Gravik.

Meanwhile, aware that Brogan didn’t know the location of the safehouse that was discovered and raided in the previous episode, Gravik suspects G’iah of being a traitor — though she seemingly plays it off. As she drives him to the National Portrait Gallery in London to meet Talos for their parley, he reveals a key piece of intel to an operative: “The UN plane will be at Neptune’s coordinates, 2200 hours.”

Generational Stereotypes

"Statesmen of WWI" as seen in Secret Invasion episode 3

“The difference between statesmen and soldiers … [given] the choice between having my story told in ink and oil paint, and having it written in blood, I choose blood.”

Gravik to Talos, standing in front of “Statesmen of WWI”

It was four years ago when we first met Talos, so (like me) you may not have realized — Gravik has his old jobs: Skrull General, and leader of Earth’s Skrulls. This becomes obvious during the parley, as Gravik taunts Talos over it, and Talos in turn treats Gravik as though he’s a bloodthirsty megalomaniac.

Which, of course, he is. Put alongside the goal of claiming Earth as the Skrull homeworld, “I choose blood” immediately sounds like “blood and soil”; and putting those words in the mouth of a Black character is not something Secret Invasion has earned — particularly in light of how it depicts White supremacist myths as real.

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Secret Invasion’s allegory for present-day US politics insightfully presents a fascist force as arising out of the status quo — Fury’s private spy network serving SHIELD’s ends; and it even uses the painting above to position the Skrull–Kree war as a sort of World War I — the prelude to Gravik’s fascism and another world war.

But there’s nothing else. Throughout Secret Invasion, Gravik’s genocidal, cultish group are always called either “the resistance” or “the rebels”. There’s no other plotline or group present, no Left-wing counterpoint to Gravik’s Right-wing paramilitary. In Secret Invasion’s allegory, disillusioned and angry youth, immigrants and refugees, resisters and rebels — all are Nazis, because that’s the only political alternative to the status quo that Disney is willing to show.

“We Did That.”

Fury tortures Fairbanks in Secret Invasion episode 3

As Talos walks out of the parley, G’iah slips him the intel Gravik revealed. After Fury finds him and, eventually, asks Talos for help, the two of them head off to deal with “Neptune” — now revealed to be a British nuclear submarine. Working off a tip from Sonya, Fury and Talos track down and capture Robert Fairbanks, the Skrull-disguised-as-a-human who controls Neptune.

The real highlights of this sequence, though, are the conversations Fury and Talos have at the beginning and end.

Heart of Blackness

T'Challa criticizing ancestors in Black Panther

“Every time you were promoted in SHIELD, we did that. Every terror attack you prevented, we did that. Every enemy you sabotaged and ally you leveraged with dirt no one else in the world had access to, we did that.”

Talos to Fury, Secret Invasion episode 3, “Betrayal”

“You were wrong. All of you were wrong! To turn your backs on the rest of the world!”

T’Challa to his ancestors, “Black Panther

In Talos’ lines above, the show continues its interrogation of the irony of Black people (specifically men, in this show) gaining institutional power. Unlike the overt and pretty toothless discussion between Fury and Rhodey in episode 2, Talos’ history lesson here is vague — like the subtler, more progressive discussion centering on segregation between Fury and Talos earlier on in episode 2.

It’s vague enough that it can be read in a way that’s as radical as what T’Challa told those who preceded him on Wakanda’s throne: that their well-founded fears were really just the fear of losing Wakanda’s wealth and security; and as rulers of a nation-state, being selfish like that is literally their job.

Audre Lorde's famous "master's tools" quote

SHIELD for Fury, the military for Rhodey, the nation-state for T’Challa — these are restrictive, authoritarian institutions that inherently force the people within them, Black, White, or otherwise, to either disregard other people’s well-being, or else get nowhere and accomplish nothing.

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Enslaved Black people are responsible for much of this country’s wealth. Black people fighting Jim Crow achieved anti-racist, anti-classist, and immigration reforms that helped many non-Black people. “We did that,” as Talos puts it, and little comes of it with White people in charge; but when a Black person gets to be a government leader, what happens?

Still not much. Because Skrulls and Black people being denied freedom and equality in the world isn’t a problem caused by individuals. It’s a problem inherent to the institutions.

Talos’ Peace

Skrull greeting (touching foreheads together) between Fury and Talos in Secret Invasion

“I’m not with Gravik, because I’m with you.”

Earlier in the episode, when Gravik describes humans as consistently terrible — like he did to the Skrull Council in episode 2 — Talos responds that it’s impractical to exterminate humans because humanity is formidable when it has a common enemy.

He doesn’t refute Gravik; nor does he agree that humanity is currently terrible, then argue that it can become better than it is.

So when Fury states very matter-of-factly that Talos agrees with Gravik, Talos responds with the line above to express the actual core of his belief that humans and Skrulls can coexist: he believes that his and Fury’s mix of loyalty and friendship can be generalized to all humans and Skrulls, regardless of humanity’s flaws. Talos’ peace isn’t built on morality.

It’s built on loyalty.

Episode 3’s ‘Classic Spy-Thriller’ Moment

Gravik catches and kills G'iah in Secret Invasion episode 3

“That plane would’ve been valuable. Finding the traitor was essential.”

Keeping up the pattern from the episodes 1 and 2, episode 3 of Secret Invasion has one classic spy-thriller moment. After G’iah blows her cover to help Fury and Talos stop the missile launch, she’s making a clean getaway from New Skrullos — until Gravik reveals himself in the woods just outside the settlement, stopping her in her tracks.

As it turns out, this was exactly what he wanted all along: proof of who the traitor was. Gravik raises his gun, and as G’iah condemns him with the sort of defiant last words you’d expect in a superhero story… Gravik interrupts her by shooting her in the chest, right over her heart.

Twice in this episode, we’ve seen Talos get violent when someone threatened G’iah. First, he stabbed Gravik’s hand during the parley; then, he (needlessly) shot Robert Fairbanks, despite having told Fairbanks’ son that he wouldn’t, to protect her. Up until this episode, we’ve never seen Talos as violent or dangerous; he was comic relief and ‘the good Skrull’ in Captain Marvel, and he’s been Fury’s ‘Skrull best friend’ in Secret Invasion.

This is a side of Talos that Secret Invasion should absolutely explore.

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Scilla Betrays Fury

Scilla holding gun in Secret Invasion episode 3

Le gasp! Yeah, I think all of us saw this coming.

Earlier in the episode, Scilla responded to Fury’s doubts about her loyalty by saying that after he abandoned her, “I became me. The ‘me’ I was before you.” In the final few minutes, episode 3 fully reveals that Scilla is working with Gravik — though seemingly hesitantly — and that something is going down at “St. James Church” in one hour.

Something she apparently needs a gun for.


What Will Come After The Secret Invasion?

MCU Phase 5 timeline

“Trying to escape something is not a goal in and of itself; you’ve got to know where you want to escape to.”

Charlise Lyles, “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe? From the Projects to Prep School”

In Hebrew, “giah” roughly means to guide. G’iah’s death scene wasn’t given the weight and framing that I’d expect from a major character’s death — unlike the death of Maria Hill in episode 1. My hope is that if G’iah isn’t actually dead — or at least, isn’t going to stay dead — that that translation will be the main reason why.

Gravik is lashing out at Fury over breaking his promise; Talos can only conceive of human–Skrull coexistence in terms of his existing friendship with Fury; Scilla seems proud of essentially regressing to the person she was decades in the past; and Fury is unwilling to let go of his past glory, even to the point of, as Talos points out, rewriting history. To the extent that an individualist model of leadership is any good, the fate of Earth’s Skrulls won’t be anything but horrible if their only guides are people so unwilling or unable to break from the past.

Perhaps Secret Invasion will end with G’iah embodying a change in direction for Skrulls as the MCU’s Multiverse Saga picks up steam.

THE GOOD
The reveal of Gravik’s mole hunt is great
Talos’ growing aggression adds opens up new ground for that character to cover
THE BAD
The major action/stealth sequence, at Fairbanks’ home, is underwhelming
Not developing Gravik’s ideology any further leaves only platitudes and facile truisms
6.5
Fair

Review Summary

Episode 3 of Secret Invasion doesn’t do much to stand out, for better or for worse.

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