The following contains spoilers for the first six episodes of Invincible S1E7 “We Need to Talk,” and the Invincible comic book.
Season 1 of Invincible has flown by (no pun intended). Invincible S1E7, titled “We Need to Talk,” marks the penultimate episode of the season, and like all the other episodes up to this point, it did not disappoint. While the episode ended the way I expected, almost shot-for-shot from the comics, just about everything leading up to the last closing moments of the episode were either totally fresh, had a twist to them, or were otherwise surprising and/or suspenseful. There hasn’t been an episode where I’ve been this unsure of the direction of several storylines since Nolan collapsed after attacking the Guardians of the Globe—placing him at the scene of the crime in a sequence that didn’t happen in the comics—and that’s a very pleasant surprise.
“We Need to Talk” opens with echoes of an early scene from S1E2, as Debbie wakes up alone in bed before walking downstairs in her robe with her hair in a bun. This is the first of many echoes and recalls of earlier episodes that are present in S1E7. There are also several instances where lies and trust come to the foreground. We’ve obviously seen the dissolution of Debbie and Nolan’s trust and marriage, and are about to see something similar happen between Mark and Amber. Additionally, Debbie finds out that Cecil knew that Nolan killed the Guardians but didn’t say anything, causing her to slap him. Surprisingly, Cecil and Debbie’s association is the only one of the three that emerges from the episode anywhere close to intact.
The opening scene is briefly intercut with an uncomfortable trip back from Upstate University with Mark, Amber, and William, as well as an amusing scene of Eve making coffee for herself using her powers, but otherwise, the first few minutes of Invincible S1E7 belong to Nolan and Debbie. Their confrontation unfolds with the tension of a Breaking Bad episode, with Nolan still trying to win her over to his side. For the briefest of moments, it seems like Debbie might trust him, but in the end she tells him that she doesn’t trust him anymore and very pointedly, she tells him to “get out of my house.” Her choice of words here—“my house”—seems to indicate that Debbie has already decided to sever ties with Nolan for good, a notion that he doesn’t take kindly to. For now, Nolan takes his anger out on “her house,” flying through the roof while saying they’ll talk about things later.
Meanwhile, the high schoolers arrive at Amber’s house to drop her off. Mark tries again to apologize to her and tell her his identity, but she shuts the door in his face. It’s another echo of an earlier scene, this time from S1E4 when he almost told Amber that he was Invincible while standing at her door before going to Mars. Determined to tell her the truth, he flies up to her room in his costume. Surprisingly, Amber is indifferent and unsympathetic, telling Mark that she had figured out that he was a superhero weeks before. Much like Nolan and Debbie, Amber feels lied to and untrusted.
Amber discovering Mark’s identity and still breaking up with him is the first major divergence from the comic of the episode that I’m not sure what to do with. In the comic, Amber reacts positively to the discovery; in fact, she and Mark have sex for the first time almost immediately after. While Amber does end up falling out of the narrative when they do eventually break up for good, it happens later than this. I have a hard time believing this will be the last real time we see Amber (outside of showing up for a brief second near the end of the episode), and I hope it isn’t, but it’s certainly possible because of this change. My guess is that she comes back after Mark fights Nolan in the season finale, but we’ll get into that in a bit.
Immediately following a scene in which Robot malfunctions during a party the Guardians throw to welcome back Monster Girl, featuring the team drinking beer out of milk cartons at 10 AM, the audience finds out for certain why Robot has employed the Mauler Twins to clone Rex’s body: the “monstrous baby” from S1E4 was the “real Robot,” which has been secretly controlling the robot bodies remotely, and the body they’ve been growing is meant for Robot. He wants the Maulers to copy his mind over to the clone body, allowing a duplicate of himself to escape, but dooming the rest of his consciousness. The process is touch-and-go, but ultimately successful. The original Robot (whose real name was Rudy) dies, and the new version announces that he’s taking the Maulers back to prison. When they refuse, Rudy unleashes a giant robot drone to take them down. The giant robot fights the Maulers in a pretty fun fight scene, only for Rudy to abruptly leave when Cecil puts the Guardians on high alert.
Mark’s breakup with Amber, compounded with his failure in the battle against Machine Head and his near failure against D.A. Sinclair and the Reanimen have him really down in the dumps, to the point where he’s questioning his desire to be a superhero. I think that Eve is also at the back of his mind during these sequences, since she has given up regular superhero activities to help people in a different way. One of the more interesting lines Mark has while questioning his future is, “I got everything I ever wanted and I messed it all up.” This echoes the very first episode of the series, when Mark tells Nolan that being a superhero is “all that I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. I want to do what you do. I want to be just like you.” The subsequent episodes have shown that being a superhero is much harder than Mark ever realized, and it’s even harder to balance that life with being a good boyfriend, student, and friend. Given that we know that Nolan is also a murderer, it’s clear that Mark is going to soon realize just how empty the dream of being just like his father really was.
After Nolan left, Debbie unsuccessfully tried to reach Mark on his phone (which was dropped in the sewer in S1E6). Immediately after, Donald and members of the Global Defense Agency arrive to take her to the Pentagon. Cecil reveals that they don’t have a real plan to try to stop Nolan, and their only chance will likely be Mark fighting him, which Debbie does not want to happen, and understandably so. This scene also has, in my opinion, one of the weaker title card drops of the series, with Cecil asking Debbie where Invincible is before getting cut off. I personally like the title cards when they’re more tongue-in-cheek, especially because it’s a pretty goofy feature to begin with. I guess it’s hard to be quite as tongue-in-cheek in a more serious episode like this, but as a title card defender (it’s a rather contentious topic within the Invincible fandom), I didn’t feel like this one worked very well.
The following scene features another echo of an earlier episode, with Nolan rehearsing what he’s going to tell Mark while standing on top of Mount Everest. The pair had previously had another heart-to-heart there in S1E4. The audience is meant to believe he’s talking to Mark, but Mark’s noticeable absence from the scene clues us in that Nolan is just rehearsing pretty quickly. After struggling to find words that work, Nolan flies off. When he arrives home, he finds the house empty except for camouflage GDA agents. Nolan brutally murders the agents, one of whom accidentally clues him into the GDA outpost across the street that had been spying on him. This leads to the second major divergence from the comics: Donald tries to fend off Nolan, only to fail and trigger a self destruct button. Donald is killed, the house they were in is leveled, but Nolan is completely fine.
To my recollection, Donald doesn’t die in the comics; I even looked it up just in case I forgot or it happened in another comic title that I hadn’t read (see the “Died: None” in the General Information box—this isn’t the only place I looked, he doesn’t appear to die in his final appearance in the Invincible comic, which is only a few issues from the end of the run). I really have no idea what this might mean for Donald. He looked like he was pretty much vaporized, so I have a hard time thinking that they’re going to be able to find enough of him to bring back as a cyborg. He is very clearly bleeding when Omni-man attacks him, so he wasn’t some sort of mass produced human-like robot already. Maybe Cecil will build a robot version of him? One of my wilder theories—one that I readily admit has an almost zero percent chance of coming true—is that Cecil will send Mark to Hell to bring back Damien (which is one of the more widely theorized forthcoming new storylines) and Mark will run into Donald there, or vice-versa. I don’t know if I can imagine them sending Donald to Hell though, that doesn’t quite seem fair to him.
Donald dying raises the stakes for other supporting characters: could Omni-man kill someone else unexpectedly? This thought was certainly at the back of my mind a few scenes later when Nolan stops William from driving down the road. William realizes that something is wrong pretty much immediately, although he has no idea what that something is. Nolan goes up to his window and asks where Mark is, since William was supposed to bring him home an hour before. He’s not very happy to hear that Mark not only isn’t with William, but also doesn’t have his cell phone with him, and he shows his displeasure by crushing part of the roof of William’s car. William tells Nolan that Mark was planning to go talk to Eve and where to find them (which is a small plot hole, since Mark only told William that he needed “someone else to talk to” without specifically mentioning Eve).
Back at Guardians headquarters, the team is frustrated because Cecil won’t tell them what’s going on. Suddenly, Rudy shows up, which understandably blows the entire teams’ minds, especially Rex’s. Once again in this episode, a character betrayed the trust of their friends and family by lying and omitting the truth. Even Monster Girl, who understands Rudy more than anyone else on the team, struggles to process Rudy’s betrayal of their trust and unethical actions.
Mark and Eve sit together to talk, echoing S1E2 when they sat together overlooking the football field bleachers. Eve’s dialogue even echoes the earlier episode, as she tells him that his belief that telling Amber the truth is “a little naive, maybe,” recalling the earlier episode when she called his superhero name “a little optimistic, maybe.” Mark is continuing to be whiny following getting dumped, and Eve rightfully calls him out for not really understanding the path she’s taken as a superhero: even though she isn’t focusing on invasions and supervillains, it doesn’t mean that she can idly stand by during a crisis. Shots of them flying together also mirror earlier episodes, except now the backdrop is gray clouds instead of blue skies. All the while, Omni-man is hurtling towards them.
Whether or not it makes sense that Nolan is able to track down Mark so easily, his search results in some of the coolest additions to the entire show so far. Cecil tries to hit Nolan with everything he’s got, including a giant space laser, three Reanimen (courtesy of an incarcerated D.A. Sinclair), and the kaiju that Donald collected in S1E3. He even confronts Nolan face-to-face, teleporting away every time Nolan attacks him. The repeated teleportation seems to take a toll on Cecil, and he only barely escapes before the Reanimen arrive.
With Robot out of the way, the Maulers are able to focus on their real aim: reviving Immortal and manipulating him with a control collar. Unsurprisingly, the collar doesn’t do anything once Immortal awakens, and to say that he’s mad at Omni-man is the understatement of the show.
Mark arrives on the scene of the kaiju fight and immediately springs into action to help his dad despite everything he had said about not wanting to be a superhero throughout the episode. Naturally, he has no idea that Cecil was right to send the kaiju to attack Nolan, which puts Mark in extra peril because Cecil isn’t willing to save Mark if he gets in trouble.
As if things weren’t already going poorly for Mark and Nolan against the kaiju, Immortal arrives on the scene and attacks Nolan. The kaiju, Immortal, and the distraction arising from trying to keep Mark safe gives Omni-man a run for his money, but eventually Mark takes down the kaiju and Nolan viciously kills Immortal a second time by punching through him and then slicing him in half with a karate chop. The episode ends with a bloodied Nolan telling Mark the episode’s titular sentence: “We need to talk.”
All of this sets up a climactic fight between Mark and Nolan. This is a comic spoiler, but given what has happened up to this point, it almost feels as inevitable and earned as the Walter/Skylar confrontation in Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias” episode. Mark has spent his whole life idolizing his father while more closely identifying with his mother. It’s the central duality of the show: his Viltrumite self is constantly in conflict with his Earth self. Considering Debbie’s reaction to discovering that Nolan killed the Guardians, it’s easy to see that Mark will react similarly. It’s a conflict that the show’s writers have been masterfully setting up.
Given how well the show has handled everything to this point, I will be positively shocked if the confrontation is anything less than epic, fantastic, and devastating. Along with the questions I’ve already brought up, there are a lot of potentially unanswered questions that I’ll be looking out for. Will Eve’s proximity to the fight cause her to join in? Will the Guardians try to fight Omni-man, and if so, will there be casualties? Neither scenario happened in the comics, but it’s certainly possible that one or both things could happen now. How long will a fight between Nolan and Mark happen? Surely not an entire episode. And what happens after to set up a potential Season 2? We’ll just have to wait until next week to find out!