It’s finally over. Marvel’s: ABC’s: Inhumans Season 1 has finally ended. With low ratings and a despicable critical reception among critics and fans alike, Inhumans is unlikely to return for another season. Its characters will likely either never be seen or mentioned again or become recurring characters on ABC’s other Marvel show, Agents of SHIELD. After all this, was Inhumans truly the awful, terrible, unsightly television show it was made out to be. Not really. If anything, Inhumans from beginning to end was just a bland, boring, mediocre, passable-for-network-tv sci-fi superhero show. It never was the awful garbage fire that people said it was. If I were to grade it as a school paper, it would earn a “C-”.
For background, the Inhumans comic book characters on which the show is based are a certain group of humans descended from the then primitive Homo sapiens race from millions of years ago. These humans were experiments on by the Kree race (the blue people that Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is part of from Guardians of the Galaxy) in order to use as weapons in a war against the Skrull race (green aliens who will make their MCU debut in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, 21 Jump Street)). They debuted in the Fantastic Four series of comic books as a kingdom on the moon established long ago.
The tv show origin, aside from Fantastic Four connections, is essentially the same. This franchise has never been well-known or popular even among many hardcore comic book fans, most of whom I’ve known had no idea this franchise even existed until the now-cancelled movie was announced around the time of Age of Ultron’s release. From what I’ve gathered, Inhumans existed mainly as a laboratory for Jack Kirby and Stan Lee to experiment with different ideas so as to gauge if they could work in context for any of Marvel’s more popular (ie: better-selling) comic books.
Marvel’s notoriously reclusive Chairman, Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, decided the Inhumans were weird/functionable enough as an X-Men stand-in, due to 20th Century Fox owning the rights to the latter set of characters. This is why Agents of SHIELD has spent much of its time establishing the Inhumans, and why the aforementioned movie was originally planned. When Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige reported frustration with Perlmutter, combined with a desire for corporate synergy, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger restructured Marvel so that Feige and Marvel Studios now report directly to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, effectively cutting Perlmutter off from any creative control over the movies, and Feige subsequently cancelled the Inhumans movie. Marvel Television’s Jeph Loeb however still reports directly to Perlmutter. This is part of the reason why the MCU’s movies and television shows seem so disconnected in spite of being under the same brand name. Thus, Perlmutter decided the Inhumans would instead be a live-action tv show. ABC seemingly had no say over this, essentially forcing the show upon them by Perlmutter. Loeb, and Disney.
Sorry for the corporate history lesson, but it’s truly the only way the existence of this show makes any sense. Now then, the show itself begins with Inhuman Royal Family member Triton (Mike Moh) trying to save a new Inhuman (Nocola Petlz) in Hawaii and bring her to the moon, but she is killed and Triton is shot and falls into the water.
Meanwhile on the moon, we are introduced to our main cast. King Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Queen Medusa (Serinda Swan), Karnak, (Ken Leung), Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor), and Crystal (Isabelle Cornish). Black Bolt’s voice emits supersonic waves every time he talks, so he has his own sign language. It is worth noting Mount himself created this and made sure there was no overlap with American Sign Language, as Black Bolt himself would not know of such a system as he is not from earth. Medusa effectively serves as Black Bolt’s English translator, and is able to control her hair as a weapon. Gorgon is a big strong guy with hooves for feet, though that last detail seems to have been forgotten in the later episodes. Karnak is the intelligent strategist who can see many different ways in solving problems. Crystal is Medusa’s younger sister, is a bratty teenage girl and has the same power set as Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, and she has a pet giant teleporting dog named Lockjaw. Together, the family rules over the Moon city of Attilan, where a caste system determines whether your status in society is well-off because of your valuable inhuman powers, or if you have no powers or “lower-class” powers you’re stuck working in the mines. Apparently on the moon, there are terrigen crystals and other materials that allow this civilization to survive.
You might be wondering why you shouldn’t support Black Bolt’s younger brother, Maximus (Iwan Rheon), who has no superpowers and leads a coup and states a desire to abolish the caste system. It’s because the showrunners are hoping you have watched, or at least have a passing familiarity with, Game of Thrones. I’m told Rheon played a sadistic psychopath on that show, and he exhibits much of the same personality traits here.
Maximus leads a coup, the rest of the Royal Family escape to earth, and become separated throughout Hawaii. Through this they come to have adventures with different casts of characters, only one of whom is worth mentioning as she’s the only one with any true impact on the plot. Ellen Woglom (April Showers, Criminal Minds) is a scientist who believes she has discovered something strange on the moon when she sees on footage from a destroyed rover what looks like a hoof. Her bosses are skeptical than any life could be on the moon.
Here is yet again an annoying mainstay of the MCU, specifically in Marvel TV. In Jessica Jones, we had people not believing that there could be such thing as a literal mind controlling superpowered rapist/abuser. In much of the Marvel Netflix shows, there was disbelief that a secret ninja death cult even existed. Now in Inhumans, we have people saying there are no aliens on the moon. This is a world where the earth has been invaded by aliens, almost destroyed by essentially Skynet, and where Norse gods (kind of) exist! They literally acknowledge, in several of these shows, the alien invasion from Avengers, and yet express utter disbelief at the rest of these things! I’m not asking for there to be complete belief at the first mention of this, But can these show even have people acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, these things could possibly be real?!
Back to Woglom, she eventually runs into Medusa, and they have a back-and-forth which eventually runs into Woglom’s dad’s ashes in a rocket necklace because he worked on the NASA Space Program that sent Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. She’s mad and bitter that the scientists and architects who designed the Apollo didn’t get to go to the moon, and we’re supposed to be too, I suppose. If you forget the fact that none of them had test pilot experience when Armstrong and Aldrin did in fact have that. Armstrong and Aldrin also did not have the scientific know-how to make another, improved rocket should the Apollo fail and explode, and thus, were more expendable than the scientists were. Also, this show forces me to remember the recent Fantastic Four (2015) movie.
The Royal Family is being hunted on earth by Maximus’ right-hand woman, Auran (Sonya Balmores) who has the ability to heal, a la Wolverine, although it takes much longer. It’s implied throughout the show that Auran has unrequited romantic feelings for Maximus, especially because he instigated the coup and divided the Royal Family without any superpowers of his own, after being mocked and shunned for so long by them. So Auran saw in Maximus a man who refused to let his status determine who he was and sought to better society. When Auran comes says this to him, coming close to revealing her implied feelings, however, because Maximus has a massive inferiority complex, he takes it as yet another insult, and reveals his plan of wanting to go through terrigenesis again, and the reason he staged the coup was because the Genetic Council, essentially the superpower planning committee, would never allow it.
So the family gets reunited, Gorgon dies, not to fear! We learn Triton is alive! Turns out, this was all part of Black Bolt’s secret, elaborate plan to undermine Maximus, who he knew was planning a coup all along! They go back to the moon, Karnak puts Gorgon through terrigenesis again in an attempt to revive him, and it takes a while, but Gorgon comes back as a raging zombie, but through the power of appealing to his family ties, he sort of comes out of it, and can form coherent sentences again!
We also learn why Triton was kept out of the show much of the time. Not plot-wise, I mean, in the planning for this show. Triton is too competent! In the last two episodes, he provides the only two moments of excitement as he uses his martial arts and knife-wielding skills to dispatch Maximus loyalists in a couple of genuinely exciting action scenes.
Maximus messed with the structural stability of the Attilan’s oxygen dome, Medusa calls upon the people to evacuate, and Black Bolt seals Maximus in an underground bunker on Attilan so he will be trapped forever. The Attilan Inhumans find a safe haven on earth via Woglom’s bosses, and they all live happily ever after.
Inhumans was consistently boring and never truly infuriating like Iron Fist, also run by Scott Buck. The show was never truly an abomination as people said it was, but it was never good either. The characters were boring, the story is impossible to care for, the conflict means little, and we’re left with a sense of emptiness and “That’s it?” I cannot see this show being renewed, so at best, we may either never see these characters again, or they’ll become recurring characters on Agents of SHIELD, occasionally arriving to help Coulson and crew with a big Inhuman problem for a few episodes every season. Inhumans is only worth watching if you feel like taking a nap but need help falling asleep.