The Skrull invasion arc comes to a conclusion in “Secret Invasion”, and if I could describe it in one word, I would say “rushed.” This feels like an episode that was originally 2 parts but had to be squished down to one at the last minute for some reason. EMH is fast-paced at the best of times, and this episode takes it to another level, possibly to its own detriment. After so much build-up for the Skrulls, everything is handled a little too quickly and easily.
Things start off riveting for sure: picking right up from last week, the invasion begins with the Skrulls hitting all points at once, including Avengers Mansion, Four Freedom’s Plaza, the Helicarrior, Damocles Base, and others. The Avengers, consisting only of Hawkeye, Wasp, and Ms. Marvel (I guess Panther had business at home) return from Wakanda only to run into a squad of Super-Skrulls in Washington and are quickly overpowered.
Then the Skrulls, inspired by Cap’s display in “Prisoner of War,” turn the cameras on Skrull Cap to deliver a chilling message to the human race around the world, encouraging them to embrace the invading Skrulls as saviors. This scene would have made a perfect cliffhanger if this were a two-parter. It’s a very chilling, effective scene, as the world reacts to what was once their most trusted hero selling them out to the invaders. Then the real Cap shows up with the prisoners, followed closely by the rebooted Iron Man, and then the triumphant return of Thor, who rains down thunder on the ships and lays waste to the Super-Skrulls. Soon the invasion is stopped in its tracks, and the Avengers win. The action is everything I’d hoped for, like this show often is, but the Avengers’ victory comes without much struggle in the end.
Appropriate for the title, there are many scenes that reference or recreate scenes from the comic that inspired it, and most of them work well. Besides the “embrace change” broadcast, there’s the bit where Maria Hill’s android duplicate quips about t-shirts while a squad of SHIELD-Skrulls gun it down. Queen Veranke even name-drops the Secret Warriors, which was Nick Fury’s ragtag team that he assembled to fight the invasion. (Of that team, only Quake appears on the show, and she spends most of the episode unconscious.) The Super-Skrulls, one of the most exciting visual ideas of the comic, are used here as essentially juiced-up cannon fodder. It’s certainly fun trying to figure out which teams are represented, even if most of them look like no more than 2 or 3 characters. There’s even an X-Men skrull and an Illuminati skrull, even though those teams have yet to appear. But a lot of them look incomplete, like they only had time to design about half of them and just made the rest variations on the original FF-powered version. One way or another, it’s way too cool a concept for just one episode.
The rushed feeling truly overtakes the last couple of minutes as the episode ties up loose ends. The Fantastic Four were taken out at the beginning, only to regroup and triumph off-screen. Damocles base is destroyed and not heard about until the end, likewise tied up in a couple lines. Hydra isn’t mentioned at all. Hell, Maria makes a passing mention about other key areas around the world getting hit, but we never see those either. After spending all of the second season and part of the first building up the Skrulls as a threat, the finale of the entire arc comes across much too pat. Once Thor shows up, the invasion’s over just as it’s getting started.