Secret Invasion episode 3 review: "Another twist shakes up the formula"

secret invasion episode 3
(Image: © Marvel Studios)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A reminder of the show’s roots in Cold War thrillers, this slow-burning episode offers intrigue but no excitement.

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Whilst episode three marks the halfway point of the latest MCU show Secret Invasion, it certainly doesn’t feel that way as the story is yet to pick up any real speed. Gravik (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is continuing with his plans to conquer Earth, G’iah (Emilia Clarke) is still operating undercover feeding information to her father Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), whilst Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), well, he never changes. 

The lack of action here doesn’t make this instalment particularly exciting and it definitely could have done with more of Olivia Colman’s hugely entertaining and wildly unpredictable MI6 agent Sonya to liven it up at points – seriously though, only giving her one scene during this episode is a crime. However, for the most part, Secret Invasion isn’t an all guns blazing kind of show, with episode three nodding to its Cold War thriller roots.

Inspired by noir tales such as The Third Man and the numerous great works of spy story master John le Carré, Secret Invasion isn’t interested in offering on-the-edge-of-your-seat exhilaration (if you are looking for that, the likes of the new Mission: Impossible and John Wick have you covered). What it does instead, and does so well, is create an intriguing slow-burn thriller that operates best in the shadows.

secret invasion episode 3

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

This episode relishes the intimate moments between characters, with the parley between Gravik and Talos neatly building anticipation. Three episodes in, the highlight remains the dynamic between Fury and Talos, who get plenty of time to bicker like a married couple as they infiltrate an enemy’s house here. Sparks fly whenever the pair are together on screen with their quippy chats continuing to be amusing.

Meanwhile, in some more moving moments, the duo also uncover plenty of pain, diving into their troubled shared history. Indeed, whilst Mendelsohn and Jackson have plenty of fun delivering their one-liners, they also know when to tap into their characters’ deeper emotions, playing it pitch perfect. The pair really are endlessly watchable, which is something that still can’t be said for Clarke who continues to be an awkward jigsaw piece here that doesn’t quite fit, often getting lost in the mix. That is also true for Fury’s mysterious wife Priscilla (Charlayne Woodard) whose role here is still unclear, but a teasing cliffhanger hints that this mystery will soon be resolved.

Similarly to the show’s first episode, this chapter also has a shock finale which proves that the surprising death of Maria Hill wasn’t just a one-off (although recent reports unfortunately suggest that they are backtracking on this and she will return in upcoming film The Marvels). That unexpected turn showed that Secret Invasion wanted to break the Marvel mould. And here lightning strikes twice with this twist once again shaking up a formula that has of late been getting tired. Let’s just hope that the filmmakers don’t lose their nerve and head towards a more conventional MCU resolution as we head into the second half.

A new episode of Secret Invasion is released weekly on streaming service Disney Plus. For more viewing inspiration, check out our picks of the other best shows on Disney Plus.

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Emily Murray
Entertainment Editor

As Entertainment Editor at GamesRadar, I oversee all the online content for Total Film and SFX magazine. Previously I've worked for the BBC, Zavvi, UNILAD, Yahoo, Digital Spy and more.