Someone at Marvel TV had the nerve to call this episode “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” without using the Inhuman heroine Crystal except for a silent cameo at the end of the episode. Come on, Guardians of the Galaxy! If you’re gonna go for the “punny” episode titles based on classic rock songs, then you should fully commit to it!
“Crystal Blue Persuasion” did fully introduce the Inhumans into the Guardians of the Galaxy narrative. And even if you’re not watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., then you should probably get used to seeing the Inhumans pop up on other Marvel shows. The leading theory is that Marvel is positioning the Inhumans as their substitute mutants in advance of the Inhumans movie. If that movie turns out to be a success, then there will probably be an Inhuman animated series tormenting some poor Nerdist reviewer three-to-four years from now.
It’s not as if Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t have the tools to be a good series. The premise and the characters are pretty much verbatim from the live-action movie, but the execution has been lacking. The opening sequence of “Crystal Blue Persuasion” perfectly encapsulated this show’s inability to replicate the movie’s humor as Peter Quill (Will Friedle) attempted to explain baseball to his team within the cramped confines of their ship. Quill was so wrapped up in his overwrought speech about baseball’s significance that he overlooked Gamora’s (Vanessa Marshall) warnings about a distress signal.
Enter Lockjaw: the giant teleporting dog from the Inhumans, who quickly absconded from the Milano with Quill, Gamora, the Crypto Cube, and a baseball that Quill was eager to retrieve. They reappeared on Attilan, the city of the Inhumans, which happened to be floating in space with most of its population in stasis. Quill got a little too eager to play Sleeping Beauty‘s prince with Medusa (Catherine Taber), the queen of the Inhumans, and she was naturally upset by his advances. Surprisingly, Gamora didn’t even react to Quill acting like an idiot. Perhaps she’s just used to it.
Meanwhile, Drax (David Sobolov), Rocket (Trevor Devall), and Groot (Kevin Michael Richardson) mounted a rescue mission for their teammates and encountered Maximus the Mad (Diedrich Bader), who claimed that he was the rightful ruler of the Inhumans. Bader actually had one of the best performances in the episode, as Maximus downplayed his insanity early on before ratcheting it up after he was exposed by Medusa and the other half of the Guardians team. To back up his plans of conquest, Maximus used a mind control device to force his brother, Black Bolt, to destroy the Guardians.
It was a thrill to see the Inhumans in their classic comic book costumes, and there were some genuinely funny moments when Maximus was delighted by Quill’s threat to unleash the Crypto Cube’s Cosmic Seed energy to destroy the city. It was a bluff, but Maximus was all too eager to see what would happen…which was actually a great way to convey his insanity.
Maximus’ plans were thwarted fairly quickly to make way for the episode’s real threat: Ronan the Accuser (Jonathan Adams). Remember him? Totally not dead anymore, as of two episodes ago. The jury’s still out on whether that was a smart decision, but Ronan did have the episode’s best line when he told Quill that he owed him a “dance off.” With Maximus’ mind control over Black Bolt reasserted, Ronan trapped Quill with Black Bolt deep within Attilan’s terrigenesis chamber before he stated his intent to use Black Bolt’s incredibly powerful voice to destroy the crystals and the entire city. As far as evil plans go, it wasn’t bad!
Perhaps it should have been mentioned earlier that the Inhumans were from Earth, and they fled into space to find a cure for the plague that was transforming them into living terrigenesis crystals (hence the episode’s title). In a fit of villainous pique, Maximus destroyed the cure rather than save everyone, including himself. He simply refused to bow down to his brother under any circumstance. You have to admire a villain who remains evil out of strictly selfish reasons. Maximus was refreshingly uncomplicated in his villainy. That’s one of the few times that the show’s simplicity has worked out in its favor, because it doesn’t really deal with complex characterization at all.
A running theme within the episode revolved around Quill’s inability to get his team to follow his orders, but it was the silent Black who took Quill’s words into account when he came up with a plan to save themselves and the city. That led to the episode’s one and only epic moment, when Black Bolt unleashed the power of his voice on Ronan’s ship and completely annihilated it. The show completely glossed over whether the ship had a crew, but Ronan survived…because of course he did. Although I would have applauded if the show had resurrected Ronan only to immediately kill him off again.
In the end, we finally got a shot of the Inhuman royal family (Crystal, Gorgon, etc…) as the Guardians came to realize that the Crypto Cube’s map had led them to this destination without providing any more answers or locations to visit. For now, the Guardians have nowhere to go and no mission statement to unite them. The Inhumans invited the Guardians to stay with them, but as intriguing as that idea sounds, it will probably be forgotten by the next episode.
I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy parts of this episode, but the writing of this show is still holding it back. It all comes down to the tone, and the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series still hasn’t found a balance between the rare dramatic moments and the broader comedy that the show seems so desperate to become. Although, the comedy would be a lot easier to appreciate if it was actually funny. If the upcoming run of episodes can put the Cosmic Seed nonsense behind it, then perhaps the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series can start creating its own identity. But the first 12 episodes of this show strongly suggest that a course correction is not happening anytime soon.
What did you think about this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image Credits: Marvel TV/Disney XD