Home / News / ‘Secret Invasion’ Episode 5 Recap: “Harvest” Comes a Little Too Late

‘Secret Invasion’ Episode 5 Recap: “Harvest” Comes a Little Too Late

Sep 24, 2023Sep 24, 2023

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One of the MCU series’ strongest episodes comes too late to salvage the season, but there’s still a chance for its protagonist to get a proper send-off from the spotlight

Through five episodes, Secret Invasion has been a shaky ride for MCU viewers—and its conclusion is rapidly approaching. Ahead of next week’s series finale, the penultimate chapter continues to raise the stakes of Gravik’s war against humanity while also providing answers to some of the show’s biggest questions. In “Harvest,” all roads to the end become clear as Gravik’s plans—and his true nature—are revealed in full.

Ever since the second episode, when G’iah discovered Gravik’s scheme to create Super-Skrulls through the splicing of superhuman and extraterrestrial DNA, a growing mystery has surrounded the so-called Harvest and why it’s so crucial to Gravik’s ongoing genetic experiments. In this week’s installment, Gravik’s top lieutenant, Pagon, finally reveals what the Skrull Resistance has been looking for. Although the existing Super-Skrull formula has already granted Gravik the ability to transform his arms into massive tree roots in an instant and survive a bullet to the face, the Harvest represents the mother lode of samples for the Skrulls: the DNA of the Avengers.

As Nick Fury explains to MI6 agent Sonya Falsworth late in the fifth episode, the Harvest was collected via the spilled blood of the Avengers during the Battle of Earth (the climactic battle against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame). On Fury’s command, a team of Skrulls—led by none other than Gravik—disguised themselves and infiltrated the battlefield in the aftermath to retrieve the samples. Fury speculates that this DNA acquisition ultimately inspired the creation of Gravik’s Super-Skrull machine, and Sonya comes to the correct conclusion that Fury (who assembled the Avengers) is responsible for the current conflict.

Despite having an arsenal of shape-shifting Skrulls at his disposal, Gravik has never been a big believer in subtlety. After the failed assassination attempt on the American president in “Beloved,” the Skrull general adjusts his plans. Since it is no longer an option to pin the ambush of President Ritson solely on the Russians, Gravik pushes the new angle that the attack was a joint effort by the Russians and the Skrulls. He goes as far as directing Raava (the Skrull pretending to be James Rhodes) to hand over the location to the Resistance base, New Skrullos, and to advise the president to waste little time in bombing it. As Gravik sees it, by endangering the lives of humans and Skrulls and threatening the potential start of World War III, he’ll have the leverage he needs over Fury to make a deal for the Harvest. What Gravik actually wants out of all of this, however, has become less clear over time.

Gravik began the season as a menacing villain with an understandable motive—a ruthless leader willing to jeopardize the lives of innocent humans and Skrulls alike to provide the Skrulls with a home that they could call their own after decades of living in the shadows of humanity. Although he had extreme methods, Gravik’s violent ambitions seemed like a logical progression for a member of an alien species that faithfully served Fury for decades as he failed to deliver on his promise to help them find a new planet. But with a minimal exploration of his background and character throughout the season, Gravik has devolved into the kind of one-dimensional villain that the MCU has had far too many of over the years.

In “Harvest,” Gravik executes yet another one of his followers, this time killing Pagon in front of the other Skrulls for questioning his authority. As a result, one of the newer Skrull recruits, Beto, attempts to lead a coup against Gravik, which ends with the general laying waste to even more of his own kind in response. As Beto says, Gravik is “nothing more than a monster.” Given how little interest Gravik has shown in the well-being of any Skrulls, his main motivation at this point appears to be little more than beating Fury. Gravik’s plan to bait Fury into giving him the Harvest by putting the Americans in a position to destroy New Skrullos and start World War III seems like an unnecessary risk to the Skrulls, given that they have already set up a potential Russian-American conflict. With Raava still embedded in the White House as Rhodey, the Americans wouldn’t need much more of a push to launch a counterattack to the assassination attempt, even if the Russians deny any involvement.

Fury, for his part, is now well aware of Gravik’s plans and intends to comply with the proposed deal before him. With a little surprise help from Rick Mason (a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was introduced in Black Widow), Fury flees Russia to retrieve the Harvest in Finland. He gets another surprising assist soon after, as Falsworth gives him a lift to a cemetery where Fury has stashed the vial containing the Avengers’ DNA and some of his old gear. Although the nature of Fury and Falsworth’s relationship has yet to be really explored beyond a brief aside, it’s clear that Fury trusts her—at least, as much as Fury has the capacity to trust anyone. She asks him one of the biggest lingering questions of the entire season, as she wonders why he has yet to call upon his “special friends,” the Avengers, to come to his aid in this fight against Gravik.

“This is personal,” Fury explains. “We can’t keep depending on these superheroes to swoop in and save our asses. None of them have lived the life I have. None of them can defend the world the way I can. The only power I have was planted between my ears by a single mother and wrapped around my finger by a woman who’s far greater than I could ever hope to be.”

Fury’s response is something of a thinly veiled thesis statement for Secret Invasion itself, a series that has put a rare MCU spotlight on a human protagonist, one who doesn’t have any superpowers or a fancy suit to protect them. After near-doomsday events like the Battle of New York, the Battle of Earth, and the Battle of Sokovia, to name a few, it’s just a bit late for Fury to try to establish some independence from superheroes in a world that has so many of them that law firms have created entire divisions dedicated to superhero-related cases. (Also, you’d think that the guy would have learned something from his previous failure with Project Insight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Tony Stark’s misguided attempts to protect the world with his own technology in Avengers: Ultron. Yet Fury is again attempting to clean up a mess created in the name of protecting the world from future threats.)

Considering how high the stakes of this conflict have climbed, a “personal” grudge match and the stubborn desire to earn some belated self-sufficiency aren’t great explanations for why someone like Captain Marvel—who made as much of a promise to the Skrulls as Fury did—wouldn’t be called on for help. (Like all of the old heroes still left over from the Infinity Saga, Fury could probably benefit from some therapy.) It does, however, feel in line with the rest of the series for Fury’s intentions and rationale to be spelled out so plainly, with little effort by Secret Invasion’s creative team to develop its characters’ journeys past the confines of conversation.

Regardless of Fury’s reluctance to enlist the aid of his super-friends, “Harvest” reaffirms who his remaining allies are ahead of his upcoming confrontation with Gravik and whichever Skrulls are still following him. In addition to Olivia Colman’s Falsworth, who continues to be a delightful menace in her limited screen time, G’iah and Varra prove themselves as members of Team Fury once and for all. After burning Talos’s body together, they fight their way out of Varra’s home when Gravik’s goons arrive to kill her in one of the better action sequences of the season. Though the duo disbands before the episode’s end, Varra drops off G’iah and tells her to “be careful,” setting up a bigger role for her in the climactic battle ahead.

In the final moments of “Harvest,” the show avoids a Skrull reveal or the death of another prominent character at Gravik’s hands, breaking the pattern from each of the previous four episodes. (Although, in the case of G’iah at the end of “Betrayed,” her shot to the chest turned out to be merely a flesh wound.) Instead, Fury gets a classic superhero moment of his own. After retrieving the Harvest, Fury grabs a fresh eye patch, a black trench coat, and a gun, assembling his iconic look just in time for his last dance with the Skrull general. In an extremely brief phone call (perhaps to Gravik, but really to no one in particular), he says all he needs to say to set up the finale: “It’s time. Let’s finish this.”

Although “Harvest” is one of the stronger episodes of the season, it does little to make up for the failings of the series at large. As the end draws near, Secret Invasion has fallen short of its potential as a thrilling spy series with suspenseful twists wrapped around a tantalizing premise featuring the shape-shifting Skrulls and the return of Samuel L. Jackson as Fury. But with Gravik’s plans firmly established and Fury finally ready to challenge him, there is still a chance for the show to at least give its protagonist a proper send-off before he returns to another supporting role in The Marvels later this year.

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