At the end of Invincible episode 4, one of the astronauts isn’t what he appears; what will his arrival on Earth mean (& what will happen to Mars)?
WARNING: There are SPOILERS ahead for Invincible episode 4, “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out.”
At the end of Invincible episode 4, Mark helps the astronauts escape Mars and seem safe at last — until one is revealed to be an imposter. As the spaceship heads towards Earth in Invincible season 1, episode 4 “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out,” the real NASA astronaut is shown on Mars, taken over by Sequids. This sets up two plotlines for down the road: the mysterious doppleganger posing as a human, and the consequences for Mars being taken over by the hivemind parasitic alien species.
Invincible is an animated series based on Robert Kirkman’s comic series of the same name. The show, like the original, focuses on Mark Grayson, aka Invincible, who comes into his Viltrumite powers at the story’s onset. In “Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out,” the young hero goes on his first major solo mission: escorting a team of NASA astronauts on their first manned mission to Mars.
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The events of episode 4 are a bit ambiguous; however, the source material provides more insight into the circumstances Mark Grayson and the NASA astronauts find themselves in. Invincible is a faithful adaptation of Kirkman’s comic, but does leave out details and condenses storylines. As a result, some of the worldbuilding isn’t as clear — like why the Martians kept around the Sequids, and what was happening with the astronaut whose spacesuit appeared to subtly reshape (and correct) itself. The answer is hinted at through previous events in the series: the doppelganger is a shape-changing Martian.
In the first episode of Invincible season 1, audiences are introduced to the Guardians of the Globe, which includes the hero Martian Man. Episode 4 reveals that he is just one of many people from Mars who have the ability to shapeshift. This unique ability is actually what protects them from the Sequids, an invasive alien species that has the ability to function as a powerful hive mind — but only after at least one has attached itself to a host. Since the Martians can shapeshift, they are immune to them (as is Mark because of his Viltrumite ancestry). The humans, however, are not immune, which is why the Martian Emperor wanted to exterminate them.
Although the sequence of events is unclear, somehow one of the NASA astronauts on Mars was separated from the group and was overtaken by Sequids, allowing them to form a hive mind and attack the Martians. The astronaut was replaced by a Martian, who changed his shape to pose as the human. The flag on his arm moving was the Martian shapeshifting to correct a mistake in his imitation. Likely, he would have been discovered had he been required to speak — but given the chaotic circumstances, he was able to blend in with the group.
While it’s unclear why the Martian wanted to come to Earth, chances are the alien’s story will be explored further as Invincible continues. Presumably, the Martian just wanted to get off Mars — hinting that there are serious problems with the planet’s society and leadership (at the very least, keeping the dangerous Sequids around indicates short-sighted thinking). Whether he knows it or not, this Martian will find he has superpowers on Earth, where shapeshifting isn’t commonplace — and perhaps cross paths with Invincible once again.
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