Eight episodes later, Inhumans’ first season—and, between poor ratings and scathing reviews, potentially its last—has come to an end. Did you check out the pilot and immediately bail after seeing what Inhumans had to offer (little in the way of good ideas), and yet are curious to hear how it all panned out? We’re here to help.
When we last left the Inhuman Royals at the climax of Inhumans’ premiere, Maximus, the king’s snotty little brother, had successfully staged his coup, booting the royal family out of Attilan and into scenic Hawaii, including: Black Bolt (who got arrested almost immediately), Medusa (who had all of her hair shaved off after getting to use her superpowers for all of 20 seconds, bafflingly set to a wildly dissonant cover of Paint it Black), Gorgon (who met some surfer bros), and Karnak (who hit his head seconds later and became as dumb as the rest of the cast).
With Maximus holding Lockjaw the teleporting dog and Medusa’s sister Crystal hostage on Attilan to make his case for being the rightful new king of the Inhumans, the stage is set for... well, for you to root for the villain deposing a royal family who spent years enforcing a horrible, rigid caste system and violently executing anyone who disagreed with it. Look, Inhumans tried to do a lot of things, and did none of them particularly well. Anyway, here’s everything else you missed while desperately waiting for Agents of SHIELD to come back.
The first several post-premiere episodes have the Royal Family scattered around on Hawaii apart from each other. While Gorgon and Karnak are left to hang out with their new human friends and doing very little else, we get to spend time instead with the King and Queen of Attilan, who engage each other in the most elaborate game of cat and mouse for... no particular reason other than to spin wheels.
Black Bolt spends an episode in prison after his escapades in Hawaii led to him grunting with enough supersonic voice power—the extent you see of his powers for most of the season—to flip a police car while resisting arrest. Not much happens other than he gets to meet an Inhuman also detained in the facility, who informs him about the plight of Inhumanity on Earth, but his reaction is so indifferent it basically reminds you that SHIELD has been doing a much better job telling stories about Inhumans than Inhumans. One prison escape later, Black Bolt and his new friend escape via helicopter to find a doctor who’s been studying the rise of Inhumans on Earth.
Meanwhile, Medusa has been trying to find Black Bolt while also going on the run from Maximus’ head goon, Auran, who has the convenient power of regeneration so she can get dramatically killed repeatedly. Medusa’s plan is bizarre—she knows enough about Earth that she can sneak herself onto a bus tour of the island to make her way into town, but not enough to understand ATMs, since she walks up to one and demands money from it because she’s the Queen. Eventually, she engages in some breaking and entering and meets Louise, the scientist from the pilot who had inklings that something weird is happening on the moon thanks to Gorgon mucking about with her lunar rover. By meet, I actually mean Medusa holds poor Louise at gunpoint, forcing her to drive around looking for Black Bolt, barely missing him as he makes his helicopter escape from prison. Womp womp!
Eventually, they’re reunited—and Louise’s importance in the story is reduced from “hostage driver” to “person who occasionally says she loves the moon”—and begin start their search for their rest of their family.
Back on Attilan, Maximus decides to finish what he started by releasing an Inhuman named Mordis—imprisoned ever since he underwent Terrigenesis due to his powers manifesting as an almighty laser blast from his entire face (not just his eyes, so take that, Cyclops!) that is apparently almost as powerful as Black Bolt’s supersonic voice. Unfortunately, like Black Bolt’s supersonic voice, you barely get to see that power in action over the course of the show, and Mordis instead spends most of his time being a whiny edgelord jerk with Auran.
The one time he does really get to use his power in an explosive way is one of the dumbest fights with Black Bolt the show could’ve planned. When confronted by Auran and Mordis, Black Bolt rigs a gas line to explode if Mordis uses his face blast... so Black Bolt and Mordis can fight without powers, because who would want to see superpowers in a Marvel comic book show? Auran eventually tells Mordis to do it anyway, incapacitating most of her troops in the process. It’s dumb.
Remember when I said Gorgon and Karnak were on Earth too? While Black Bolt and Medusa are running around, Karnak and Gorgon are busy doing... not much. Gorgon and his new surfer bros hang out for a bit before they become weirdly eager to join Gorgon in his fight to reclaim Attilan, but back down when a fight with Mordis ends up with one of them being killed, and we basically don’t hear from them again.
Karnak’s story is even weirder. He happens upon a weed farm while stumbling around after his fall and gets into a quick and extremely clunky romance with one of the weed farmers, after which said weed farmer’s partner betrays her, siccing some of their buyers on her for reasons that are barely even contemplated, let alone explained to the audience. Gorgon reunites with Karnak after leaving his bros behind, they beat up the drug dealers, and Karnak’s new lover also leaves so the two can go join the rest of their family, at long last.
Back on Attilan, things are going poorly for Maximus. He decides that the only way to be popular is to start conscripting random Inhumans into his Royals-hunting taskforce on Earth, and manages to let Crystal slip from his grasp. She flees to Earth with Lockjaw, who, goddammit, gets hit by a bike immediately upon landing, just to stop Inhumans from being able to use their CG budget on something interesting for a bit. While he recovers, Crystal... parties with the guy who crashed into Lockjaw instead of looking for her sister? Yeah, that sounds about right for Inhumans.
As Maximus begins going even more bonkers—chucking his good intentions for ruling a fairer and freer Attilan out the window as he begins casually murdering anyone who could oppose his will—it’s also revealed that he’s been working with the scientist Black Bolt and his Inhuman prison pal went to meet (twist!!!), so he could undergo Terrigenesis again and actually get cool powers this time round.
Meanwhile, with the whole “secretly working for Maximus” thing with the human scientist, everything goes belly up on Earth. In a final battle between Mordis and the now-united Inhumans, Gorgon sacrifices himself to bring a building down on himself and the world’s most powerful/useless villain, and everyone is sad. But hey, then Triton shows up! Remember Triton? One of the major Inhumans from the comics? No? He showed up in the pilot for all of three minutes looking vaguely like Piccolo from the terrible Dragon Ball movie and seemingly died! And now he’s back. Please be excited.
Now that the gang (minus one Gorgon) is back together, Black Bolt uses a now-recovered Lockjaw to teleport to a super secret bunker on Attilan, so the family and Maximus can hold the least effective peace talks/slanging match possible in front of their miserable subjects. Black Bolt wants to kill Maximus for overthrowing him—and, it turns out, for being responsible for coercing the situation where Black Bolt’s powers first manifested as a teen, turning his parents into a gory piece of abstract art on a nearby wall in a flashback moment that was meant to be tragic, but is actually one of the most darkly funny moments of the whole show. Meanwhile, Maximus, driven by his greed for power, refuses to cooperate, knowing it would be a bad look for Black Bolt to kill him in front of their people.
Both sides leave the parley distinctly displeased—Black Bolt doesn’t have his throne back, while Maximus begins preparing for his second Terrigenesis attempt bitter and alone instead of surrounded by family. But then Triton shows up and starting attacking Maximus’ guards in what is the only good fight scene in all of Inhumans, and Black Bolt’s coup-against-a-coup really begins. Oh, and did I mention Karnak manages to resurrect Gorgon using Maximus’ evil doctor ally’s Inhuman research and Auran’s regenerative powers? That happens. Nothing on this show ever actually has consequences.
In last Friday’s finale, Maximus plays his ultimate trump card upon realizing he’s not that much more popular than his still pretty unpopular brother (I mean, after all, Black Bolt did send people down to a lifetime of work in the mines as part of their horrifyingly judgmental caste system). As Black Bolt’s rebellion begins, Maximus activates a device that weakens the defensive forcefield around Attilan every half an hour unless his handprint is scanned to verify he’s still alive, deciding if he can’t rule Attilan no one can. This actually makes sense, given his whole plan was meant to be taking the Inhumans to Earth as rightful immigrants. But it also reveals that Maximus is no better than his brother, despite his claims, rendering the one actual interesting moral thought of Inhumans—that the heroes we’re meant to be rooting are actually privileged assholes atop an unjust society—completely moot.
Deciding Attilan is too far gone to be saved thanks to Maximus’ schemes, the Royals manage to usher every Inhuman in Attlian through a portal to Earth (well, actually, the portal is an Inhuman called Eldrac, whose Terrigensis turned him into a giant door, one presumably being destroyed as Attilan falls. Sucks to be him!) Despite Medusa’s pleas to be fair to Maximus now that their home is about to be lost, Black Bolt decides to take the long way around to killing his deranged brother: Finally using his powers to trap him in the secret bunker, with enough air and supplies for him to live a long, lonely life in the ruins of Attilan while Inhumanity thrives on Earth without him.
And that’s it. Attilan’s people—there’s even a line about it being a people, not a place, which after Thor: Ragnarok used the exact same sentiment for Asgard, felt like a grim reminder of the much better Marvel projects you should be watching instead of Inhumans—are on Earth, Black Bolt and Medusa are back in power and ostensibly want to be less assholish about it, and Maximus is left muttering to himself on the moon.
Will these royal doofuses return? I’d honestly be amazed if Inhumans actually got a second season, given that even the people involved in bringing it to life seem to have admitted it was not the best idea. But hey, once Agents of SHIELD is done quipping in space, maybe the arrival of the Attilan Inhumans could make for a really good season-long plotline. Arguably, that’s probably what Inhumans should’ve been instead of its own messy, miserable show.