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"This is my war... alone. And I'm the last person standing between them and what they really want."
Nick Fury

Secret Invasion is a superhero spy-fi series developed by Kyle Bradstreet (Mr. Robot) and produced by Marvel Studios as the ninth television series and 43rd overall installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the third installment of its Phase Five. It premiered on Disney+ on June 21, 2023.

Loosely based off the event comic of the same name, the series sees Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) returning to Earth from deep space at the behest of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to aid in a dire situation: a rogue faction of the shape-shifting Skrulls have infiltrated all aspects of life on the planet. Also returning are Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, while Emilia Clarke portrays the adult version of G'iah, Talos' daughter last seen in Captain Marvel. Other newcomers include Kingsley Ben-Adir as Gravik, Olivia Colman as Sonya Falsworth, and Dermot Mulroney as President Ritson.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2, Featurette


Secret Invasion contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Deviation: The comics' Secret Invasion was a massive Crisis Crossover event that had multiple superheroes from other Marvel titles coming together to fight against the Skrulls in a huge and grandiose war. This series takes more of a Spy Fiction Conspiracy Thriller approach to the concept, with the main characters being the Badass Normal Nick Fury, the shapeshifting Token Good Teammate Talos, and their respective allies.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the comics, the Skrulls were Scary Dogmatic Aliens right from the start, and staged a large assault Earth due to their Always Chaotic Evil nature. In the MCU though, the Skrulls have been living on Earth for decades, and as established in Captain Marvel, had to come to Earth as refugees in order to live a life safe from the Kree. This means Gravik's attempt to destroy humanity in order to take over the planet makes even less sense, as the moment the Earth is destroyed, the Kree will discover where the remaining Skrulls are living and can carpet bomb the survivors without much resistance.
    • Gets justified with the events of The Marvels revealing that the Kree Empire has fallen apart and the remnants are barely capable of rebuilding, meaning that the Skrulls have essentially won the war and can live as themselves without fear of reprisal.
  • Adaptation Name Change: S.A.B.E.R. is pretty much the MCU's version of S.W.O.R.D. in the comics, since MCU S.W.O.R.D. is something else.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Veranke, the Skrull royal who masterminded the comics' Secret Invasion is replaced by a new character named Gravik as the main antagonist, who also doesn't share her religious motivation.
    • Inverted with both Talos and G'iah. Neither character appeared in the comic version (in Talos's case, it was because he was unable to shapeshift), but are major players in the show.
    • In general, the comics had the lions share of superheroes who were involved in Secret Invasion, most of whom are excised here. In fact, the only named superhero who's actually involved in this show's events is War Machine, who ironically didn't appear in the original comic. And as it turns out, this isn't even the real Rhodey, but a Skrull posing as him, meaning there really are no superheroes present.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Everett Ross appears quite a bit in the show's marketing, and even gets an appearance on the show's poster. Not only is he revealed to have been replaced by a Skrull, but said Skrull doesn't even last till the opening credits of the first episode before dying. Furthermore, the real Ross only has a few minutes of screentime at the very end of the show, where he's shown being liberated from New Skrullos by G'iah.
    • Maria Hill is given a similar amount of promotion in the show, but is Killed Off for Real by Gravik at the end of the premiere.
  • And Starring: Cobie Smulders gets special guest star billing through the entire series despite Maria Hill being Killed Off for Real at the end of the first episode.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • Gravik's attempted attack on Ritson's life is something as simple as having his men shoot a bazooka from a helicopter at the president's convoy. Said convoy is shockingly small for protection of such a major world leader. Additionally, it's unlikely Gravik's forces could have flown an unauthorized helicopter anywhere near Ritson without alerting someone. Furthermore, after Ritson is wounded, he's rushed to a hospital where, again, there's a strangely small number of people tasked with protecting him.
    • At the end, a vigilante murders the British Prime Minister thinking that she's a Skrull, not knowing that she had just been freed from Skrull captivity by simply walking up to her with a gun while's she giving a statement to the press. Unlike Ritson, who did have some protection, there's absolutely no security on the PM.
  • Artistic License – Politics: Raava poses as a representative of the US as Rhodey, but she says blatantly unprofessional and downright malicious remarks that would never be seen in an actual diplomatic meeting.
  • Back for the Dead: Cobie Smulders returns as the real Maria Hill, only for her character to die at the end of Episode 1.
  • Badass Boast: "I'm Nick Fury. Even when I'm out, I'm in."
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Episode 4 features a double case of this. Both Priscilla and Fury aim their guns on each other. The camera turns away as both guns are fired. When we cut back to Fury and Priscilla, we see that both of them had deliberately missed shooting the other.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Fury's off his game since getting dusted and coming back from the Blip, and he's grown a full beard to show he's not the clean cut spy he used to be. It serves as a visual indicator that He's Back! as he slowly trims it back to his goatee over the course of the series.
  • Big "NO!": In Episode 4, Fury screams "NO!" after Talos is stabbed by Gravik.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: As of Episode 2, this series is currently the most graphically violent of the Disney+ MCU shows period, as we see people being killed on-screen in brutal ways (ranging from being shot at or, in one instance, being impaled by a meat hook). Heck, we even see a finger being cut off clean (despite the fact it belonged to a Skrull) in all of its gritty glory. With Werewolf by Night (2022) being the only other Disney distributed MCU projectnote  that's not afraid to show off graphic violence, Secret Invasion takes the cake for being the most violent of the mainline MCU entries thus far.
  • Book Ends: Nick Fury is introduced arriving back on Earth from S.A.B.E.R. in a white beam of light. The final shot of the series is him being beamed back up in another white light, this time with Varra in tow.
  • Broken Pedestal: Nick Fury and Carol Danvers were revered by the Skrull refugees for saving them from the Kree and granting them refuge on Earth. However, over the years this has turned to resentment as both Fury and Danvers seem to have abandoned their promise to find the Skrull a new planet to settle on and finally be able to stop hiding.
  • Casting Gag: Christopher McDonald had previously played the Big Bad of Superhero Movie, made to parody the pre-MCU Spider-Man movies - now he's in a proper MCU show as a different sort of villain, something between J Jonah Jameson and Bill O'Reilly. And that's before he's revealed to be a Skrull.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • In Avengers: Endgame, Carol noted she was having to play superhero for countless worlds throughout the universe, which was presented as a valid, sometimes humorous shut-down of other characters (and the audience) questioning why she wasn't around on Earth to help the Avengers against threats like Thanos. The fact that she's spread too thin unfortunately resulted in a growing number of the Skrull population growing disillusioned with her, leading to the show's primary conflict.
    • The Stinger of Spider-Man: Far From Home showing Talos and Soren reporting to Fury and asking when he'd be coming back from space was treated as light-hearted. Several years later, it's not so funny now because not only have a lot of Skrulls lost faith in Fury (and Carol Danvers), but Talos (and Fury's own wife) are bearing resentment towards him for staying in space after coming back from the Blip.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Sonya Falsworth engages in it when interrogating the American captured in Russia.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Having removed his eyepatch, Goose's scratch from Captain Marvel is seen over Nick Fury's left eye.
    • Talos's default human form is that of Director Keller, the previous Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in 1995 seen in Captain Marvel. Fury even calls him Keller when they're interrogating a disguised Skrull while undercover.
    • The second trailer shows Fury and Sonya Falsworth standing over the former's gravestone used to fake his death in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Cool Old Guy: Nick Fury is the central protagonist of the series, and is likely in his seventies going by the age of his actor. He's still every bit the Hollywood Action Hero and effective spy we've come to know and love.
  • Covers Always Lie: One promotional poster depicts a battle-ready Talos in his Skrull form. He actually spends the majority of the series in his human form, and doesn't revert back to his natural body until he is dying in the 4th episode.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the comic version of Secret Invasion, Maria Hill seemingly dies by being shot to death from the Skrulls, only for her to be revealed as a Life Model Decoy, and are wiped out by the real Hill. Here, Maria is shot in the stomach for real by Gravik, dying of her wounds early in the show.
  • Disney Death: Episode 3 ends with Gravik shooting and seemingly killing G'iah, as G'iah's Skrull form instantly appears. The start of Episode 4 reveals that G'iah survived the wound, as she had just enhanced herself with the Super Skrull program.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: A backlit example. Fury is introduced disembarking a spacecraft, appearing as a silhouette against the blinding light from the ship's interior.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Gravik intends to wipe out humanity, but he will only turn against a fellow Skrull if that Skrull is actively working against him. We see this when he allows the one Skrull councilor who he didn't turn or browbeat into submission to leave safely when she refused to follow him. It turns out to be a mistake, as she immediately contacts Talos and tells him that he has become the new Skrull general.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In the opening scene, Agent Prescod is explaining to a clearly skeptical Everett Ross about his belief that the Skrulls are conspiring against humanity. He tells Ross that he came to him because he trusts him implicitly... then his voice falters as he realizes that he has no more reason to assume Ross is genuine than anyone else. When Ross tries to talk the obviously agitated man down, Prescod attacks him, clearly convinced he's a Skrull. He's right.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The pre-release marketing campaign shows Fury's no longer wearing his distinct Infinity Saga-era eye-patch. Samuel L. Jackson has stated its absence is intentional and meant to signify how the character has lost his self-confidence and mystique after Thanos dusted half the universe (himself included).
    Jackson: [Fury] just doesn't wear the patch. The patch is part of who the strong Nick Fury was. It's part of his vulnerability now. You can look at it and see he's not this perfectly indestructible person. He doesn't feel like that guy. Even Nick Fury can be shaken, you know? He's up there trying to process what the f**k happened, you know? And what his place in the world is. The death of Iron Man, the death of Black Widow, with that stuff going on he just kind of checked out.
  • Fantastic Racism:
  • Foreshadowing: In the first episode, Talos says he's considered handsome for a Skrull, and Fury ribs him saying he knows some good-looking Skrulls and Talos isn't one of them, implying that he's able to find Skrulls attractive. In the next episode, he greets a Skrull woman with a Headbutt of Love in a flashback and she's his wife in the present day.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: A series of character posters on Twitter comes with fake community notes telling viewers about the invasion and to trust no one, as if to imply the Skrulls are infiltrating the real world as well.
  • Happy Ending Override: Captain Marvel (2019) ended on a happy note with Carol Danvers leading the Skrulls to find a new planet to settle in. This series reveals that 30 years down the line she isn't any closer to actually finding them that planet, with many Skrulls being very angry about this.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Talos has been Fury's partner for thirty years, his most trusted compatriot. Learning that Talos has moved a million Skrull onto Earth drives a temporary breakup.
  • In Name Only: The series is an adaption of Secret Invasion, but while it shares the basic story of the Skrulls invading Earth by infiltrating every level of government and the superhero community, it has very little in common with it. For example:
    • The original comic event affected the entire Marvel Universe's heroes and villains. The only heroes involved in this event are Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Talos, and Rhodey, with the former explicitly leaving the others out of it.
    • The major hero that was replaced by a Skrull was Spider-Woman (who can't be in the MCU outside of the Spider-Man films due to rights issue with Sony). In this series, it's Rhodey, and isn't replaced with by the Skrull's Queen, but a female Skrull with no special abilities.
    • The Skrulls attempted to conquer Earth in the comics because they believed the planet was religiously prophesied to them. They want to conquer Earth in this series because Fury and Captain Marvel both failed in their promise to find them a new home, and Gravik wants to wipe out the human race so the Skrulls can have Earth to themselves.
    • The Super Skrulls were created many years ago thanks to their previous encounters with the Fantastic Four, which they later extended to other heroes and villains for a massive army they planned to use on humanity. These Super Skrulls aren't made into an army, and their powers come from existing MCU heroes and villains (as Marvel's first family, outside of an alternate Reed Richards, have yet to appear in the franchise).
    • The comic event ended with Norman Osborn killing the Skrull Queen thanks to information he stole from Deadpool, and used this to rocket his way to replacing the disgraced Tony Stark (who was taken out by the Skrulls shorting his Extremis armor) as director of national security, leading into the Dark Reign where the consequences of Civil War (2006) reared its ugly head and lead to the heroes becoming vigilantes. As Osborn doesn't exist in this world (per the Rami Goblin's own comments), President Ritson goes on a manhunt to kill the Skrulls, with vigilantes killing innocent civilians as well, leading Fury to grab the remaining Skrulls and returning to space.
  • Interspecies Romance: Nick and Priscilla Fury. Nick Fury is a Human, while Priscilla is a Skrull.
  • Irony: The Russian setting is ironic for three reasons:
    1. Russia in the MCU has long engaged in planting sleeper agents in other countries since at least the 1940's. This series is about an outside force infiltrating Russia itself.
    2. Russia is not known for its black community; even in Moscow it becomes a Running Joke that Fury draws attention wherever he goes, in direct contrast to the shapeshifters he's up against.
    3. Due to the perpetual political unrest between America and Russia, the filming process takes place not in Russia but in England; however the filming process and the invasion of Russia on Ukraine are not related despite wrapping up 4 days after the start of the attack.
  • It's Personal: Fury's reasoning for pursuing Gravik's team alone and not calling the Avengers. He was righting a wrong he committed.
  • Kick the Dog: Gravik killing Maria Hill is one thing. Doing it while appearing as Fury? That elevates it to this trope.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Talos' wife Soren died some time between Spider-Man: Far From Home and the show, killed by Gravik or at least his faction.
    • Inverted with Talos and Soren regarding the Snap, as the show reveals that they were among the half who survived.
  • Love at First Sight: Fury and Varras were interested in one another from the get go. We get to see their courtship, and it's a beautiful, cerebral, romantic affair.
  • Me's a Crowd: During a parlay with Gravik, Talos lunges at him when he threatens harm upon G'iah, at which point everyone else in the restaurant reveals themselves to be Skrull associated with Gravik by taking on his appearance.
  • The Mutiny: Episode 5 features a violent Skrull revolt against Gravik. It ends with Gravik prevailing.
  • N-Word Privileges: During a conversation with Hill, Fury calls himself a spook,note  and Hill tells him that he can't say that. He smirks and says that she can't say that.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In the first trailer, Talos is heard warning Fury that they have to be "very careful now", regarding the current situation they're in. In the show proper, he actually says the line to Gravik, when he mockingly asks him if he wants to say hello to G'iah, who's currently in his car.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Fury is the older hero to Gravik's younger villain.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Richard Dormer does a good job maintaining a US accent in his one scene, but he struggles to keep his native North Irish accent from coming through.
  • Pacified Adaptation: The comics' Secret Invasion was an Avengers-style Crisis Crossover that had multiple superheroes involved in the conflict against the Skrulls. Here, not only are most of the main characters Badass Normal spy characters or heroic Skrulls, but Nick Fury explicitly shoots down the involvement of the Avengers out of fear of them being impersonated by the villainous Skrulls and being framed for future terrorism.
  • Papa Wolf: Talos loves his daughter. When Gravik threatens her, Talos grabs him and only stops when every other patron in their restaurant is a Skrull in Gravik's army. The second time Gravik mentions her, Talos stabs him in the hand.
    Talos: My daughter's name stays out of your mouth.
  • Present Absence: Captain Marvel's absence from Earth since The '90s (and Avengers: Endgame) is deconstructed here, as her lack of progress in finding the Skrulls a home after the events of her solo movie has angered much of the Skrull race, to the point where many of them are now trying to take matters into their own hands on Earth.
  • The Promise: The second episode, aptly named "Promises", revealed that Fury promised to help Carol find the Skrulls a new home in return for their promise to act as his agents in defending humanity. Since there's still no sign of that planet, many Skrulls see that as Fury breaking his promise and they broke theirs in return.
  • Properly Paranoid: This is a central dilemma of the series. With the Skrulls being master shapeshifters and impersonators, can the protagonists trust anyone? However, they also know that they cannot beat the renegade Skrulls on their own and at some point will have to trust other people.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: While the President now considers Skrulls and all other aliens to be enemies, Fury (and Falsworth) is still willing to help them and mentions how the Kree are finally willing to open peace talks with the Skrulls.
  • Realpolitik: G'iah and Sonya enter into an arrangement like Talos and Fury, but where the latter were motivated by friendship and loyalty, the former will use each other for the benefit of their respective people because that's the only way to save both.
  • Retcon: The flashback to Infinity War in episode 1 has different audio to that movie, showing Fury delivering his lines in a sadder, more resigned tone than he did in that movie.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Gravik strongly suspects that Brogan cracked under torture and gave vital intelligence to his torturer. He is right, but his suspicions are falsely confirmed when they pass by their safehouse to find it swarming with police, which prompts him to direct Pagon to execute Brogan. In actuality, it was G'iah who tipped off the authorities about the safehouse, and what Brogan divulged to Sonya was information about the machine that Gravik has the Daltons building for him.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Maria Hill, who has been Nick Fury's closest ally since all the way to The Avengers, is killed at the end of the first episode.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Skrull impersonating Rhodey is revealed to be a female named Raava.
  • Saved by Canon: The trailer for The Marvels (which takes place after this series) shows Nick Fury alive and in charge of the S.A.B.E.R. space station, so we know that he won't die here, and that him being fired by the US government, as seen in the second episode, will not be permanent.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: In Episode 5, a Skrull scientist tries to take his wife hostage in order to escape from Sonya and her goons. This backfires, as an unfazed Sonya immediately shoots him in the head.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The show is much more cynical than the MCU's usual fare. Fury and Carol's noble promise to find the Skrulls a new home has gone poorly, and they can't live on Earth, because humans will never be able to accept Skrulls, seeing as we can't even get along with each other. Talos is seen as a Wide-Eyed Idealist for dreaming of human-Skrull coexistence by Gravik, his own daughter, and his close friend Fury. In the end, the idea that humans will violently react to Skrulls is proven correct, as President Ritson, despite Talos saving him at the cost of his own life, declares Skrulls must be be wiped out. This sparks a series of chaotic vigilante murders that end up with actual humans being killed under the assumption that they are Skrulls. Sonya and Gi'ah agree to work with each other for the other species' benefit, but rather than the genuine friendship between Fury and Talos, this cooperation is born of cold pragmatism.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Nick Fury's actions throughout the show were all about preventing Gravik from bringing about war between Humans and Skrulls, losing close allies such as Maria and Talos. But in the end, it ended with things even worse off than before with President Ritsen declaring Skrulls and other extraterrestrial life a National threat. Instead of trying to fix the problems he inadvertently caused, Nick Fury just leaves to do work on S.A.B.E.R. once more.
  • Spin-Off: The series can be seen as a sequel spinoff to Captain Marvel (2019) and Spider-Man: Far From Home, with the trailer focusing on the former film's supporting characters, Fury and Talos, and following off of the stinger of the latter film, where Talos was filling in for Fury while he was in space, with the trailer opening with Fury's return.
  • Spoiler Opening: Cobie Smulders is not in the main credits. She is dead by the end of the first episode.
  • Spy Fiction: The show is a love letter to old school spy thrillers, trying to figure out who's who, where true loyalties lie... it even opens in Moscow. It is a thoroughly Stale Beer variety.
  • Sugary Malice: Sonya Falsworth constantly resorts to it, notably when she tortures the captive Brogan without changing her tone.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Due to being three decades older than she was in her previous appearance, G'iah is now played by Emilia Clarke rather than Auden and Harriet L. Ophuls.
  • They Look Like Everyone Else: As per usual, the Skrulls. Gravik uses this to his advantage, packing the place where he parlays with Talos full of his followers, and Talos doesn't even realize it until he lunges at Gravik and tries to attack him.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Fury invokes this in the trailers, by saying: "This is my war. Alone."
  • Tick Tock Tune: The music of the trailers are composed of an ominous string effect being played rhythmically like the ticking of a clock. The second trailer has added Drone of Dread to it.
  • Time-Passage Beard: As seen in the trailers, Fury’s goatee has grown out into full-blown beard during his time in space. One final shot in the first trailer has him shaving it back to his signature style, albeit much more bushy than before.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: At the end of the second trailer, we see that one of the villainous Skrulls has been infused with a superpowered gene that allows them to stretch their limbs. In a Freeze-Frame Bonus, we see that the Skrull terrorist faction have also acquired some sort of genetics that will be used on their people, which, combined with the later shot- will imply that the villainous Skrulls will consist of superpowered beings much like their comic counterparts.
  • Truer to the Text: The Skrulls as depicted in the MCU are treated with a sense of Adaptational Heroism, being presented as victims of the ongoing war with the Kree instead of the Always Chaotic Evil warmongering empire themselves as they were in the comics, and are even actively helping humanity in the modern day. Here, as the trailer indicates, a separate faction of Skrulls have malicious intentions and behave closer to their original depictions as terrifying infiltrators that undermine their enemies. And they even have certain Skrulls in their faction that are infused with superpower genetics, as seen at the end of the second trailer.
  • Uncertain Doom: Both Rhodey and Everett Ross are revealed to have been replaced by Skrulls in this series. Whatever became of the real versions of both characters is currently a mystery. The finale reveals that they were held captive by Gravik's group.
  • Voodoo Shark:
    • This show reveals that the reason Nick Fury was such a successful Spymaster during the Infinity Saga was because he had Talos, Soren, Gravik and a number of other Skrulls working for him in the shadows during that time, who helped him rise the ranks in S.H.I.E.L.D. This however brings into question why the Skrulls were absent and/or unable to help with major issues in previous entries, particularly the rise of HYDRA within S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • Ever since the ending of Ant-Man and the Wasp, the fate of Ava Starr / Ghost has been left uncertain, with people not even knowing whether she escaped or how the five-year Snap period affected her. This show reveals that due to her DNA being part of The Harvest, she was supposedly present at the Battle of Earth during Avengers: Endgame, but this only served to open up even more questions. Namely, how did Doctor Strange know of Ghost's existence so her could portal her to the battlefield? Why is she still MIA if she participated in the fight, and why wasn't she seen amongst the other fighters? And given her status as an unstable intangible being, how was Ghost's DNA even available for Fury to collect?
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": After Fury installs a camera on the eye of Sonya's beloved owl clock, Sonya decides to rechristen the clock's name to "Nicholas Fury".
  • Wham Shot: Rhodey is one of the people shown rescued in Episode 6, and he's dressed in a hospital gown and his legs aren't functional, implying that the Skrulls have had him since Captain America: Civil War, meaning that he has a lot of unpleasant things to learn.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Talos and Fury trade call-outs in the second episode. Talos to Fury for Fury basically abandoning his duty and hiding on SABER as soon as he got back from the Blip and Fury to Talos for bringing a million Skrull to live on Earth without telling him.
  • World War III: The Skrulls' ultimate plan is to stage terrorist attacks while posing as political figures in order to trigger a war that will wipe out all humans so they can have the planet for themselves.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Zigzagged in episode 3. Gravik refers to the project to give Skrulls superpowers as "Super-Skrulls", but due to the Fantastic Four still not being introduced in the MCU yet at the time of the series' release, they go with similar powers from other sources. They're already using Extremis for the ability to generate flames in place of the Human Torch, and during the presidential motorcade attack, Gravik utilizes Groot's extending tendrils in place of Mr. Fantastic stretching. In the final episode, Gi'ah uses Ghost's phasing-through-matter ability to briefly go invisible, Korg's stony exterior stands in for The Thing, and it's Captain Marvel's binary form that stands in for Human Torch's flight. She even sprouts Mantis' antennae and commands Gravik to sleep.

"One last fight..."

 
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