Secret Invasion: What Does Episode 4's Poem Mean?

In the latest episode of Secret Invasion, a reference to Raymond Carver's "Late Fragment" is dropped, creating a thematic connection throughout the Marvel TV series. The episode titled "Beloved" prominently features the cover of Carver's poetry collection, "A New Path to the Waterfall: Poems." Priscilla and Nick Fury engage in a conversation about her appreciation for the text. The central theme of feeling "beloved on the Earth" resonates throughout the episode and serves as a common thread for characters such as Samuel L. Jackson's spy, Charlayne Woodard's Skrull, and Ben Mendelsohn's Talos.

Carver's poetry serves as a meaningful reflection of Fury's journey in Secret Invasion. Embracing the present moment and defining oneself on one's own terms is not limited to the Skrulls inhabiting Earth. For the former director of SHIELD, it becomes a question of identity that cannot be solved by simply assuming another person's appearance. The quest for dignity and self-identity, particularly for Talos, Priscilla, and the Skrull people, remains an enduring struggle that spans multiple generations.

Why Is Raymond Carver's "Late Fragment" Important for Secret Invasion?

Before delving into Carver's "A New Path to the Waterfall," it's worth noting that the collection was published shortly before the poet's death in 1988. During the final months of his life, Carver grappled with profound existential questions, particularly evident in his poem "Late Fragment." The poem explores the complex and challenging inquiry of what truly matters in life. According to Carver, finding fulfillment through connections with people and a sense of rootedness to our surroundings is deeply rewarding. It's understandable why Priscilla finds these questions intriguing and shares them with Fury.

The quest for a place to call home has been a central theme throughout Secret Invasion. From Fury's poignant journey of isolation following The Blip to Talos grappling with the loss of his homeworld and the challenges of assimilation, the theme permeates the narrative. Priscilla, torn between her role as the commander's wife and a Skrull who has witnessed broken promises and abandonment, embodies the emotional complexity that goes beyond the typical Marvel offering.

However, there appears to be a third path to the Waterfall, which Secret Invasion seems to be heading towards. This path leads to living authentically and openly, even if only for a moment. In the closing moments of the episode, Talos lies on the battlefield while Fury escapes with the President. Yet, this may be an elaborate ruse to bring attention to the Skrull presence. Given the world's previous encounters with extraordinary beings like Celestials, Thanos' devastating actions, and even the talking Flora Colossus known as Groot, it's likely that humanity will handle the revelation of aliens with resilience and adaptability—albeit in their usual self-destructive way.

Carver's Poems Actually Circle Back To The Paul Robeson Quip in Episode 1

The Paul Robeson throwaway joke in the first episode of Secret Invasion feels like foreshadowing now. In our world, Robeson spoke to the New York Times about his affinity for the USSR, stating, "Here, I am not a Negro but a human being for the first time in my life... I walk in full human dignity." (It's worth noting that this occurred before the Cold War, and despite accusations, Robeson never registered as a Communist.)

The idea of walking in dignity has become a crucial theme for the characters in the show. Priscilla questions Fury about whether he would have loved her if she had chosen not to take a human form around the house. Gravik's struggle stems from disgust at having to hide his "true self" by assuming the appearance of an Earthling. Similarly, Gi'ah is disillusioned with the act of walking around wearing someone else's face. And poor Fury finds it challenging to walk in the same shoes he once did when the concept of Nick Fury held greater power.

By the end of the Disney+ series, the hope is that the Skrulls will find a place where they can embrace their true selves, whether it's a colony on Earth (like the Asgardians) or among the stars, where they don't have to assimilate to be accepted. While Talos may believe there's nothing wrong with continually proving their goodness, his daughter and her passionate friend have a valid point. The notion of the Skrulls as an immigrant population is fascinating within the current landscape and could warrant further exploration. However, the newest inhabitants of Earth may have to settle for less than their full dignity as they embark on their journey to whatever lies ahead.

Ultimately, the connections between these individuals, their potential savior, and the planet itself will have to be enough. However, the message conveyed along the way may spark divisive reactions as the Marvel Cinematic Universe progresses towards its next chapter.

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