Invincible EP previews Season 2 Part 2: “Everything is more complicated”

Plus, Simon Racioppa discusses the season split, Rex Splode’s development, and much more.

Gillian Jacobs (Atom Eve), Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson)
Gillian Jacobs (Atom Eve), Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson) /
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This week, Invincible is finally back! Again! After a long gap between the first season and the second season, fans of the animated Prime Video superhero series were treated to four all-new episodes late in 2023… Only to have to wait for an additional four episodes to premiere this week.

Having seen the episodes, the split does make sense from a plot perspective – even if fans of the show have been less than pleased.

“A lot of our fans are being vocal about the split, less happy about the split,” co-showrunner and EP Simon Racioppa told Bam Smack Pow. “Look, there's so many factors that go into making a show like Invincible, production factors, cast release schedules, what else is happening on Amazon Prime that it's always a discussion. And it just came down to a discussion with Amazon at the time about what's the best way to get the show out to the fans as quickly as possible at the best highest quality possible.”

Whatever reasons for the gap, the show is finally coming back. And with it, Invincible (Steven Yeun) will have to pick up the pieces after the climactic battle between himself, his father Nolan (J.K. Simmons), and a squad of unstoppable alien Viltrumites.

To find out more about how the show comes together, what to expect as Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas) takes a big step up in the second half of the season, and how much meme-ability is on their minds in the writer’s room, read on.

Bam Smack Pow: The big theme that I took away from watching all eight episodes, and maybe this is the show as a whole, but it's about growing up. Is that on the right track? Or what were you going for big picture wise?

Simon Racioppa: Yeah, I mean, if we just talk about overall themes, we try to come up with a theme for each season that helps us guide all the episodes and where we're going. It's not ironclad, but it gives us something to think about when we're crafting scenes and looking at how the episodes work with each other. So the first season was the theme about growing up and wanting to become your father and idol, stuff like that.

And just pushing towards that and then finding out that the real world is much more complicated than you think it is, which is a touchstone for most people in a coming of age story. Season two was kind of about Mark actually now being terrified of becoming his father, of actually worrying about that heritage. Is there a part of Nolan in him, in Mark, that he will possibly not be able to control as he gets older? So that's kind of the theme. So you could say that both, season one and season two are about growing up, about maturing, about realizing the family and the world and yourself. Everything is more complicated than you think it is when you're 17.

Having seen both halves, it makes sense to split it up. But did you initially plan to run it all the way through, or was splitting it into four episodes always part of the plan?

I'm glad you enjoyed that. I'm happy to hear that worked for you. A lot of our fans are being vocal about the split, less happy about the split. Look, there's so many factors that go into making a show like Invincible, production factors, cast release schedules, what else is happening on Amazon Prime that it's always a discussion. And it just came down to a discussion with Amazon at the time about what's the best way to get the show out to the fans as quickly as possible at the best highest quality possible. And this is sort of the way we came up with the season split.

Invincible Season 2 Part 2
Jason Mantzoukas (Rex Splode) /

I wanted to talk about Rex Splode a little bit, which I know is skirting spoilers, but he goes through some huge changes in the second half of the season. Why was it important to focus on him and push him forward in this way now? And what was it like working with Jason Mantzoukas on modulating his voice performance?

Jason's amazing. He's read the whole comic series two or three times, which is fantastic. So he knows where the character's going. He knows how true we are to the book. So he's read ahead, obviously he knows it all. He knows what's happening with the character. So that was a huge factor in getting him on the show in the first place. Rex, he's a great character and we know there's some big moments for him coming up, and big moments only hit emotionally if you're invested in the character. If you feel that that person is a real character, has a real backstory, has real wants and desires and things they're struggling with. So it's important to us that with the events coming up in Rex's storyline, that we wanted those to matter to you and we wanted those to hit hard for you and our audience, and that meant spending more time with him, developing him a little further and just giving Jason a chance to make you hopefully fall in love with him a little bit.

This is going to be a ridiculous question because I'm pretty sure the answer is, we don't, but how much do you think about meme-ability when you're making these episodes? And I ask because obviously there's things like the “Think, Mark” from the first season. There's a big one coming in the second half, too.

It's a delight when it happens. It was the biggest surprise for all of us seeing the response to some of the memes from season one, some of the ones that have already happened from season two. It's a treat. Maybe if you start to chase it won't happen. So we just try to make the show and we try to make it as fun and strong as possible. And then that just is hopefully a natural indication of how much our audience is enjoying the material. But no, it's not something we think about going into the writing or the production of the show

Invincible season 2 part 2
Steven Yeun (Mark Grayson) /

I say this as a big fan of the book, but one thing that the show actually does better is the pacing out of the overarching Viltrumite plot. Not their plot, but the actual plotting of it through the show, making it more omnipresent. Could you talk a little bit about structuring that episode by episode, making sure that there's always something bubbling in the background there – or foreground?

It's a really organic process. Usually when we start a season, Robert [Kirkman] and I sit down together, maybe with a couple of our other writers like Helen Leigh or Ross Stracke, and we go through the book and we start to decide, where does the season start, where does the season end? Where would the breaks be for different episodes? What are things that we could expand upon? What are things we want to do? Maybe there's some stuff we don't want to do and we do a rough break of the episode and that gives us the basic structure. But then when we go into a finer detail with a full writer's room, everyone who's writing on that season, that's where we really adjust the pacing. And part of that comes from just looking at the episodes and being like, "What would Cecil be doing at this point?"

Like, "Would he be aware of this? Would he have a response to this? What would Mark be doing here? He's aware of these things that have happened, so you would have to be having a conversation about this." And it's just that way of trying to make sure that your characters really exist in the world you're creating and are responding naturally to the things that have happened in previous episodes that helps us just sort of keep everything alive and keep the pacing going.

So if there's a big threat that just happened, people need to talk about that. There needs to be a response to that. There needs to be a follow-up, a funeral, a discussion. There needs to be trauma you have to deal with. So we try to treat that stuff as realistically as possible. And that helps us with the pacing because it keeps those elements alive, even if we're not doing direct scenes about them, you can feel the repercussions of the big events of the show.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Invincible Season 2 Part 2 premieres Thursday, March 14 at 8/7c on Prime Video.

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