ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Emancipation TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 3, episode 20, ‘Emancipation,’ was a shell game, meant to shake up Hive’s (Brett Dalton) sense of certainty, but it may have gone a touch too far, in how Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) gambit may have played to fans, and in conveying just how important Daisy (Chloe Bennet) is to the series.

I expected the Secret Warriors to return, after the Daisy defection, but it was still nice to see the Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) come back. It was even better seeing her help a deflated Mack (Henry Simmons) get out of his funk – just in time for a little Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge) wish-fulfilment – with a little motivational talk about fear being for bullies.

Bullies like the Watchdogs – also returning to serve a purpose; but not the one they had in mind. If your stated purpose is to take down Inhumans, on account of them being so dangerous, then going after one to have fun with later – back home – suggests you might have a little madness to your methods. That’s okay – ‘Hellfire’ James (Axle Whitehead) was good for schooling fear-driven firing squads, too stupid to know how to be afraid responsibly. Next to Daisy and Lash (Matthew Willig), I was most interested in how his signature attack would come across, on the small screen. One wish down.

Since Hive’s stated purpose is (first X film) Magneto styled unity, burning Hellfire or being Inhuman worm food wasn’t in the cards, for the militia mutts. What they did get may have been our introduction to the Alpha Primitives – source characters I had hoped reserved for the eventual Inhumans film (whenever that will be). We could have both, sure; it’s just that Agents has been something of a designated landing zone, for low hanging fruit that the MCU has no plans for, is all.

Low hanging fruit like Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), I guess, since he seems to have settled into the role of viewer stand-in, whenever Coulson & co. pull a really big fast one.

Nothing like having a government sized Talbot hovering over you for focus, so May (Ming-Na Wen) – despite having personal problems of her own being poked at – had another talk with Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) that should’ve gone without saying. The fact that he never owned up to any of the reasons he was left locked away, when Daisy finally hacked her way into his cell (for superspy Skyping), left me hoping he had finally grown a pair. A pair of cranial hemispheres, that is.

If his acting like a dope fiend after a fix had turned out to be genuine, I would’ve declared him dead weight walking (and talking, and shocking, and various other things… annoying). Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait for an answer – some season-long wish-fulfilment was in order.

Then ‘careful what you wish for’ came blaring through my mind-speakers.

For viewers fretting over the notion that Agents has been entirely too much about Daisy, watching that wish wasted on just her will not salve their soreness. Still, it was nice to see Hive finally on the back foot – just as we knew he’d be, back when the wish didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would be wasted. That wish being wasted by Hellfire didn’t help, either (kind of insulting, if you think about it).

Ultimately, the wish was wasted in order to leave room for the central question of the ‘Fallen Agent’ arc to still hold sway. Our wasted wish was never an Agent; so that had to be ruled out pretty early. I had just hoped he’d be part of the solution, instead of the setup. With certain Agents having gotten over themselves, and a certain Trinket of Destiny having been passed to another, the question looms a little larger. I just hope the answer will come with enough satisfaction to justify this (currently) premature plot-twist sacrifice.

Season 3 Episode 17: The Team

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has so many twists and double-crosses this week that you’d almost swear it was a Shonda Rhimes show. I’m hyperventilating. Did that really just happen?! If this episode is any indication of the caliber of the finale, were in for a ride of epic proportions. Ok, let’s get to this weeks review and apologies for presenting this one out of sequence – it was just too important to pass up, but I promise I’ll catch up on the outstanding episodes ASAP.

With Coulson and the S.H.I.E.L.D. command team trapped aboard Zephyr One as it was hijacked by Giyera and piloted to a HYDRA base, Daisy and Lincoln are left to rescue them. Using a quinjet, they fly around the world to pick up the members of Daisy’s “Secret Warriors Initiative,” which sounds pretty cool and impressive until you realize that it actually only consists of two other people: Joey (the guy who can manipulate metal) and Elena (the speedster who can spring back and forth faster than the eye can see). Elena has (conveniently) been practicing her English enough to carry a conversation now. Joey seems reluctant to get involved and put himself in danger, especially when Daisy makes them all HALO jump out of the jet – something neither he nor Elena has ever done before.

Starting a new chapter in your life is always difficult, and joining a team of Inhumans has to be hella difficult. Good thing Yo-Yo and Joey have each other. They commiserate in rapid-fire Spanish, just before taking the plunge out of the jet. Two newbies, becoming friends is very heartwarming; the conversations in Spanish make them that much better. Especially since not one other “agent” there understands the language. It becomes their thing and anchors them to each other.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Giyera leaves the plane and reports to Ward. A HYDRA team storms the plane to flush out the S.H.I.E.L.D.ies, who hold them off with a gunfight and then lock themselves into a storage room. (How the hell big is this plane?) May was injured in the last episode and is in pretty bad shape, but Simmons is able to stabilize her. Fitz works on MacGyvering a chlorine gas weapon using supplies in the room.

The warriors arrive and split up. Lincoln finds Malick (all of a sudden Lincoln seems like a pretty epic fighter to be honest!), Daisy finds the plane, Yoyo finds the team, and Melty Man… does… something? That really could have been clearer. Anyways, the team leaves on the plane with Malick, only to find that the Inhuman I call Secrets In Their Eyes is hiding on the plane. He eye freezes Lincoln but Melty stabs him with a pipe. This is his first “kill” and he’s rightfully NOT a happy camper about it. As it takes off and leaves the HYDRA base, Ward isn’t too concerned. He tells Giyera, “Now we have one on the inside.” That sounds ominous. Is he talking about Malick, or does he have a mole in S.H.I.E.L.D. now or is Eye guy not really dead?

Completely ignoring the conflict of interest, Coulson interrogates Malick, the man responsible for having Rosalind killed. Protocol is different from organization to organization, but this can’t be okay no matter what. Coulson is still so damn bitter about Rosalind. This may sound cold-hearted, but can we get past this? It’s been some time, they didn’t date very long, he got his revenge on Ward; let’s stop bringing up the dead lady! Anywho, Malick tells Coulson about the death of his daughter – remember that time that Hive killed Malick’s daugher by creepy alien tongue kissing her? – Malick reveals how Hive works and he says that he made a terrible mistake in bringing the Inhuman parasite (whose official name is Alveus, which supposedly translates as “Hive”) to Earth. He explains that Ward/Alveus/Hive murdered his daughter and says, “It is a god, just not ours.” Malick warns Coulson that the Inhumans will all worship Hive, who has the ability to control the mind of any Inhuman. He also suggests that some of Coulson’s own people may have already turned. Coulson isn’t sure if Malick is just playing him, but the seeds of doubt quickly grow in his mind. He asks Mack to quietly lock down the base and instructs Fitz and Simmons to work on making a test to see if anyone is under Hive’s spell.

Daisy immediately suspects that something is up and that Coulson is hiding something from her. She doesn’t like being left out of the loop. Elena also gets very agitated about being stuck in the base, and Joey disappears for a while. Mack watches all of them (plus Lincoln) on surveillance but doesn’t feel very good about it. Meanwhile, Fitz-Simmons discover the infection in Secrets In Their Eyes and cause the power to go out so the doors will lock for good. They find Malick’s door open with him dead inside laying next to a bomb which goes off and destroys all of the evidence.

At this point, nobody trusts anybody. Coulson and Mack try to round up the Inhumans, but Daisy is adamant that they’re being railroaded. She barricades the four of them into a room, where they even argue amongst themselves, each accusing the others of being traitors. They all take turns accusing each other of being infected and killing Malick, until Daisy tells them they need to stick together. She leads them out via a secret elevator, straight into a containment room, with Coulson waiting. Damn, Daisy, you turncoat. Coulson announces who the infected person is: Lincoln; they found the orb in his locker and they know he’s stolen before. Not only that, he’s been infected since the mission at Transia, and Daisy buys it. Lincoln denies it all and loses his temper on his team, leaving Daisy to take him down. Why would Coulson think he’d been turned at Transia? It’s not like whoever was infected would admit to seeing Hive; but wait, Lincoln did. The wonkiness of the events leading up to it certainly make clear the purpose of the last few episodes. If you thought that Daisy and Lincoln’s relationship was a bit ham-fisted, you’re not wrong, as it was clearly rushed in order to make this misdirection more shocking and emotionally resonant. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t quite spark the way the writers had hoped, and as such the reveal was a little predictable.

FitzSimmons try to figure out how to help Secret Warriors, but have no real way of doing that outside the lab. So basically, they’re hanging out and mackin’ on each other. They’re worried about Hive, but Fitz says they’ll take care of him. Stuck in that dirty room, they finally have their moment, so they commence to kissing. About bloody time (pardon my french … only been 3 seasons of waiting for them to hook up!)

Coulson breaks the news to Daisy that he’s benching the Secret Warriors, because they can’t be near Hive; they’ll have to stay in quarantine. Daisy is understandably disappointed, but tells him they’ll be stronger next time. No fight at all, Daisy? She escapes quarantine to go see Lincoln. Everyone knows she designed the security protocols, why wouldn’t they alter them if she’s locked up, too? Lincoln maintains he didn’t betray the team. Not to worry, boo, Daisy is there to let him out so they can runaway together. Lincoln doesn’t want to leave because he’ll be proven innocent. Then it hits him: Daisy is the infected. She’s sick, no she’s happier than she’s ever been. She describes the infection as a bond. Lord, she sounds like one of Jasmine’s followers on BtVS. Yep, she killed Malick. Lincoln is equal parts disbelief and bitterness as he realizes she his past against him. Damn, she’s like a combination of Jasmine plus Raven from The 100. She can’t convince him to go, so she leaves, taking the orb and a fair number of crystals with her. It’s not enough she’s a lying liar who lies, on her way out, she disables the locking mechanism so no one can escape and destroys the base.

The last 10 minutes of the episode is the big reveal, as usual, with a pretty big change at the end that should be interesting to see where the final episode of the season goes. There’s still the eventual tie-in with Captain America: Civil War too to deal with.

I’m sad to see Powers Boothe exit the series. Malick was a great character and brought a lot of much-needed menace to the villain side of the equation. (I still don’t care for Brett Dalton as the new Big Bad.) That disappointment aside, this is a pretty terrific episode with lots of suspenseful twists and turns. Daisy being under Hive’s control means that, in a sense, Ward will finally get her as he always wanted. That dynamic should be interesting to watch play out. The episode is one of the better for the season, here’s hoping it keeps it up.

Among Us Hide – Season 3 Episode 6

Right missed a couple of these over the past little while so let’s try to get caught up as quick as we can shall we?  If you recall from the previous episode (Devils you Know & not 4,722 as while that was an excellent episode, it doesn’t (yet) do anything for the underlying story), May and Bobbi had managed to track down Strucker and while they weren’t in time to stop his beating, May managed to hear that Andrew might not be dead after all.  In fact, Andrew it  turns out is the Inhuman – Lash that Daisy has been searching for.  Turned out, he was the one who set the building ablaze. The worse part is Skye (Chloe Bennet) is right. The inhuman, Lash, they are hunting can indeed transform into human. To blend into the crowd, the beast becomes Garner.  May is in disbelief with the shocking revelation about her ex-husband.

I like giving credit where credit is due, and I can safely say that as someone who has been a fan and viewer since season 1, tonight’s game-changing reveal was on par with the great “Ward is Hydra” turn of 2014. I didn’t see it coming, and maybe I’m alone in that. But when a show can blindside me completely with a narrative that is interesting and unsuspecting, I have to give it props.

agents-of-shield-02Before we get to those big moments, though, let’s start with something important: Andrew Garner is alive. Not only that, he’s alive enough to talk and give May and Coulson the rundown on what happened when Werner von Strucker tried to kill him. He tells them about the men who followed him, who Coulson correctly calls out as being HYDRA. Turns out that Coulson had his own S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tailing Garner, which is how he got lucky: The agents gave him time to find cover, but just barely. (The way this scene was shot, with May watching the medics work on her husband, was incredibly reminiscent of Black Widow, Cap, and Maria Hill watching a dying Nick Fury in Winter Solider…at least for me.)

May’s still pissed at Hunter for putting Garner’s life in danger, and her anger’s not unwarranted. Unsurprisingly, Coulson pulls Hunter off the assignment while May puts herself on, because now she’s going after Ward, hell or high water. At least there’s one positive thing that comes out of Garner’s near-death experience: May’s back. I mean, really back. She’s got the Hunter “out for blood” thing going and takes it to the next level by “recruiting” Bobbi to help her in the way only S.H.I.E.L.D. agents can: by forcing her into a sparring session. Bobbi and Melinda make an amazing team, because they’re both total badasses, but watching Melinda mentor Bobbi and encourage her to see her pain and suffering as “experience” that makes her stronger is pure gold. And that’s an example of good therapy, that makes you more capable instead of making you doubt yourself—as Bobbi proves at the end, when she uses her “experience” to take down Ward’s right-hand man. As much as I enjoyed Scientist Bobbi Morse, I cannot express how happy I am to see my favorite character back in the field, kicking butt, and being an active part of the team again. (And those fight scenes in this week’s episode just proved that. Give me an entire episode of Bobbi and May undercover, please.)

It makes sense that Lash was someone with inside knowledge, and this may even explain why Andrew was so opposed to letting Inhumans go out into the field—since he’s apparently got a lot of issues with his own kind and sees it as a vital mission to hunt them all down and perforate them.

Missed one here – many apologies … read this one before you read 4722 although considering the context of that episode, it won’t really matter in the grand scheme of things!  Anyways if you recall at the end of the previous episode, Hunter had made a failed attempt on Wards life & Coulson has removed him from the task.  With May now all hot and bothered due to the death of Andrew, she’s more than eager to pick up the slack and sets out to see how Bobbi is doing.  Bobbi sidelined all season due to Wards torture still feels somewhat tentative but when May comes at her all guns blazing she’s forced to step up her game and defend herself.  Now while this fight isn’t at the same quality or intensity as the May vs. May fight from Season 2, it’s still quite cool.

Once May “persuades” Bobbi to join her, they quickly figure out that transfer student “Alex” is actually von Strucker’s son. He’s alive and on the run, having cleaned out a recent Hydra bank account, and May correctly thinks that if they find him, they can find a link to Ward. Turns out Werner is actually hiding out in a penthouse in Portugal with Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe), a powerful Hydra menace who once worked with his father.  The poor kid doesn’t know where to turn, but don’t worry — Malick will handle everything.  True to his word, Malick calls up Ward, who isn’t at all intimidated by Malick’s Hydra past. Malick offers him a chance at redemption, a chance to fix the mistakes he’s made in the game by involving unprepared people like von Strucker’s son. A confident Ward rejects Malick’s proposal, even when Malick says he knows where he can find the kid, who S.H.I.E.L.D. is also conveniently looking for. “Sometimes,” he tells the budding Hydra leader, “you sacrifice a player to play the game.”

Meanwhile, Daisy and Mack are working on Daisy’s pet theory that Lash can transform into a human and their first suspect is Rosalind’s right-hand man, Luther Banks.  With Hunter’s help (who lets be honest is beside himself worrying about Bobbi and frustrated with nothing to do) they decide to stake him out. Daisy and Mack soon realize that they have no idea how to really track this guy, other than waiting to see if he randomly shapeshifts. While Mack and Daisy want to be stealthy (especially with Coulson currently embedded in the ATCU), stealth has never been Hunter’s way of doing things. He takes matters into his own hands and runs out of the van and ices the guy. (“Come on!” Daisy yells, and I laugh because I would have yelled the exact same thing.) No one thinks shooting Rosalind’s No. 2 is a particularly good idea, but Hunter’s actually being smart for once: Inhumans have markers in their DNA, so if they test Banks’ blood, they’ll know whether or not he’s Lash. Even Daisy admits that’s kind of smart though she almost takes the compliment back after Hunter punches Banks in order to get the blood sample.

After snooping through Banks’ things, the three learn about a secret lab called Endotech.  Using a new (invisible) spy drone that Fitz has created they break into the lab and realize that it’s chock full of boxed up iHumans that the ATCU has been capturing.  They also see Coulson seemingly having a normal conversation with Rosalind and not throwing a hissy fit which is what Daisy expects him to do.   Daisy is definitely not happy – there’s no way she’s working with the ATCU after this, so good luck, Coulson. Unfortunately while they might have made this grand discovery, their hunch about Banks is incorrect as Simmons contacts them to give them the results of the blood test and Banks’ doesn’t have any iHuman markers.

But all is not what it seems, and this is part of why Rosalind didn’t want to tell Coulson about what they were doing. Rosalind and the ATCU are treating the Inhuman gene like an illness, one that they’re trying to find a cure for, so people can live their lives in peace. Plot twist! Turns out this all comes from a personal place: Rosalind’s own husband died of cancer a few years ago, and this a way to try to help others when she couldn’t help him. Coulson is unexpectedly touched by this show of humanity, and I think it’s interesting to see the two leaders displaying different sides of the coin when it comes to how to survive in this industry. Rosalind is doing anything she can not to cut herself off because she believes it’s important to have feelings while Coulson thinks the only way to get the job done is to stop feeling entirely.

May and Bobbi show up at the bank under the guise of wanting to open Ms. Wong (May’s) safe deposit box. (The two most important things about this scene: Bobbi’s undercover glasses, and May and Bobbi trading conversations in Mandarin.) But when Bobbi uses one of Fitz’s devices to find the actual safe deposit box belonging to Hydra, they trigger an alarm that has the bank manager and the guards cornering them in the vault. May’s first instinct is to fight, but Bobbi takes the opposite route: Using information Fitz is feeding her through her glasses, she sweet talks them long enough to almost get out of trouble. When May sees a guard going for his gun, though, the channel gets changed to the Melinda May Badass Hour. Later on, May corners Bobbi about why she chose the safe route rather than the attack route back at the bank. She assesses that Bobbi is hiding behind her medical tests and holding back because she doesn’t think she’s strong enough to fight anymore. May rallies her confidence by telling her about how she scouted her at the Academy before she became an agent (and I really need THAT backstory now) and shares her own Bahrain experiences. She knows what it feels like to regress due to a personal loss. And she’s not going to let Bobbi go there.

Thanks to Malick, Ward has gotten to Werner first, but May and Bobbi easily interrupt the love fest that is Hydra beating the crap out of the kid and gloriously disarm all the agents in a sequence that reminds me why I love these ladies so much. Bobbi finally gets her due, and for all her fighting skills, it’s experience and smarts that help Bobbi succeed — she uses her batons to electrocute Kebo in the pool. May, meanwhile, is trying desperately to get Werner to tell her about Ward before he either passes out or dies.

Werner tries to apologize for what happened, telling May, “I didn’t know he changed into that thing.” And as we watch May’s horrified face, we get the actual story of what happened the day that Garner was attacked and the reason behind why he ultimately survived a little too well.

Garner. Is. Lash.

I’d like to say that I saw that coming, but just like Ward and HYDRA, I have to admit this reveal did surprise me.  I will admit that I was surprised with Andrew’s character as he did seem so incidental considering the quality of the actor & when he was killed off, I really was a bit confused as it seemed such a waste. Obviously, now everything makes sense: the fact that he hasn’t yet killed Daisy (something Daisy asks him about point blank, along with asking about his shapeshifting skills) and also the fact that he’s so interested in finding Lincoln. (That last scene, where we see Daisy willing to offer up Lincoln’s whereabouts because, as Garner notes, “he’d be safer here,” made me cringe. Don’t do it, Daisy!) Much like when we learned Ward was Hydra, looking back at all the interactions and choices Garner has made in light of this new knowledge suddenly adds a different perspective to our stories. How will this affect his relationship with May? What about the fact that he and Simmons have been bonding over therapy and PhDs? Is Garner really, truly evil inside, or is just Lash that’s the problem? (We’ve already done the Jekyll and Hyde thing, so I’m guessing we’re not going to go there twice.) Moreover, if Garner has been vetting Inhumans since the beginning, how many has he actually killed or put on a list when he realizes they’re not “worthy” enough? Do we even want to know?

“4,722 Hours” makes it clear that, though she may not seem like the best candidate to survive on an alien planet, Jemma Simmons has some pretty mad skills.   When “4,722 Hours” began with the flashback to the scene where Simmons got pulled into the Monolith and taken to the other planet, I wondered “Wait, is this episode going to only be about what happened to her?” And then the title came up – and it wasn’t the usual logo on the black screen, with the big sound effect. It just quietly appeared over the desolate, blue landscape Simmons was trapped in. And it was clear that yes, this was going to be a very different episode…  The story is one long character study giving Elizabeth Henstridge the opportunity to show off the depth of her acting ability, and the rich development given to Simmons this week makes me wish every member of the cast could get teleported away for a terrifying extraterrestrial experience.

Obviously the concept of a character marooned by themselves is not a new one – the writers utilized Enemy Mine (an excellent SciFi film) for their inspiration and there is also the not as excellent Cast Away featuring Tom Hanks.  Series like Galactica and Star Trek have told similar stories of this sort, among others. But this is Agents of SHIELD, a big, Marvel/ABC network TV series with a specific, (Earthbound) vibe and feel to it. So for them to take this show in this direction, even for a week, was bold and exciting.

When Simmons first arrived on the planet, she realizes that she is not in the same solar system as Earth by the stars she sees. Remembering her S.H.I.E.L.D. training, she decides to stay stationary until an extraction team can find and rescue her.  After 13 hours, Simmons decides to go to sleep. Awakening eight hours later, Simmons realizes that the sun has not arisen. She begins to cry and screams for the sun after being on the planet for 71 hours.  At 79 hours, Simmons decides that she must find food and water in order to survive; a normal human can survive without water for a hundred hours. Twenty hours later, as she climbs a ridge, Simmons sees an approaching sandstorm. Simmons awakens after 101 hours on the planet and discovers a nearby pond; she laughs as her thirst is quenched.   For quite awhile, it was only her onscreen and she was excellent showing Simmons try and approach the situation with an optimistic, even scientifically curious perspective, before the true direness of what was happening set in.   Now on the planet for 109 hours, Simmons swims in the pond; suddenly, she is grabbed from below. Fighting for her life, Simmons cuts a tentacle from the creature and drags it ashore. Two hours pass before Simmons finally decides to eat the tentacle. By 492 hours, Simmons’ hunger is so great that she decides to fight the underwater foe; she wins the battle, makes a fire, cooks, eats, and burps. Watching sweet, wide-eyed Simmons go almost feral, killing and eating that creature, was a sight to behold and it was emotional seeing her leave her messages for Fitz as time went on and things got worse and worse (that phone lasting at all is also a miracle, but hey, SHIELD tech, right?!).

Simmons has now been on the planet for 752 hours when she hears movement that she does not recognize. She goes to investigate;  falls into a trap and sees a man close it as she faints. Nine hours later, the man goes to check on Simmons; she is awake but fearful. At 783 hours, the man realizes that Simmons is not a hallucination. Simmons introduces herself to the man as the 824th hour passes; he brings her a bowl of food. Twenty-seven hours later, Simmons feigns a stomach ache and asks the stranger why he has poisoned her. As he enters the cage to investigate, Simmons hits him with the bowl and escapes. She runs but injures her leg. Her captor grabs her; he says that It can smell blood and will soon come. He takes Simmons to his cave and hides as a sandstorm roars above. He tells Simmons that his name is Will. Simmons stitches her leg while Will asks what year it is. At hour 853, Will Daniels reveals that he has been on this planet since 2001.   As an aside, I assume it was likely a purposeful nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey having Will trapped on that planet since the year 2001 (given we already had a Monolith in play), though given Dillon Casey is 31, let’s just assume he was playing a few years older than his actual age – or else Will was the Doogie Howser of both the Air Force and NASA, considering his history.

When Simmons stumbled upon Will (Nikita’s Dillon Casey), yeah, you could see where this was going – that she would bond with him and maybe even get romantic with him (as was indeed the case) – and he’d be the reason she needed to go back to the planet. The journey is more important than the destination, though, and the bond between Simmons and Will develops organically as their hours together turn into days, then weeks, then months. For most of this time, Simmons is still intensely devoted to Fitz. When she first finds herself stranded, she keeps her composure by thinking like a scientist, but once it starts to sink in that no one is coming for her, she starts to get more emotional and turns to her memory of Fitz for support. She imagines the date they’re supposed to go on and worries that their bond won’t maintain in a romantic context, and Henstridge does great work showing how Simmons’ relationship with Fitz gives her the strength to press on.   Throughout the first half of the episode, Simmons records voice memos for Fitz detailing her fear regarding the scarcity of food and water, her insecurity about her chances of making it through this alive, and her pride when she discovers what she’s capable of accomplishing when survival is her one and only goal. It allows Henstridge to vocalize all of Simmons’ turbulent emotions, and she fully captures all the desperation Simmons feels as she spends more time alone on an alien world. The thing that keeps her motivated is the hope that she’ll one day make it back to Fitz and the rest of her friends, but when that hope fades, her romantic commitment to Fitz fades with it.

By 3,010 hours, Simmons decides that she wants to go to the “No-Fly Zone” despite Daniels’ protests that that is the place where “It” lives. Going there nonetheless, Simmons finds a bottle of wine and a sword, along with a mass graveyard. Observing the stars, she realizes a way off the planet. Suddenly a storm approaches; Simmons sees a figure in the dust and runs. She places dirt on the cut she gets and peeks from behind a boulder. Simmons returns to Daniels, who was watching her through binoculars, and tells him that she now believes.  Twenty-two hours later, Simmons explains to Daniels her plan to find a portal that will return them home; she can use the battery from her cell phone to power his computers to calculate the stars and their movement. She watches the video of her friends for the last time. The battery dies at hour 3,183, but Simmons has accumulated enough data to determine that in eighteen days a portal will open in a canyon that is thirty meters wide. Weeks pass; by 3,561 hours, Daniels has created a way to get them across the canyon and Simmons has put a message in a bottle to drop in the portal as a back-up plan. On the 3,575th hour, the stranded ones arrive at the canyon to discover that it is now over a hundred meters wide and impossible for them to cross successfully. The portal opens and Daniels shoots the bottle to the opening. He misses by one second.  Hell, we knew for a fact that Simmons would safely make it home eventually, but it was still heartbreaking when she and Will tried to get Fitz a literal message in a bottle and failed, because we’d seen just how desperate they were and felt their pain in that moment.

Simmons and Daniels have become a couple when hour 4,720 arrives. Simmons has calculated that a once-every-eighteen year sunrise was to happen in a couple of hours. The couple celebrate the occurrence with the bottle of wine that Simmons found; it tastes like vinegar. Suddenly Simmons sees a flare streak across the sky. Daniels and Simmons run to the spot of the flare, but “It” comes for them. Daniels tells Simmons to continue, but she refuses to leave without him. Simmons then sees an astronaut coming and thinks that NASA has come for Daniels; he tells her that it is a trick as the sand becomes blinding and separates them. Daniels fires his only bullet at the figure as Fitz calls to Simmons. Simmons is rescued. Daniels is once again alone as the sun rises at hour 4,722.

There’s a noticeable change in Simmons’ disposition once she and Will kiss and start sleeping together (at least that’s what we’re led to believe by the shot of their two beds now side-by-side), and showing Simmons at her bleakest point earlier makes it easier to accept this new relationship by showing how it drastically improves her outlook. Her romance with Will significantly complicates the one she has with Fitz, but Fitz doesn’t let jealousy take over when Simmons finishes recounting her experience. The final scene between them — the only one not on the alien planet — was terrific, as Fitz processed what she’d just told him and decided he would do everything he could to help her (because of course he would) and save Will. And Henstridge got one more terrific moment showing Simmons tear up as she realized what he was doing for her. He rushes out of the room, but it’s not because of anger. Instead, he rushes to the lab to start figuring out how to bring Will back because Fitz is that good of a friend.

 

A Most wanted (Inhu)Man – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (S3E3)

The president’s ATCU (Advanced Threat Containment Unit) begins hunting down inhumans across the country. Meanwhile, Simmons begins her rehabilitation after her extended stay on the alien world.

While the title for “A Wanted (Inhu)man” referred to Lincoln, and his story was solid, the episode’s most notable content dealt with Simmons, as she was back, but hardly back to her usual self.

Elizabeth Henstridge was terrific here, as Simmons seemed on edge and often almost in pain from being around, well, nearly everything. Mundane things like a cell phone ringing got under her skin and Henstridge did an excellent job showing her trying to put on the best face she could, but struggling so much underneath. It was touching seeing Fitz trying so hard (yes, I it was “Aww”-worthy how he had held that restaurant reservation for them, hoping she’d return), but he just couldn’t help her – at least not yet.

Cover from Inhumans trade paperback (2001).
Cover from Inhumans trade paperback (2001). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Most Wanted (Inhu)Man starts off pretty fast-paced. We meet back with Lincoln, who is being chased by a small military squadron. They pursue him through the woods until he escapes after creating a blinding wall of sparks via some steel towers. He continues throughout the episode in a similar fashion, having to give the slip from the ATCU using his powers. Eventually, he seeks refuge with his old friend, John, but he ends up turning Lincoln in after seeing a news report falsely exposing him as a fugitive. Though it was a bit silly (and cliché) to do the “close confident sees news report about friend and freaks out without trying to get explanation” route. However, the fact that Roebuck’s character actually died from his heart attack, despite Lincoln trying to use his powers as a defibrillator – and that Lincoln didn’t redeem himself to his friend or anyone else by saving him – was effective.

 Superpowers should theoretically make a person more interesting, but the Inhuman characters on Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. are the blandest members of the cast. The writers of this series have struggled to give Chloe Bennet a character that brings out the charisma she shows in her public appearances, and while Skye/Daisy has gone through a significant transformation, it’s not one that highlights Bennet’s natural charm.  Right now, Daisy’s entire life is dedicated to S.H.I.E.L.D. and rescuing Inhumans, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a glimpse of what she does outside of work. What is her personal life like? Does she wish she could just be a regular woman in her early ’20s, trying to find her way in the world without alien powers and government organizations at her back? Now that she has control over her superpowers, does she ever have any fun with them?
While Daisy attempts to convince Lincoln to come along, Coulson meets with Rosalind Price. He’s attempting to find the reason her task force is hunting inhumans, particularly Lincoln. While her response is inconclusive, Coulson’s focus shifts when he informs her that he’s aware she knows about Daisy, who happens to also be on her hit list. Realizing neither side will get anywhere if they keep attacking each other, instead of focusing on the bigger struggle at hand, Coulson suggests a temporary partnership with Price.Lance Hunter
May finally decides to team up with Hunter in their mutual pursuit of Grant Ward. They make their way to Boston to meet with an old friend of Hunter’s who is in league with a mysterious arms dealer, suspected to be the new Hydra. It was a lot of fun seeing Hunter and May teamed up and on their own, trying to get Hunter infiltrated with Hydra. As a big Spartacus fan, I loved seeing Dan Feuerriegel as Hunter’s kinda/sorta buddy, “Spud”, they needed to cozy up to in order to get close to Hydra – a comic highlight of both the episode and the show in general was when Hunter and Spud got drunk and their slurred, thick accented dialogue – that May was struggling with – was subtitled. After a few rousing rounds of lager, Hunter agrees to fight his way up the pecking order…literally.  It’s a painful episode for Hunter, but it’s a great one for Nick Blood, who gets to goof off when he’s not being beaten to a bloody pulp.  Blood plays up the comedy even when Hunter’s getting pummeled, giving the character an endearing scrappiness as he fights a much larger, stronger opponent. May also finds herself in an uneven fight against three imposing men, but she’s far from scrappy. She’s ruthless as she quickly takes out her three would-be attackers, and gets the best line of the night as she walks away from the fallen bodies:
“How about I do you a favor and not tell anyone that a tiny little Asian woman kicked your ass.” 
Somehow managing to withstand a pretty hefty beating, he finally decides to go by Hydra’s rules to play as dirty as possible, pulls out his knuckle dusters, and reigns in his victory. Barely able to keep himself upright, he’s taken to finally face the man he set out to kill.
When Bobbi finds Simmons still analyzing the fragments of the Monolith, she tries telling her its been completely disabled and she has nothing to fear anymore. Much to Bobbi’s surprise, Simmons tells her she’s not afraid of being sent back, but for some reason, actually needs to go back.
Meanwhile, despite their differences, we got some more amusing banter between Coulson and Rosalind (them I feel chemistry between) and her “eyes up here!” as he eyeballed her car was a very funny bit.

OK, bit of a mixed bag this week as the impressive season opener did not really carry through in my opinion into week two.  While there was still quite a bit going on in this episode, the team was somewhat fractured dealing with all of the different responsibilities and goals that they needed to address. The first and perhaps most important was a straight continuation from last weeks attack on the Monolith by Fitz. Stopped by the rest of the group just before the Monolith decides to try and eat him, they realize that wherever it has taken Simmons, it has not just destroyed her as there is some dust left on Fitz’s face from a different planet. Coulson realizing that there is now some hope of recovering her has everyone get on deck to solve the problem of her disappearance.

Invoking the assistance of the Asgardian we’ve seen earlier – Dr. Randolph – who has been around for thousands of years and does not want to be sent back to Asgard. As such he has hunted high and low for all portals and should have information that they could use.  Once they find him, they determine that the Monolith was at one point in an English castle. It seems that over the ages people have discovered and analyzed this monolith to try and determine how it works and what it does and over the course of centuries some scientists have managed to create a way to activate the Monolith on demand (which in my opinion is quite impressive for individuals from the Renaissance/Medieval era!).

Fitz realizes immediately what they’ve discovered and they have Mac bring the Monolith to them so that they can try to rescue Simmons. Utilizing the tech from the middle ages Daisy (I’m going to have trouble with this name change and while I realize and can understand her justification for doing it and even applaud her for embracing her past, I’ve gotten used to Skye and I know her.  Daisy – well she’s still a bit of an unknown to me and someone I’m not as comfortable with) is able to open the Monolith by vibrating it at a certain frequency, although this obviously causes her quite a bit of pain.  While their initial intent is to send a probe through to see if they can find any sign of Simmons, Fitz decides to take the bull by the horns and leaps through the portal onto the  surface of another planet and in the middle of what looks to be a vicious sandstorm.  Struggling through the vicious storm, Fitz manages to locate Simmons and while at times he looks like he will lose his grip on her, they are able to make it back through the portal before it is destroyed due to the interference and effects of Daisy’s powers.  Yay!!!  Fitz and Simmons are back together!!

Now it must be stated that this is idiotic and while I understand that Fitz would do anything for Simmons he’d also check and see if there was breathable atmosphere wouldn’t he?!  He is a (brilliant) scientist & while he might be (is) still a bit messed up because of what Ward did, and while I’d agree and admit he’s conflicted, I didn’t like this at all!  I suspect the sandstorm/windstorm that he was subjected to on the other side was due to the portal being kept open and it effects on the local environment, but I would have expected to see some blowback on the Earth side of that gate which didn’t occur.

While all all of this is going on we finally have the reappearance of Ward and Hydra. Ward has transformed the organization into one that is significantly more violent and deadly than anything we have seen before and the members of this resurgent force seem willing to risk and do anything for his pleasure and approval. When he takes his forces and captures a playboy dilettante off of a yacht in the Mediterranean for the stated intention of obtaining his funds, it seems a little bit Micky Mouse, but this playboy is absolutely not what he seems.  As the son of the previous leader of Hydra, he’s not afraid of getting his hands dirty himself and quickly defeats Wards designated lieutenant – exactly as Ward had intended.  Ward wanted to see what he was made off and whether or not he would work with him in restoring Hydra and he’s gotten the answer he was looking for.

So as mentioned stuff has happened however we haven’t seen the reappearance of Lash – seemingly unstoppable based on what we saw last week or the team that Coulson was tangling with.  There is a very brief mention of secret warriors by May’s husband in a seemingly off the cuff remark and with all the other rumours out there, this is bound to come to fruition fairly soon.  May herself makes a very brief appearance as the perfect daughter which by itself is almost enough to make you shake your head in disbelief!

Simmons, even though she has now returned I’m sure there has to be some impact of her travels on the other side of the Monolith (PTSD is I’m sure the smallest part of it and it would be quite interesting to see her transform in some way also due to her exposure or something like that).  In all honesty the whole destruction of the Monolith itself was somewhat anti-climactic as it didn’t really do anything. Well I’m glad to see Ward back on our screens I’m actually starting to get a little bit frightened of him as he always seems to be multiple steps ahead of everyone else and this capability could lead to him becoming something quite horrifying in the future. May and Hunter are going to try and hunt him down, but the Ward that we’re seeing now – well my prediction is that, he’s not someone they will have an easy time with!

I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and their inability to show people with powers. While season one and two had a dearth of special-effects this season already has kicked off with a bang.  Of course effects by themselves generally aren’t enough you also need to have the underlying story to tie everything together and while it’s perhaps a bit early in the year to comment on the overall story arc currently my hopes are quite high.

If you recall at the end of last season the Terrigen mist had been put into the earths ecosystem when it fell into the ocean. The effects of that are now being felt with multiple people with powers popping up all over the world. Our story actually starts with someone that seems to have an ability to melt metal and while he is initially being hunted by an unnamed group of soldiers Skye or as she now calls herself Daisy come to his rescue and with Mac they transport him into the new bus.  This new vehicle seems to be a scaled up Quinjet so I assume it also has similar cloaking capabilities too.

When our gang try to track down the people that seemingly are hunting down Inhumans around the land they discover that the leader of the group has had a host of different governmental responsibilities all around the world. Coulson and the Scooby gang come up with a plan to capture her or at least confront her, however she’s able to flip that’s on its head fairly quickly and easily demonstrating that she is absolutely more than what she seems.  While their initial conversation fences around why each of them are there, they quickly come to the realization that the people that are killing the Inhumans must be somebody else and perhaps they should be on the same side.  However, before they join teams both of them receive an alarm informing them of another attack in progress.

While this is going on Daisy continues to try and speak to the metal melting guy and persuade him of who and what they are and the fact that they are the good guys but she quickly comes to the realization that the best person for this job is actually Lincoln. As her own trainer and person that integrated her into the Inhuman society he is absolutely more skilled at this sort of action than she is and while they have previously tried to bring him on board he had rejected them initially.  When Daisy and Mac appear at the hospital where Lincoln is working they try to persuade him once again to join up with them however they are here confronted by another powered character that quickly attacks them.  Lash (who has appeared in the Inhuman comic books) is seemingly the killer of all of the people. His power seems capable of absorbing the powers of other Inhumans.  When both Lincoln and Daisy attack him, he is momentarily stopped but is able to to overcome this and continues to confront them. He seems to have no restrictions on his abilities as Mac even pumped a full clip into him and was unable to put him down.  He was only defeated when Daisy managed to knock out the floor under his feet.

Fitz meanwhile continues his search for a solution to Simmons disappearance and while he seems to make some progress, unfortunately it is nothing more than a red herring and he is persuaded by Coulson to “let it go”.

Overall a really good first episode and one that I enjoyed thoroughly. The fact that Colson is managing with an artificial hand while still searching for a cure for his existing hand, the whole change in leadership in tone of the organization where people are filling in slots of others that have been lost. Mac for example seeming to really own the relationship with the powers and Bobbi taking over for Simmons now that she’s disappeared very very good. The new director or leader of the alternative agency seems a little bit to well-informed however which is a bit annoying and while HYDRA and grant ward have yet to make their appearance I’m sure they too will soon show up.

However perhaps the best and in and best portrayed part of the show for me is the character Lash itself.  In the comics he was primarily responsible for culling those Inhumans that he judged unsuitable for the powers they wielded – basically he acted as the judge, jury and executioner and while you’d definitely question his criteria as he seems to have included Lincoln and Daisy on this list, he seems to be fulfilling similar a objective here and at the current time it looks like there isn’t too much that can stop him.