Agents of SHIELD: “Chaos Theory”

Agents of SHIELD really has moved fast this season. We’ve gone from the ATCU as enemies to Coulson and Price as cute couple. Lash, the big scary of the season, is already neutralized, and we still have at least another month’s worth of episodes before the winter break. Once again, I’m surprised by how fast the show moved to wrap that up. I think even DC shows like Gotham would have stretched the Lash-as-beast with Melinda-as-Beauty-In-Distress for at least another week.

Garner: “Daisy’s mom kept records. I was going through them for any insight, for research. And I found a book, it had all these names of Inhumans. Now, Jiaying must have rigged it with a Terrigen crystal to keep out anyone who couldn’t survive the mist. Lucky me.”

Still, as far as emotionally moving episodes, this one was far closer to “4,722 Hours” than last week. It helped that the show cut down on the weakest link areas of the current plot lines–the “chasing fruitlessly after Ward” stuff. Look, we may be speeding through plot points right and left, throwing away Werner van Strucker into a coma like so much tissue paper, having Simmons back like she’d only been overseas instead of overspace, reintegrating the injured at remarkable healing rates. But everyone knows Ward is going to be just fine, no matter how many hails of gunfire fly his way. (Just like we all know that whatever his plan is to take down Coulson will result in Coulson being just fine.) It takes the oomph out of Hydra, even if that has the catalyst to move Lash’s story forward twice. It’s very nice that Hydra has done supporting work on a more interesting tale. But Hydra is suppose to be a real threat. It would be nice if could stand on its own as well.

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Speaking of real threats–well, we’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s deal with the magical object that is Simmons’ phone.

Simmons: Do you remember when we first met? I do. You were so quiet and pasty. So incredibly smart. Handsome. Quite a strange feeling, isn’t it? Never wanting to be without someone. You must’ve been so annoyed me following you around all the time.

We saw Simmons take her phone apart and basically hack it to bits in order to chase the portal with Will, correct? I was there, you were there, Simmons said her phone was toast, we saw her phone become toast. And yet, here was her phone, perfectly fine, just with a little SIM card damage. (We’ve all been there Simmons, even those of us who stayed planet side.) Also, we should note that the SIM card damage happened *before* she and Will got together and yet there was a selfie taken afterwards? (Yeah, I know. Drop it.) I’m not really complaining though. Putting Simmons phone together meant restoring all those audio clips and video recordings Simmons made for Fitz over the months she was away. And that meant we got to see Iain De Caestecker have some magical work, reacting to them. Did you cry as Simmons fantasized about a cottage in Scotland she saw as a girl, perfect for her and Fitz to escape to? Not just for the hope in her voice and the tears in his eyes, but with the knowledge that Will now stands in the way of that. Fitz won’t forget that either. That moment as she watched the sunrise was, as Hunter would have put it “the perfect opportunity to make the move.” And Fitz declined. For right now, let’s just watch the sunrise.

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One good thing about the speed of the episode–by the winter break I fully expect we’ll have Will back planet side as well, and will be on our way to figuring out exactly what the heck was going on at NASA in 2000. We know we saw Fitz google searched Will. (I wish we’d gotten a better shot of the screen, and more info.) How exactly did Will wind up in the not-actually-NASA program?

Lincoln: Lash is in S.H.I.E.L.D. and with your help I can prove it.

As for Lash, which was the main plot of the episode, this was a bit of your standard “the enemy is in the ranks” trope, but it was really well-played. I joked above about May as Damsel in Distress, but you have to admit, that was the trope. The difference is that Ming-Na Wen is such a bad ass that it didn’t really feel like it, even when she was talking him down and turning him back into a man from a beast with memories of how much he loved her. Because of course, then she slammed about five bullets in his chest (five rounds, rapid), and with a kick to the breastbone, knocked him into the containment unit. I don’t know about you, but I think Disney would be better off if more princesses behaved that way. It makes the scene where cries as the sunrises and she remembers how for a moment she though she could have happiness and a Disney ending all the more bittersweet to see. How many princesses have to chose to box up their princes, like a wayward cylon?

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Lash’s containment also gave the show a third time to bring Lincoln in tot he fold, an openly talk about some of the plot points from last season that the show really shouldn’t leave behind. Even though it turns out he’s not all that good at following orders, third time seems to be the charm in keeping him with SHIELD. Between him and Joey from the premiere episode, who proudly announced he’d gotten the hang of his powers, it looks like Daisy’s “Secret Warriors” might be ready to bring on a couple of founding members. And though her hatred of the ATCU has been a factor the entire time, Daisy still used those powers of her to save Rosalind’s life. One might even have though that seeing that the powers can be used for good might have changed the head of the ATCU’s mind…

Daisy: Just admit it, you’re afraid of people like me. Afraid of our power.
Rosalind: Absolutely.

Except…let’s return to that speaking of real threats bit. I was just thinking as the episode rounded into the conclusion bumper that the episode was so much better for not having Ward. Except then, there he was, hanging with Gideon Malick, and whining on about taking out Phil Coulson. (Hi Powers Boothe!) But in case you thought this was getting tiresome, Malick’s phone rang, and at the other end? Ms Rosalind Price, who was just getting dressed after spending the night with Coulson. Turns out that aborted “trip to see the president” wasn’t actually seeing the President after all.  And Hydra is always the real enemy, no matter what they’re calling themselves this week.

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Next week–things will continue to move fast, as Coulson, who literally only just started sleeping with Rosalind this episode will realize she’s just another Hydra agent trying to kill him. Also, the ATCU isn’t really working on a cure. (Oh really? Never would have guessed!)

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