With three seasons of Agents of SHIELD nearly complete and a fourth one on the way–it was greenlit during the dark time on this blog–there seems to be only one constant: change.
Lincoln: Just needs a quick reboot.
And a quick reboot this has been. Moving Skye/Daisy/Quake/Tremors from the Good Guy team to the Bad Guy team has done wonders for the season, more than I could have anticipated. Her hanging out with Hive/Ward at the beginning of the episode was a surprising moment of pay off from those first early episodes I didn’t even know we needed, or that they could come back and work so well for the show later on. it’s brought the relationships of everyone on the team to the fore, from Coulson, having to accept that Daisy has betrayed them, to May, who demands he stop treating her differently than the rest of them. Mack only gets more protective of the others as those around him drop away like flies. And FitzSimmons cross the event horizon, because life is short, and they could run into Daisy or Hive any day and be killed.
Except when that happens (and boy howdy, does it happen), it turns out that Prince’s warning that we could all die any day is not to be–at least not today. And that’s partly because, for all that Hive is an addictive parasite making the Inhumans feel good for obeying his orders in a creep show display of power, they are still themselves deep down somewhere. And Daisy loves Fitz and Simmons. They were once her family. (There’s a *lot* of family issue stuff this week, including Lincoln’s beautifully jealous line about “the three of you can live as a small messed up family again” to May and Coulson.) Just because she’s got a new family doesn’t mean she doesn’t still care. And in a tour de force moment, Brett Dalton channeled Dillon Casey so well, for a moment I forgot Simmons wasn’t talking to Will. At least they got to say goodbye before she shot Ward at point-blank range like she always promised she would.
May: No one comes to me with their feelings
Mack: Yeah, that makes sense.
Part of why this reboot worked so well is that SHIELD works best when it plays on our feelings. And this week, everyone was shattered by Daisy’s betrayal. Couslon, May, Lincoln, Mack–everyone was desperate to prove she’s not really herself and she can be brought back. And with Chloe Bennet still top billed as part of the show, I suppose sooner or later she will be. But if I’m being honest, there’s a level where the show never truly got over the characters of “Skye” and “Ward” being the weakest links in those early episodes. They’ve rebooted them several times now, and each time they do the characters improve. This is the best iteration so far–with Daisy using her powers because she wants to, not because she’s trying to be a do-gooder force in the world. And that is far more interesting than she was only four episodes ago.
Also interesting–bringing back James. I was so disappointed the other week when he seemed to have been a one and done–I nearly whooped to see her arrive back at his South Dakota off-the-grid lair, and smash a Terrigen crystal at his feet. Give the drunken Australian powers, and let him loose–it only got better when it turned out those powers were fire based. And his search for a hip and cool moniker to befit his newly acquired abilities only made it better. I doubt he’ll last past the end of the season, but until then, let the show play him up all they can.
James: Now, I want your honest opinion on this. What do you think of the name “Inferno”? I like it, but I don’t love it. “Firestarter”? Well, feels a little 90s. And “Burning Man,” that would have been perfect if it wasn’t for some bloody desert hippie fest.
James wasn’t the only Inhuman resurrected. the show also brought back Alisha this week, and her cloning abilities–only to kill off two of them. (She only has four right? Do they grow back? I am concerned.) I may love Elena and Joey for the open diversity they bring to the show, but let’s face it–when it comes to characters you want to watch, the beginnings of this town Ward is planning on populating look to be far more interesting. As does his control over them, and his plans to basically form a secondary hub of Hive-ness. Though it felt at times that SHIELD and Hive’s targets were oh so accidentally the same for the entire hour, that he wound up with the good doctor and his transhuman experimentation is once again a far more interesting development than if said doctor had gone along with FitzSimmons.
My gods, FitzSimmons. It’s been three years, but it was worth it, wasn’t it shippers? How’s this for the best scientifically based romantic dialogue of the year:
Fitz: The crux of our relationship is like the singularity in transhumanism.
Simmons: Are you comparing us sleeping together to crossing the event horizon?
Damn skippy. And I love that they’re not fooling anyone either, with Mack snapping “Do you know how many times Bobbi and Hunter pulled the “my comms are broken” trick?” Bobbi and Hunter may be off to their own spin-off, but all that did was open up the “couples corner” slot for FitzSimmons to slide right into.
One final note on this week, and that was the ( we’re assuming temporary) destruction of Hydra as a threat. The show has its focus now, even if the Inhumans movie is pushed to the third decade of the 21st century, and Hydra is a relic of an earlier era of the show–when the bad guys were more simple, and easier to understand, with their maniacal laughs and their disclosing their evil plot in long spates of exposition that give the good guys time to get in position and save the day. How 20th century. Watching Talbot (who had basically disappeared until now) take out the entire network and cut off all the heads was a sight to behold–one a 1980s era SHIELD would have cheered for. Now it’s just a footnote of ridding themselves of fleas because the larger parasite invasion has begun.
Coulson: I thought it would be cool if the Director of SHIELD had a shield.
What does it say about Coulson that he chose to have a Captain America style shield built into his arm, when–as we saw this week–he could have an entire computer interface if he chose? But Coulson’s limitations and Captain America fanboy behavior has always been why we love him. Let’s hope that can help keep him alive, as next week, Hive continues to build his army, with only one week until the real Captain America hits theaters and potentially changes the ground beneath SHIELD’s feet.