Our episode starts with a couple making dinner and chatting about their day, until one of them begins hovering above the kitchen floor, that is. It is here that Alicia, one of the Inhumans who had a brief part to play in the previous season, breaks onto the scene and lets the couple, revealed to be Inhumans themselves, know that the Terrigen Mists have been released. Before the trio can figure out what their next move will be, Lash breaks into the apartment and promptly kills the couple and severely injures Alicia along the way. While the inclusion of Alicia this episode seemed kind of out of nowhere, Lash was in great form as he proved to be an Inhuman mix of the Terminator and Jaws, seemingly unstoppable as he tore through anyone in front of him.
Before we delve into the plot of this episode further, I think that this latest installment is a great example of how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has turned itself around from its first season. Here we have multiple plotlines weaved by multiple characters that have cut most of the fat from all the proceedings, with few wheels being spun along the way. The stories are fast, furious, and somewhat unpredictable as I was fully expecting the Hunter and May storyline to take up the better part of the season for them, but their undercover mission into Hydra was wrapped up with a nice little bow. Perhaps the showrunners took into consideration how other comic book shows on the air were handling their plotlines, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been moving in the right direction to keep butts in seats.
The continued relationship between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the ATCU is another welcome change. Rather than giving Rosalind and crew the roles of antagonist, they’re presented more as anti-heroes with Coulson making the hard, but legitimately smart choice, in working with them, while also keeping one eye open. Coulson and Rosalind continue to be a delight to watch on screen, with their banter being one of the major highlights of the episode. At one point, when Lash’s lackey is found, there’s a hilarious scene where Coulson mentions that his new hand happens to have a “laser finger”, and Rosalind questions the validity of that statement, to which Phil responds, “That’s classified”. Clark Gregg has always, arguably, been the main selling point of the series, and giving him a foil to show off his wit and charm is the best place for Coulson to be. It’s what made him such a great character in The Avengers, and continues to be the case here.
On the other front, May realizes that Hunter may be in over his head in trying to integrate into Ward’s new Hydra. I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews of the series, but Agent Ward continues to be the best villain the show may ever produce, thanks in part to Brett Dalton’s portrayal and just where the stories have led him to this point. While his more insane moments in Season 2 may have been something of a stumble, having him as the dark reflection to Coulson’s new organization is a nice place for Ward. Hunter and May, after making headway into Hydra’s inner circle, manage to come face to face with Ward and everything goes to pot. This set up, to me, one of the most tense moments that the series has portrayed to date, with Ward showing May a live feed of his goons stalking May’s ex-husband, Professor Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood). We’re given a nice cliffhanger ending to this subplot as Andrew may or may not actually be dead following the explosion of the convenience store he was attacked in, but if you follow comics, you know this is a pretty standard swerve so don’t fret just yet for May’s ex.
Fitz and Simmons took up Subplot C, with arguably the weakest outing of the evening. I felt that too much time was dedicated to tiptoeing around Simmons, and not enough time feeding the audience new information. Granted, their final moments of the latest installment promise for some revelations coming shortly, it just seemed like something that could have been more relegated to the sidelines this time around. Bobbi also continues to…exist, though again, it’s a weakness of having such a large cast in that sometimes characters just don’t get the spotlight. Hopefully, with the upcoming spinoff of Marvel’s Most Wanted, the show can get leaner and meaner.
Swinging back around to Lash, his final display of power in killing his IT crony also gave us his first line of dialogue, listed below, and did a great job of cementing him even further as a serious threat to the team. Lash has quite a strange design in general with the spikes and the wild tendrils, but the show manages to create a good balance of shadows and reveals for the character to make him loom large. The mystery of “Who is Lash?” hopefully won’t be dragged out too long, but considering the current season’s track record, I wouldn’t expect it to be. Honestly, could he even be someone we already know?
Another very solid episode from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season this time around. It’s still a little rough around the edges at times with its almost unruly cast and plotlines, but it’s getting a better handle on how to integrate everything into a nice little package. If you’ve been reading these reviews and not watching the show, I would honestly say it’s time to jump on the “Bus”.
Grade: ★★★★ Very Good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– Before learning that a.) Lash had a flunky who was computer literate and b.) Lash could transform into a normal human body, I chuckled pretty hard at the idea of Lash sitting at a computer screen, typing out all these emails to other Inhumans, spikes and all.
– Throughout the show’s history, there’s been a lot of speculation as to whether Ward is actually the Marvel villain, Taskmaster. While it would be cool to see him wearing a white skull mask in the future, I don’t buy it. I think Agent Ward needs to be “his own man”, plus I really want to see Taskmaster in one of the movies proper.
– Next week’s episode promises to explore Simmons’ time on the alien world. Any last guesses as to where she was? Kree homeworld?
– How many people actually make up the “new” S.H.I.E.L.D.? Outside of our core team, sometimes you’ll see a random scientist or field agent walking in the background but it doesn’t give you a great sense of how much Coulson’s organization has expanded in these past seasons. Are we talking dozens? Hundreds? What do you all think?
– “We have to go back.” Jack…I mean Simmons
– Mac – “I was going to say make little baby sharks, but Jaws came out probably 20 years before you were born.”
– Bobbi – “Where I come from, blue is for recycle.”
– Ward – “It’s level 7. I’m just messing with you.”
– May – “No tie?” Coulson – “Still practicing.”
– Coulson – “Be careful, it’s got laser finger.”
– Lash – “I’m not merciful, I’m necessary.”