Check out Collider’s Agent of .S.H.I.E.L.D. video recap followed by Evan’s thoughts:
On the last season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye, Coulson and the rest of the Scooby gang were able to defeat the Inhuman forces of Jiaying, Mr. Hyde, and Hydra, while also combating a rogue squadron of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Ward, and the government. To say the least, there was a lot going on. Skye, having discovered her super power to shake things up, is now attempting to put together a group of newly made Inhumans to fight evil with super powers, rather than with gadgets and espionage. Coulson also lost a hand in the proceedings and Agent Simmons was dragged into another dimension as the final beat. Now that you’re caught up, let’s dive right into the first episode of Season 3.
Our episode begins right in the thick of things as Joey, a newly formed Inhuman, is accidentally creating a panic with his powers in the city. There’s a really neat establishing shot here where the audience is shown Joey’s apartment, a broken dried-up husk from which he emerged, and a trail of destruction leading downtown. It’s a nice visual to show the impact that even one of these Inhumans can cause in their wake, though to be fair, we have seen this sort of thing before. The parallels between Marvel’s Inhumans and Fox’s X-Men (for the films at least) is unavoidable here, but Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is able to incorporate their new race into the world that’s already been long established. I think that the show needs to do more to differentiate between the Inhumans and the X-Men here, even if their origins differ only slightly, but since the MCU is pigeonholing them into the mutants’ role, I doubt we’ll be seeing that until 2019 when the official Inhumans movie drops.
Skye, now fully going by her real name Daisy (much to Coulson’s chagrin), arrives on the scene to snatch Joey up, alongside agents Mack and Hunter. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may be faulted for any number of things, but willingness to change certainly isn’t one of them. Skye went from an unsure computer hacker in the first season to a confident agent in the second to a full-blown superhero in the third. It’s been a satisfying journey to see how far she’s come into her own, and the character has grown on me. Her mission of capturing Inhumans is laid bare here, especially with her long dialogue with Joey, or as I called him in this episode “Captain Exposition Dump”. To be fair, Joey does seem to have the trappings of an interesting character, insomuch as he’s not only a man who is now dealing with the outing of his superhuman abilities, he’s also gay and had to deal with the outings of his sexual orientation when he was growing up. That’s something that not much superhero media has delved into at this point in time, so hopefully S.H.I.E.L.D. can run with it.
Swinging back around to “Captain Exposition Dump”, the problem with having a long time jump between season, or episodes, is that it can sometimes be difficult to allow for the answers to come organically. Every mystery of what may have happened in the past six months since the Season Two finale is delivered with the subtlety of a brick wall, each character talking in lengths about where each other character is and what they are currently doing. I feel like there could have been a more tactful approach in terms of laying everything to bare, but it is what it is. Unlike Heroes Reborn, S.H.I.E.L.D. is keeping its mysteries to a minimum with only a few brief morsels for audiences to gab over at the water cooler the next day.
On the antagonist side of things, we’re presented with Rosalind and the “Advanced Threat Containment Unit” who have sworn to capture Inhumans to keep the public safe, and more importantly, unaware of the fact that the Terrigen Mists will be covering the world in a year and change. As I mentioned previously with the Inhuman/X-Men analogy, this is a road we’ve been down before. At least I can say that it’s not Hydra again….for the time being anyway. We’ve seen the Agents fight Hydra and fight a rogue faction of themselves and fight the government in the form of General Talbot, so presenting yet another new branch of the government needs to have a stronger hook if you want to reel audiences in. It feels played and lacks a sense of spark and originality that something like this needs if you’re going to present it as a warring faction to our heroes. We’re still right at the precipice though so who’s to say some big twist isn’t going to be revealed with regards to the A.T.C.U. down the line? Last season, S.H.I.E.L.D. fought shadowy organizations and Inhumans, and for all intents and purposes, it seems like this go around will be the same.
Also, we’re presented with Lash, a monstrous Inhuman who is killing others of his kind for reasons not yet known, though in the comics he has a big “survival of the fittest” motif. His design is OK, though I think it would have benefited from being a bit more encased in shadow to give it more of a looming appearance. The powers, especially when he’s on the scene, are out in full force, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is able to go toe to toe with CW’s The Flash here, which is pretty noteworthy, all things considered. Once Lash makes his brief appearance, the episode continues at a healthy clip and while all the boxes are checked, I was hoping that the series would go a little more toward the realm of the unknown in its premiere.
The star of the show had to be Agent Fitz. Traumatized following Simmons sudden disappearance thanks to the “Monolith” in the final seconds of last season, Fitz is travelling the world to find any hope of her still being alive. Dealing with shady criminals lead Fitz to one Hebrew word meaning “Death” which sends him off the deep end, grabbing a shotgun and blasting his way into the room housing the ancient stone. Pounding against it and sobbing with desperation, Iain De Caestecker gives one heck of a performance here. In the same vein as Skye, Fitz and Simmons have really surprised me in that in their early endeavors, I was never too interested in them, but they have really become fully fleshed out characters who you find yourself rooting for in a sea of characters and quips.
In summation, this premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season, for better or worse, is standard fare for the series, offering little in the way of full-blown surprises but presenting some decent character work and ideas along the way. I hope that the team can find themselves in new and unique situations to really set themselves apart from the glut of comic book shows that audiences have to choose from this year.
Grade: ★★★ Good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– Marvel Cinematic References galore as the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron are dropped numerously throughout the episode, with a nice Ant-Man drop to boot.
– Having the President of the U.S. be the same actor from Iron Man 3 was a nice touch and a subtle nod to S.H.I.E.L.D. being a part of a larger world without flat out name dropping.
– So where is Simmons you may ask? Well, she’s probably in one of two places, the Inhumans’ base on the “Blue Side of the Moon” or the Kree world of “Hala”. Considering the preview mentioned that she was across the galaxy, I’m going to bet on the latter.
– I have to ask at this point, but with all this Inhuman build up, it’s almost crazy to think that Black Bolt and his family are out there in the world and not doing anything. It’s especially ludicrous to think that we’re still four years away from any of them being revealed until their movie comes out. The Avengers may have been playing a long game with their mention at the end of the first Iron Man movie, but the Inhumans makes that seem like the blink of an eye.
Hunter – “Not like this day can get any crazier, right?”
Coulson – “I very much love my new toy.”
Mack – “Believe me, she’s the muscle.”
Fitz – “You can spill my guts in the sand and use my briefcase as a booster seat.”
Coulson – “Is this still cagey banter or are we being honest now?”
Mack – “I would need a shotgun…or my axe….or maybe a shotgun/axe combination of some sort.”