Following last week’s revelation on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that Dr. Garner is in fact the newest Inhuman antagonist, Lash, we started “Chaos Theory” with a look into the less chaotic lives of May and Andrew six months in the past in Maui. The two discuss their future with one another, wondering whether or not S.H.I.E.L.D. is something that they want to stick with moving forward. Here we are also given a view into how Andrew actually becomes an Inhuman monster, which works well in tying with the events of last season. Thanks to Daisy’s mother, Andrew encounters the terrigen mists while investigating one of her remaining books, and trying to decipher mysteries about the Inhumans themselves. It’s a pretty nifty idea employed here, having Andrew affected by the sins of the past, contaminated not only by the evil side of the Inhumans, but also the mistakes of S.H.I.E.L.D. Blair Underwood has always been a fantastic side character to the series, and his change to the role of villain plays well in this episode.
Coulson, meanwhile, is called to a meeting with the ATCU to discuss the future of “enhanced people,” with the U.S. government as a consultant. Phil’s relationship with the ATCU, along with Rosalind, has been a strong plot point this season, putting Coulson into a logical and compelling place. Unfortunately, while Phil’s character has been strong, the episode still reflects one of the weaknesses of the series in that sometimes it just doesn’t have the ability to juggle all the moving pieces it has going at any given time. This is best exemplified by the resurgence of Joey. “Whatever happened to Joey?” you may be asking yourself. Well apparently he’s been training off-screen this whole time with Daisy, which is something that I think the audience really would have benefited from seeing, especially when he starts busting out the new ability to actually create new matter rather than destroying it.
A big part of this season, and the series moving forward, is the Inhumans, and Daisy’s attempt to recruit them into her “Secret Warriors.” This would honestly be the best time for the writers and showrunners to take stock of what they currently have, and start trimming down the number of plotlines and characters that are appearing at any given time. Telling, not showing, doesn’t work for such a key component of the plotline, and while we’ve been given looks into the lives of Daisy, Lincoln, and the rest of the Inhuman ilk, Joey had a somewhat interesting start only to be brushed to the sidelines. We have so many characters, both heroic and villainous, that it can sometimes be a tad difficult to keep everyone’s motivations straight, especially when you’re throwing in twists for individual characters on top of everything else. The right balance of screen time is a problem the series suffered during its second season, and I hope it doesn’t fall into that trap once again.
Back to the plot, Garner is currently talking with Joey, and in the most surprising moment of the episode, Lash emerges and murders Joey … or so we think. Yes, it turns out to be a daydream of Andrew’s, but the threat was still very real. May enters, after listening to the last words of Von Strucker confirming that Dr. Garner is Lash, and confronts Andrew, only to be greeted by some shots to the chest with an Icer, knocking her unconscious. May wakes up to find herself handcuffed to a large radiator in an abandoned building, as Andrew explains how he came to be the monster that he now is. This season’s strengths are in its relationships, and the fundamental destruction of May’s and Andrew’s is a heart-wrenching one. There’s even a quick scene at the end of the episode with May, in the past, informing Andrew that she never thought she deserved to be happy that pulls on the heart strings even more. It’s a fantastic payoff to an interesting relationship between the two that was never cut-and-dry.
When all of the Agents eventually converge to rescue May and face-off with Lash, we’re given a scene that helps the series really standout among current superhero shows. Both Daisy and Lincoln put their powers on display, with Lincoln shooting a lightshow at Lash, and Daisy saving Rosalind from a near plunge to her death. Even Coulson manages to get in on the action as he grabs Lash’s arm before delivering a killing blow to Mac. It’s a well-choreographed and power-heavy display on all ends, just going to show how different the series has become from its more humble beginnings, where you were lucky to see someone using powers once every five episodes or so. To be honest, I’m not exactly thrilled at Lash’s reasoning behind wanting to murder Inhumans as “the mists made him crazy” but I suppose it will have to do.
Ultimately, I think there was a lot to like in this episode, but there were also stumbles along the way. There were some powerful moments, but also moments that could have been more than they were. A good addition to the season, but not a great one.
Rating: ★★★ Good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– Sigh. More “will they, won’t they, they probably won’t, but MAYBE!” from the side of Fitz and Simmons. Though one of the biggest revelations that many may have missed is the identity of yet another mysterious organization (because Lord knows the show doesn’t have enough of those already) in the form of the Pantheon, which you can see written on Will the astronaut’s arm patch.
– The Pantheon is a group of super powered individuals who were sometimes sidekicks, sometimes villains to the Incredible Hulk … sort of. They appeared during a time when the Hulk was actually smart back in the 90s. They’re … weird and it would take a pretty long time to explain who they are. In the comics, they didn’t really have a background with any sort of Monolith, and it’s not necessarily confirmed that this is the same organization, but from the evidence, it very well could be.
– And the award for the most groan-worthy origin of a super villain name goes to Dr. Garner, a.k.a Lash.
– Welp! Coulson and Rosalind finally sealed the deal. Good for them!
– Andrew – “What do you say? Want to go steady?”
– Hunter – “Heard about your Hydra pool party.”
– Rosalind – “For every Daisy Johnson, there’s a Lash.”
– Andrew – “I LASHED out.”
– Coulson – “That’s a pretty poor interpretation of a therapist.”
– Lash – “I am the cure.”
– Mac – “Really got to commit to that shotgun axe idea.”
– Coulson – “How did you know that wouldn’t kill him?”
May – “I didn’t.”