I think that in general, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets a bad rap. I think that in its first season — those first 17 or so episodes — left a mark on the series that took time to heal, and some people never jumped back on the boat. If there was an episode that I think people should be shown to demonstrate what S.H.I.E.L.D. can be at it’s best, it’s this one. In this episode, all the characters are used to their best capabilities, the plot line is lean and mean, and the premise is interesting with events happening at a steady clip. If the season can stick to the ideas presented here in this latest installment, we’ll have some mighty fine television ahead of us.
Our episode begins with a homeless man named Charles in an alleyway, carving a tiny robin out of wood. He’s encountered by a grocery store owner who tries to give him some money for the night, which inadvertently activates Charles power: the ability to show the future to anyone he touches. In hysterics, Edwin the store owner calls 9-1-1 pleading for Daisy Johnson to show up to save him. Monitoring the emergency response system, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. travel to Edwin only for Hydra to attack and capture Charles after laying siege to the scene. Edwin is killed in the process and Charles is taken by Hyrda in what looks to be a giant “claw machine” extension to the Hydra craft (or at least that’s what it looked like to me). In the process, Charles shows Daisy her future, with visions of Coulson shooting her, a room full of baddies, and violence on a helipad.
Following their loss of Charles, the team regroups talk about the future Daisy had seen. In their discussions, they talk about the possibilities of time travel, Fitz and Simmons explain four dimensional physics, and Coulson and Lincoln have a full discussion about Terminator. It’s a fantastic little scene, putting a spotlight on the strength of all the characters while also throwing in a nice dash of humor. The show always fires on all cylinders when it finds the balance between action and humor, and this scene fits the bill to a tee. Ultimately, the team realizes that they’ll need to attempt to change the future even though that seems impossible by logically taking Daisy out of the equation, and doing everything different from Daisy’s vision.
Meanwhile, Malick and Hive make a visit to a company called Transix, somewhat responsible for the creation of Coulson’ motorized hand. It’s here that Hive presents Malick with the idea that even though he’s the “man who has everything,” he still has an insatiable desire for power, and the only way to quelch that is by acquiring an exo-skeleton and crushing a man’s head with his bare hands in a particularly gruesome scene. Brett Dalton’s take on Hive here continues to be fantastic, once again showing his range with a quiet horror, especially when he “eats” all the boardroom members with his Inhuman powers. Also, props to Boothe at actually selling the idea of slapping himself into an exo-suit and causing carnage throughout the episode.
Right as the Agents are ready to jump into action, May’s ex/now Inhuman Lash, Andrew, bursts into S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ and demands an audience with her. Realizing that Andrew is losing more of a grip on himself with Lash gaining more ground, the team believes this may be the last time for her to connect with her one time husband. This of course throws a monkey wrench into the original plan, which saw May training again and again in taking down her fellow agents in the future scenario told to them by Daisy. With little recourse, Daisy is sent on the mission instead of May and the team travels to Transix to confront Malick and hopefully save Charles.
The rest of the episode does a well-choreographed zig-zag between all the characters of the series, which would usually be a nightmare, but works surprisingly well here thanks to the quality of the writing. As Daisy attempts to change the future, she begins to realize that it is unfortunately set in stone, though it happens a tad differently in that she misinterpreted some of the events, such as Coulson shooting a one way mirror instead of herself. Lincoln encounters Malick’s telekinetic bodyguard and gets spanked by a levitating fire extinguisher, catching a glimpse of Hive in the process following the team’s discovery that he’s back in action from some surveillance footage.
In rapid succession for the remainder of the episode: May has one final heart-to-heart before Andrew becomes Lash forever, Coulson tries to coordinate what the team is doing, Fitz and Simmons finally just accept that they’re meant to be together in a really touching scene, and Daisy fights “Power Suit Malick” on top of the building. The latter event was shocking in that Malick ruthlessly beats Daisy, holding back no punches and spilling blood along the way. I think sometimes S.H.I.E.L.D. feels a bit too safe for its own good, so legitimately seeing a scene wherein you believe this might be the end for a major character does well in abandoning that feeling. Ultimately, Daisy is saved by Charles as he grabs hold of Malick and shows him the future, which apparently terrifies Gideon to his core, but Charles dies in the process. Daisy is once again shown her future though in the space station scene we saw in an earlier episode. The hour ends with Hive smiling at Hydra HQ and the team having to lick their wounds.
This episode is far and away the best of the season, managing to do some amazing stuff with the characters and not feel boring for a minute of screen time. Again, if S.H.I.E.L.D. can use this episode as a basis for its future, it would definitely be the best option for the series moving forward. An excellent installment to a series that still has some bite left in it.
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– For a second, at the beginning of the episode, I was holding out hope that Charles would be revealed to be “D-Man.” If you don’t know who D-Man is, check Wikipedia and have a good laugh.
– During the scene where Fitz and Simmons are basking in their new relationship, after waiting for SO LONG, I half expected a piece of shrapnel to impale one of them Firefly-style. Most likely, one of them will be the casualty in outer space though.
– Malick: “He is risen! Last time I saw you, you looked like an extra from Dawn of the Dead!”
– Coulson: “I don’t know if Fitz is right or if I understand him really.”
– Daisy: “You’re hurting my brain.”
– Lincoln: “I never saw the original Terminator.”
Coulson: “You’re off the team.”
– May: “I can’t cause earthquakes, but I’m faster than you.”
– Coulson: “Well at least this day can’t get any weirder.”
– Simmons: “Maybe some things are inevitable.”