Confession: I forgot this was going to be on last night. Luckily, my DVR always remembers.
But the fact that I forgot that it was one says something about my level of excitement to have the show back. It’s my favorite of the superhero shows on regular television but it can often be emotionally distant. Its best episode, this season’s showcase of Simmons exiled on the alien planet, focused squarely on one person. Perhaps that’s the problem: my attention is diffused.
Another issue: the winter finale on December 8th wrapped up quite a few lingering plot issues. Coulson killed Ward, the hole to the other universe closed, Andrew’s hidden identity was revealed and then set free, and Bobbi finally overcame her trauma from Ward’s torture.
This episode begins in a way I’ve come to hate, one of those flash forwards of “three months from now” with a space vehicle, seemingly abandoned, falling back to Earth. The vehicle has a few objects in it that might belong to our heroes but, you know, I’m not going to speculate. I’m throwing up my arms at this whole tactic lately of every television show jumping forward so we can guess.
It’s a cheap narrative trick and I’m tired of having my chain yanked.
Instead, let’s focus on the rest of the episodes, which first picks up the plot thread of how S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to relate to the government now that ATCU is leaderless. Coulson’s meeting with the President in Rosalind’s home (still complete with bloodstains!) felt odd as if Coulson was the one in charge and not the President. I’d thought Phil Coulson as we knew would give more deference to the head of U.S. government but that might be the point: Coulson has grown more cynical about all governments. At least, he’s earned the president’s trust enough to be told S.H.I.E.L.D is unofficially sanctioned (plausible deniability) and the president pledges the new head of ATCU will report to Coulson.
Since that new head is revealed to be Glenn Talbot, I’m not sure how well that will work out. But I like the addition of Talbot, even if it makes for yet another character that receives screentime.
Still, the real action this episode centered around Daisy’s new team of Secret Avengers, er, secret S.H.I.E.L.D. Inhuman strike team. This time, they investigate the theft of a truckload of arms in Colombia stolen by an invisible person. Turns out, she’s not so much invisible as she is super-fast. Her trick: she can travel at super-speed in between heartbeats and when that’s done, she snaps back. That’s a nice limit on a power that could make a person invincible. Hence, Elena Rodriguez will be henceforth be known as Slingshot.
Elena’s scenes with Mack, after she takes him prisoner, are the best of the episode, especially since it leads to a discussion of Elena’s powers as a gift from God, even though Mack doesn’t speech Spanish and Elena doesn’t speak English, they understand well enough. Nice twist on the reaction to getting Inhuman abilities, as everyone we’ve seen thus far save Lincoln believes the powers are a curse. (Even Lincoln started to believe that.) Elena’s character is fully formed: she’s comfortable with her powers and knows what she wants to do with them. Good, because I’ve had enough of people hating themselves for not being fully human.
Also, I love Mack, he’s so nonchalant about stuff like being handcuffed to a toilet and dealing with super-powered people. He’s even-keeled and rarely loses his temper and violence is never his first reaction.
Elena is, of course, on the side of good, having hijacked the weapons shipment in order to destroy it. Bobbi and Hunter find this out the hard way when they’re knocked out by an Inhuman with some sort of eye power that paralyzes. Killer Eyes and Slingshot may have comic versions but since I haven’t read Secret Avengers, I’m unfamiliar with them, and can’t comment on if they’re better or worse.
Also getting screen time is Daisy’s new operative, Joey, the metal bender we met in the pilot. That’s some team she has, with her quake powers, Lincoln’s electricity, Joey’s metal bending, and a speedster to call on. My guess: it’s going to take all of them to defeat what’s possessing Ward. They certainly make short work of those who’ve kidnapped Bobbi and Hunter, though Killer Eyes takes down Slingshot temporarily. Unfortunately, they lose the villain to a Hydra retrieval net.
Back at Hydra, the plot focuses on what’s possessing Ward. Word is that this is a Marvel villain called “Hive” but so far, NotWard doesn’t seem too dangerous, only weak and hungry. Gideon is skeptical of his value but we’ll see. Hive certainly likes his meat raw.
In the last subplot, Fitz and Simmons are distant but polite with each other, as Fitz feels guilty about killing Will. Though that wasn’t Will, it was the Hive thing. By the end of the episode, they make up and decide to start with a clean slate. Hey, show, I love these two kids and want them to be together but you’re overdoing it with the melodrama and dragging it out too long.
Meantime, Coulson, out for revenge against Gideon, uses the memory extraction torture machine on the comatose Kid Strucker to find some dirt on Gideon. He does, the info is released to the press, and Gideon’s company stock drops. A good first move, I suppose. Later, over drinks, Coulson grieves with May, not just over Rosalind’s death but his killing of Ward in revenge. “You’ve joined the calvary,” May notes, with just the right amount of sadness in her voice.
That was my favorite scene of the night. Aha, that’s what this show needs: More Agent May.