Thursday, November 19, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3x08 "Many Heads, One Tale" (Tell Me Your Secrets) [Contributor: Alice Walker]

"Many Heads, One Tail"
Original Airdate: November 17, 2015

We are almost a third of the way through this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., rapidly approaching the mid-season finale, putting the show on the bench for a full ten weeks while Agent Carter steps back in. Expectations are high for the mid-season finale, of course, as the breaks in both seasons one and two were the creative high points of the series — the former ushering in the Winter Soldier twist and the latter seeing Skye and Raina becoming Inhuman. Things are now moving fast, and the show's marketing campaigns were not misleading: it's all connected.

Let's back up and start where we left: Agent Coulson and the duplicitous Rosalind Pike. Turns out this isn't Coulson's first rodeo in the sexy spy game (anyone else feeling a Coulson prequel? A Dangerous History Major? I would watch that origin story) and Rosalind's private tour of their base doubles as a cover for Project Spotlight (they really need to start naming all of their missions, because it's just way cooler that way). After Mack approaches Coulson, concerned that his head's not on straight (or that he has lost his mind), Coulson rallies the troops and instructs them on how to infiltrate the ATCU — turning over every rock until they find out what they are really about.

He presses Rosalind for more information on her relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. but at every point possible, she obfuscates and dances — avoiding his question and sidestepping anything that would link her to a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. When his team updates him on their findings at the ATCU, Coulson locks her in a containment pod and tries to force the truth out of her. She is HYDRA. Because who else besides a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent would have given her that tantalizing Tahiti line she dropped when we first met her?

Even though his distrust and reticence is something you'd expect from the leader of a major spy organization, I was downright relieved when Coulson laid down his cards. The man's major flaw (though it's often played as strength) is his tendency to be blinded by emotion, and his over-investment in people (see: almost getting all of his top agents killed in an effort to save one presumed-dead agent). Rosalind's accusations of him being an "emotional robot" fall flat; first because he was right, but mostly because Coulson is the most emotional, all of the time. When he tells her they know that the ATCU is forcing all employees to go through terriginesis and intentionally creating Inhumans. her shock is palpable and she quickly gives up Malick as her boss, and the one with the Tahiti intel.

Malick has been playing the long game and, after Ward proves himself worthy of every evil villain award, he gives him his own history lesson. HYDRA extends far beyond Red Skull, and is way older than World War II. The organization was actually founded many centuries ago and worshiped Inhumans, using the monolith to send sacrifices to the alien planet. They were behind Will's Project Distant Star. And now, Malick wants Wards help untangling how they managed to bring someone back. Doesn't he know the answer is science, biotch?

Meanwhile Fitz and Simmons got down to some REAL TALK: Simmons is upset with Fitz for being "too nice" (which, I get, but come on lady) and Fitz summarized their many failed starts, declares them cursed, then pulls her in for a tortured, long-awaited smoochfest. I'd say they are more emotionally stunted and/or damaged than cursed but it's a nice moment. And major props to the show's writers for finally addressing what the peanut gallery (and episode recappers) have been bemoaning for years now. However, even though I know it's doomed, I am still waiting for Will's return. He and Simmons' chemistry was just too good and — God help me — I'm still rooting for them. Oh, and Lincoln and Daisy had the most awkward conversation ever about if they would maybe, possibly kiss again. Yawn.

Highlights and lowlights

  • Hunter's ultra-British turbo hipster get-up as Bane was perfect, and is every disillusioned tech guy everywhere.
  • Why did the telekinetic Inhuman chose to fight Bobbi with poles, when he could have easily floated any gun or knife around to kill her? It was a cool fight scene, but made zero sense.
  • Coulson calling the base home, though. S.H.I.E.L.D. really is his whole life and I cannot decide if his dedication is admirable or tragic.
  • Who were all of those other people gathered in the briefing? I know there is more to S.H.I.E.L.D. then just our agents but every time a random one pops up I think: "They don't even go here!"
  • Ward's beginning fight scene was impressive (he is basically a super soldier at this point) but crashing a plane felt rather out of place, in our current news landscape.
  • Anyone else hoping Rosalind is still playing Couslon? I'd hate to see her get declawed after such a tantalizing begining.
  • No S.H.I.E.L.D. next week as we all sit back and reflect on what we're thankful for. My list currently includes Mack in a tank top, and Bobbi roundhouse-kicking thugs into oblivion. See you in December!


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