Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3x17/3x18 Review: “The Team” & "The Singularity" (Everyone Looks Guilty If You Look At Them Long Enough) [Contributor: Alice Walker]

“The Team”
Original Airdate: April 19, 2016

Ladies and gentle-readers, it finally happened. The sun rose in the East, and set in the West. The seas went dry and mountains blew in the wind like leaves. Lincoln finally had a compelling episode arc, and (god help me) for just a moment, I liked him. How did this happen? How did this bland, plain-yogurt of a man actually spark (ehhh?) some interest? A simple formula of break in, betrayal, and a flashback. Let’s take it from the top.

We pick up with a superhero Uber service squad. Daisy and Lincoln are doing the Secret Warrior round up, giving us a chance to see what our favorite baby agents have been up to since (sort of) joining S.H.I.E.L.D. Joey is on a date with a smoking guy in a smoking car, and YoYo is learning English Love, Actually style. Both of them hop onboard the Quinjet and follow Daisy into war.

Their break into the HYDRA base is a nice beginning at showing what “The Team” is capable of, though it’s more of a solo show than anything else. Daisy and Lincoln, seasoned agents comparatively, take off on their own while YoYo and Joey team up to melt bullets and hog tie bad guys. It would have been nice to see all four of them fighting together, an all-star team of powers working like The Avengers, but seeing the electric lasso and wind force continued to prove that these are unbeatable powers. To paraphrase Hunter (miss you boo), what chance does anyone really stand against them? Lincoln grabs Malick, Joey pipe-slams the Medusa eyed guy, and blammo – mission over, team rescued. A plot that would ordinarily take up the bulk of the episode was wrapped in a clean ten, with just the set up to the whodunit to follow.

We’re taken back to the local prison Vault D like it’s season 2, only this time it’s Malick being interrogated by Coulson. Our fearless director quickly picks up that Malick isn’t drinking the Inhuman Kool Aid any longer, but he is hesitant to trust anything he says. Especially since the biggest takeaway is a warning: Hive has infected one of the Inhumans, and he cannot trust anyone.

A powwow with May, FitzSimmons, and Mack has the base in serious lockdown mode, except they’re trying to not alert the Inhumans of their activity – lying to Daisy in the process. It’s the first line in the sand drawn, the first instance of “us versus them.” Mack is on surveillance but, as he so rightly points out, everyone is suspicious when you watch them all day. It’s Stalking 101 and the Inhumans know that something is wrong – not being allowed to leave was the first hint. What could make lockdown worse? Why, a bomb in Vault D, of course! It blows up the body of an already-dead Malick, and launches a Normals vs. Inhuman Cold War.

The accusation of someone being under Hive’s sway (which just sounds so suggestive I cannot even stand it) acts as a trigger for some grade-A paranoia as everyone turns on the other. Everyone is a suspect! Anyone could have killed Malick! Who could be trusted in times like these? Seeing no other recourse, Daisy tricks the other Inhumans into a safe vault where Coulson is ready for them with some good news bad news: they know who the spy is. It’s Lincoln! Did you cheer? I cheered. It felt a little Ward-repetitive to me, and a little too simple but any excuse to kick Lincoln off the team is good news in my book (what can I say, I was blinded by my prejudice). His denial rings false and the evidence supports everything we (I) wanted to believe.

Everyone is waiting patiently for a test to figure out who has Hives, when Daisy breaks out (duh guys, she programmed the rooms, this is a pretty major spy-fail) and goes to reunite with her one true love. She’s all ready to go Bonnie and Clyde with him when he points out a simple fact – the tests will prove he’s a good guy, and they don’t actually need to abandon S.H.I.E.L.D. Her lovesick act lasts for another moment or two before the mask drops and the crazy eyes come out in earnest.

All along it was Daisy who was infected by Hive as they raided the base. Her conversation with Hive/Ward is short and to the point – S.H.I.E.L.D. has things they need, and he wants her to get them. She’s found the light, Jesus, Xenu, and a new Beyoncé album. This girl has been brainwashed, except it’s still Daisy – her motivations are just wacked. Lincoln, heartbroken and angry that she used his weaknesses against him, rejects her offer to join the Cult of Bone Chewing, and damn if Luke Mitchell wasn’t outstanding here. Daisy takes the Inhuman objects (including the terrigen crystals) and takes off, destroying the base in the process. That silent shot of Coulson yelling for Daisy as she slowly walks away? The best episode end we’ve seen since Skye went through terragenesis. They’ve set themselves up for a thrilling run to the end of the season, and I cannot wait to see where they take it from here – and how long they’ll let Daisy go dark for.

Highlights and lowlights:
  • That last shot of Daisy destroying the base was not only visually stunning, but shows just how significantly she has been holding her powers back. 
  • “Daisy, what did you do?” Chills.
  • Looks like we are finally getting that SkyeWard action, only with gross brainwashing motivations. Be careful what you wish for, I guess 
  • Any bets on who is the dead agent? My money is still on YoYo, though the necklace makes that a little too obvious. Maybe it will be Lincoln, who dies as a direct result of Hive’s sway? That would be a dramatic season 4 recovery arc 
  • I don’t ship it like I ship Dack, but Mack speaking Spanish to impress YoYo was charming as all get out 
  • Yay FitzSimmons! Get some while you can. They’ve been a nice bright spot in this otherwise dark season. 

"The Singularity"
Original Airdate: April 26, 2016

How do you save someone who doesn't want to be saved? How do you rescue someone who doesn't believe they are in danger? Daisy has officially gone dark, and if the destroyed base wasn't enough proof, the tests have been created and returned. Last week's flashback didn't hide any other twists: Daisy is the only Inhuman huffing Hive so everyone else has been released from prison. Joey and YoYo exited stage left, and will probably ghost out on S.H.I.E.L.D. the next time they try and call in a favor after this hot mess. It's clear that they've let the two other Inhumans go, but when we pick back up with Coulson and company they are looking for any known Inhumans, trying to get to them before Hive can. Seeing as how closely Daisy working with Joey and YoYo it seems strange that they wouldn't go after them first and that Coulson would let them leave without a fight.

Regardless, they are on the hunt for the magically multiplying Inhuman Alisha Whitley (Alicia Vela-Bailey), who we last saw in Season 2. Coulson is laying down his own brand of lopsided law -- not mentioning to Talbut that Daisy has gone dark, and insisting that Lincoln wear an actual suicide vest if he wanted to be in the field looking for Daisy (like, he actually tells him he will blow his ass up. Coulson has taken this rage-murder phase to heart). It's a pretty dramatic choice, but one that he leaves to his underlings. He isn't holding the trigger -- that's something he leaves to May. She's become the default executioner to Coulson's judge and jury, which is fine until Coulson starts throwing shade about her bloodthirst and (oh no he didn't) how she shot Andrew. He’s crabby she might shoot Daisy, and she’s over his ish. Low blows all around, and May doesn't have time for any of that nonsense. Quickly calling him out for his hypocrisy and shortsightedness, May points out that it is straight ridiculous that he wants to blow up Lincoln (and really, who could blame him?) but won't consider having to kill Daisy. It's some real talk that leads to a sad, sweet moment as Coulson finally says, "She's the closest thing I've got to a daughter." The subtext has been there since day one, but it's nice to hear him say it. Hugs all around.

Meanwhile Daisy and Hive have a catch up/therapy session that explains in great detail why Daisy has gone off the rails, and fills Hive in on her life post-Ward. Basically, Skye is now Daisy and super into having something that "fixes" her abandonment issues, and Ward is now Hive but with all of Ward’s memories (and like a million other world jumping white dudes, but I guess we don’t care much about them) and he too thinks Daisy is just so special. Their connection is gross (hello, mind control) but almost sweet (at least someone gets a hug?) and really just confusing all around (oh SkyeWard feels, this is rough).

After this odd little moment of connection, they are back in action picking up James -- the recalcitrant Australian Inhuman - super-speeding him through terragenesis. They find the artifact James had hidden away, which (surprise surprise) is the only thing that can kill Hive. Chekhov's alien artifact has just been put in motion. Set your timers, ladies and gentlemen. Rounding out Inhuman tag, S.H.I.E.L.D. finds Alisha, but they are too late, and have to settle for clone-death. Lincoln goes haywire (get it?), proving that he’s one bad day away from a complete mental breakdown. Someone get that dude some herbal tea, stat.

Realizing Hive beat them to the Inhuman-punch, they put their energy in scientific solutions to find a way to cure the Hive addiction that has Daisy strung out. FitzSimmons is confident that Dr. Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah) will be able to help them with a cure, but they have to get to him first. All spiffed up and undercover FitzSimmons nearly has him -- he's obsessed with genetic modifications and Fitz has literally been face to face with an alien god -- but Daisy shows up and shuts that down, fast.

While Mack fights off James, Hive corners Jemma and busts out all of Will's feels to manipulate her. It's a pretty good impression, and a reminder of just how far Jemma has come. She whips out her gun and shoots him, just like Daisy, just like she said she would. Daisy meanwhile has Fitz in a chokehold warning him to back off her new family. This is a warning, the next step is death. What's even more heartbreaking? She means it. Daisy girl, remember when Fitz was the only one with Inhuman-chill? Let’s not snap the neck of the one person getting some.

Finally, after a heart to heart with relationship guru/beefcake extraordinaire Mack, our favorite pair of scientists cross that romantic event horizon and get down to the good stuff. When FitzSimmons reunited in the hotel, I was nervous, braced for another shoe to drop. Even the comment about Jemma's hands being cold felt like we were about to see her shapeshift into another Inhuman. I guess it's hard to adjust to happy moments on this show now? Man, Season 1 was a long time ago.

What will our new band of drugged up Inhumans do now that they have a whole Ghost town to play in do? Will they end up turning earth into an Inhuman playground? And seriously, how are they going to fix Daisy's brain? There's only four episodes left, let's hope we get some answers soon.

Highlights and lowlights:

  • Mack continues to be the absolute best. “What are your muscles made of?" "Me?" You're goddamn right they are.
  • Could not be more excited for John Hannah to be on this show -- the man is a comedic delight and doesn't get nearly enough credit. 
  • That S.H.I.E.L.D. shield though! Nice nod to Captain America right before Civil War, and still felt in step with Coulson's character. 
  • Alisha has now lost two of her three clones -- and I don't think they regenerate 
  • James is by far the most entertaining new Inhuman since Raina, his codename brainstorming was hilarious and, let's face it, all of us if we suddenly had powers 
  • Remember Koenig? What ever happened to that guy and all his brothers? 
  • That had to have been the real Jemma in the hotel room, right? Jump into the comments and please tell me I'm being paranoid


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