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[TV Review] ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Episode 3.01 – “Laws of Nature”

The Season 2 finale of ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD” saw a number of big events occur.  Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Daisy “Quake” Johnson (Chloe Bennet), and company managed to thwart Inhuman leader Jiaying’s (Dichen Lachman) evil plan to wage a deceptive war against SHIELD.  In the end, Jiaying was killed not by SHIELD or her daughter Daisy, but by her serum-enhanced husband Calvin Zabo (Kyle MacLachlan), who finally wised up to her malevolent machinations.  Robbed of his happy family life due to the terrible actions of both Jiaying and himself throughout the years, Zabo was mercifully mindwiped and left to live a normal life as a civilian.  While this action was likely taken to remove MacLachlan from the narrative due to his upcoming commitment to David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” revival on Showtime, here’s hoping that we get to see more of his Mr. Hyde someday.

With Jiaying, teleporter Gordon (Jamie Harris), and the other diabolical Inhuman followers of their awful crusade taken out, the rest of their community has been left adrift.  Daisy remained with SHIELD, of course, with Lincoln “Sparkplug” Campbell (Luke Mitchell) remaining alongside her as she was tasked with a mission to build a secret team of Inhuman agents to clandestinely work to save their kind: the Secret Warriors.  As for the other SHIELD team members, things were touch and go.  Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) took a much-needed vacation with her ex-husband, Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood) and “Mack” MacKenzie (Henry Simmons) decided to remain a SHIELD operative.

AOS2 - E22 - Bobbi

Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse (Adrianne Palicki), on the other hand, was looking to get out of the spy business, with her ex-husband Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) likely to follow.  On the Fitzsimmons front, Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simons (Elizabeth Henstridge) finally ended up in a place where both were ready to talk about their feelings for one another, so naturally the latter was sucked into some other dimension by an alien artifact in the final moments of the finale.  Such is life as a superhero property character.  Speaking of comic booky shenanigans, poor Coulson lost his left hand during the finale.  Here’s hoping he gets a fun bionic one to replace it.

As for Grant Ward (Bret Dalton), the sociopathic Hydra agent was tortured Bobbi (leading to her aforementioned decision) and accidentally killed his comrade-in-arms and love interest, Kara “Agent 33” Palamas (Maya Stojan), so his already-fractured psyche wasn’t left in too healthy a place.  In light of the decimation of Hydra at the hands of the Avengers at the start of Avengers: Age of Ultron and the murder of Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) by Ultron (James Spader) himself, Hydra is scattered to the wind and Ward hellbent on staking a claim as its new head.  Will he succeed?  Probably not, given that we know Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) is out there, but it should be fun watching him try.  Oh, and Daisy supremely messed up by sinking one of the containers Terrigen Mist crystals on the bottom of the ocean.  They dissolved into the water and were ingested by fish, who in turn were caught by fisherman and eventually harvested for fish oil for domestic distribution.  I’m sure nothing good will come of that particular turn of events!

AOS2 - E22 - Hyde

Sound like fun?  It actually was.  While the series has a ways to go before it can best considered among the best superhero shows on television, it does continue to make progress as it trucks along.  The core cast continue to grow into their roles in interesting and fun ways and the series has gotten better with its guest characters, both in terms of writing and casting.  Have these improvements continued into this Season 3 premiere?  I’ll get into that in a moment.  Apologies if this recap is running a little wrong, but it’s the first proper assessment of “Agents of SHIELD” that we have done in this site since its creation.  The summary portion of this review was written before I viewed the Season 3 premiere, so if I start answering hopes and guesses from above in my statements below (whether I was right or wrong), don’t be alarmed.  Neither of us has gone crazy, at least not more than usual.  So, back to the question at hand, have things continued to improve in the series with the Season 3 premiere?

They have!  Directed by Vincent Misano, his 7th time at bat for the series, and penned by showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, this season opener for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s inaugural television series begins with Daisy saving a scared Inhuman named Joey Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Rabba) from a mysterious black ops unit known as the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (ATCU), which is headed by their Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer) and Agent Banks (Andrew Howard).  Like Daisy and her SHIELD sub-team (consisting of humans Mack & Lance at the moment), the ATCU are also searching for Inhumans, though their intentions for doing so are initially unclear.

AOS3 - E1 - Joey

Joey has the newfound unnatural ability to affect metals with his powers and has not yet figured out how to control it.  Lucky for him, SHIELD is here to help.  Speaking of SHIELD, Bobbi is still around, but is now working more in an office capacity, primarily helping out in the lab and dealing with new Inhuman recruits.  The desire to re-enter to tfie field to take out Ward is there, but so is a hesitancy to do so immediately.  Lance is right there with her, their relationship seemingly renewed, but there is no hesitancy in his desire to punish Ward for his crimes.  Moving on, Fitz is still searching for a way to figure out what happened to Simmons and locate her, be she alive or dead.  His search leads him to an ancient scroll that might hold important information pertaining to the alien monolith the “devoured” Jemma.

Attempting to find a way to get through to Joey about the severity of his situation, Daisy and Mack reach out to Lincoln, who has resumed civilian life and is working at a hospital.  While a heated argument breaks out about whether or not training Inhumans is a good idea, especially when SHIELD is involved, their verbal sparring is cut short when a sinister, murderous Inhuman named Lash (Matt Willig) arrives to take out Lincoln.  Sparkplug’s call to adventure is ignited almost instantly as he rejoins SHIELD to combat this new threat.  This powerful, animalistic (literally) new adversary looks to be a major thorn in their sides going forward and a worthy villainous addition not only to the series, but the MCU as a whole.

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The Terrigen Mist-infected fish oil flub up is flaring up big time, with new Inhumans be created every day due to those across the world who carry the required Kree gene in their DNA coming into contact with them.  Enough so that a nationwide panic is in affect, causing President Ellis (William Sadler, reprising his Iron Man 3 role) to address the nation and attempt to pass the rumors off as a falsehood to quell public fears.  The ties to more recent films don’t end there, with references to the aforementioned Age of Ultron and Ant-Man arising as well.

Premieres are rarely able to cover all bases and subplots.  This one is no different.  The whereabouts of Melinda May and Grant Ward are both left mostly untouched.  We are given the knowledge that May indeed left on her vacation with Andrew, but never actually returned, seemingly abandoning SHIELD and her teammates.  Ward’s movements remain unseen as well, though I’m sure both he and May will emerge in the next episode or two.  Jemma’s true location, though still a mystery, appears alien and threatening during the short glimpse we are given.  Is she elsewhere on Earth, trapped in another dimension, or perhaps even on another world?  We don’t yet know.  Wherever it is, the skyline is painted in a blue so deep that even Sutter Cane would be jealous.

What will next week hold, beyond likely showing us what May and Ward are up to?  Judging by the preview tossed out at the end, we are in for the return of Asgardian ex-pat Elliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol), who we haven’t seen since the first season.  While MacNicol is always worth my attention, I found his previous guest starring episode to be extremely lackluster, so here’s hoping he is given more to work with this time out.

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