Welcome back to my weekly coverage of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Be sure to check out my previous coverage here. I apologize for my absence last week, it was midterm season in Canada, so I needed to give my academics some more dedicated attention. Luckily that time has past and we can dive right back in! Let’s do that shall we?
As always, *SPOILERS* to follow.
Episode 4 gave us all of the spectacular action we have come to expect with this show, all while giving us some short term answers to our larger looming questions. Also, there was a surprise or two as well. Before we get to that, let’s talk Lash. The big guy returned in this episode to kill more Inhumans who have found themselves on the run. In their cooperative cleanup of the scene with ATCU, Daisy and Mack discover a laptop with an emailed virus on it trying to attract and lure in other Inhumans. Daisy wants to keep the discovery hidden from the ATCU as she still is not ready to trust them. Coulson isn’t quite ready to trust them either, but he did make the truce deal, so he makes the choice to share the intel. Rosalind’s actions and continued attempts to undermine that deal in order for it to favour her organization has me more cautious about her than I expected to be. We all know this “partnership” is building to something, but what it will be I’m not too sure.
As ATCU is packing up the crime scene, getting ready to follow the email virus lead, Coulson requests that Mack and Daisy go with Rosalind and the ATCU as S.H.I.E.L.D. representatives. Rosalind reluctantly agrees. The shared investigation leads them to a computer programmer/hacker that is working with Lash to round up Inhuman targets. He agrees to cooperate, they take him into custody and attempt to transport him to a secure location. Lash attacks on the way, cutting a hole in the top of the van. Daisy attacks Lash with her powers and the power behind her attack causes the whole van to tip over and crash. As Daisy regains consciousness, she sees Lash walking away from the scene, seemingly allowing her to live for the time being, and then as a silhouette he transforms into a human. I’ll admit that my prior knowledge of Lash is very limited, but I was almost certain that his Inhuman form as a larger beast like creature was permanent, so I’m curious to see where the show is going with his character.
This episode’s B story followed Hunter’s continued rise through Hydra’s ranks on his way to kill Ward. May is of course assisting Hunter on his quest as she wants revenge on Ward as much as anybody, but she believes Hunter is getting to emotionally involved with the mission. In her worry, she returns to S.H.I.E.L.D. after months of being away to warn Coulson of Hunter’s current state, and the danger that he could cause to the mission as a whole. They also need back up, more than just what May can bring to the table. Hunter’s plan is to walk into a Hydra stronghold alone in order to gain more intel, but May’s worry is that Ward could be there, which would mean Hunter’s cover is exposed. Her return also brings about an awkward reunion with Andrew as he was at headquarters speaking with Simmons and monitoring Alisha. Oddly, the acting in these scenes between May and Coulson and May and Andrew all seemed kind of clunky. Off type for these performers and I hope they pick it up in the future.
Getting to the action though, Hunter meets his Hydra contact and they put him in the trunk before heading off. Upon arriving at the Hydra base, guess who comes out to greet his newest recruit? Of course May was right, its Ward! Hunter knows he’s buggered, but seeing some of the guns he set Hydra up with on the table next to him he shows his face to Ward, jumps over the table grabbing a gun, and ducks behind a shipping container before being shot. Lucky Hunter. Despite having the advantage though, Ward seems a bit concerned with this new development. Obviously, it was a surprise to see Hunter infiltrate his new Hydra so easily, but by the look on Ward’s face, he looked rather defeated in that moment. That effect only grew when May came in to save Hunter’s arse. Naturally, Ward had a backup plan with Werner Von Strucker or Alex for short, keeping visual tabs on Andrew at his University. Ward let May see the video surveillance that he had live of Andrew and that caused her to step back in her approach, not sure what to believe in that moment. Hunter didn’t let May make the choice on her own, risking Andrew’s life in order to go after Ward. Hunter didn’t finish Ward off, but he got a bullet in his back and that was a satisfying moment. May didn’t look too pleased with Hunter after that moment and I can certainly see why. Their dynamic moving forward is going to be a very interesting one, especially if Andrew does turn out to be dead. Alex and some Hydra goons were seen bring containers of gasoline into the shop Andrew was in. But the actual shot of the explosion that took place did not show Andrew’s face, just a pair of feet in dress shoes. I don’t think Andrew’s dead just yet, but he could be. Typically though the rule is almost always correct, if you don’t see it happen or to a specific person, in this case seeing a face, it probably didn’t happen or to that person. For May, I hope he’s not.
The episode built off of episode three’s cliffhanger of Simmons desiring to go back through the portal to that other world. This time she decides to tell Fitz the truth about what happened, why she feels the need to go back, and also why she needs Fitz’s help to get back there. This is a great jumping point as episode five dealt exclusively with Simmons’ experience on this other planet.
Blue! Yeah, this episode entirely took place on a planet that has a very limited exposure to sunlight. Like 5 minutes for every 18 years as Simmons points out. It was a really cool effect, although I will admit it did start to wear on me a little bit as the episode went on. However, this episode was too spectacular to worry about minute details like that. This was a very well told story of isolation that gave us some answers, and forced some new questions to come about. Mainly, WHAT HAPPENS TO FITZ/SIMMONS NOW??? In all honesty though, Elizabeth Henstridge and Dillon Casey (Nikita) had some excellent chemistry here. Their work together delicately showed the progression of the relationship that I would argue we were all expecting to happen. I’m getting ahead of myself though, let me organize things by starting with the world itself.
A rock/desert type planet that has two moons. I was desperately looking around the screen at all times, searching for any clues as to what this planet is and if it exists in any Marvel comics property. Sadly, there wasn’t any obvious clue to suggest it even has any origin, it could simply be an original creation, but until proven wrong I refuse to believe that. Simmons began her entrapment on the planet with an unrestrained expectation and hope of her rescue by Fitz’s hand. The episode deftly let us know through the progression of hours that, clearly, rescue sadly wasn’t coming immediately. Naturally, Simmons needed to find water and food. She sets markers for Fitz to follow should they arrive, but she has to trek a far way in order to find said water, coming into contact with a mysterious sand storm that almost kills her. The pool she finds provides a moment of rest, with Simmons’ taking the opportunity to swim and re-hydrate. The food she finds also happens to be in the pool as a snake like creature. The scene reminded me of the garbage compactor scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, although without the risk of being crushed to death, but the desperation metaphor is still present.
After eating all of the snake like creature, which quite honestly looks disgusting, Simmons gets kidnapped. This is of course where we meet Dillon Casey’s Will Daniels. Will was part a NASA organized mission from 2001 to come to this planet and figure out what it is, where it is in the galaxy, and why the portal that is on earth brings humans to it. It takes a little while for Will to open up to Simmons, but once he does he fills her in on what happened to his crew. Basically, they went mad. According to him though, its not because of the isolation or the lack of sunlight, but rather the sand storm that Simmons had encountered earlier. Apparently, the storm is an “it” that has a mind of its own and specifically targets outsiders. Simmons’ scientific mind at first rebukes the possibility of this and continues to challenge Will to get out and explore the planet more and more, particularly in what Will has deemed “no-fly zones”. These zones are where Will has marked out that this storm entity likes to reside the most.
Eventually though, Simmons wears down Will and they partner together in order to figure out a way to get off this planet as Will still has all of his NASA equipment still with him. Simmons is the positive and hope bringer, while Will is the grounded and cynical side. I want to take a moment to commend Dillon Casey. He played one of my favourite characters on the now finished Nikita and I was very happy to see him again as a performer. (Go watch all 4 seasons of Nikita now, by the way!) He does a great job in this episode playing a man who has been stranded way longer than Simmons, 14 years to be exact. He hasn’t quite gone mad, which I like, but he is very guarded, he doesn’t allow himself to get too excited about any new developments, especially the appearance of another person, not to mention a beautiful woman.
The romantic moment between the two finally came when Simmons had exhausted every possible scientific chance at either escaping back to earth or sending a message back to Fitz and the team. Using the NASA gear, Jemma was able to use this planet’s rotational pattern along with the stars position around the planet to pinpoint when the portal would open next. We previously thought the portal was opening by its own choice/whim, but through Simmons’ attempts, discovered the opening is a fixed event based on this planet’s circle around its own sun. Jemma was also able to discover when the sun would next show its shining face, so the two lovebirds go out to witness it. This is where Fitz comes in to rescue Simmons. We hear his voice in the distance and Simmons goes off running, dragging Will with her, to try and get to the portal. The creature in the sand storm chooses now to attack again, forcing Will and Simmons to separate. Will encourages her to keep running to escape and to go without him if she has to. Which is what happens.
So Simmons wants to go back to save the man she has grown to love. Of course, I’m sure she still loves Fitz as well, but this new wrinkle adds a very compelling layer of romantic drama. I say compelling because this show appears to be handling it well, on top of the many other things they have been handling well of late. This is also why it was so hard for Simmons to open up and tell Fitz why it is she wanted to go back. She didn’t know how to tell him. This made it all the more touching to see then that Fitz is still willing to drop everything and focus everything on helping her achieve what she feels she needs to. We’ll have to see though how Simmons desire to go back will effect Coulson’s plans for S.H.I.E.L.D. Sure, he cares for Simmons now, and Fitz, but he has an organization to run and he has in the past shown that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s interests will come first. I’m still very excited to see how this season continues to build on the weekly developments. In my mind, all of the storylines have very strong and compelling elements to them that I am completely invested in. That being said though, I’m most curious in Fitz’s and Simmons’ story and character progression right now.
Until next week folks!
Scoring: 3×04 – 8/10 3×05 – 10/10
Also! Keep an eye out for our new Marvel Podcast releasing every Monday from now on. You can check out the first episode from Matthew Goudreau here. Be sure to check it out this Monday as I join Matt to discuss Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the odd Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. development.