TV Review: <i>Agents of Shield</i> 3×02 – “Purpose in the Machine”

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. - "Purpose in the Machine" - Fitz and the team enlist the aid of an Asgardian to unlock the secrets of the ancient monolith that swallowed Simmons, and Agent May is at a crossroads in her personal and professional life, on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal) IAIN DE CAESTECKER, HENRY SIMMONS
MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Purpose in the Machine” – (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

This week continued SHIELD’s great streak of quality episodes (I’m including last season). As always, there was a lot that occurred. If you missed it, take a look at my review of the season premiere episode from last week here.

*SPOILERS* to follow.

The episode begins with a scene in the mid 1800’s around what seems to be an English cult that had possession of the Monolith at that time. The implications of the scene don’t factor in until a little later on in the episode, but it is interesting to note how well traveled this object is. The Kree certainly appear to know how to influence human society on Earth.

Episode 2 as it turns out is the episode of returns as Melinda May, Dr. Andrew Garner, Professor Elliot Randolph (Season 1, Thor tie-in episode), and Grant Ward make their way back to the show.  Let’s start with Blair Underwood’s Andrew Garner. We are told that Garner has been working on psychological evaluations of all of the new Inhumans brought in by Daisy and SHIELD; the only problem is that he isn’t passing any of them. Daisy is fighting with this the most as the whole point to bringing them in is to give them the opportunity to make a difference in the world with the very thing that makes them different. It’s important to note that the new recruits, of course, have a choice to use their powers for good by joining SHIELD as an agent, but for the time being SHIELD will decide when they can re-enter the normal world. The bigger implication for Garner’s return is to convey to Daisy that she is becoming a leader; she is taking charge to ensure the safety and protection of the Inhumans and while that role is a very important one, Garner is concerned with her transition into it. I would argue that this is the type of role that Daisy was born to inhabit. After witnessing the failings of both her parents first hand, Daisy has a lot of examples of mistakes to learn and grow from. Even now she appears more suited to the task than her mother ever was.

Grant Ward’s introduction to Season 3 was the most satisfying and effective element of this episode.  With Ward taking over leadership of Hydra, we can really see Brett Dalton dig into the douchebaggery of his character. Grant Ward is inherently evil, and naturally he wants to hit SHIELD at any opportunity. He also isn’t a fool.  As such, Ward’s storyline began with the uncovering of a character who’s last name is rather familiar; Werner Von Strucker.  Yes, the son of recently deceased Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker (who died in Avengers: Age of Ultron), is now on the show and I am really excited to see where they take this new element of the Hydra dynasty.  In regards to Ward, he is the best villain on this series; perhaps one of the best antagonists on television right now. Brett Dalton has really excelled in the role since the character was revealed as a double agent back in the first season.  Dalton tends to work best when he can be an asshole and that is present both here and in this past summer’s PS4 exclusive video game Until Dawn.

We see Agent May choosing a life in hiding with her father, whom apparently she doesn’t visit too often. This new status quo for May doesn’t really work for me.  Mainly because by the end of the episode she does choose to partner with Hunter in his mission to kill Ward.  Why remove her from the team to begin with if she was going to join right back up? I know the lure of revenge for May is hard to resist, but the entire thing felt inconsequential.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Purpose in the Machine” – (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Now to the meat and potatoes of this week’s show. The main storyline involved Fitz’s continuing search for answers regarding the monolith and Simmons.  After the scene in the past showing the monolith in the 1800’s, we return to The Bus right where we left off last week with Fitz having an emotional breakdown after hitting another dead end.  Bobbi, Daisy, Phil, and Mack all run to go help Fitz as they all suspect that the monolith is about to enliven to do some damage. This was a cool scene. As I mentioned last week, I have been over-the-moon impressed with how the writers of the show have evolved to handle character progression and that each main character is compelling.  With this opening scene it was really cool to see almost everyone we have come to love together in the same room. Almost every episode features different pairings of the team dealing with their own task/mission, so it was nice to see them drop what they were doing to help Fitz.  I felt the scene did an excellent job of demonstrating how close-knit this group is; it proved that they are a team.

The result of Fitz’s pounding of the monolith was the existence of sand, and not just any sand either; sand from another place.  For Fitz, the sand proved to him that the monolith was a portal to another world which would confirm his theory that Simmons is still alive and out there somewhere; which of course she is.  In order to find out more they seek out Professor Elliot Randolph, the returning Peter MacNicol (as I mentioned).  We first met Randolph in season 1 during an intended show crossover with Thor: The Dark World. The crossover didn’t really pan out that well, but it was revealed that Randolph was in fact an Asgardian hiding on Earth.  This is where the English cult comes in.  Randolph was at a party hosted by the same English bureaucrats back in the 1800’s and while they never explicitly showed him anything, he had heard whisperings of an ancient device/object.  He remembered the cult due to the cloth that Fitz retrieved in the premiere; the same Hebrew word on the cloth was carved above some doorways in the castle that the party was being hosted at.  This leads the team to uncover an contraption used to manipulate the Monolith and the portal itself.  Seeing Fitz take charge like he has has been rather refreshing.  His new found confidence is allowing him to shed his limiting ‘science nerd’ image and its paying dividends for the team as well.  His thinking and dedication to finding Simmons is exactly what allows him to save her. That and Daisy’s powers of course.


MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Purpose in the Machine” – (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Yes! Simmons is back already. I’ll admit I was quite surprised, I was half expecting the show to drag that element along for awhile.  On the other hand as well, it did seem at first like her rescue was a bit rushed.  However, after reflecting over it for a little bit, I’m more than glad they got her back into the fold already.  Her experiences in that other world over the past four months are going to play a huge part moving forward; especially considering her reaction to a nightmare.  It was touching though for her to be able to relax and rely on Fitz in that moment. I really hope they finally get together.  They are just too cute not to.

As a whole, this was another great episode that continues this shows strong run from last season.  I will say that some of the comedic moments strewn throughout this episode were hit or miss for me, but I like the fact that the show is not overtly forcing them in. Keeping it subtle is the key, they just haven’t hit the right formula quite yet, but it will come, and I endorse further attempts.

Episode Rating: 9/10




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