Old enemies and even older mysteries returned in tonight’s episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The series hit the ground running last week and could probably keep pace with Quicksilver at this rate.
S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to pursue Creel to recapture the 084 device before he gives it to HYDRA. Meanwhile, Gen. Talbot captures Lance Hunter attempts to bribe him to betray Coulson.
The above plot synopsis doesn’t do the episode justice. So much happened in this episode, a flow chart might be needed to keep track of all of it. Now more than ever this series has become a team-based show. No one character dominates the episode. All of them have arcs that are developed and furthered.
Coulson continues to overtax himself. When a waitress at a diner turns to metal after touching Creel/Absorbing Man’s arm thanks to the 084, he holds himself responsible. May confronts him, and that’s when it’s revealed that Coulson has “episodes” and he’s holding them back. These incidents involve him going into a trance and carving symbols on the wall with a knife (which he did at the end of the season one finale).
Fitz continues to meander with his broken brain, but now he has a friend. One of Coulson’s new recruits, an African-American technician, befriends him while he works on cloaking technology. However, he thinks Fitz simply talks to himself and not to an illusionary Simmons. That story takes a dramatic turn when Fitz’s new friend lets slip that “it’s hard to lose a partner.” Fitz reacts with hidden confusion. Coulson had said earlier that he wanted to protect Fitz from the truth. This will undoubtedly come to a head in next week’s episode, given its shocking promo. (More on that next week).
Gen. Talbot (Adrian Pasdar in his second superhero show) tries to turn Lance Hunter into the new Ward—as in a traitor. He offers Lance, who’s still mourning the deaths of his cohorts from last week’s car wreck, whatever price he wants to turn in Coulson (Lance is a mercenary, after all). He replies, “Two million and a proper burial.” It seems like a done deal, but Coulson confronts him about this and Lance says he won’t do it. Then he takes out Skye and May before attempting to kill Creel himself. But instead of terminating Lance, he recruits him as an agent. The impressions is that Coulson did this because Lance wanted to make sure his dead friends were treated with respect.
One of the episode’s biggest twists was the return of Raina, an apparent superhuman and former HYDRA operative. She attempted to bring Creel into her fold, but he predictably refused. So, she assisted Coulson in tracking him and then stole the 084 device when Lance tried to kill him. She took it to her new boss, Skye’s father, who was revealed tonight (another plot twist). He orders her to touch the device, and it glows orange when she does. “It works!” she says. “No. It let you live,” he replied. “There’s a difference” This rabbit hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Perhaps it has connections to “Guardians of the Galaxy”? Could it be another Infinity Gem/Stone?
Who or what is Skye’s father? He looks human, but many fans have theorized that he could be either a Kree or an Inhuman. Both theories have merit. The Kree appeared in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which would be an excellent setup for a tie-in. However, even in the MCU the Kree don’t look human. As for the Inhuman theory, it’s possible since a script for an Inhumans film is supposedly in the works. Marvel recently published a comic storyline entitled “Inhumanity” where hundreds of people across the globe had Inhuman powers unlocked. This could be adapted so the Inhumans could become the MCU’s mutants since 20th Century Fox still holds the film rights to the X-Men characters. But only time will tell. This is a Joss Whedon show, after all, and he plays the long game.
In a sequence inspired by “The Matrix,” Lance shoots at Creel with a sniper rifle, and the bullet’s trajectory is tracked in slow motion. As it flies at the Absorbing Man’s head, the audience catches a glimpse of the villain turning his body to steel, a transformation he completes an instant before the bullet bounces off his forehead. Watchful viewers will even see a small dent form where the bullet impacts. It was easily the best action sequence of the series so far. In fact, it once again made the show feel like a movie.
“We’ve all changed,” Skye aptly noted. The same can be said for this show and its characters. It’s now more than worthy of calling itself part of the MCU canon. The naysayers who abandoned it too early last year are definitely eating their words.