Wednesday, September 23, 2015

AoS Preview: All About Lash

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There are several announced antagonists so far for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, and I’m going to talk about a couple of them this week before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday.  However, the antagonist I am going to discuss first is one who is essentially stepping straight out of the pages of the comics, specifically last year’s (2014) Inhuman #1.  I am talking of course about Lash, played by former pro-football-player-turned-actor Matt Willig, a 6-foot-8 former offensive tackle who looks even more imposing than that description would suggest as a massive Inhuman covered in spikes.

Thus far all we know about the MCU version of Lash is that he will be another party interested in the newly-transformed Inhumans.  However, if the MCU Lash’s story is anything like that of the comic book Lash, he could offer a very interesting and dark perspective on these events.

In the comics, Lash is a member of another hidden Inhuman tribe called the Lor (similar to the inhabitants of Lai Shi/Afterlife) who founded a city called Orollan, which is located in Greenland.  Like Jiaying, the leaders of the Lor tribe only permitted a select few Inhumans to pass through the mist in each generation, reserving the honor for those deemed most worthy.  However, that was before King Black Bolt chose to detonate the Terrigen Bomb while in battle against Thanos during the Inhumanity storyline.  To understand the rest of these events in the comics, it’s important to know why Black Bolt did what he did.  Thanos was on Earth looking for one of his children (he was on an intergalactic child-killing spree at the time), the child of an Inhuman mother.  Black Bolt detonated the Terrigen Bomb to release the Terrigen Mist over the entire planet so all the unknowing descendants of Inhuman splinter tribes would be transformed, creating a massive Inhuman army to fight off Thanos and making Thanos’ search for his son more difficult.  Unfortunately, the Terrigen Bomb also inadvertently caused the destruction of Orollan.

One of the newly-transformed Inhumans was a Lor tribe member named Thane (ironically the very son of Thanos who was the target of Thanos’ attack), who was given incredible powers to warp reality and place those around him into a state of “living death” (Thane is what we might call “stupid powerful”).  Upon being transformed, Thane accidentally unleashed his powers, destroying Orollan and massacring all the inhabitants except Lash and a very small number of survivors.

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Following this tragedy, Lash was driven to travel the world and hunt down all of the newly-transformed Inhumans and judge for himself if they were indeed worthy of the gift they had been given.  If he deemed them worthy, he would bring them back to Orollan to begin repopulating the city.  If they were not, he would use his powers of energy absorption and manipulation to disintegrate the unworthy Inhuman with a blast of energy from his palms.

In this way Lash discovered and recruited several new Inhumans, including Dante (a.k.a. Inferno), an Inhuman with the power of pyrokinesis, and Jason (a.k.a. Flint), an Inhuman with the power of geokinesis.  However, Queen Medusa discovered Lash on one of his “recruiting” trips, followed him back to Orollan, and led her Royal Guard to defeat Lash.

While it is unlikely that this storyline will be adapted exactly for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it is entirely possible for elements to be borrowed from it.  For example, Lash may (and probably does) represent a different Inhuman tribe which is in hiding somewhere else in the world.  My guess is that Orollan and the Lor Tribe will be adapted for his back story, though with some changes.  This would make a lot of sense when considered in the context of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2’s surprise reveal of the “Real S.H.I.E.L.D.”  Last season saw the discovery that Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. group was not the only one to emerge from the wreckage left behind by Captain America: The Winter Soldier; it would be an interesting parallel if season 3 sees the reveal (not only to the audience and S.H.I.E.L.D. but to the in-universe Inhumans as well) that there are many different Inhuman tribes scattered around the world with their own customs, own governance, and own technology level.

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Showing Orollan would also be a good opportunity for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to explore the idea of what a permanent Inhuman city would look like.  Thus far the only Inhuman settlement we have seen has been Lai Shi/Afterlife, which was almost certainly less than 25 years old—founded specifically to take advantage of Gordon’s teleportation ability—and not intended as a permanent city but rather as a way station and refuge for those in need.  Orollan on the other hand could be a permanent city with a centuries-long history and a sizable permanent population.  Orollan may also be substantially more technologically advanced than Lai Shi/Afterlife due to its long history in the same location.  Both of these concepts would help to lay the groundwork for the eventual reveal of Attilan as the original Inhuman city, complete with technology light-years ahead of anything even Wakanda (typically depicted as more highly-developed than the rest of the world) has developed.

It is also entirely possible for Orollan to have been destroyed by an Inhuman who went through Terrigenesis unexpectedly, received insanely powerful abilities, and could not control them.  This would provide a powerful motivator for Lash’s actions this season, and even make him a more sympathetic antagonist.  While I doubt that the newly-transformed Inhuman in question will be revealed to have been Thane (with the same back story and parentage), that role could be played by any newly transformed Inhuman for the purpose of this storyline.  Thane himself may eventually appear in the MCU—either as a tie-in between Avengers: Infinity War and The Inhumans or between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Inhumans—but I think this would be a couple years too early for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to start teasing Thanos on that level.

If Orollan is actually destroyed by an out-of-control newly-transformed Inhuman, I do not expect it to be shown in its entirety.  Instead, I expect that we will see the results when Lash returns home, along with flashbacks of what the city looked like before its destruction.  Leaving the event itself to the imagination may be a much more effective way to play up the destruction:  the imagination can make the event far more terrifying and destructive than they could ever show on a network TV series (like Deathlok stomping Garrett’s face in “The Beginning of the End,” 1x22).  We might see flashes of the destruction—like nightmares that Lash is constantly having—but that is the most I expect.

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In terms of Lash’s story on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I fully expect it to follow his story in the comics fairly closely.  He will be searching the Earth for newly transformed Inhumans, just like S.H.I.E.L.D., the A.T.C.U., and (presumably) Hydra, among others.  However, where S.H.I.E.L.D. is focused on helping the Inhumans, Hydra is focused on exploiting them, and the A.T.C.U. is (possibly) focused on containing them, Lash will simply be judging their worthiness for the gift.  He will recruit those who are worthy to join his reformed tribe, and he will use his power to destroy those who are unworthy or reject the offer.  Some of those recruited by Lash may even include Dante/Inferno and Jason/Flint (straight from the comics).  Most likely at some point in the first half of the season S.H.I.E.L.D. will confront him and the Secret Warriors will take the place of Medusa’s Royal Guard in fighting and overpowering Lash’s recruits.

I do not expect Lash’s story to continue past the midseason finale, as Ward and Hydra seem to have a much better chance of tying into Captain America: Civil War and providing a long-term threat for S.H.I.E.L.D. to face.  In fact, the mission on which the Secret Warriors defeat Lash may be the first one in which we see their full roster in action (with some of Lash’s recruits joining them after the battle).

I think Lash’s primary function on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be to provide an alternative view of the new Inhumans and of Inhuman society with which Lincoln’s and Daisy’s will clash, leading to growth in their understanding of who they are and how they fit into the larger picture.  Once Daisy and Lincoln have reconciled their beliefs with the new ideas Lash represents, I think they will be ready to begin rebuilding their own Inhuman tribe in a way that is better than that of Lash or Jiaying.

How do you think that Lash’s story will play out on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  Do you think he will be the villain for the whole season or just the first half?  And what do you think Orollan will look like (if it appears at all)?  Let me know in the comments!

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