Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 19, "Failed Experiments" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

Image Courtesy

Before starting in on the review, I want to thank ABC for finally getting it right in terms of their coverage of today’s primaries.  Instead of interrupting the show midsentence, they simply put a box at the bottom of the screen to read.  That is definitely the way that I prefer for them to offer that information during a show I want to watch.  In the future, ABC, please just do that!

Now, on with the review!

This episode gave me just about everything I was hoping for:  background on Hive, character development, and even a thematic connection to Captain America: Civil War.  Next week will see much more in terms of Civil War tie-in, but this was a respectable way to kick it off in my opinion.

The episode opens with Hive’s memories of the experiment which first turned him into what he is now.  He is taken by Kree Reapers while hunting, brought to their ship, and experimented on using the Kree’s own blood.  He underwent Terrigenesis, and Hive was created.  Now, Hive intends to carry out that same experiment on the humans so that they can all become Inhuman (and he can control all of them).  His first test subjects are the three Hydra leaders who escaped S.H.I.E.L.D.’s crackdown at the end of the previous episode—but none of them actually survive the experiment because they used Hive’s blood (meaning Ward’s blood plus whatever Hive puts into it) rather than Kree blood.  In order for the experiment to succeed, they need to use blood from a living Kree.  I have to admit, the effect of watching a man’s face melt was really intense, similar to the effect of Hive consuming humans.

Image Courtesy
The Civil War connection in this episode is more thematic than anything else.  Hive references both Iron Man and Captain America as examples of the exclusivity of power, something which can only lead to conflict.  He also blames his exile on people’s fear of him and his influence over Inhumans.  The paranoia bred “civil war,” which led to his expulsion.  We don’t learn anything more about that original “civil war,” but the “civil war” in this episode is pretty intense as Daisy is turned against Mack in a fight which neither of them particularly wants.  S.H.I.E.L.D. sends May and Mack to Hive’s town along with four additional agents from their Operations Division.  The six of them go in to eliminate Hive and avoid confrontations with the other Inhumans.  May gets a location from James by flirting with him (no, really, he is that clueless that he bought her “I’m Hydra” routine), and the team investigates.  However, they find the Kree Artifact set up and transmitting:  it is a beacon designed to summon the Kree Reapers who created Hive and the Inhumans in the first place.  Evidently they left it behind so Hive could summon them if the Inhumans got out of hand.  Hive activated it now to draw the Kree Reapers to Earth so he could capture one and use it as a blood source.

It’s a little convenient that there’s a ship of Kree Reapers in the solar system that can respond to the beacon, but Hive does a decent job of explaining what’s going on.  The Kree thought that if the Inhumans got out of control, their Reapers could put an end to them, and left the original Reapers in stasis for that possibility.  These two Reapers don’t seem to be the brightest bulbs; they are more or less animals which act based on instinct to hunt down and destroy Inhumans.  One of them manages to take out a pair of Alisha clones pretty handily, but he then gets himself taken out by a very impressive showing from Daisy.  One definite benefit of Hive-Daisy is just how much she has been embracing her powers since Hive turned her.  She is inventing new (and more brutal) uses of her powers in each episode, and the Kree Reaper simply cannot do anything against her.  She subdues him and Radcliff hooks him up to his device to drain his blood.

Image Courtesy
The next part might be the best character moment in the entire episode as Mack enters the “workshop” and tries to reason with Daisy.  He thinks that there’s a part of her which is fighting against Hive’s control—that’s how she slipped up and led S.H.I.E.L.D. to them.  She, however, does not want to be saved because she has finally found meaning and purpose, and she is no longer being used by S.H.I.E.L.D., which created her to be a weapon which they could use in their war.  Mack refuses to rise to the bait and doubles down on trying to appeal to the part of her which was his partner and his friend before this all began.  She throws it back into his face, saying that at one time she considered him like a big brother… but considering how poorly he discharged that duty for his own little brother, she can’t stand the idea of him as a big brother to her.  It’s amazing just how natural what Daisy is saying and doing feels.  She is not being forced to act against her will per se, but is acting like she had all her inhibitions taken away.  Now she wants Mack to join them by going through the process of becoming Inhuman—she wants all of her S.H.I.E.L.D. friends to undergo the procedure.  And for a moment I thought that they might actually let Mack become their guinea pig… right up until he threw a splinter bomb at the Kree, eliminating his body and ensuring that Radcliff couldn’t collect enough Kree blood for his experiment.  Daisy reacts by attacking Mack and pretty much brutalizing him, breaking the bones in his arms, pummeling his chest, and even doing something to his head/ear.  It was only the timely intervention of S.H.I.E.L.D. which prevented Daisy from actually killing him.  I actually would not have been surprised at all if they decided to kill off Mack in that scene, although I am glad that they didn’t kill him.

Meanwhile, Hive fights the other Kree Reaper while the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team watches from the sidelines.  The Reaper gets in a lot of good shots, but I don’t think Hive can actually feel pain from blows dealt to his human host.  Every single punch the Reaper throws at him gets taken and ignored.  Finally Hive lays into him, consuming the Kree.  The S.H.I.E.L.D. team opens fire on Hive, but it is largely ineffective; even their biggest guns don’t make enough of a dent as he succeeds in repairing a shoulder in a matter of seconds after they get in a single good hit.  S.H.I.E.L.D. flees, rescues Mack and escapes in a containment pod before Hive can do anything to them.  This was actually quite surprising:  I thought that they were going to kill off multiple members of the strike group in this episode, but no one exactly died.

Image Courtesy
The other key plot in this episode focuses on Lincoln.  After being benched at the end of the last episode, Lincoln is not taking his confinement and uselessness well.  He wants to be able to help find Daisy, but he can’t leave the base because Coulson is afraid of the consequences if Hive turns another of his agents.  The one thing that he can sign up for, however, is to help Fitz and Simmons figure out an atnti-toxin which can counteract Hive’s control over Inhumans.  Simmons is worried that it is too dangerous, but Lincoln ignores her fears and injects himself behind their back.  The anti-toxin completely destroys his immune system, leaving him in a compromised and fragile state.  In this state he must be confined to an isolation chamber and tended pretty regularly.  However, he is able to sustain himself with the hope that this will help to develop a cure for Daisy.  Unfortunately, the episode ends on the dour note that the anti-toxin failed.  However, last time Simmons developed a treatment and it failed, it turned out that the treatment didn’t actually fail but succeeded on a delayed timetable (1x06, “FZZT”).  Could the same thing be true in this situation?  Yes, but I’m not sure the likelihood of them recycling that cliché.

I think Lincoln has benefited the most from all the recent changes—Bobbi and Hunter leaving and Daisy being turned.  He has gotten quite a bit more screen time, and I think that he’s capitalized on it.  Yes, he is still Daisy’s boyfriend, and yes, he still doesn’t get along with Daisy’s “parents” (May has a great moment of not minimizing his affections for Daisy because “The rest of us have known her a lot longer”).  These last few episodes, particularly since Daisy revealed herself to be the traitor, have actually started to make me care what happens to Lincoln and see him as more than just “the love interest.”  I might be the only one, but I don’t think so.

Image Courtesy
One other aspect we need to talk about is Hive.  Now that we know his plan, what can we really say about it?  For starters, it’s pretty insane for him to be turning regular humans into Inhumans, even if he does still retain his original memories of the process they used on him.  I think that at some point he will succeed, but I don’t know if using Daisy’s blood will yield immediate results.  To be honest, my first thought on seeing him experimenting on the Hydra leaders was that instead of creating new Inhumans, Hive would actually end up with the MCU equivalent of Alpha Primitives (a slave class genetically created by the Inhumans to be strong and dumb).  It didn’t happen yet, but it still could be the case.

Hive himself is something of an enigma.  He is incredibly soft-spoken, but every word he speaks sounds like he is about to do something crazy.  I really like Brett Dalton’s portrayal of the character.  Over 3 seasons he has hands-down won the award for Most Versatile Actor.  He started off playing this strong-but-silent Good Guy™ character, but by the end of season 1 he is Traitor McTraitorson.  Season 2 he goes from being the Penitent Exposition Troll to the standard antihero type.  Then in season 3 he goes whole-hog as a villain before dying and coming back as an ancient Inhuman god!  Considering that Ward himself is dead at this point, it’s a pretty safe bet that this is the last version of the character that’s going to appear, but I suppose they could always do something wild to keep him around.  Personally, my preference would be for them to give him a good send-off and move on.

I really enjoyed this episode, particularly the conflict between Mack and Daisy.  I really expected that she would actually kill him there, but I’m kind of glad she didn’t.  One thing is definitely sure:  Daisy is fully under Hive’s control, and really loving it.  I am really excited for next week’s episode, not only because I’m curious how S.H.I.E.L.D. will run with the aftermath of Civil War, but also because I want to see exactly how they are setting up the finale.

What was your favorite part of this episode?  How do you think they will counter Hive’s control?  Let me know in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment