Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 6, "Among Us Hide..." REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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So right off the bat, I’d like to congratulate Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for making it to 50 episodes!  Considering how many people (not me) were writing you off after about 5 episodes, I am very glad that you managed to prove me right for believing in you from the get-go.  And what’s even more amazing is just how well you have been sowing seeds all through the series which have paid off down the line.  For example, I really think that some things from “Melinda” (2x17) are going to pay off big time next week, after this week’s major reveal.  But now, on to the review.

I think this episode can be summed up in one word:  Whoa!  Or maybe another one:  Whaaaa…?  There were some amazing moments in this episode, and a few that were downright shocking.  And I loved pretty much every moment of it.

The episode opens with the aftermath of the explosion two weeks ago in “Devils You Know” (3x04), when Ward ordered Werner von Strucker to kill Andrew.  Andrew is still alive, but he was seriously injured in the explosion.  He tells May that he survived because Coulson had an agent tailing him, and that agent shot one of the Hydra guys, buying enough time for Andrew to find cover.  Of course, I suppose that should have been our first indication that there was something wrong:  since when do three Hydra goons turn tail and run just because one of them got shot by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who’s already dead?  Wouldn’t they have just finished the job at their leisure once the tail was taken care of?  Be that as it may, this minor plot hole managed to appease Coulson and May, at least long enough for them to leave the room.

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Coulson very quickly decides that Hunter is too personally involved with the Ward mission—really slow on the uptake there, guy!—and benches him in favor of May.  Of course, it’s not like May is any less personally involved, considering that Ward put her ex-husband in the hospital!  Anyways, May decides to recruit the other half of the Hunter/Bobbi pairing by fighting Bobbi and proving to her that she is ready to go back into the field.  Their fight wasn’t the most exciting thing on the show, but it wasn’t meant to be; it was meant more as a glorified sparring match which showed how fit Bobbi was.  The two of them leave pretty quickly in Zephyr One to start tracking Ward down through Werner von Strucker, the only member of the Hydra hit team to make it out alive.  I really liked the walk-through they gave us of the plane.  It is nowhere near as impressive as a helicarrier, but it is definitely an improvement over the Bus in terms of capabilities.  I hope we get more opportunities to see the interior.

May and Bobbi follow the money trail to the Cayman Islands, where they smooth talk their way into the vault and break into a Hydra safety deposit box which holds a number of Werner von Strucker’s documents.  When they are discovered, Bobbi tries to talk their way out of the situation, but it doesn’t exactly work as one of the guards gets suspicious and they need to fight.  After the fact May calls Bobbi on being gun-shy after her torture at Ward’s hands and trying to talk her way out of the situation because she’s afraid to fight.  Bobbi kind of brushes it off at first, but admits that it is the case, something which I find quite interesting.  Considering how strong and capable Bobbi was depicted in season 2, it is a good move for her character to show some weakness and vulnerability.  That weakness and vulnerability almost immediately pays off as Bobbi and May raid Werner’s safehouse, where a Hydra team is already working him over.  Bobbi finds herself fighting Kebo one-on-one, and he uses his size to his advantage.  There’s a good moment right before they fight when Bobbi has to steel herself to go back into the fray and let the torture make her stronger.  Kebo nearly drowns her in the pool outside, but Bobbi manages to get away from him and use her batons to zap the pool and knock him out.  Meanwhile, May takes on the rest of the guys inside, defeats them, and gets to Werner just in time to hear what appears to be his dying confession.  And it is wild.  But now’s not the time for it.

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I suppose the next subplot to discuss is Ward’s.  Ward of course finds out very quickly that Werner failed to kill Andrew and tells Kebo that he needs to find him because Werner knows too much now, and they need to make sure that he doesn’t get a chance to spill his guts to S.H.I.E.L.D.  And just at that moment, the enigmatic Gideon Malick (played by Powers Boothe) steps onto the stage.  Werner goes to Malick for help in getting away from Ward, whom he expects will kill him, and Malick immediately turns around and calls Ward to give him Werner’s location (leading to that confrontation between May and Bobbi and Hydra).  I find Malick’s character to be interesting for how little we know about him.  Assuming that this is the same shadowy figure that Powers Boothe played in The Avengers (as several sources claim), we know that he was a member of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s World Security Council, and from his conversations with Werner and Ward we know that he worked with von Strucker and was the one that all the other Hydra heads feared—making him even higher on the totem pole than even von Strucker.  Does this mean that he’s the one that Mitch Carson was working for in Ant-Man?  Is he going to connect to Baron Zemo in Captain America: Civil War?  Is he even Hydra, or just an independent party?  All of those questions should be answered soon enough.

Moving on to the other important plots, they both revolve around S.H.I.E.L.D. and the A.T.C.U.  Daisy for her part is trying to figure out who Lash is, now that she knows that he transforms into a normal person and suspects that he is working with the A.T.C.U.  She asks Andrew for some help, but he can’t help her too much, as Mack almost immediately calls her away with his own theory.  He believes that Lash could be Banks (Rosalind’s number two) since he left so much sooner than they did two weeks ago.  Of course, if you remember my article from 2 Fridays ago, you know that unless Lash can be in two places at once, Lash can’t be Banks (the train scene and hospital scene in “Laws of Nature” (3x01) happen simultaneously).  However, Daisy clearly doesn’t read my blog (I’m kind of hurt), so she and the Secret Warriors go to follow Banks… at which point Hunter goes off the reservation and Ices Banks so they can collect a DNA sample.  For as inventive as that plan was, it was seriously stupid, something which Daisy and Mack both called him on.  I think the theme tying this episode together is characters calling each other on their B.S.:  May and Bobbi, Daisy/Mack and Hunter, Malick and Ward, Simmons and Andrew, Coulson and Rosalind… the list could go on.

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Based on the blood sample, Simmons is able to rule out Banks as being an Inhuman, but Daisy and her team still manage to intercept a message indicating a drop-off location for the A.T.C.U.  They check it out, and they discover that the A.T.C.U. is dropping off a new Inhuman at their containment facility, where the Inhumans are kept in suspended animation in boxes.  And who else happens to be there but Coulson!  Daisy is understandably angry to discover Inhumans being held in boxes like a zoo, and shocked by Coulson’s calm demeanor.

Coulson for his part has a bit of a long road to get there.  First he and Rosalind take a detour to her house, which was evidently broken into… though he quickly suspects foul play on her part since nothing of value was taken, even the $7,000 baseball bat sitting next to the door!  Coulson suspects that she is trying to gain sympathy from him so he will accept what he sees at the facility.  Of course, since he figured out her play, she’s not too happy, and he’s not too sympathetic.  At the facility, Coulson is not terribly thrilled with the idea of keeping Inhumans in stasis—calling it something out of a “horror movie”—but he is willing to accept Rosalind’s explanation that she is trying to cure it so the people can return to their normal life.  He is more understanding when she explains that she lost her husband to cancer, which drives her to try to cure these Inhumans.  I am very curious to see where this is heading:  we know from the Inhumans that Terrigenesis isn’t something that can be reversed, and we know from Daisy that accepting the change can make one stronger.  Is Coulson going to go along with Rosalind’s efforts to cure Terrigenesis, or will he try to convince her to stop?

Fitz and Simmons also get a minor subplot near the end of the episode as a follow-up to last week’s episode when Simmons asked him to help her rescue Will.  Fitz ran simulations and discovered that they can’t use the Monolith to get back to the planet, but that there are other options.  The two of them also have a tender moment of acknowledging the weirdness of the situation, with Simmons asking Fitz to help her rescue “the competition” (as Hunter put it).  However, Fitz is still willing to help, which I think says a lot about him.  It is also interesting that he is doing research on Will—which I think may have been included for our benefit to show that Will is/was a real person rather than a figment of Simmons’ mind.

Oh, and Lincoln is still out there and still sort-of in contact with Daisy.

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So, now for the big reveal.  While he’s lying on the floor of his penthouse dying, Werner explains to May what really happened in the convenience store:  Andrew transformed into Lash and killed the two Hydra guys before transforming back to Andrew and blowing up the store to cover his tracks.  In other words, ANDREW IS LASH!  And May is shocked by the revelation.  I was a little surprised that they decided to go that way, though I had a suspicion they were going to do it.  I can’t say the same for my wife, though; she was completely blindsided by it!  I have a few thoughts about what this means going forward, so I will publish an article with that speculation on Friday.

Overall, this was an awesome episode with some great character development.  I enjoyed seeing Fitz and Hunter play off each other for the first time this season, just as much as I enjoyed seeing May and Bobbi play off each other for the first time this season.  Hunter back on the Secret Warriors was quite interesting with his anger issues, as was Bobbi’s first mission since the torture and the reveal that she’s become gun-shy.  Coulson and Rosalind had some great chemistry in this episode.  They definitely pulled a fast one with Rosalind and the A.T.C.U.:  they went from potentially evil to possibly good people doing the wrong thing.  It was all a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see where it will go from here.

What did you think of this episode?  Were you surprised that Andrew turned out to be Lash?  Do you think Andrew is a new Inhuman or an OG Inhuman?  How do you think the A.T.C.U.’s Inhuman zoo will factor into the rest of the season?  How do you think Fitz and Simmons will get back to the planet?  Let me know in the comments!

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