Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 15, "Spacetime" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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Before I move into the review, there’s something I really need to get off my chest.  About 30 minutes into this episode, ABC interrupted the show with an election report for the Wisconsin primary!  In the middle of a scene, they interrupt their own show for a political report that’s not exactly breaking news.  I’m sorry, but in what universe does that make sense?  It would have made far more sense to me if they had cut in with their “breaking news” during a commercial break, rather than midsentence.  As it is, they cut down the final commercial break so the episode concluded on time, so why couldn’t they have just interrupted a commercial?

Anyways, on to your regularly-scheduled Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. review.

Is time fixed?  That is the question which this episode asks.  Of course, that’s not the only question which this episode asks; it also asks and answers the question: Just how many pop culture references can one episode include, without actually mentioning other Marvel properties or anything from Marvel Comics?  The answer to that question is “a lot.”

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The episode opens with a homeless man using charcoal to color a little carved bird.  The shop owner arrives and asks him to leave so he doesn’t scare away the customers, but the homeless man (Charles) doesn’t leave at first.  The shop owner touches his hand, and suddenly goes into a horrified trance.  Cut from there to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team on Zephyr One monitoring emergency calls, one of which is from that shop owner babbling about Hydra coming for him and needing to find Daisy Johnson.  Daisy, Coulson, May, and Lincoln all respond to the call, curious to know how the man knew Daisy’s name.  It turns out that touching Charles gave him a vision of his own death, orchestrated by Hydra while Daisy Johnson is present.  Sure enough, a Hydra drone appears and starts shooting at them.  The shop owner is killed, and the drone captures Charles, though Daisy just manages to touché his hand as he is being drawn up.  The vision Daisy sees reveals a number of things, including Lincoln covered in blood, Coulson shooting her, and Charles dying.

The vision sets off a major philosophical argument among the S.H.I.E.L.D. team.  They all agree that it is possible for him to have given Daisy a vision of the future, but they are split as to whether or not that vision is alterable.  Can the future be changed?  Fitz absolutely refuses to believe that she can change it, but the others are willing to try.  Coulson wants to cut it off entirely by not letting Daisy off the base, while Lincoln equates this event with the fatalism associated with the distribution of Inhuman powers:  Daisy is meant to do this.  The team sets up a training course for the security room fight which May uses to speed up her time in getting through it.  It looks like they will be able to change the future, right up until May’s about to leave and none other than Andrew surrenders himself to their base and says that he’s about to transform into Lash for the last time and wants to say good-bye to her.

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Daisy convinces Coulson to let her go, and she enters the building, takes out the guards, and realizes that there’s a one-way mirror just a split-second before the Hydra agents on the other side would have shot her.  And Coulson appears at that moment and shoots the agents through the glass (it looks to Daisy like he’s shooting her).  Coulson and the rest of the team saw Ward on the building’s security feed, so they all went to the building.  Daisy makes it to the roof in time to see Charles being loaded into a helicopter, but she is attacked by Malick (wearing an experimental exoskeleton), who is about to kill her when Charles touches him, giving him a vision of the future.  This distracts Malick, who attacks Charles instead of finishing off Daisy.  Daisy has a moment to console the dying Charles, who asks her to protect his daughter, Robin, who probably has the Inhuman gene also.  She also touched Charles as he was dying, and he gave her the vision of the quinjet in space which opened the half-season.

In the end everything Daisy saw did come to pass… but the events were actually set into motion by the vision itself.  She would never have gone to that building if the vision hadn’t led her there.  I don’t know if this confirms that his visions or inevitable, or if it shows that the vision itself causes itself to come true.  According to Charles’ wife, he had many other visions, which all came true despite his efforts to prevent them.  Some of these were completely unavoidable (his mother-in-law going code blue, for example), but could his interference have caused the car accident?  It’s absolutely certain that Hydra would never have killed the shop owner if he hadn’t called 9-1-1 about an impending Hydra attack and name-dropped “Daisy Johnson” (a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent)—both of those things would have drawn Hydra’s interest just as much as they drew S.H.I.E.L.D.’s.  We have a month and a half left to speculate on just what that means for the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the quinjet, so I won’t discuss it any more today.

There are a number of other interesting plot threads to pick up.  Let’s first start with Hive and Malick.  The two have dinner together, at which Hive asks what Malick is looking to receive from him, and Malick describes his ancestors passing down the story that if they could bring Hive back to Earth, they would rule the world alongside him.  Hive latches onto Malick’s desire for “true power” and the two of them undertake a hostile takeover of the Transia Corporation to make it come true (Transia evidently was responsible for some of the technology in Coulson’s bionic hands).  Hive has Charles show the Transia CEO a vision of the future—his fellow board members being dissolved to feed Hive himself—which terrifies him into signing the company over.  And Hive feeds on the board members anyways, before telling Malick to test Transia’s experimental exoskeleton, which he tests out before using it to physically crush the CEO’s skull on Hive’s instructions.  Now that Hydra has taken over Transia Corporation, they have some technology which Hive is interested in.  Looking on the Marvel Wiki, I did find that Transia is a country within the Marvel Universe which houses, among other things, Wundagore Mountain (the home of the High Evolutionary).  Is there a connection?  “It’s all connected,” so…

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Next, we can talk about May and Andrew.  After Andrew surrenders to S.H.I.E.L.D., the two have a long and heartfelt conversation about what has happened.  Interestingly, Andrew and Lash have been sharing something of a Hulk/Banner relationship to this point:  elements of Lash’s personality bleed into Andrew, and elements of Andrew bleed into Lash.  However, he is afraid that once he turns for good, Lash will completely take over and he will be gone for good.  This actually makes me wonder if he won’t continue to make appearances as Lash’s conscience (or something like that), akin to Bruce talking to the Hulk in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes—that would be an interesting way to keep Andrew around.  However, even as Andrew shares his fear of oblivion, he also explains that he has hope that Lash will serve a purpose; that’s why he came to S.H.I.E.L.D. before his final transformation:  he thinks S.H.I.E.L.D. might at some point need to “unleash the monster.”  It’s someone prophetic that it’s at this moment that Coulson learns of Ward’s continued survival; I would not be surprised at all if Coulson has to set Lash loose against Hive in the season finale.

I really appreciated Ming Na Wen’s performance in this episode, particularly in her scenes with Blair Underwood.  She conveys the conflicted emotions associated with talking to an ex-husband she loves but whom she has distanced herself from due to his Inhuman killing spree very well.  When Andrew finally turns, it is a very good scene on all their parts.  A lot of the time, May keeps her emotions completely locked up, but scenes like this make it clear that she still has them.

As another quick note, May and Simmons did also give Andrew the Inhuman vaccine which Simmons had been working on.  However, it did not work on him.  Is this because he is too far into the process, or does this mean that the vaccine will not work?  I really hope that the vaccine will not actually work; I’m a fan of the Inhumans!

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Finally, we need to talk about what happened to Lincoln.  At the Transia building, Lincoln went after Giyera, but Giyera knocked him out with a fire extinguisher.  When we next see Lincoln his face is bloody and Hive and Giyera are standing together at the end of the hall.  Hive had previously told Giyera to spare any Inhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and Lincoln is still alive, so it seems likely that they know he’s Inhuman.  So why is he still alive?  I wonder if he wasn’t “Hived” while he was knocked out.  This would give Hydra an “inside man” within S.H.I.E.L.D. who can work against the Secret Warriors from within and reveal their plans to Hydra.  If this is the case, that would put him in the same position held by J.T. James/Hellfire on the comic book team of both dating Daisy and being a traitor!  However, at this point we don’t really have anything substantive to go on for this theory beyond the fact that they were within 50 yards of each other and Lincoln survived the encounter.  If he was turned, we probably won’t find out for at least a week or two.

I really enjoyed this episode.  It advanced the plot, particularly with the future vision from the beginning of the half-season.  We saw more of Hive’s powers on display.  Andrew and May had a really touching moment before he turned to Lash for the final time.  One major question this episode brought up revolves around Charles’ daughter Robin, who is almost certainly an Inhuman (though not transformed that we know):  will she return at some point as Daisy’s “sidekick”?  this would be kind of cool.  Another question raised by this episode involves the way Charles transformed:  Terrigen-laced rain fell on him, meaning that Terrigen is being transmitted by more than just fish; the water itself can carry it, as well.  I think this means that the Inhumans are going to start popping up with much more frequency!

Overall, I really can’t wait to see how the loose threads from this episode will be answered in the following weeks!

What did you think of this episode?  Do you think Daisy needs a sidekick?  Let me know in the comments!

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Easter Eggs:
  • Hive absolutely looks like Neo in that dark trench coat
  • “He is risen” (a literal “Easter” egg!)—was I the only one who wanted to respond “He is risen indeed, Alleluia”?  It’s like Star Wars and “May the Force be with you.”
  • Hive looked like a “Dawn of the Dead extra”
  • Fitz says that “Time is an illusion” (“… and so is death” –Avatar: The Last Airbender)
  • Coulson talking about the original Terminator, which Lincoln has never seen
  • “Hail Mary”—football reference (obvious)
  • The dudes being dissolved looked like the Nazis at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The face-crushing scene—was that a Game of Thrones or Spectre reference?

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