Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 18, "The Singularity" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

Image Courtesy
First, I’d like to thank ABC for getting their “Your Voice Your Vote” segment out of the way before the episode started and not interrupting it partway through again.  You finally figured out how to do it!  Good job!  (pats head condescendingly)

Of course, I’d probably be more invested in this election cycle if I weren’t feeling so cynical about the whole thing.  Not to get political (he says, getting political), but off all the candidates still in the race for the two major parties, there’s only one I would vote for, and he’s not a frontrunner.  It doesn’t help matters that neither of the frontrunners is particularly popular—with anyone.  The last few elections there’s always been at least 1 candidate whose platform I could support—or at least that I could believe wasn’t actively trying to destroy this country!  That didn’t mean that the 1 candidate always won, but there was always someone to vote for.  This time around, if the race continues the way it’s shaping up, I do not see either major party candidate doing anything other than ruin our country.


Now back to your regularly-scheduled Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. review!

I have to say that I did not see all of the twists and turns coming in this episode.  The relationship drama seemed to take the spotlight for much of the episode, but there was enough other stuff going on—and the relationship drama was engaging enough—that I was invested through the whole thing.

Let’s just get that out of the way first:  both “ships” from season 1 set sail in this episode and had some very good moments.  However, at the end of the day only one of those “ships” really made any headway.

Image Courtesy
Pretty early in the episode Daisy returns to Hive, who is at a spot where she would often park to sleep while she was on her own.  The two of them have a sweet moment together as she talks about Ward and Hive mines Ward’s memories.  It is interesting that even with their connection, Daisy is still happy that Ward is dead—and even more interesting that Hive says Ward himself is also in his own way glad to be dead.  This also gives Hive an opportunity to start teasing out his plan:  there will be no more war and no more pain because everyone will be one.  He is going to create a perfect home for the Inhumans.  While he is talking about this, Daisy puts her head on his shoulder and he puts his arm around her.  This is all the “SkyeWard” that the episode contains, and it’s really just there as a nice nod for the fans.

Fitz and Simmons, on the other hand, get much more development in their relationship, particularly after their kiss at the end of last week’s episode.  Near the beginning of this episode, they take some time to discuss the ramifications of their kiss for their working relationship and decided that they need to work on keeping their good working relationship no matter what happens in their personal relationship.  Later on while they are in Romania on their mission, they go off-comm. for a while to talk further about their relationship.  They realize that their relationship up until now has been very linear, but that they have come to a “Singularity”—a moment in their relationship which, once it happens, will leave nothing the same again.  What’s the moment?  The two of them having sex:  once they’ve slept together, there will be no way for their relationship to be the same ever again.  So considering that it took 1 season (8 years of knowing each other) for Fitz to say he loves her, then another 1½ years for them to kiss, and then another several months for them to kiss again and actually mean it, what’s the timetable in the whole “sex” thing?  Actually it’s the end of this episode when they finally have sex.

I’ve said in the past that I am not a huge fan of relationship drama as a major aspect of a series or movie—that’s one of the definite issues I’ve had with Arrow in particular.  However, even though the relationship drama was a major aspect of this Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, I really didn’t feel like it overwhelmed or distracted from the rest of the episode.  The most that it did in that respect was to increase the stakes somewhat for Fitz and Simmons’ confrontations with Team Hive.

The rest of the episode focused in on the fallout from last week’s revelation.  We see Coulson and May’s reactions to Daisy being compromised by Hive.  S.H.I.E.L.D. attempts to rescue Alisha, who has been under their protection since her run-in with Lash and then to track down Hive.  Fitz and Simmons follow up on a lead which could give them a way to counter Hive’s power.  However, just about nothing actually goes their way.

Even though Daisy messed up S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hangar and damaged the hydraulics on the door so it can’t open more than partway, May still manages to maneuver Zephyr One out of the hangar.  She, Lincoln, and Coulson (whose leg was seriously injured in the earthquake) fly to Alisha’s safe house, where Lincoln (wearing a “murder vest” so they can kill him if Hive gets him) goes in to try to bring Alisha in.  However, they are too late:  Daisy and Hive have already been there and turned her.  One of her cones tries to sneak up on Lincoln, but he sees it coming and fights back.  May and Coulson come in to save him, but May gets knocked down and Lincoln starts to go crazy with his electrical powers to force Alisha into revealing Daisy’s location.  Instead of talking, Alisha clone 1 shoots Alisha clone 2 right before Coulson shoots the remaining clone.  This shocks Lincoln, who knows just how painful that actually is for Alisha:  she feels everything that happens to her clones!  Realizing just how badly compromised Lincoln is by everything—and unwilling to risk someone that Daisy cares so much for—Coulson chooses to take Lincoln out of the field.  I really enjoyed seeing Coulson and May fighting over Coulson’s erratic actions with respect to Daisy.  We’ve known just how much he cares for Daisy ever since season 1, and now that she’s been turned Coulson is willing to do just about anything to get her back, no matter who’s at risk.  May is with him on that, but she does not appreciate being the one doing Coulson’s dirty work.  I feel like this is a conversation that’s been a long time coming between them.

From here, Coulson and his team follow Hive and Daisy to South Dakota, where they visited James (the Inhuman Lincoln brought her to a couple weeks ago).  Hive demands to know where the other component of the Kree artifact is, and one James has been transformed and turned he immediately reveals its location under his cabin.  Daisy’s use of her powers to unearth the artifact draws S.H.I.E.L.D. to the cabin, but Hive leaves it booby-trapped.  Coulson and May arrive to find the hole in the floor just before the explosives detonate.  They take shelter in the hole in the ground just before the explosion, and Coulson uses an energy shield built into his cybernetic hand to save them.  I think the energy shield was the coolest part of this episode, as it is a definite Easter egg for Captain America’s photonic energy shield from the comics.  And of course Coulson would want a shield similar to Captain America’s!

Before moving on, we can also talk about James, who received the Inhuman ability to “charge” objects with fire so they explode.  It’s not exactly like pyro-kinesis; he seems to need an object to “charge.”  This is a really neat take on the J.T. James from the Secret Warriors comics.  However, the comic book inspiration was not an Inhuman but instead the grandson of Carter Slade, the original Ghost Rider, and had the ability to channel “hellfire” through his chain.  James even settles on the codename of his comic counterpart, Hellfire, at the end of the episode.

Image Courtesy
While Coulson’s team is trying to secure the Inhumans, Fitz, Simmons, and Mack go to Romania to track down Dr. Radcliffe, a scientist who worked for Transia Corporation in the lab that Hive destroyed.  Hopefully his research will hold the key to defeating Hive and negating his power over the Inhumans.  Interestingly, Radcliffe is a “transhumanist,” which means that he is interested in turning ordinary humans into something greater than a human.  When Fitz and Simmons go into the bar he works out of, just about everyone there has some form of biological enhancement.  His assistant basically has a smart-phone built into her forearm.  They don’t show a ton here, but the lack of really seeing differences actually works quite well: the imagination can do a lot of crazy things with this kind of premise.  Radcliffe agrees to talk to them, but instantly distrusts them because the tech they brought to show him was developed from Hydra tech.  Unfortunately, before Fitz can convince him to help them save Daisy, Ward and Daisy arrive to abduct Radcliffe for themselves.  Daisy takes the opportunity to hold Fitz down with her power and tell him to stop trying to rescue her—she’s happy—and that if he really loves Simmons then the two of them need to get out of S.H.I.E.L.D. so they can avoid being the ones who die in the quinjet from her vision.  Hive meanwhile stops to talk to Simmons as Will, but this absolutely freaks her out and turns her against him all the more:  she empties her handgun into Ward’s gut and escapes.  While the two of them are dealing with Daisy and Hive, Mack is trying to fight James, but he can’t really get anywhere against him.  In the end everyone leaves, but no one gets exactly what they came for.

Hive brings Radcliffe to a town that he purchased with Malick’s money, where he informs him that he brought him there so he can recreate the Kree experimentation on regular humans, bringing them up to the level of the Inhumans.  In other words, Hive wants to make the entire human race into superhumans.  Whoa…

One of the best parts of this episode—leaving all the romantic stuff to the side for now—is just how comfortable and “happy” Daisy appears to be.  She now has a family with Hive and his Inhumans.  She has also figured out several new and inventive ways to use her powers, such as flat-out holding Fitz against the wall and holding the air out off his lungs.  James getting his powers was also really cool.  I actually found it quite fascinating the effect that being “Hived” had on James’ transformation:  all of the aches and pains seemingly disappeared as soon as James was under Hive’s control.  They also gave a good explanation for what Hive’s control means:  the Inhumans are essentially addicted to it because Hive’s parasites release high levels of dopamine in their brains.  I can see ways that they could defeat Hive and rescue the Inhumans under his control, but I’m still interested to see how it will actually happen.

Something that became pretty clear in this episode is the definite parallels between Hive and his Inhumans and Apocalypse and the four horsemen—not the least the fact that Hive now has four Inhumans under his control (Daisy, James, Alisha, and Giyera).  In both cases, a highly-advanced member of their respective race who comes from ancient times has returned to establish a utopian sanctuary for his kind.  He has a very low opinion of regular humans and sees them as of little value.  He gathers followers, whom he has a particular way of controlling, and it is up to the rest of his race to defeat them and avert the impending doom.

The parallels are all there, but I think that what we’ve seen of Hive makes him appear more interesting to me than Apocalypse.  In contrast to Apocalypse’s “cult leader” mentality toward his followers, Hive actually sees them all as part of a single organism.  Rather than simply doing away with normal humans, Hive appears to see some value in them (even if that value is primarily as food and as hosts).  Though both Apocalypse and Hive may have a similar view of their followers (as being beneath them and disposable), Hive’s view seems a little more nuanced as he still retains the human memories of his previous hosts.

I really enjoyed this episode and I can’t wait to see how S.H.I.E.L.D. will react to everything that happened!

What was your favorite part of this episode?  How do you think the Fitz/Simmons relationship will get complicated next episode?  Let me know in the comments!

If you want to get an email whenever I publish a new article, go to the top of the page and enter your email address in the box labeled “Subscribe to Mostly MCU Reviews” and click “Submit.”

No comments:

Post a Comment