Civil War tie-ins! Lash vs. Hive! Flaming chains! Things are getting intense on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. as we head towards next week’s two-part finale. You can check out Doug’s review of episode 20 here, and read on for the biggest moments from “Emancipation.”
1) Fallen Agent Carter
It was always a given that S.H.I.E.L.D. would somehow tie-in to Captain America: Civil War this season, but how they would do that was never quite known. While the entirety of Season 1 was shaped for better and worse by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the show attempted an awkward Avengers: Age of Ultron tie-in last season, it was anyone’s guess how much this season would be affected by the actions of the Avengers. Early in the season, it looked like the team might be divided along various ideological lines and have their own Civil War. But as the show and Hive’s endgame approached, we seemed to move away from those discussion as things headed towards a typical stop-the-bad-guy-from-destroying-the-world scenario.
What we ended up getting was fitting as the characters simply react to the news (which would be impossible not to do, especially given Coulson’s “friendship” with so many of the Avengers) without getting into the whole “picking a side” thing. While that works as a small tie-in, the stuff with Talbot is less effective. The idea of the Inhumans registering is fascinating from a story standpoint, but it’s far too late in the season for it to get the screentime it needs. It’s also shackled by the fact that the government and registration on the show is so far removed from the government and registration of the movie universe. This once again highlights how the TV side of the MCU is hurt more than helped by its disconnect from the films. It’s more than likely that this whole plot thread will simply be forgotten by the next episode as we deal with the show’s season finale and I sincerely doubt it’ll come up next season, but fingers crossed because it has potential.
What ends up working the best about the Civil War tie-in is the most subtle aspect of it: the death of Peggy Carter. While she’s certainly played a role in a number of the films, Peggy (Hayley Atwell) has had a far larger impact on the Marvel TV universe. Aside from two seasons of her own show, she’s appeared in a number of flashbacks on S.H.I.E.L.D.. It’s fitting that Coulson has such a personal reaction to the feud between Cap and Iron Man and Agent Carter’s death because, as he said, Peggy and Steve helped found the SSR and S.H.I.E.L.D.. He’s a fanboy and these two are the pillars of everything he knows and loves about the world he’s in. Now one is a fugitive and the other is dead.
And a personal response like this is fitting as the whole idea behind Civil War is that it’s a personal and ideological conflict between a group that’s more family than friends. It’s an idea that of course resonants with this group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and is especially meaningful given what the team is struggling with this episode. From Daisy to Lash, the characters and audience are forced to reconsider what it means to be good and evil, wrong and right.
2) Lash v. Hive
Speaking of Lash, he’s still around! Well, not anymore. RIP. This episode once again randomly had Lash show up so we could say goodbye to him. I think that’s at least the third time this season. On the plus side, it looks like he’s finally dead this time. While I’m surprised May isn’t around for his final moments, I am glad that we don’t have to sit through another goodbye between the two.
I’m also bummed that our last time with Lash has him still looking so terrible. Talbot is dead on when he calls him “Rasta Hulk.” If only he could have looked as bad-ass as he does in the comics. But fanboy bellyaching aside, seeing him go toe-to-toe with Hive was amazing. Hive has started to prove why he’s so deadly in the past few episodes, and so when he faces off against Lash, we know it’s going to be a big fight. The fact the Lash’s energy powers can counteract Hive’s parasites is an interesting twist as well.
Not only does Lash hold off Hive, he’s able to pull the parasites out of Daisy. It’s a cool way to cure her, but the whole Beauty and the Beast vibe of him carrying her off while strings swell was too much. And though the idea of a purpose for the Inhumans gaining their abilities is interesting, it skewed a little too close to intelligent design for my liking, especailly with all the faith talk and cross-swapping between Mack and Yo-Yo in this episode.
But even after all the heroics, Andrew finally departs this world as even a chaotic-good Lash is no match for the greatest weapon of all: FLAME CHAIN!
3) FLAME CHAIN!
When the show turned James into Hellfire from the Secret Warriors comic, it looked like his powers would be more like Gambit’s instead of the hellfire-controlling abilities JT James has on the page. The twist worked well as the original James could only channel his power through a big chain and that didn’t seem to be the direction the show was going. Thank god they turned the car around. Making the Inhuman’s powers look unique is one of the biggest challenges for this show, especially when they’re considering their budget limitations. But they’ve made huge leaps this season, finding innovative ways to use everyone’s abilities. While James igniting random objects and having them explode was pretty cool, the visual of the slow-mo chain lighting on fire and whipping through the air was insane. James was an okay character to me before, but I now demand he have his own spin-off. At the very least, it proved that a Ghost Rider series might not be as hard to pull off. Here’s hoping the finale next week is jam-packed full of sweet flaming chain fights.
So, what did you think? Let us know in the comments what your favorite moments were and what you’re hoping to see next week. You can check out the promo for episodes 21 and 22 titled “Absolution” and “Ascension” here and for all things Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., follow along here. For more MCU related news and features, make sure to follow us on Twitter.