This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets their MCU references out of the way early, beginning the episode with a news recap of the events of Captain America: Civil War. It’s a nice reminder that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the show does still exist in the same universe as the movies. Coulson, not surprisingly, supports Captain America in the debate, although his arguments with Talbot made me support Team Iron Man more than I already did. When Talbot finds out about Daisy being controlled by Hive, he brings up an extremely valid point that the possibility of an Inhuman falling into the wrong hands is exactly the reason we should be keeping track of them.
The episode also brings up a new aspect of the Sokovia Accords that wasn’t addressed in the movie: the UN essentially wants to build an index of super powered people, complete with finger prints and power rankings. Coulson, strangely insistent on remaining in the shadows even though the fate of the entire world is at stake, doesn’t like this idea. Coulson’s obsessive hangups about revealing what he’s doing to the public help to answer one of the questions that has been bugging me about this season so far: why not call in The Avengers, or at least Deathlok? If Hive is so bad, and an Inhuman can’t defeat him, then why not get a non-Inhuman enhanced individual to help fight him? Apparently it’s because the higher the stakes get, the more Coulson wants to keep everything a secret. It’s a bit of logic that I don’t necessarily follow, but I’ll at least give the show some points for having Talbot point out to Coulson how ridiculous that sounds.
The episode spent a lot of time making me hate Lincoln for acting so completely out of character and randomly deciding to betray S.H.I.E.L.D. for a still-brainwashed Daisy. Fortunately, the reveal in the last ten minutes of the episode that Lincoln’s entire escape had been a ruse completely redeemed Lincoln. Unfortunately, it did so at the cost of Lash. Lash is an aspect of this season that the show has never quite seemed to figure out how to handle. In the first half of a season, he was a threat that would be extremely menacing one episode and completely absent the next, and the reveal that he was actually Andrew Garner wasn’t nearly as powerful as it could have been. In this half of the season, ever since Lincoln began talking about Inhumans being created to ensure a sort of balance among Inhumans, it seemed fairly obvious that Hive and Lash would eventually meet in an epic Inhuman showdown.
Well, that showdown happened this week, and it was…extremely disappointing. Lash frees Daisy of Hive’s control and manages to get one or two good shots in on Hive, but gets rather unceremoniously killed by Hellfire (with his signature chain, at least) and Lincoln spouts some bullshit about how his true purpose was to free Daisy. Lash was a great character with a ton of potential, so it’s really frustrating that after an entire season of build-up, he was completely squandered. Not only does his death and rushed redemption waste a great villain, it also makes May’s story arc this season end on an unsatisfying and anticlimactic note.
There were some solid parts of this episode. Talbot’s dialogue is always a highlight, and Lincoln’s secret mission was a very well done surprise that I didn’t see coming. Even in this show’s poorer episodes (and, to me at least, this episode was one of the least satisfying in a while) the excellent characters still make it an enjoyable watch. But some of those characters acted completely against how they should this episode, that it was a bit jarring. For example, why doesn’t May show any concern that Hive would be able to control Lash, an Inhuman? And speaking of Hive, he uses a fake ATCU leak to trap several members of the Anti-Inhumans gang ‘The Watchdogs’ and turn them into Inhumans against their will. The experiment doesn’t go quite as expected, and they wind up looking a lot like Deadpool did in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Then for some reason, Hive, the character who wants to give all humans a chance to be perfect Inhumans, just decides “Fuck it, good enough” and tells Dr. Radcliffe to stop improving his procedure. This makes absolutely no sense for someone who wants to create an entire planet for the Inhuman race. His sentimentality when he refers to them as his and Daisy’s “children” is suitably creepy, but it doesn’t make enough sense to justify the strange choice.
Despite high hopes and many opportunities for excellence, the “Fallen Agent” episodes on this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have fallen far short of their potential. Hopefully, next week’s two-part finale will resolve the season in a more satisfying way and justify the set-up of the past few episodes.
1.5 Civil War References out of 5. It’s not that surprising that Coulson took Agent Carter’s death hard. I’d love to see a scene where a veteran Carter mentors Coulson as a rookie.
Lots of great Talbot lines this week. The best was either his reaction to Lash, “Rasta-Hulk is your husband?” or his reaction to Lash’s name, “Who in tarnation names these things?”
Best non-Talbot line of the night goes to Mack: “Now I’m thinking maybe I’m not the Inhuman whisperer”
The “Primitive” Watchdog Inhumans created in the “Alpha” test are a reference to Alpha Primitives, an Inhuman slave-species created for menial labor so the real Inhumans could pursue higher forms of work.
At the end of the episode, Elena gives Mack her cross necklace of death, but I think it’s just a misdirect. My prediction for who’s dying next week? May. As much as I’d hate to see her go, I’m not sure there’s any room left for her character to grow, and the show hasn’t known what to do with her since the season began.