Aaaand we’re back
After an extended winter break, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally returned, and believe me, it was missed. After all the hype for Secret Warriors before this season began, Bouncing Back makes it clear that we’re finally about to see Daisy’s team start to come together as Inhumans become more and more commonplace.
The bulk of this week’s story is focused on Daisy, Joey, Mack, Bobbi, and Hunter as they travel to Bogota investigating reports of Inhuman activity. There, they find Elena Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), an Inhuman speedster whose powers are tied to her heart rate, allowing her to run as far as she can in the span of a single heartbeat before “bouncing back” (get it?) to where she began.
Elena, or Yo-Yo as she’s known in the comics (and by the end of this episode) is one of the more interesting Inhuman characters the show has introduced so far, and she brings out the best of those around her. The fact that she only speaks Spanish allows Joey Gutierrez to take the lead on bringing her into the fold, which is great, especially because this is essentially the first time he’s been in the spotlight since the season premiere. Yo-Yo also brings out Mack’s religious side, which causes him to see Inhumans in a whole new light and adds some much needed layers to the character. The addition of Yo-Yo also gives Daisy her first real mission as the lead of a team of Inhumans–aside from the mid-season finale–and further proves that Chloe Bennet has grown and matured as an actress alongside Skye/Daisy’s growth as a character.
On the Coulson side of things, this episode feels like an important step in two very different journeys. First there’s S.H.I.E.L.D.’s journey as it slowly works its way back towards legitimacy. President Ellis’s welcome appearance in this episode reminds us that S.H.I.E.L.D. is still very much a secret organization, and the President only recently learned of its continued existence. However, the President’s willingness to use S.H.I.E.L.D. as an officially unofficial black-ops intelligence agency is a step in the right direction, and if it means that Coulson gets to boss General Talbot, the new head of the ATCU, around, then who am I to complain?
The other journey in this episode is Coulson’s journey down a dark, uncertain path. Ever since being brought back from the dead, Coulson has had little more than a series of difficult choices to make about how to do what’s right and how to carry out S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission to protect the world. His trip to Maveth blurred the lines between right and wrong more than any other of the countless morally dubious choices he’s made, and his decision to subject a comatose Werner Von Strucker to something that’s basically a torture machine shows he’s not back on the path of the righteous man just yet. His obsession with taking Gideon Malick down (which will only be magnified when he learns that Ward is still sticking around, I’m sure) sets Coulson up to potentially become a much darker character than we might expect. After all, one of the best villains in the MCU, Wilson Fisk, is basically just a man trying to do what he thinks is right regardless of the cost.
The only major weak point in this episode was, as many have predicted, the show’s encroaching character bloat. While the entire team in Bogota got plenty to do, and Coulson had his own things to worry about, the rest of the characters were left pretty much unused this episode. FitzSimmons have a nice scene at the end of the episode, but aside from a few encouraging lines and a quick electroshock therapy session, May and Lincoln have essentially zero impact on the episode. At the end of the episode, Daisy offers a potential solution to this problem, allowing members of the Secret Warriors to live normal lives until she needs to assemble the team. This eliminates the potential problem of new characters, but doesn’t do anything to help the already-full cast that’s already there. As much as I love Bobbi and Hunter on this show, their spin-off can’t come soon enough.
4 slabs of raw meat out of 5. Our first few scenes with Hive this episode are very encouraging. Brett Dalton plays a pretty convincing alien parasite thing.
The “3 Months Later” flash-forward at the beginning of this episode seems to suggest that the Secret Warriors are going to space at some point this season…and it won’t end well.
“We’ll keep doing what we do, and you’ll keep pretending we don’t exist”–Coulson’s quote to President Ellis pretty much sums up the MCU’s feelings about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
“You snap back to the same spot like a Yo-Yo. Good to know.” Don’t get me wrong, I like Mack. But when it comes to giving out nicknames, he’s no Cisco Ramon.
Bobbi’s cheerful “Hey you!” when they rescue Mack might be the highlight of the episode for me.
Hearing Daisy mention her hacker past was such a strong reminder of how much she’s changed that it almost took me out of the show.
Right before the episode revealed the new head of the ATCU, my local ABC Affiliate cut to a story about Donald Trump. For a second I thought the show was going in a very different direction.