Bad news, fans of That’s So Raven. This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has officially earned the title of “best series on a Disney-owned network about women having visions of the future”.
But seriously, folks. This week’s episode had just about everything you could hope for in a story about trying to change the future: proclamations about destiny, ironic twists of fate, and even a Star Trek-style explanation of the fourth dimension using an easy-to-understand analogy! The source of all this clairvoyant hullabaloo is the unfortunate Inhuman Charles, who presents visions of death to whoever he comes into physical contact with. After the episode gives us a basic understanding of how the powers work in an excellent scene involving a random grocer, it gets to the real meat of the story when Charles touches Daisy. The vision shows Daisy a vision of the future which lays out several moments, all of which happen over the course of the next 40 minutes of television, and all of which look very bad. These moments include Coulson shooting Daisy, Lincoln covered in blood, and Fitz and Simmons holding hands and looking adorable. Okay, I guess not all of the moments in Daisy’s vision looked bad.
As Daisy and the team go to rescue Charles from Gideon Malick’s hands (and Hive’s…tentacles?) the beats we saw in Daisy’s vision each play out exactly as she saw them, despite the entire team’s best efforts to change the future. As with many episodes this season, this sparks an interesting debate between some of the agents about whether or not changing the future is even possible. It’s a meaty topic, and a popular one in the science-fiction genre, and the show handles it well without diving too deep into the headache-inducing paradoxes of Primer or even Looper. Unfortunately, while the payoff to all of this debate is fun to watch, it feels a little too much like any other mission. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attempt to free Charles from the building where he’s being held plays out exactly like it would if it were any other episode: there’s a plan, then something goes wrong, then there’s a cool fight, then things work out okay. I can’t help but think that if Daisy hadn’t seen the attack which she’d trained and practiced for in advance, she would have handled the fight in almost the exact same way. So while the bulk of this episode’s focus is on Daisy and the idea of changing the future, the payoff doesn’t quite meet the expectations that the first two thirds of the episode set up.
The other two major players this episode, despite their smaller percentage of screen time, actually have a more satisfying conclusion than the main story. As Hive has finally returned to his full health, he offers Malick a glimpse of “true power,” whatever that might mean. Evil cloak Ward might be my favorite Ward yet, and Brett Dalton continues to play Hive with a creepy menace that’s “inhuman” in every sense of the word. The power he offers Malick comes in the form of a powered exoskeleton, which allows him to feel the power of an Inhuman, if only temporarily. Malick putting on the suit reminded me of season one’s very first version of Deathlok — an unfinished glimpse at things to come. It will be interesting to see how Malick’s quest for “true power” continues to evolve, but it’s safe to say that he’s striving to become something far more powerful than just a guy in a crappy version of the Iron Man suit.
The other major threat this episode comes in the form of Lash, who as we learned is still being hunted by May and Simmons. Unfortunately, that whole story-line ends pretty abruptly tonight when Andrew turns himself in, fearing that his final transformation is upon him. Andrew and May have a final conversation about their relationship, and about changing the past, before he transforms into Lash for what may be the final time. Just like Malick and Hive, aspects of this plot hint at much larger things to come. Lincoln has mentioned several times in the past few episodes the idea that Inhumans are created with purpose, and powers are endowed to maintain balance. In other words, there’s a greater purpose that every Inhuman is destined to serve. Andrew believes that Lash is fighting for a purpose that we don’t yet understand, but decides it’s best for him to be under S.H.I.E.L.D.’s control whenever that purpose reveals itself.
It seems to me that Lash may wind up being the yin to Hive’s yang. One a hunter and destroyer of Inhumans, the other a hopeful leader of an Inhuman army. This scenario actually seems like the most likely candidate for what exactly Gideon Malick was shown at the end of this week’s episode, when he came into contact with Charles. While we don’t yet know what Malick saw, it obviously made him very afraid. What would be scarier to Malick than seeing the being he’s dedicated his whole life to serving destroyed by an unstoppable monster like Lash? When trying to kill Daisy, Malick says that one doesn’t know true power until they take someone else’s power away. So being given a vision of Hive’s power being taken away from him is likely the scariest thing he could imagine.
3.5 visions out of 5. But you probably already saw that coming, didn’t you?
Daisy: “You’re coming? Great, with Mack on bed rest we could use the extra muscle.” Coulson: “Mack’s the only one with extra muscle, but I’ll come anyway”
The Quinjet docking or undocking from Zephyr One always looks so damn good.
Lincoln: “I never saw the original Terminator.” Coulson: “You’re off the team.”
Wait…did I just laugh at something said by Lincoln? Bobbi and Hunter leaving might be the best thing to ever happen to his character.
Speaking of characters I miss, Mack’s absence was definitely felt during this episode. I think we’ll all be glad to have him back soon.
Daisy: “What are you gonna do?” Coulson: “Find Grant Ward. Yeah. Day got weirder”