We still have quite a few episodes ahead of us but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is revving up towards its end game. ‘Inside Voices’ shows our favorite team falling apart and Coulson escaping from HYDRA’s clutches. Hale tries to keep her own team in order, as Creel slowly starts to distrust the people surrounding him. Daisy and May are on their way trying to find their lost leader as they reunite with an old friend. We also have Fitz, Simmons, and Yo-Yo testing their belief that their knowledge of the future will keep them alive no matter what happens. The episode sets up a lot of plotlines as it continues building up to what could be considered the season’s third act.

Let us start off with the smaller storyline surrounding Daisy and May. They bring back a major player from the first act of the season, Robin. She has been in a bit of a catatonic state, as the last thing she drew was a vision of her own death. It is odd that no one explains the situation to her mother, especially as she knows that her daughter can see the future but it was quite a heartbreaking moment when Robin sees May and calls her “Mom”. With her help, they uncover the location where they could find Coulson. We also get some interesting character moments, as Daisy is obsessed with finding and saving Coulson. She wants to ensure that he takes back his position as Director, as she is still trying to run away from her future as the “Destroyer of Worlds”.

Back at the Lighthouse, Yo-Yo is getting used to her new robotic arms. Mack is still a bit worried, especially after she believed that she was unkillable due to her having met herself in the future. Simmons reveals to her that she and Fitz are in a similar situation due to Deke being their grandson. The funniest bit is how Yo-Yo feels sorry for them after it is revealed. This all leads to Simmons proving to Mack that she is invincible by testing her luck with a game of Russian roulette. To add an interesting twist, they faked it to get Fitz out of his prison only for her to prove that it was not fake. Their belief might lead them down a dark path and it will be interesting where their story is heading. It still feels like someone might end up dying to break the circle so that the world will not explode.

The main meat of the story surrounds Coulson and Creel. Hale wanted to test the Gravitonium to see how powerful it truly is but it suddenly grabs him. The liquid passes on the memories and emotions of Franklin Hall to Creel, who comes to realize that this Gravitonium is actually alive. Yes, this confirms that Hall is still somewhere in there and hopefully he will find a way out, as it feels like the show is finally building up towards that very moment. A man who has absorbed Gravitonium would be a fitting Destroyer of Worlds, don’t you think?

Creel also absorbs Hall’s hatred towards Coulson, who he blames for his fate and in combination with the belief that he was the one who shot Talbot in the head. Luckily, he is able to convince him that S.H.I.E.L.D. was not involved and that the poor General is being kept in the facility, where he is slowly being driven insane. He may have gone a bit insane but he still has not lost his touch on making fun of everyone. It was great to see Creel back to being good, he was one of my favorite surprises back in Season 2 and I hope he sticks around much longer. The anti-hero direction they took with Absorbing Man is great and I really wish he would join the S.H.I.E.L.D. team next season, especially with rumors pointing to it already being renewed for a sixth season.

Robin at one point points to Coulson dying, which makes sense given his deal with the Ghost Rider. Suddenly, one of the soldiers punched him in the chest and stops his heart. After being defibrillated by a rather creative move from Creel, Talbot points out that he just refuses to stay dead. This makes me wonder if Robin’s prediction of his death was this moment and that he will somehow survive at the end. This show was made so that they could bring back Clark Gregg and it does not feel like they would kill him off so easily, especially with him returning to the silver screen in Captain Marvel. These events might also solidify his will to continue living on in some way or another. Could the return of the Russian LMD maker be a sign that his body may die but his mind lives on? Hell, Coulson was in space, traveled through time, lost his arm and even turned into the Ghost Rider so it does not seem so crazy to think he might even become an LMD at some point.

We also get the return of Werner von Strucker (a shoutout and thank you to Silacko and AverageGamers for pointing out my mistake in the Principia review) who is trying to recreate his father’s research. Ruby is getting impatient and as such goes renegade when she tries to kill Creel against her mother’s orders. The episode felt like it was building up to his death but I am really happy that we will still see more of him around but I fear for what measures they’ll take for him to comply. Coulson and Talbot escape through the space-traveling device and end up in the snowy mountains that Robin drew early on. Hopefully, the team will find them before they suffer frostbite.

That is not all, we finally find out what happened to Ian Quinn after the events of the first season.  He was last seen fleeing with Reina from the events of the first season finale with the Gravitonium. She did hint at somewhat understanding the forsaken soul trapped in it and opens up for it to “eat” Quinn. It will be interesting to see how this impacted the Gravitonium and if someone else will be swallowed up to allow him to finally escape. We get some great returning cameos from Ruth Negga and David Conrad, which is actually re-used footage that was shot during the first season. This fact was revealed by VFX supervisor Mark Kolpack on Twitter after the episode aired:

VERDICT

4 Blonde jokes out of 5. There are some great moments in the episode and some interesting revelations. The return of Franklin Hall, even if it is through re-used footage, was great and Creel got some character development. Still, this is very much a set-up episode so it only slowly moves the overall arc forward, which is not a bad thing. It gives us a breather before all hell breaks loose once again.

ONE-SHOTS

  • Kind of sad that Strucker never took the time to teach his own son German.
  • Coulson and Talbot’s frenemy relationship is one of my favorites in the series. The way Coulson knew that Talbot would make a blonde joke as Ruby showed up and his only response is that he has quite a few ready was hilarious.
  • Everyone thought Fitz was insane but I think Yo-Yo and Simmons are a few steps ahead of him with their “we are invincible” mentality. Still, when the gun accidentally went off I thought the show was going to surprise us only for that to once again prove their point was quite an creative idea.
  • Can we just agree that the next DVD/Blu-Ray release of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should include a stand-up routine with Talbot?
  • The most relatable moment for me was when Coulson was pissed that they took away his Captain Crunch. They can take away your bed or chair but never touch a man’s cereal!