Welcome back everyone to our coverage of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! The show has been on its mid-season break since before Christmas to allow for Agent Carter’s second season run. But now the show has returned. The second half kicked off last week, so my comments here will be for both last week’s episode and this week’s. Hope you enjoy, and as always SPOILERS follow below, so read on with caution.
In the mid-season premiere we were introduced to two new Inhumans, one for each side of the conflict. The first is one who eventually turns out to be good. Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, pictured above, has the ability to travel as fast as a heartbeat between too points. She always has to return from where she started, hence the Yo-Yo nickname from Mack. The second Inhuman was working for the corrupt police department in Colombia that Elena was trying to stop. His ability involves using his eyes to paralyze people in place for an extended period of time. Both were pretty cool introductions if only to increase the Inhuman population of this world. Joey Gutierrez was back as part of Daisy’s Inhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. force. His inclusion in this episode didn’t really amount to much other than being a Spanish translator for Elena, but the actor, Juan Pablo Raba, has a really relaxed presence on screen that counter balances the intensity of Daisy and the gruffness of Mack.
One of the things that bothered me a tiny little bit in this episode was the choice to allow Joey and Elena to return to their normal lives. When Joey was introduced in the season three premiere back in October, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mantra was that any Inhuman they encounter is too dangerous to be out in the real world without some training. In the response to Elena here, that mantra seems to have entirely disappeared. Yes, things have changed on this show, and Joey and Elena are looking like they can be positive forces for S.H.I.E.L.D. but it came across as a disregard for the rules of the team before the break. The quick swap seems a little forced is all. That being said I do like the comparison that Daisy made to her days as a hacker. Her friends were never together back then, they lived in many multiple locations across the world. So in spite of the change of mind set of Daisy and S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m glad they have adopted this policy in place. One where S.H.I.E.L.D. can summon their agents whenever they need them, rather than keeping them holed up and away from civilization.
I really liked the pace of the episode in the sense of how the show returned. The show, for me, has been on amazing record of putting out structured and intensely motivated episodes that contribute to the overall narrative of the season. I think this episode contributed to that progression by not stalling to get us caught up on everything that happened in the mid-season finale. We felt some of the effects of the finale, but it wasn’t the focal point, outside of Ward’s body being inhabited by the enemy that Hydra was founded on.
Fitz and Simmons addressed the slight awkwardness between them. I’m really, really happy that the show didn’t elect for having Will’s death have a long term effect on their relationship. I am concerned though that this reset for them is going to mean their romantic entanglements are being put to the side. I feel like it would be a step backwards in the progression these two have made as characters. So let’s cross our fingers that doesn’t happen because they are simply too cute together.
The big wild card coming into the return of the show was the transition of Brett Dalton’s role from Ward into the Inhuman villain Hive. I don’t have much prior knowledge of Hive or what “it” is capable of so I’m excited to see that progress, but the question hanging over my head was, can Dalton make this character feel different and apart from Ward? Initial response from this episode, no he couldn’t. For me he sounded too much like the calculating and detail orientated Ward, the military man always looking out for advantage. Now, I will agree that Hive possesses some of those same traits, like being calculating, paying attention and thinking and formulating a plan. In spite of the appearance of Ward’s body, this is not a physically or intellectually inferior foe. The creature has great potential and I’m excited going forward, but Dalton’s performance could use just a little bit more.
Overall, this was a pretty solid episode back. I didn’t really talk to much about the main plot, but that’s because it didn’t carry that much importance outside of introducing us to the two new Inhumans and for suggesting the idea that the Inhuman gene is a gift to the world to balance the natural order. I can buy that, but it needs some time to develop. Using Mack as the catalyst for that idea works really well when considering his skeptical approach to almost everything.
This weeks episode went a long way in demonstrating what Hive can do and boy was it creepy as all hell. I’m going to get to the ending of the episode with Hive in his bath, but first lets deal with Coulson’s forced new “partnership.”
General Talbot is back, this time as the head of the ATCU. I approve of the greater inclusion of Talbot. I think he and Coulson do share a lot of the same goals, both are just too proud to admit that to either person; particularly Talbot. The approval, in the last episode, from the President to allow Coulson to continue running S.H.I.E.L.D. and be the controller of the ATCU is an excellent step. It opened up the way too for some laughs between Talbot and Coulson. Some worked, some didn’t, but the jokes weren’t too obnoxious here like they have been in some episodes. Hunter continues to be the best joke maker of the show, he cracks me up almost every time that he is on screen. The news of him and Bobbi Morse getting their own TV spinoff was both exciting and a tad sad. It gives the audience more opportunity to spend time with these great characters, but I think a large reason why they are great characters is because of how well they fit into the larger picture of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I’m willing to give the new show a shot.
The return of Carl Creel, aka “The Absorbing Man” was pretty cool. I did not see him being a good guy or a hired bodyguard for Talbot. If we see more of him, it will be OK with me. His ability is very visually intriguing and it allows him to get into some cool battles. The big reveal about Creel though was the power of his blood. His absorbing ability extends to the Terrigen mists that transform humans into Inhumans, should they have the right DNA. It provided an interesting dialogue between Daisy and Lincoln. The two have been engaged romantically of course, but up until this episode they haven’t really had too much get in the way of that side of their relationship. There is room for more drama and I’m hoping to see it this season between these two. Also, I wonder if Creel’s blood will assist with defeating Hive in the end. Food for thought: we’re still a long way off from both the finale, and the curveball that Captain America: Civil War will presumably bring to the show so we’ll see how things move forward.
Now, that ending! Holy crap, that was a very violent looking attack. I’ve never seen so much gore in a network TV show, outside of Hannibal of course. My jaw literally dropped. So that is what Hive can do. OK, I’m pretty freaked out now. My problems with Brett Dalton’s transitional acting from the first comeback episode were entirely removed with this week’s entry. He is even more chilling as Hive and I am beyond impressed. I’m craving to see more! The scene where he stood in the center of the five immobilized Inhumans was tense and the off screen screams we heard were met with an appropriate result in the end. That set piece with the red skeletons and Hive bathing in their liquid remains was a big statement. Hive is coming, and he’s not waiting for anybody, even Gideon Mallick, to start his rise to power and control. Very excited to see what’s to come!
Episode Ratings: 3×11 “Bounce Back” 7/10
3×12 “The Inside Man” 8.5/10