BOUNCING BACK – 8/10.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. used Captain America: Winter Soldier as a launching pad for reinvention and it seems as if that has happened again with the upcoming release of Civil War. Bobbi pretty much addresses AOS’ tonal shift when she declares that “powers are the new normal.” Coulson and his team now find themselves dealing with a global emergence of Inhumans thanks to the Terrigen Crystal contaminated batch of cod liver oil. S.H.I.E.L.D. lacks the manpower to deal with such a vast situation, even with Daisy leading her own team of Inhumans AKA the Secret Warriors. While Coulson has his hands full (well, hand) with the Inhumans, a new threat is arising in the form of the creature that hitched a ride into our world in Ward’s corpse.
While Marvel recently announced that the creature was in fact Hive, this is a very different version of the character from that of the comics. That Hive is a powerful inhuman who was turned into a monster by Hydra, this version is an ancient being who can destroy entire planets and has been worshiped by Hydra for centuries. Hydra leader and all round mega douche, Gideon Malick, is also curious to learn more about his new Ward shaped guest/god. It seems as if his isolation has left him seriously weakened, leaving him unable to do much apart from lay in bed and catch up with the last few centuries of human existence on the History Channel. Malick is underwhelmed to say the least but Hive reassures him that he will soon make a believer of him.
The episode starts with a flash forwards to a craft of some kind orbiting the Earth, not revealing much other than a lot of blood and a crucifix floating in the zero gravity. From here we head back to present day Columbia where we are introduced to the apparent owner of the crucifix, an Inhuman speedster named Elena. She leads an attack on a police convoy, stealing an entire shipment of weapons in seconds; naturally this attracts the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson dispatches Daisy, Joey, Bobbi, Hunter and Mack to investigate. While Daisy and Joey may be a part of this brave new world the others are finding it harder to adjust to a fight where they are seriously outmatched, as Mack discovers when he is easily captured by Elena.
Daisy eventually locates Mack, trapping Elena in the containment cell while her cousin manages to escape with the guns. But far from being a supervillain Elena is actually trying to use her powers to do some good. She reveals that the Columbian police are deeply corrupt and she only took the guns to stop them from using them on civilians. Unfortunately Bobbi and Hunter discover this fact the hard way, having located Elena’s accomplice as he was in the process of throwing the guns in to the river they are ambushed by the police. It turns out that they have an Inhuman of their own who is able to freeze them with his eyes. The police kill Elena’s cousin and take Bobbi and Hunter back to the station, very much failing to serve or protect anyone.
The remaining members of Daisy’s team stage a daring rescue with the help of Elena, or Yo-Yo as Mack renames her. They manage to release Hunter and Bobbi, disarm the corrupt police and capture the frosty-eyed Inhuman with relative ease. Hunter wasn’t wrong when he said that superpowers were a real game changer, although the celebration is soon interrupted when a Hydra helicopter appears over the police station, snatching up the Inhuman like a giant arcade claw machine. Daisy asks Yo-Yo to come back to S.H.I.E.L.D. with them but she says her place is in Columbia, so Mack leaves her with a radio watch so she can contact them, or more specifically him, at any time.
It wasn’t all Inhuman drama in the season premiere, we got to witness a darker, driven Coulson who has become obsessed with tracking down Malick and bringing him to justice for his part in Rosalind Price’s death. As a result of this he finally gets to have his meeting with President Ellis (William Sadler), who informs him that due to the events of Winter Soldier he still can’t officially sanction S.H.I.E.L.D. Instead Ellis says he will find a new director to fill Rosalind’s position at the ATCU, this director will answer to Coulson and aid S.H.I.E.L.D. in their fight against Hydra and their attempts to contain the Inhuman situation. Unfortunately the president is far less willing to cooperate when it comes to taking on Malick.
Coulson is forced to try another tactic, he places the semi vegetative Werner Von Strucker into the device that Raina used to unlock his memories of T.A.H.I.T.I. With a little help from Lincoln they are able to push past Von Strucker’s memories of being tortured by Malick to identify the drop point that he used to contact him. Coulson pays a visit to the drop point, using a tracking device to locate all of Malick’s safe houses after a brief catch up over the phone. Malick seems unintimidated by Coulson’s threats and rightly so as he has something far more dangerous to contend with in Hive. Having made a dent in Malick’s empire Coulson is given little time to plan his next move as he soon receives news from President Ellis that Rosalind’s replacement has been found; Major Glenn Talbot.
AOS definitely hit the ground running with this midseason premiere and the show feels massively stronger now than in the first half of this season. AOS’ earliest episodes seemed to shy away from its comic book roots, whereas now it has evolved into a fully-fledged comic book show complete with super-powers and an interdimensional big bad. This episode perfectly set the scene for the rest of the season with Coulson’s vendetta against Malick, the attempt to contain the Inhuman situations, the new ‘alliance’ with the ATCU, The introduction of the Secret Warriors, and the nefarious intentions of Hive. In the past AOS has struggled to maintain its momentum but hopefully that won’t be the case in this season.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Brett Dalton has been the show’s MVP since Ward first turned heel in season 1. It will be interesting to see how much of Ward’s personality is retained by Hive.
- Not everything in this episode worked, Fitz and Simmons got lost in the mix and their throwaway conversation was deeply unsatisfying for anyone who has invested in their romance.
- It’s frustrating to see how wasted the entire Von Strucker family has been in the MCU. I am still hopeful that Baron Von Strucker’s death was faked as being killed off-screen in Age of Ultron is a total waste of such a huge character.
- Joey melting the entire police arsenal into the shape of a giant peace sign was a very nice touch. What’s the point in having superpowers if you can’t use them to troll people?