THIS FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE LATEST EPISODE OF MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
I made a video review which you can find at the bottom of this page. But, in case you are more of a reading type, here are five of the major talking points from this week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, 'Purpose in the Machine.'
1. Victorian Dinner Parties
I am convinced that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s depiction of England in the 1800s at the beginning of 'Purpose in the Machine' provides accurate insight into what most people consider to be the essence of the English experience.
Just a group of well kept men with full beards and the occasional thin-rimmed spectacle, sitting around and enjoying a lavish meal complete with roasted potatoes, red wine, and elaborate candelabras; and as they eat they pick straws - in this case stones - to see whose turn it is to offer themselves up to the menacing obelisk erected in the parlor. Come to think of it…
It turns out that the obelisk has a traveled history, and one of its former stomping grounds comes complete with a switch that can open and close the portal that it contains, allowing our team to study the obelisk more effectively. Now that they can manipulate the portal, they can come up with a plan to extract data from it, monitor it, and eventually start running some basic tests. Or, you know, they could run head first at it and hope that the world doesn’t die as a result.
More on this later, suffice to say, the obelisk has been opened, and it is time to rescue Simmons.
2. Daisy's Army / Dr. Garner's despair
Daisy… I mean Skye… I mean Daisy, is desperate to recruit some new Inhumans to S.H.I.EL.D, despite them being barely able to function in their day to day lives, let alone on the battle field.
I have to believe that the every time the esteemed Dr. Garner makes a visit to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ - upon witnessing the chaos that is the current S.H.I.E.L.D. members' psychological profiles - he leaves with a sense of very firm dread that they are often the world's only line of defense.
Skye… I mean Daisy, needs to be evolved into a less emotional character if she wants to go down this recruiting for S.H.I.E.L.D. route, which, for the record, I’m all for. She’s empathetic, she’s tough, and she knows the team well. The issue for the moment is that she seems to think that everyone who not yet tried to kill her is an ideal candidate.
3. Grant Ward
When AOS started, way back in the before times, I could not stand Ward. He embodies everything I didn’t like about the show; TV good looks, wooden acting, zero character. But Villain Ward is a whole different story. His cool, calm mannerisms, combined with his combat prowess, and his ruthlessness are a potent mix, and one that is so much fun to watch.
The scene in this week's episode where he infiltrates a boat in order to kidnap a a playboy and steal his money - at least that is what we are led to believe - displays so much of what has become great about Ward’s character. The way he fights, like he knows what he is doing but is going about it the hard way so he can take more punches, and in turn throw more punches, is completely representative of his character. Where in Season 2 he spent the whole time trying to convince himself and everyone around him that his job was not his nature, now we see him embracing what he is. He enjoys the fight, he likes it when they get back up, but to lose is unacceptable - evidenced by the abrupt gunshot that all-but ends the scene.
If we can focus on Ward as the main villain for the show, instead of this new task force nonsense that was introduced last episode, I will be a very happy viewer.
4. Double Penetration
Speaking of being a happy viewer, May is back! Turns out, she’s been playing golf with the sensei from Balls of Fury this whole time.
May is undeniably wooden, but for me that is the best thing about her character. It works well for the type of ass-kicker that she is. May is the cavalry, and there is no reason why she needs to be any more than that. Watching those why-do-we-fall Bruce scenes with her and her father (not a good actor) was like if the WWE tried to give Brock Lesner emotional integrity by telling us that he used to get bullied at the gym - unnecessary, and frankly, a little strange.
Fortunately, one I-have-left-all-this-behind-me cliche later, and she is back where she belongs, in front of a bag full of assault rifles that she will never fire, and reacting awkwardly to the emotions of her comrades.
May and Hunter end the episode preparing to infiltrate HYDRA. Meanwhile, Ward and his playboy, who turns out to be somewhat unhinged, and the son of mad scientist, cameo king, Baron Von Strucker (of Age of Ultron fame) are planning an infiltration of their own, using the aforementioned Dr. Garner’s psychology class as a point of entry.
I like it, it sets up a fun race against time, a "who can infiltrate first?" story arc, and it means I can keep referring to this in my future write-ups as the “double penetration" plot line. Win, win.
And now to the main event.
Remember my previous mention of the head-first dive, yeah, well that was literal. Fitz, like the epic star-crossed hero that he is, dives into the portal that Daisy is pushing and squinting open, and plucks Simmons from her storm-wrecked prison. My fists are raised in tribute.
Oh, I love these two beautiful nerds. Iain De Caestecker’s Fitz has become one of my favorite things on TV. The nuance in his performance is incredible, a level above most of the acting that you see on similar kinds of shows. I never, not for one moment, did not believe that Fitz loves Simmons with everything that he's got. The man would die for her in an instant if necessary, and that's evident even in his quietest scenes.
The scene at the end where Simmons wakes up in a panic and finds Fitz sleeping in a chair next to her was beautiful, and I could barely cope with the head in the lap that followed.
Click bellow for the video version of this review, and subscribe to my channel for more recaps/reviews in the future. Starting tomorrow with the new season of Arrow.