Friday, November 6, 2015

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 6: Among Us Hide...

Sorry this week's review is so late. Tuesday night my ABC affiliate decided that thrilling local election coverage (in which the announcer continually told the audience that it was "too early to predict anything") was far more important than airing Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I was forced to hunt around the internet to find an "unofficial" source I could watch.

But Bob, I hear you cry, why would you seek out an unauthorized, pirated source when you could have just watched the episode on the ABC website? Because you can't watch the episode on the ABC website. Well, at least not right away. You can only watch an episode a whopping EIGHT days after it first airs. EIGHT!

Compare that to The CW website, which lets you watch their shows the day after they air.

What the hell, ABC? Why the eight day waiting period? What are these, guns? You do realize these are over-the-air broadcast shows, right? You're not a pay cable network like HBO or Showtime. So why jealously guard your precious shows like they're Faberge eggs for over a week? I'm assuming they're being forced to do this by Disney. It's got their monopolizing stink all over it. FYI Disney, this is exactly the kind of behavior that creates and encourages piracy.

OK, rant over. After last week's visit to Planet Blue, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets back to business as usual. There's a ton going on in this episode, including a couple of very big reveals. Let's get started!

SPOILERS, INCLUDING THE REVEAL OF LASH'S SECRET IDENTITY!

The Plot:
May's ex Andrew Lincoln somehow survived Strucker Jr.s' attack a couple weeks ago. In S.H.I.E.L.D.'s medical bay, a worried May looks on as Andrew explains how he lived through the attack in very vivid detail. Maybe a little too much detail. May blames Hunter for Andrew's near death, and Coulson benches him. May tells Coulson she's permanently back on the Team, and is going after Evil Ward. She recruits the almost-recovered Mockingbird to help her.

Daisy and Mack believe that Banks (Rosalind Price's right hand man) is secretly the shape-changing Inhuman Lash. They (and Hunter, who tags along) tail Banks to try and find proof. When Daisy wishes they could test Banks' blood for Inhuman DNA markers, Hunter simply walks up, shoots Banks with an Icer, drags him back to the surveillance van and punches him in the nose, drawing blood. Daisy stares at him incredulously and thanks him for the sample.

Meanwhile Gideon Malick, a member of the World Council and apparently HYDRA as well, calls Evil Ward and offers his help. When Ward says no thanks, he gives him Strucker Jr., who's on the run after his failed attempt at killing Andrew. 

Coulson insists that Rosalind finally give him a tour of the ATCU. When he arrives, he sees the facility is disguised as a company called Endotech Labs. Rosalind's people unload a crate containing an Inhuman in suspended animation. Apparently the ATCU is a vast warehouse, and Rosalind is storing Inhumans there until a "cure" can be found. She genuinely believes this is the most humane course of action. Coulson is appalled, but hides his feelings.

Daisy has Simmons test Banks' blood, and finds out he's not an Inhuman after all. She's still convinced that someone in the ATCU is secretly Lash. Possibly Rosalind? They find a message from Endotech Labs (!) on Banks' cell phone and head there. Daisy uses a spy drone to infiltrate the building. She sees the Inhuman in suspended animation, along with Coulson seemingly getting chummy with Rosalind, which upsets her greatly.

May and Mockingbird team up and track Strucker Jr. to one of Gideon Malick's apartments. Malick handed Strucker Jr. over to Ward as a "favor." Ward's lieutenant Kebo is torturing Strucker Jr. when May & Mockingbird burst in. Mockingbird fries Kebo with her battle staves, and May wipes out the rest of Ward's goons. May questions Strucker Jr., hoping to find out Ward's location, but right before he dies he babbles about Andrew turning into a monster. Andrew is secretly Lash!

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy gets a call from her Inhuman pal Lincoln, who's still off the grid. Andrew overhears and grills Daisy about Lincoln's location, which isn't the least bit suspicious.

Thoughts:
• Welp, I totally called it! A couple weeks ago when they first said Lash could change into human form, I suspected he was secretly Andrew. As soon as I saw he was still alive at the beginning of this episode, I knew I was right.

Andrew's story of how he survived the attack was just a little too specific and detailed. Plus he was spinning this elaborate yarn while lying on an operating table with his head clamped in a giant brace, which doesn't seem like something a normal person would be able to do.

The clincher was when he told May, "I'm lucky. Can't see how anyone could have survived that." No doubt.

• The title of this episode comes from the Fantastic Four comic #45, which was titled Among Us Hide...The Inhumans. That issue featured the first appearance of the Inhuman royal family (Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak & Triton).

It stinks that Marvel can use the Inhumans but not the Fantastic Four.

• I appreciate the fact that the show's given us a realistic take on Mockingbird's rehabilitation and recovery. It's been over six months (in S.H.I.E.L.D. time) since she was injured by Ward, and she's just now back to fighting form. This is very rare in TV, where characters get shot in the shoulder in one episode and absolutely show no ill effects in the next.

• Gideon Malick (played by Powers Boothe) offers Evil Ward his help. If Malick looks familiar, there's a reason for that. He was a member of the World Council in The Avengers. You may remember him as the one who wanted to nuke New York City to stop the Chitauri invasion. Apparently he's also secretly working for HYDRA. Nice guy!

• Andrew tells Daisy he's anxious to help her find Lash (HAW!) because he's tired of being laid up in the hostpital. Um... did a lot of time pass while we weren't looking? Because it seems like he's saying this either the same day or the day after he was blown up. How long could he have possibly have been "laid up?"

• The highlight of the episode was the May/Mockingbird team up. The two were awesome together, and we need more of them, STAT!

• May and Mockingbird travel to the Cayman Islands to investigate Strucker Jr.'s bank account. While in the vault they're surrounded by security men, and the two converse in Mandarin as they plan their defense. Mockingbird's Mandarin sounded a bit awkward, even to my ears, especially when compared to May's. It sounded flat, like she wasn't even attempting to get the tones right. 

As someone who's tried to learn the language, I can sympathize with her. Those tones are killers!  

• When Rosalyn is taking Coulson to tour the ATCU, they make a side trip to her apartment, which has been robbed. Coulson realizes nothing of value was stolen during the "break in," and believes Rosalyn staged the whole thing in an attempt to gain his sympathy.

So, was the robbery an act? I'm assuming it had to be, otherwise what a bizarre way to waste ten minutes of a network TV show.

• Hunter was hilarious in this episode. I especially liked how he so matter of factly shot Banks and then "extracted" his blood. We need more of him too, please!

There were a lot of good lines in this episode, but I particularly liked Hunter's: "Wow, Banks, you're boring. Well, apart from the fact that you might be a giant beast who blows holes in people's chests."

• Malick contacts Evil Ward (I guess he's in the phonebook under "HYDRA") and offers him redemption. Ward says, "Oh, no thanks. I don't need redeemed." 

Good. Once again, I really hope they're not planning on a Ward redemption storyline. He's too far gone at this point to ever believably be able to come back.

• Fitz tells Simmons he can't reopen the wormhole to Planet Blue, but he hasn't given up on rescuing Will. Also after talking to Hunter, Fitz begins Facebook stalking Will, checking out his history. That seemed... ominous. Was he just trying to get to know Will, or does he have another reason for boning up on him?

By the way, some fans think that Will Daniels was real, but died years ago on the planet. The theory is that the Will that Simmons met was a construct created by Ego The Living Planet. As crazy as that sounds, I could totally see that happening.

• May and Mockingbird break into Malick's apartment and find Ward's men torturing Strucker Jr. Mockingbird fights Kebo (Evil Ward's lieutenant) and fries him with her electrified battle staves. Good thing she didn't electrocute herself too, since she was soaking wet and crouching in a puddle as she stuck them into the pool.

• After dispatching Ward's men, May cuts down the grievously injured Strucker Jr. and asks him where Ward is hiding. Did it seem kind of odd that May was tenderly cradling Strucker Jr. as he lay dying, considering a few hours earlier he tried to kill her ex? 

UPDATE: Even though I thought it looked for all the world like Strucker Jr. died, the following episode informed us he apparently just lapsed into a coma. 

• As the dying Strucker Jr. babbles about witnessing Andrew turn into Lash, we see his side of what really happened during the assassination attempt. Strucker and his fellow HYDRA goons attacked Andrew, who morphed into Lash. He then used his "blowing holes in chests" power to, well, blow holes in their chests. Then he changed back to human form, picked up Strucker Jr.'s lighter and dropped it onto the gas-soaked floor, causing the drugstore to explode.

So Andrew deliberately blew himself up? Gutsy! Lucky for him he survived. I'm assuming he's not indestructible in his human form, since he got all banged up in the explosion. How'd he know he'd survive?

• This episode gave us our best look yet at Lash. I'm not familiar with the character, as he made his debut in the comics in 2014. From poking around the internet, the TV version seems to match his comic counterpart pretty well.

Lash isn't played by Blair Underwood, but instead by 6' 6" actor Matthew Willig, an ex-NFL player. He turned to acting a few years back, and generally plays beefy thugs and bodyguards.

You know, in the politically correct Hellscape that passes for our society, I'm honestly surprised that no one's complained that a white man is playing the monster half of a black character. There are so few good parts for African American mutants out there!

• So how long has Andrew been Lash? Was he changed into an Inhuman just a few months ago by the fish oil? Or has he always been Lash, and just now started showed his true self because of the sudden spike in the Inhuman population?

 When Daisy calls Lincoln, he tells her he's "Safe as houses." Daisy's never heard the expression before, and says she looks forward to hearing how he survived the Dust Bowl and the Hoover Administration. Was that just a joke, or is Lincoln really a lot older than he looks? Did he really grow up in the 1930s? I don't remember anyone ever mentioning that he doesn't age, so I'm going to chalk it up as a quip on Daisy's part.

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