Saturday, April 30, 2016

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 18: The Singularity

Reviews are late this week because the goddamned storms that hit my city Tuesday night knocked half the TV stations off the air. I had to find alternative sources to view the various shows I watch, which delayed everything.

This week's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. was mostly about arranging the pieces on the board for the season finale endgame. 

The reveal that Daisy and the other Inhumans are actually addicted to the euphoric effect of Hive's spores was an interesting one, and something different than the usual mind control. Well done, writers!

I enjoyed May's dressing down of Coulson, as she accused him of being willing to callously sacrifice Lincoln to get his precious Daisy back. Even better, she's absolutely right. Since the series began, Coulson has always unfairly favored Skye, er, I mean Daisy.

Now for the bad I cannot believe Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. just eliminated HYDRA, in the worst and most off-handed way possible. HYDRA's been a thorn in their side since Season 1. Heck, they've even been a big part of the movies as well. And in this episode they're taken out in less than five minutes. In fact we don't even get to see it happen live. Instead we see a few fleeting glimpses of it on a couple of video monitors.

I expected a more epic sendoff for such an important part of the show. Jesus Christ, they spent more time on whether or not FitzSimmons were finally going to start boning than they did on the end of HYDRA! What the hell, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. writers?

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
The Team digs out of the rubble after Daisy collapsed the S.H.I.E.L.D. base last week. Lincoln gets the power grid back on by zapping it. Fitz determines that Daisy was the only Inhuman affected by Hive Ward. Coulson's got a broken leg, but says it can wait (!), as he orders everyone into Zephyr One so they can track down Daisy. Mack says they can only get the hangar doors halfway open. May says that's no problem and tilts the ship sideways so it can squeeze through the doors. I have my doubts that that's possible, but it looked pretty cool.


Daisy and Hive Ward overlook the city. Hive asks her if S.H.I.E.L.D. will come after her. She says she doesn't know, which is bullsh*t. Of course Coulson will come after her! He thinks of her as a daughter! Hive Ward tells Daisy that once Inhumans take over the planet, it'll finally become a perfect world.

FitzSimmons determine that Hive Ward's spores cause Inhumans to feel euphoria and become addicted to the sensation. It also makes them immune to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s icer guns. Simmons says Dr. Holden Radcliffe, an expert in transhuman experiments (whatever that is), may be able to help them come up with an antidote for the spores. Coulson sends FitzSimmons and Mack to locate Radcliffe and bring him back.

General Talbot suggests attacking Hive Ward, but Coulson doesn't want to try anything while Daisy's with him. Somehow Coulson determines Hive Ward's next convert will be Alisha, the Inhuman who can create clones of herself. Coulson wants to get to her before Hive does.

Lincoln wants to go on the mission to find Alisha. Coulson says that due to the danger of Lincoln being infected by Hive Ward, he can only come if he agrees to wear a "murder vest"-- one lined with explosives, which can be triggered by a remote. Lincoln must really want to go on the mission, because he agrees.

FitzSimmons track Radcliffe to Bucharest, and go undercover to a transhumanist nightclub. Fitz brings a pair of cybernetic eyes similar to Deathlok's, to interest Radcliffe. A woman named Anon (who has major cybernetic modifications) greets them, and takes them into a secret room in the club. There they see a patient strapped to a table. Anon tells them to implant their cybernetic eye into the patient to prove it works. Gulp!

Lincoln finds Alisha, and asks if she's seen Daisy. She says nope. To no one's surprise, she's already been infected and attacks Lincoln. May joins the fight as well. Lincoln grabs one of the Alishas, as another manages to get May's gun away from her. Lincoln threatens to electrocute his Alisha if the other doesn't drop the gun. Alisha 1 shoots Alisha 2. Couson then appears and shoots Alisha 1. 

Meanwhile, Daisy and Hive Ward go to James' house. He's the wannabe Inhuman we met a few weeks ago in Paradise Lost. Alisha Prime is with them, and feels her other selves die. Hive Ward comforts her. 

Daisy tells James that Hive Ward is Alveus, the ancient Inhuman he told her about. Apparently when Lincoln stole the Kree Orb from James, it was incomplete. Hive Ward says he wants the missing part. Daisy tosses a Terrigen crystal at James, which at last transforms him into an Inhuman. He finds he can now cause objects to explode just by touching them (hopefully his power doesn't work on himself!). James says the other piece of the Kree Orb is buried under his trailer. Daisy uses her power to dig it up. Hive Ward looks at the piece and says the Kree Orb is the only thing that can destroy him (Foreshadowing Alert!)

Back in Bucharest, Simmons says she'll go through with the surgery, and savagely plunges a syringe into the patient's eye. The man sits up and pulls out the syringe. She says she recognized the eye as a prosthetic. The man reveals he's Dr. Radcliffe.

Radcliffe discovers FitzSimmons are with S.H.I.E.L.D., and Anon sounds an alarm. FitzSimmons try to tell Radcliffe about the Inhuman threat and beg him to help. A guard takes Simmons away.

S.H.I.E.L.D. detects unusual seismic activity in South Dakota, and realize it's Daisy. They head there in Zephyr One. When they arrive, they find James' trailer destroyed, and the Inhumans gone. Coulson is upset that he just missed Daisy.

In Bucharest, Fitz tries to convince Radcliffe to help them, as Daisy bursts in. Man, these people can get from one side of the globe to the other quick, can't they? Alisha takes Radcliffe away. Daisy puts a Force choke on Fitz, telling him she doesn't want to hurt him, but if she ever sees him again, she'll kill him. She also tells him about her vision, that a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is going to die soon. 

Hive Ward kills the guard that took Simmons. He speaks to Simmons in Will's voice (the astronaut who was stranded on Maveth with her). He threatens her, while creepily stroking her cheek. Simmons moves in closer and then shoots Hive Ward several times in the gut. She runs away.

Simmons makes it back to Mack at the rendezvous point. Fitz returns as well. They argue for a bit, then at long last submit to their mutual lust. Mack hurriedly makes himself scarce.

Coulson gets a call from Talbot. Using the intel that the disillusioned Gideon Malick handed over to Coulson, S.H.I.E.L.D. troops begin taking down HYDRA's infrastructure. So after all this time, I guess that's the end of HYDRA? Anticlimactic!

Hive Ward, Daisy, Alisha, James (who's now calling himself Hellfire) and Dr. Radcliffe wander into a deserted town. Hive Ward says he used Malick's fortune to buy an entire town for them to hide out in. He tells Dr. Radcliffe he wants him to recreate the original Kree experiment, which I guess will turn everyone on the planet into an Inhuman or something.

Thoughts: 
• This is some extreme nitpicking, but that's the best kind, right? When Simmons is briefin the others about Dr. Radcliffe, she describes him as a "fellow Scottsman." Um... Fitz is definitely Scottish, but Simmons has always sounded English to me. Her statement would have made more sense if she'd referred to him as a "fellow Brit."


• Over on The Walking Dead, any time a character hooks up with another or experiences even a small amount of joy, it means their days are numbered and they're about to be killed off. It's happened too many times to count.

Maybe I'm just gun-shy, but I'm worried that FitzSimmons finally submitting to their feelings and becoming a couple will result in the same thing, and one of them will get killed in the season finale. I hope I'm wrong, but they've got me feeling uneasy. 

• As a precaution, Coulson makes Lincoln wear a "murder vest" on the rescue mission. If he's infected by Hive Ward, the vest can be detonated by a remote.

Lucky for Lincoln that his electrical powers didn't accidentally set off the explosives in the vest! I wonder if Coulson even tested it out before giving it to him?

• We need more info on how Alisha's powers work. How many copies of herself can she make? Is there a limit, or can she replicate herself endlessly, like Agent Smith in The Matrix movies? Is Alisha Prime the only one who can make copies of herself? Or can the copies make copies? If a copy is killed, Alisha Prime feels it, but is otherwise unharmed. What about the opposite? If Alisha Prime is killed, do all the copies die? Inquiring minds need to know!

• Believe it or not, Dr. Radcliffe is based on a Marvel comics character. Well, sort of. There was a Holden Radcliffe who was a villain in the Machine Teen comic. Machine Teen was based on Machine Man, a Marvel character created by comics genius Jack Kirby in the 70s.

• I loved Coulson's awesome energy shield, that he can project out of his bionic arm. It even had a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo in the center!

In The Avengers, Coulson confessed he was a Captain America fanboy (owning an original set of vintage Cap trading cards), so it makes sense that he'd want a cool shield of his own.

• After James is transformed into an Inhuman by the Terrigen crystal, he develops the power to make objects explode just by touching them. As I mentioned earlier, let's hope his power doesn't work on himself, or it's going to make going to the bathroom problematic. It would be nice if he could turn if on and off, so he doesn't make his clothing explode while getting dressed. Or his fork explode while eating. Or his steering wheel explode while... well, you get the idea.

• James decides on the codename "Hellfire." There was a Hellfire in Marvel comics, but he was a lot younger, and wasn't an Inhuman. He was a descendant of The Phantom Rider (sort of an Old West version of Ghost Rider), and got his powers from a mystical chain that burned with supernatural fire (?). Yeah, I don't get it either.

• Welp, that was easy! After battling HYDRA for at least seven decades (or thousands of years, if you believe Gideon Malick), S.H.I.E.L.D. destroys HYDRA once and for all in five minutes.

As I said before, I cannot believe they did this. Surely such a huge part of the mythos deserved a better swan song. Their extermination was like an afterthought, as if the writers couldn't wait to be done with them. Apparently now that Hive is back on Earth, the writers must think there's no more need for HYDRA, and discarded them like an old rag. Imagine if in Star Wars, the Death Star was destroyed offscreen, and the characters just talked about it! Surely there was a better way. 

• Lines Of The Week:

May: “No one comes to me with their feelings.”

Mack: “Makes sense.” 

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Lincoln: “So it’s a murder vest?”

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Daisy: “Are you drunk?”
James: “I’m Australian so yes.” (someone's gonna complain about that line!)

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Coulson: “I thought it would be cool if the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a shield.”

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