Thursday, November 12, 2015

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 7: Chaos Theory

This week Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to move quickly. Maybe a little too quickly. We just found out who Lash is, and just a week later he's been dealt with and filed away.

I appreciate that unlike other shows, this one's not afraid to resolve its plot lines in a timely manner. But I think we needed a wee bit more time with Lash— say an episode or two— before moving on. It was the same with Simmons earlier in the season— I thought they sped through her Planet Blue storyline way too quickly.

I'm assuming the breakneck pace is so they can end on a cliffhanger in a few weeks when they go on hiatus. Damn you, Mid-Season Break! You ruin everything!

Hopefully we haven't seen the last of Lash and Andrew. The fact that he's being stored at the ATCU instead of outright killed pretty much guarantees that.


The Plot:
Daisy's furious with Coulson after seeing him get chummy with Rosalind at the ATCU last week. She fears the ATCU is "treating" Inhumans by putting them on ice and forgetting about them, instead of letting them live their lives. Coulson tells her he shares her concerns and he and Rosalind are meeting with the President later in Colorado, where he plans to bring up the issue. He says Rosalind will be riding with them on Zephyr One, and wants Daisy to get to know her, which she dreads.

May's troubled by Strucker Jr.'s claim that her ex-husband Andrew is secretly Lash, the Inhuman who kills other Inhumans. She has to be sure, so she tracks Andrews movements over the past six months and discovers he was in the vicinity of every known Inhuman murder. 

Meanwhile Andrew is evaluating Joey Gutierrez at The Cocoon, a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. training facility in New York. Joey (the Inhuman with the ability to melt metal from Laws of Nature) is proud that he's gained control over his powers. Andrew looks like he's just about to blow a hole in Joey's chest when May arrives. She sends Joey back to S.H.I.E.L.D. and asks Andrew point blank if he's Lash.

Andrew panics, Ices May and takes her to an abandoned building at Culver University (?). She wakes up handcuffed to a boiler. Andrew tries to explain himself, saying six months ago Coulson sent him a load of books confiscated from Afterlife. One was a ledger Jaiying kept of all known Inhumans. When Andrew opened it, the booby-trapped book sprayed Terrigen mist in his face, activating his latent Inhuman DNA and turning him into Lash. He then began uncontrollably "lashing out" (groan) at other Inhumans.

Simmons brings Fitz her damaged phone (that she had on Planet Blue) and asks if he can retrieve the data from it. He does so, and watches her hours of video logs, all addressed to him. It's obvious that Simmons still has feelings for him, despite her lote for Will. Fitz eventually finds a potential clue in the phone— the logo on Will's flight suit is similar to an insignia in the castle where they found the Monolith machine a few weeks ago. Fitz reasons that whatever secret society built the castle may have funded the Monolith expedition.

Lincoln shows up at S.H.I.E.L.D. and tells Coulson that Andrew is secretly Lash. Coulson postpones his meeting with the President and races to New York to rescue May. Rosalind offers the ATCU's help as well. Coulson arrives just in time to save May. He hopes to contain Andrew before he can hurt anyone. Andrew turns into Lash and attacks. Lincoln blasts him with his electrical powers, but Lash gets the upper hand. Just as he's about to kill Lincoln, Coulson saves him as well. Lash throws Rosalind off a balcony, but she's saved by Daisy and her quake powers. Lash turns back into Andrew to beg May for mercy. She shoots him in the chest several times and knocks him into a S.H.I.E.L.D. containment unit.

Everyone then debates what to do with Andrew. Rosalind of course wants to put him on ice until a "cure" can be found. Daisy is reluctant, but agrees it's probably best for now. May says do it.

Meanwhile, Evil Ward meets with Gideon Malick, the World Council leader who's also HYDRA. Ward tells him he plans to kill Coulson, which will destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. Malick says he has his own plan for Coulson. We then cut to Coulson and Rosalind, who've apparently spent the night together. Rosalind calls Malick, and apologizes for missing their meeting in Colorado.

• Last week I wondered how long Andrew had been Lash. This week we got the answer— less than six months.

• Lincoln says that Inhumans can't change back into humans and vice versa, and that Andrew is still in a transitional phase. Eventually he'll become Lash full time.

That's not how we've seen it work before. Daisy and Raina became Inhumans the minute they were exposed to the Terrigen mist— there was no "transitional period" involved.

• When May investigates Andrew, she sees he's deleted his blood work records from the S.H.I.E.L.D. computers. Presumably his blood would contain Inhuman DNA markers and give him away.

Um... isn't Andrew a psychiatrist? Deleting records from a secret spy organization's computer (and not setting off any alerts) seems like a skill beyond his pay grade.

• I'm still a bit confused as to Lash's motivation. He's an Inhuman who's compelled to kill other Inhumans. He tells May he "sorts the good Inhumans from the bad." So how's he decide that? And why?

It sounds more like he's some sort of Inhuman vampire and absorbs the energy when he kills them, and is trying to justify his horrific actions in his mind. Which, you know, is something a psychiatrist would do.

• Lash is apparently a fan of Stallone films, as he growls, "I AM THE CURE!"

• If Simmons is so intent on rescuing Will from Planet Blue, why does she just now think to give Fitz her damaged super phone? Seems like that should have been the first thing she did after coming back.

It's possible she didn't think the phone would be any help, but gave it to Fitz knowing he'd see her videos, which could say things about how she feels that she can't.

• Wow, Lincoln went full hadouken on Lash!

• Lash has Lincoln pinned down and raises his hand to blow a hole in his chest. At the last second, Coulson appears and grabs Lash's wrist with his bionic hand. Lash struggles in Coulson's grip for a bit before shoving him away.

I'm not quite sure Coulson would be able to stop him so completely. Yes, Coulson's new hand is no doubt stronger than normal, but it's still attached to a flesh and blood forearm. Lash should have been able to move his arm in any direction, even with Coulson's hand clamped around it.

Think of it this way— Coulson could grab a thousand pound weight with his bionic hand, but his normal arm wouldn't be able to lift it.

• Lash turns back into Andrew in hopes of suckering May into trusting him. She unexpectedly shoots him three or four times in the chest at close range, which knocks him into the containment unit (also known as the Wonkavator) behind him. She then seals the door. Miraculously he survives.

An astonished Coulson then asks May, "How'd you know that wouldn't kill him?" May stares straight ahead and hisses, "I didn't."

Daaaaayum, May!

• I was very surprised to find out that Strucker Jr. is still alive (albeit in a coma). It looked for all the world like he died in May's arms last week.

I guess this means they're not done with Strucker Jr. just yet. Hopefully he'll make a better impression than his father Baron Von Strucker, who was killed off camera by Ultron in the least impressive and most off-handed way possible in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

• At the end of the episode Rosalind calls Gideon Malick to apologize for missing their meeting. That would seem to indicate that she, and the ATCU, are connected to HYDRA.

Eh, I'm not buying it. When they first introduced her they set her up as a villain, but the past couple of episodes they've done their best to humanize her and make us think she's not so bad. Making her actually turn out to be evil would be way too obvious. 

Think about it— in this episode she told her ATCU grunts that hunting Lash was Coulson's operation, and not to attack without his OK. They had plenty of opportunities to attack Lash when S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't around, but didn't. 

I'm betting Malick is somehow playing Rosalind, and she doesn't really know his dirty little secret.

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