Saturday, March 12, 2016

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 11: Bouncing Back

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back, after a ridiculous, momentum-killing three month (to the day!) break. By the gods old and new, I hate these split seasons!

Overall this was a decent, if unspectacular episode, and probably not the most exciting way to kick off the second half of Season 3.

I'm liking Daisy's Secret Warriors team, as it's nice to finally see some superheroes on this superhero show. That said, the rapidly expanding cast means some characters are going to get pushed to the background. Like May, for instance. She had absolutely nothing to do this week, showing up in a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss-her scenes.

I was puzzled by the FitzSimmons scenes, as they're all awkward with one another and agree to start over. A couple things about this. The "Will They Won't They" thing is getting very old by this point in the series. It's time they either get together or forget about hooking up for good.

Secondly, I was under the impression they'd already put all the awkwardness behind them, once Fitz rescued Simmons from Maveth. So why is the series dredging it up yet again? I confess I'm not sure about this, as after three months I'm having trouble remembering what the hell happened on the show last year. Another reason why split seasons are a bad idea.


The Plot:
In Columbia, police are transporting a shipment of weapons. They see a roadblock, and when they investigate, their guns disappear from their hands. The cache of weapons disappears from their vehicle as well. Daisy and Joey go to Columbia to investigate. They meet with Colonel Ramon, who tells them he suspects someone with superpowers took the weapons.

Coulson meets with President Ellis at Rosalind's house. The President says he doesn't want to publicly authorize S.H.I.E.L.D. For now the ATCU will remain as the public face, while S.H.I.E.L.D. is secretly in charge. He says he's appointing a new head of the ATCU, but he'll report directly to Coulson.

Mack, Hunter and Mockingbird investigate the site of the superpowered incident in Colombia. They split up to search for clues. Mack spots a woman with superspeed, who zips his gun away before he can reach for it. She knocks him out and throws him into a car. He wakes up bound and gagged in a bathroom. Meanwhile, Daisy, Hunter and Mockingbird look for Mack. They watch security footage of Mack, and see a blur approach him.

Mack manages to free himself and knocks his superpowered captor on her ass. He figures out that after she uses her superspeed, she always returns to where she started. She uses her powers to capture him again.

Coulson says he wants to find Gideon Malick. He takes the T.A.H.I.T.I. machine (which brought Coulson back to life after he was killed by Loki) out of storage, intending to use it on the seemingly brain dead Strucker Jr..

Malick is informed of the incident in Columbia by his aide Giyera. He tells Malick that his "guest" is asking for him. The two men enter a secure room and see Ward, who's now possessed by the alien entity from Maveth, lying on a bed. It tells Malick it's hungry.

Mack wakes up again, taped to a chair. He accuses the superpowered woman, who he nicknames Yo-yo, of being a criminal. She says her powers are a gift from God and she's never use them to sin. Just then Daisy and her team burst in, knock out Yo-yo and rescue Mack.

Coulson, Lincoln and FitzSimmons activate the T.A.H.I.T.I. machine. Strucker Jr. comes to and tells Coulson that Malick sold him out, and he can find him by going to an antique store and giving the clerk a password.

Daisy and her team take Yo-yo back to their headquarters. They look her up and find her name is Elena Rodriguez, and she has no prior arrests. She tells them she didn't steal the weapons, she was taking them out of the hands of corrupt officials. Hunter and Mockingbird find Yo-yo's cousin throwing the weapons off a bridge, which confirms her story. Just then Colonel Ramon pulls up along with an Inhuman officer. The Inhuman flashes his eyes and paralyzes the three. Ramon kills Yo-yo's cousin and takes Hunter and Mockingbird captive.

Mack tells Yo-yo her cousin is dead, and releases her. He tells her S.H.I.E.L.D. is on her side, and asks her to join them. She explains that her power is connected to her pulse, and she can use her superspeed for the duration of one heartbeat. After that she always snaps back to her starting point.

Hunter and Mockingbird come to in Ramon's office. The Inhuman zaps Hunter again, and Ramon interrogates Mockingbird. Daisy and her team of Secret Warriors, consisting of Lincoln, Joey and now Yo-yo, enter Ramon's building. Yo-yo easily disarms the guards, while Joey uses his power to melt the weapons in the armory. Ramon and the Zapper Inhuman quickly leave. Mack rescues Mockingbird. Yo-yo binds Zapper's hands at superspeed, while Joey melts his glasses to his face (ouch), preventing him from using his powers. As they're taking Zapper into custody, a HYDRA helicopter drills a hole in the ceiling (?) and snatches him away.

Coulson finds the antique store and give the clerk the password. He's shown to a room with a phone. Coulson puts a S.H.I.E.L.D. tracer on the phone and calls Malick. He answers, expecting Von Werner, and is surprised when he hears Coulson's voice. Coulson tells him they're tracking him and will take him down soon.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Joey tries to convince Yo-yo to join the team. She declines, saying she belongs in Columbia. Mack gives her a signal watch to use if she ever needs help. Joey also wants to try for a normal life again, and gets the same deal. Lincoln decides to stick around, and kisses Daisy. President Ellis appoints General Glenn Talbot as the new head of the ATCU, much to Coulson's chagrin.

Over at Malick's place, he wonders if "Ward" was worth all the trouble it took to obtain him. "Ward" says he'll believe in him, once he makes a believer out of Giyera. He reaches out and his hand dissolves and heads right toward Giyera's face. Cut to black.

• So what was up with the "Three Months From Now" cold open? We see the interior of a space ship, with blood droplets and a cross necklace floating in the weightless cockpit. We also catch a brief glimpse of an unknown person with a S.H.I.E.L.D. insignia on their arm.

Many have pointed out that the cross looks very much like the one Yo-yo wears in the episode. Is that an ominous hint that she's not long for the show?

I'm kind of wondering if it's some sort of tie-in with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie?

• This week we're introduced to another member of Daisy's Secret Warriors— Elena Rodriguez, aka Yo-yo.

In the comics, Rodriguez is also a member of the Secret Warriors, but there she goes by the name Slingshot. Instead of being a Columbian and an Inhuman, the comic version is a Puerto Rican mutant, whose father is the Griffin, a monstrous looking supervillain.

I liked the twist that Yo-Yo turned out to be a good guy (gal?) rather than the villain of the week. The limitation on her powers—  she can only use them for the length of a heartbeat— was an interesting take on the usual superspeed.

By the way, that image of Yo-yo above… what the hell is a Rooster Party?

• Once again we see Matthew Ellis, the President of the U.S. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He first appeared in Iron Man 3 in 2013, so it's entirely possible he could still be the President. I wonder if he's still in his first term, or if this is his second?

• Hunter seems jealous of Lincoln and Joey's powers, and admits he took some of the terrigen-tainted fish oil pills "just to see what would happen." Yikes! What if he ended up covered in quills like Rayna? Or what if his eyes disappeared like Gordon's? The scene's played for laughs, but that's a pretty serious— and stupid— thing to do. 

• Looking for Malick, Coulson travels to an antiques shop and gives the clerk a password he extracted from Strucker Jr. The clerk stares at him for a few seconds ("It's an older code sir, but it checks out. I was about to clear them.") and buzzes him through.

Lucky for Coulson the shop doesn't change the passwords very often!

• They don't come out and say it in the episode, but the producers have confirmed that Ward has become possessed by an entity called Hive (not to be confused with H.I.V.E., the Arrowverse's version of HYDRA).

In the comics, Hive wasn't an Inhuman, but was a life form created by HYDRA. The comic version wasn't a possessed human, but was instead made of of thousands of small, worm-like parasites. These worms could merge to form a large creature that could steal the memories and knowledge of its victims. Hive was the physical embodiment of HYDRA's "Cut off one head, another takes its place" philosophy.

• Why is Hive Ward so pale and alien-looking? On Maveth, Will the astronaut was possessed by Hive and he looked perfectly normal. In fact Will was so attractive Simmons fell in love with him. So why the difference?

Maybe Hive's hosts look sickly and alien shortly after it possesses them, and after a time they return to normal?

• In Columbia, the Secret Warriors rescue Hunter and Mockingbird and capture the Zapper Inhuman. They're taking Zapper with them, when suddenly a HYDRA helicopter drills a large hole in the ceiling (?) lowers a claw and snatches him away.

Everyone stands mesmerized as they watch this unfold. I guess Joey forgot he has metal-melting superpowers that he could have used on the HYDRA chopper.

I don't think he has to touch metal to affect it, as he melts Zapper's glasses to his face from across the room. So there was no reason to not even try to stop the fleeing chopper.

• After the mission, Daisy offers Yo-yo a permanent position on the Secret Warriors. Yo-yo declines, saying she'd rather stay in Columbia and use her powers to clean up the corrupt local government. She does offer to return if the team ever needs her help.

To that end, Mack gives Yo-yo a Jimmy Olsen signal watch, and says if she ever needs help to activate it and the Secret Warriors will come a runnin.' Seriously? How fast could they possibly get to her in Columbia? Even with the supersonic Zephyr One it would take a couple of hours.

This seemed less like a narrative choice and more like a way for the show to save money by not having to create superspeed effects every week.

• At the end of the episode, Coulson gets a new, more realistic-looking hand to replace the rubbery black Return Of The Jedi one he's been sporting all season. It looks just like a real hand, except it inexplicably glows whenever it's touched. That shouldn't be awkward whenever he shakes hands with someone.

Coulson says Fitz cobbled together the new hand. Gosh, it's too bad S.H.I.E.L.D. is so stingy with its technology. Think of all the war veterans who'd love to have an advanced bionic hand like Coulson's.

• Hmm. Looks like Hunter and Colonel Talbot both go to the same Supercuts.

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