Saturday, May 7, 2016

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 19: Failed Experiments

Thanks to my state's election coverage Tuesday night, I missed about twenty minutes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and had to track it down and watch it online. Last week storms knocked it off the air, this week elections. Apparently the universe doesn't want me watching this show.

This week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy's turn to the Dark Side seems complete, as she attacks her former friends and colleagues, coming very close to killing Mack in the process. We also get a low budget visit from the Kree, May flirts with Hellfire and Hive Ward finally reveals his Master Plan, setting up the season finale.

A few weeks ago in Parting Shot, Mockingbird and Hunter were written out of the show, so they could star in their own series, Marvel's Most Wanted. It seemed like a boneheaded decision to me. Mockingbird and Hunter were two of the best characters on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but oddly enough I don't think they don't seem interesting enough to carry their own series.

Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way, because according to the interwebs, this week Disney/ABC is reportedly having second thoughts about going through with the Marvel's Most Wanted series. Which means Mockingbird and Hunter were written out for nothing!

Maybe they could pull a George Costanza and just return to the show without any explanation, saying, "Quit? We didn't quit! You thought we were serious?"


The Plot:
Thousands of years ago, a tribal hunter is chased and captured by two blue-skinned, alien Kree warriors. They bring him back to their spaceship and begin experimenting on him (as near as I can tell there are no anal probes involved). They inject some of their own blood into him, forcing him to undergo Terragenesis. And that, kids, is how I met your mother, er, I mean how Hive became the First Inhuman.

In the present, we see Hive Ward telling this story to Daisy, and the last three heads of HYDRA. He tells the HYDRA heads he's going to try and recreate the Kree experiment on them. Gulp!

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., FitzSimmons work on an antitoxin that will fight off Hive Ward's parasites. Simmons warns that the serum could kill an Inhuman before curing them. Lincoln volunteers to test the antitoxin, but Simmons forbids it. Coulson spots Daisy on a global camera feed (!), coming out of a garage in Wyoming. Mack says the entire town was bought by one of Gideon Malick's shell corporations, and they figure that's where Hive Ward is hiding. Coulson thinks it's a trap, as Daisy is too smart to allow herself to accidentally be caught on a security camera. Mack thinks she did it as a cry for help, and wants to be rescued. Coulson orders a strike on Hive Ward.

Meanwhile in Inhuman Town, Hive Ward has Dr. Radcliffe experiment on the HYDRA heads, by altering their DNA and exposing them to Terrigen all at once. Predictably things don't go well, as the HYDRA subjects' faces all melt off. Yikes!

Lincoln asks Coulson for permission to test the Inhuman antitoxin on himself. Coulson says no, and tells FitzSimmons to come up with another option. Mack gathers four redshirt S.H.I.E.L.D. agents we've never seen before to accompany him on the mission to Inhuman Town. Coulson tells the team they're to kill Hive, but avoid injuring the others if at all possible. Especially his precious Daisy!

Daisy, Hellfire and Alisha hang out in an Inhuman Town bar. James tries to get Daisy to dance with him, but she turns him down. He accuses her of still being in love with Lincoln, and loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. Hive Ward is angry that the experiment failed. Dr. Radcliffe says he needs DNA from a living Kree host. Hive Ward activates the Kree Orb he got from Hellfire. Hive Ward asks Daisy if she can defeat S.H.I.E.L.D. She looks uneasy and says she's sure she can convince them to transform into Inhumans, which I'm sure they'd all just love. She says if they refuse transformation, she'll rip their hearts out.

To no one's surprise, Lincoln secretly injects himself with the antitoxin. FitzSimmons finds him writhing in pain as electricity shoots from his body and he collapses to the floor. Simmons tries to give him the antidote (there's an antidote to an antitoxin they don't know will work?), but he refuses it, saying he knows it's going to work.

May spots Hellfire in the bar by himself. She poses as a HYDRA security guard (?) and flirts with him until he tells her about Hive Ward's plan to change humans into Inhumans. She knocks him out and returns to Mack's team. They head toward what they think is Hive's location, inside a shed. Inside they find the Kree Orb, humming and glowing with light. Coulson, watching through a video feed, recognizes the writing on the artifact and tells the team to get out of there. They exit shortly before an object from space crashes into the shed, obliterating it.

Two blue skinned Kree exit from the debris. Hive Ward tells Daisy that he sent a signal to the Kree in order to get a sample of their blood for his experiment. He says these Kree are deadly Reapers, who live only to hunt. Hive Ward says they're his greatest fear, but with Daisy's help he believes he can defeat them, and collect their blood for the experiment.

One of the Reapers encounters Alisha and kills her (for good?). Mack and May follow it at a respectable distance, thinking it might do their work for them and kill Hive. It enters the garage lab and confronts Dr. Radcliffe. Daisy kills the Reaper with her powers and tells Radcliffe to drain its blood. Just then Mack enters and tells Daisy he's there to save her. She say she doesn't need saving, thanks, and says she's going to save humanity by turning everyone into Inhumans. Mack drops his gun and says he knows there's a part of her that wants to come back. When she says he's wrong, he destroys the Reaper and its blood. Enraged, Daisy attacks Mack.

The other Reaper tracks Hive Ward to a church. Hive battles the Reaper, while Daisy pummels the defenseless Mack. After a good five minute battle, Hive Ward stops fighting and absorbs the Reaper. So why didn't he do that in the first place? One of the S.H.I.E.L.D. redshirts fires a rocket at Hive Ward, which severely injures him, but he heals in seconds. May calls for a retreat. They find Daisy about to kill Mack, and May shoots her. They drag Mack into a waiting Wonkavator and fly off. Hive Ward finds the injured Daisy and cradles her (but sadly doesn't shake his fist at the heavens and shout, "WHY?").

Simmons tells Lincoln the mission to rescue Daisy failed, and that the antitoxin didn't work. Double bummer.

Hive Ward tells Daisy he's disappointed in her, and criticizes her for not collecting the Kree blood. She tells him she's finished with S.H.I.E.L.D. once and for all, and says he has all the Kree blood he needs, thanks to the transfusion Coulson gave her back in Season 1.

Hive Ward finally reveals his master plan this week, and it's a doozy. According to him, as long as there's violence, there can never be peace on Earth (I certainly can't argue with him there!). To eliminate said violence, he plans to turn everyone on Earth into an Inhuman. He believes that if everyone has superpowers they'll all be equal and there'll be no more violence. Several things here:

Hive Ward needs Kree blood to turn humans into Inhumans. Where the hell's he going to get enough blood to mutate seven billion people? Does he plan on wiping out most of the human population before he gets started?

Secondly, once everyone becomes Inhuman, will he infect them all with his spores and control them? Is that even possible? Let's hope so, because all Inhumans are not created equal. Daisy and Lincoln both possess very formidable powers. Other Inhumans much less so. Like Raina, for instance. Her power was clairvoyance, which is a very passive ability. There are probably some with even weaker powers, like the ability to smell like grilled cheese sandwiches.

How long would it be before the powerful Inhumans started pushing the weaker ones around? Once the weak ones were gone, the remaining strong ones would no doubt start battling one another for superiority. 

As I said, Hive Ward would probably infect all the Inhumans and control their minds. But Daisy's possessed, and she still shows quite a bit of autonomy, even refusing to kill Fitz when she had the chance last week. I don't think even Hive could stop violence from returning.

• Hive Ward has a second plan that's even more nonsensical. He needs Kree blood for his Inhuman experiment to work. To get it, he signals two Kree Reapers and lures them to Earth. Note that the Reapers are the most brutal hunters in the galaxy, and the one thing in the universe that Hive fears. What a great idea! That's like finding out you need bullets, so you dis a couple of gang members and dare them to shoot at you.

• Daisy asks Hive Ward why he was banished to Maveth. He says, "People saw the connection I had with other Inhumans, and that made them afraid. That fear bred paranoia, which lead to civil war. I see what you did there, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. writers.

Hive Ward then discusses his Inhuman philosophy, saying, "Only billionaires can build iron suits. Only the military can make super soldiers, which can only lead to a war of its own." Okay, okay, we get it guys! Captain America: Civil War opens this week!

• Hive Ward meets with the last three faithful heads of HYDRA, who might as well be wearing red shirts. He tells them he's going to reward them for their faith. Hilariously, they actually look like they're honored by this, until he tells them they'll be the first to be mutated into Inhumans. Then they're all, "Um... mutated into what now?"

• Predictably, the Human To Inhuman experiment goes terribly wrong, as the heads of HYDRA all have their faces melted off, ala Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Jesus Christ, this scene was absolutely horrifying! That's got to be one of the most gory and shocking things I've ever seen on network TV. I'm gonna be haunted for days by this scene!

• To get the alien blood he needs for his Inhuman experiment, Hive Ward activates the Orb, which signals two Kree Reapers. They arrive on Earth literally minutes later.

So were the Kree Reapers stationed above Earth for decades or even centuries, just waiting for the moment they'd be needed? Did they just happen to be passing through our neck of the galaxy? They'd pretty much have to be, as there's no way in hell the signal could have reached them in another solar system and they could have got here in less than an hour. Heck, even with warp drive, it still takes the Enterprise a while to get from one system to another.

• When Hellfire flirts with May, he tells her he's thirty three. Really? He looks like he's in his forties to me. Actor Axle Whitehead, who plays Hellfire, is currently thirty five. Must be that intense Australian sun prematurely aging him.

 Apparently the show blew its makeup budget for the season. Those Kree Reapers were less than impressive, looking like they stepped off the set of the latest Siffy Channel movie.

Seriously, I've seen better looking cosplayer makeup and costumes at comic conventions.

• Two Alishas attack one of the Reapers, and he easily kills them both. So... is that the end of her? Or is there still an Alisha Prime hiding out somewhere who can make more copies of herself? It's never made clear in the episode.

• So who are these four nameless S.H.I.E.L.D. grunts who suddenly pop up this week? Are they potential replacements for Mockingbird and Hunter? Whoever they were, I was amazed that they all survived the episode. I was sure they were introduced as redshirts just so the show could kill someone besides the main cast.

For quite a while now the series has been coy about just how many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents there really are. There's the core cast, of course, but there's always a bunch of people milling around in the background of their headquarters. Are they agents as well? Technicians? Security? Who knows?

• I guess the S.H.I.E.L.D. base got better after Daisy virtually destroyed it a couple weeks ago. This week everyone's gearing up for the assault on Inhuman town, and the base looks perfectly intact.

• Mack continues his tradition of getting knocked on his ass again this week. At least this time it was somewhat plausible, as Daisy used her quake powers on the hulking agent.

• Hive Ward faces his deadliest fear and battles the other Kree Reaper in the church. He even gets his ass handed to him a couple of times before he rallies. He finally ends the fight by simply using his spores to dissolve the Reaper. So... why didn't he just do that in the first place? Does he have a flair for theatrics?

It reminded me of every episode of Power Rangers. A monster would attack, so the Rangers would battle it to a standstill. Then it would grow to giant size, so they'd summon the Magazord and fight it to a standstill again. Then they'd materialize their Power Sword, which would finally kill the monster. They could have saved a lot of time and effort if they'd have used the Power Sword in the first place.

• Best line of the episode:
Simmons, talking about Hive Ward: “I had to shoot him three times just to shut him up.”

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