This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Season 3 Episode 1
Well, here we are on the verge of the most comic book-laden TV season ever. DC came out firing with both barrels with two kickass episodes of Gotham to launch its TV season and today Marvel joined the fray with the opening installment of season three of the House of Idea’s flagship show, Agents of SHIELD. Now, this can also be seen as the kickoff to a year’s worth of Marvel coolness with Jessica Jones, Agent Carter, the second season of Daredevil, and Luke Cage on the way along with the cinematic majesty of Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange all to follow. That’s enough to get any comic geek into a lather, but tonight we have to examine the opening salvo of the newest season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of SHIELD seems to be the comic series that has perpetually been waiting for greatness. Unlike Agent Carter and Daredevil, Agents of SHIELD seems to always border on something special but never quite surpassing its often wheel spinning mediocrity. Yeah, there have been some good episodes, there have even been a handful of great ones, but the series seems to be trapped in a perpetual holding pattern. Last year, the series focused on the coming of the Inhumans mixed with the fall of Hydra to create a mixed bag that was truly engaging at its best and truly bloated at its worst. Along the way, fans have been introduced to characters that have indeed become beloved parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so much so that Marvel Comics has incorporated many of them into the Marvel Universe proper.
Now I’m spinning my wheels with this recap stuff but it all needs to be laid out there for the sake of comparison because this week Agents of SHIELD was refreshingly compact. Just two stories took center stage as Marvel set up the dominos for a season’s worth of goodness.
We start with the Inhumans. Today my fellow Den of Geeker Gavin Jasper laid out the history of Marvel’s attempt to set up the Inhumans as a cinematic big deal. Gavin addressed it better than I ever could so go check out that article. OK, done? Now, last season Marvel tried to set up the Inhumans as the thinly veiled cinematic equivalent of the X-Men.
Well, it ain’t thinly veiled anymore, as it has now become glaringly overt. I don’t really mind because the Inhumans are long time characters that deserve their time in the sun, and things got really God Loves Man Kills this week as we got a hard look into the panic caused by the coming of the Inhumans. We got to see all this through the eyes of Joey Gutierrez, a newly formed Inhuman with the power to destroy metal. The episode really captured the panic of Gutierrez as his powers first manifested. The show’s hard opening saw Daisy (not Skye anymore I guess), rescue Joey as a mysterious black ops unit was about to take the desperate man down. Daisy’s rescue was right out of the pages of a comic and it seemed like Agents of SHIELDmight have blown a quarter of this season’s SFX budget before the running of the first credits.
The episode then set up each character very nicely for the coming season. With Coulson the shot caller of his S.H.I.E.L.D branch, the team’s mission now seems to be to find, contain, and train new Inhumans. This should provide a story engine for the coming season and also provide the show an opportunity to explore many characters with many power sets. But again, make no mistake, there is no Black Bolt, there is no Triton, and there is no Medusa. This is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s mutants and the only difference between the X-Men and these Inhumans is that there is no one in a wheelchair pulling the strings from the sidelines and there are no Sentinels.
But there is a dude with a missing hand as poor Coulson got Luke Sywalkered last season. The opening episode of the season pulled off some neat tricks (I wanted to say sleight of hand, but I won’t) with the missing appendage, including Coulson using his stump to escape from new foil Rosalind Price’s agents. Speaking of Price, she seemed to be taking the Edward James Olmos role this season as the misguided but ultimately magnanimous foil to Phil Coulson.
Skye Daisy seems to be settling into her super powered persona very nicely and her entrance into the proceedings this week seemed suitably epic. She has come a long way from the snarky Mary Sue of season one. Mack has evolved into Daisy’s muscle bound aide-de-camp but doesn’t really have an arc of his own. I hope the series doesn’t Agent Tripp Mack to raise the stakes for Daisy.
Other than the Inhumans stuff, we got to check in with Bobbi Morse who is still having on-again-off-again marital issues with Agent Hunter. Hunter and Morse seemed to be on the same page relationship wise and it was great to see the series explore another side to Bobbi Morse. This week, we got to delve into Morse’s scientist background, an indelible part of the character’s history (see Marvel Moments below). And let me tell you, if Marvel does go ahead with its Marvel’s Most Wanted Morse and Hunter spinoff, both characters would bring loads of chemistry into a new series as they seem to have perfected their screen interactions if this week was any indication.
But what of Simmons you ask? What of our beloved lady scientist who was sucked into some sort of space vortex last season? Well, it seemed that Fitz was searching the globe for answers regarding the monolith that ate poor Simmons. After a dangerous side mission in Morocco, Simmons found an ancient scroll that held a one word answer to Simmons’ plight. The one word was “death.” Well, that ain’t good.
This left poor Fitz desperate and lost as he pounded on the monolith, begging it to free his beloved. It was truly Iain De Caestecker’s finest moment as Fitz as one could almost hear the breaking of millions of hearts. Marvel fans really are a squishy bunch.
We also were treated the return of the Inhuman Lincoln and the badass introduction of the Inhuman heavy Lash who really looked like he just stepped off the set of a Nightbreed sequel and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
As usual, Agents of SHIELD hit us with a number of mysteries that hopefully will be answered sooner rather than later. Who does that mysterious strike force that almost took down Gutierrez work for? Where is Melinda May and Grant Ward? And most of all, where is Simmons?
We didn’t have to wait too long to get the answer to that last question because the stinger revealed that Simmons is stuck, terrified, on a distant planet. Maybe it was that dimension that the Fantastic Four visited in this summer’s feature film. No, it could never be that horrible, could it? But seriously, Simmons’ excursion into the unknown could serve as the bridge between Marvel TV and the more cosmic side of the MCU.
OK, Agents of SHIELD, you got me with your compact, easy storytelling, Now let’s see if you can maintain this level all season long. A good start.
– After much searching, I can’t find the comic book equivalent of Gutierrez or Price. Any ideas guys?
– Of course, the president’s new anti-Inhuman task force echoes countless X-Men tales.
– A brief mention of the falling country situation from Age of Ultron.
– A nice shout out to Pym Particles and size changing, yeah, that’s the synergy we love.
Lash is a very recent addition to the Inhuman side of the Marvel Universe. The frightening Terrigen monster was first introduced in the pages of Inhumanity #1 and was created by Matt Fraction, Charles Soule, and Joe Madureira. He pretty much looks exactly look his television counterpart so bravo on Marvel for not skimping on the practical effects make up. Lash was a pretty big deal during Marvel’s Inhumanity crossover and into the Inhuman series by Soule. In the comic, he was much more than the grunting creature Daisy and Lincoln took down this week, so here’s hoping we get the cunning Lash from the comics.
– Am I wrong or was the President of the US that addressed the Inhuman situation the same President that was featured in Iron Man 3? If so, nice continuity there Marvel!
– When Bobbi Morse was first introduced in the pages of the Ka-Zar feature in the Silver Age anthology Astonishing Tales, it was as Doctor Bobbi Morse not as the globetrotting super spy she would become in the years to follow. It was pretty cool to see Agents of SHIELD acknowledge this part of Morse’s rich history.