Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 episode 1 review: Laws Of Nature

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a grab for our affections with MCU cameos, super-powered showdowns and snappy dialogue…

This review contains spoilers.

3.1 Laws Of Nature

Gee whizz, what an opening five minutes that was! With a new superpower in action, a capture-the-flag style race against time between rival shady organisations and a visually pleasing gadgetry getaway, this pre-credits sequence was essentially what we always wanted Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be. And we haven’t even mentioned Skye’s – sorry, Daisy’s – big superhero moment.

This truly felt like a sequence from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or at least like one of the loveable One Shots that they used to make. The set-up was simple, the effects were cool, and there was a sense of tension and fun to proceedings. Add to that the reveal of the new half-plane/half-helicarrier base (how on Earth are they bankrolling this?), and you’ve got a massive statement of intent. Make no mistake – Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting a (second) makeover, and in this scene, it really worked.

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Later on, the introduction of Lash – the villainous Inhuman who is hunting down his kinsmen and promptly attacking them – fared a little worse. With three super-powered beings in the same fight, we’d expect something a bit more interesting than beams of light and holes in the floor. These ideas and effects felt like Tennant era Doctor Who, not a spin-off from the biggest movie franchise on the planet. Maybe an axe/shotgun combination of some sort might have livened things up a bit. Good idea, Mack.

Other than these two action scenes – neither of which ended with S.H.I.E.L.D. really stopping the baddies, in a welcome commitment to avoiding ‘freak of the week’ plotting (another re-stressing of the show’s commitment to improving year-on-year) – what we got was a lot of rather good dialogue scenes.

There was Coulson talking to Bobbi about Fitz, Mack and Daisy attempt to induct new Inhuman Joey (an impressive turn from Juan Pablo Raba), Coulson’s ‘cagey banter’ with Rosalind (fine nefarious fettle from Constance Zimmer. We look forward to seeing more of that), Bobbi and Lance talking about their ‘shagging on the regular,’ and the heartfelt scene where Coulson and Fitz discussed whether they should tell Simmons’ family about her seeming demise in the season 2 finale.

Speaking of Fitz, it looks as though the writers have completely abandoned his season 2 arc. He’s not only over his stutter, but he’s also ditched his confidence issues – Fitz is now trotting around the globe and handing explosives to bad guys. Where did that come from? We get that it’s his way of dealing with what happened to Simmons, but it seems like a complete U-turn from the writers, and it jarred quite a bit. Still, he looked cool in his sunnies. So that’s something.

It’d be remiss not to mention a certain President Ellis, too. It’s always nice when Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. borrows a face from the films, and this TV cameo from Iron Man 3 actor William Sadler was a neat way of tying the universe together. This scene is seemingly sowing seeds for Captain America: Civil War, with PotUS clearly keen to hunt down super-powered individuals by any means necessary. The laws of nature have indeed changed (with all these genetically-altered superheroes and villains running around) and the laws of man haven’t yet changed to accommodate them.

Rosalind’s ultra-violent government-sanctioned taskforce is the first sign of the White House really turning on superheroes, and it’s interesting that Coulson and co. are now completely out of the government loop, having to learn of this from the telly.

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This does bring us back to one question, though – who on Earth is funding S.H.I.E.L.D.? They still have a huge staff, their own (name-dropped) archives, and a ruddy massive plane. So if the government isn’t funding them, and Tony Stark isn’t funding them (the Avengers still don’t know that Coulson is alive), where is the cash coming from? I hope that they provide an answer at some point, but I’ve got a feeling that they won’t.

And finally – the Monolith. Where the heck has Simmons been transported? Although it obviously isn’t, it looks worryingly similar to Planet Zero from Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. So the Monolith seems to be some sort of portal. Like Fitz guessed, it could be a black hole. Perhaps the reveal of her location will tie into another Phase 3 movie, but it’s hard to guess which one. I’d love it to be some form of mystical realm, tying into Doctor Strange, but that feels like a long shot.

Next week, S.H.I.E.L.D. is recruiting the help of an Asgardian – Professor Elliot Randolph, from season one – to crack the mystery of the Monolith, so perhaps we’ll get some answers soon. In the meantime, I’m struggling to think of a pre-established MCU planet it could be. Any guesses, commenters?

Read Rob’s review of the season two finale, S.O.S., here.

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