TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 3 "A Wanted (Inhu)man"
EPISODE 3: "A Wanted (Inhu)man"
SYNOPSIS: Daisy, Mack and Coulson race to protect Lincoln as Rosalind’s team hunts down the Inhuman in their quest for powered people. Meanwhile, Hunter proves that there is no line that he will not cross to exact his revenge against Ward and Hydra.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
So, I think I figured out the problem with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it only took me two seasons and three episodes. The series has managed to overcome obstacles in regards to story structure, pacing, and character development in the past, so I am hoping this is more of a hiccup rather than a systemic problem, but it looks like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is just recycling their story arcs that worked in the past and hoping the fans don't notice. Tonight's slowly paced episode where not much really happens really showcased the shortcomings at the core of this season's over-arching narrative.
The main plot thread this week involves Coulson's team tracking down Lincoln while also trying to evade their new foe, the ATCU, led by the mysterious Rosalind. This conjures up the ethical concerns at the core of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 in comparison to the sanctioned ATCU unit and the burgeoning rebirth of HYDRA. Coulson insists his organization, despite every obstacle faced over the last two years, is here to protect and defend the Inhumans but that doesn't explain why he felt it was okay to embed a tracking device in Lincoln's arm in the season premiere. Daisy is obviously torn between her allegiance to S.H.I.E.L.D. and feelings for Lincoln but she recognizes the importance of saving her friend before the militant ATCU finds him.
And so Lincoln spends most of the episode running from everyone since his face is plastered all over the news as an alien threat and yet keeps pulling out his powers and using them to escape. Lincoln keeps questioning whether he is the threat they keep saying he is all the way to the accidental death of his friend who turned him into the authorities. Lincoln comes to terms with the idea that he is a bad guy but that is when Daisy comes in and plants a big kiss on him which helps him realize that he wants to go with her to safety. Unfortunately, Coulson has just made a deal with Rosalind to turn Lincoln over to her so she can make a big public display of the ATCU's power and justify their existence. Lincoln uses his power and escapes and the ATCU team instead decides to take Daisy. Coulson bargains for her freedom in exchange for helping the ATCU. I have a strong feeling this rift between Coulson and Daisy will be a plot element all season. Oh, and it echoes the distrust the two felt in season one as Daisy/Skye joined the team and again last season when she learned she was an Inhuman.
The problems don't stop their, either. May and Hunter are still on the trail of Ward and use one of Hunter's old contacts to get them an audition for HYDRA via a Fight Club-style initiation. Hunter, of course, enters the ring and fights his old friend who still holds a grudge, killing him in the end before being brought before Ward's new second in command as worthy of joining HYDRA 2.0. This entire subplot feels lame to me as HYDRA existed for a century before Ward with big leaders like Red Skull, Alexander Pierce, and Baron Von Strucker. Now, a mid-level operative for the organization is going to bring them back to prominence? You could say it is the reverse of Coulson rebooting S.H.I.E.L.D. but the suspension of disbelief runs too high for both of these organizations to rebuild in the same manner.
The other plot going on this week involves the return of Simmons from the mystery planet she was banished to for months between seasons. Fitz, somehow fully recovered after his Season 2-long brain damage, is practicing patience as his paramour and friend tries to reacclimate to her surroundings. In fact, Simmons issues with being traumatized on the alien world and her trouble with returning to her friends feels almost identical to what she helped Fitz through last season. Clearly, this alien world will hold significance this season or ties into a Phase Three film, but for now it seems they are dragging it out for dramatic effect. The stinger scene at the conclusion of the episode features a Lost-esque one-liner with Simmons saying she has to go back to the alien world. The reason unknown until next week.
Ultimately, this felt like the dreaded place-holder episode. Marvel tries to pack in 22 hours of programming for this series each year which means you are going to have a handful of episodes that exist only to bridge those additional hours of drama. ABC would do a lot for the showrunners if they reduced the order to a 13 episode run like Daredevil and Agent Carter. Less hours means more meaningful plots and tighter pacing which would eliminate the need for adding so much unnecessary fluff to these episodes which undermines the better hours that surround them. Very disappointing episode this week.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: No overt references this week.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:
Episode 3 "Devils You Know" airs October 20th - Having reluctantly agreed to share information with Rosalind and the ATCU, Coulson and the team go in search for the Inhuman who is killing off other Inhumans, and May feels that Hunter’s mission to take down Ward is getting too personal, .