TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 20 "Emancipation"
EPISODE 20: "Emancipation"
SYNOPSIS: With only two episodes left before S.H.I.E.L.D. loses one of their own, Daisy's prophecy ticks closer towards a major loss, as the aftermath of the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR force S.H.I.E.L.D. to register the Inhumans.
REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always tied into the big Marvel Cinematic Universe events over it's three seasons, even if the big screen hasn't referened the events of this series. From CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER to THOR: THE DARK WORLD and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been impacted by the movies. With this past weekend seeing the debut CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, this episode hinges on the Sokovia Accords and the registration of enhanced humans. In the case of this series, that means any and everyone classified as an Inhuman. The response of Agent Coulson may surprise you.
Coulson, formerly a proponent of cataloging any powered individuals for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Index, vocally tells General Talbot that he is on Captain America's side. Coulson succinctly states what Tony Stark failed to in CIVIL WAR and explains that the problem with lists is that they can fall into the wrong hands. Refusing to allow the Inhumans on his team to be indexed, Coulson still takes Talbot on a tour of their facility and introduces her to Yo-yo who has returned to see the ailing Mack. Talbot also checks in with Lincoln as well as visits Lash. Talbot is somewhat on board with the plan to take down Hive but doesn't trust Coulson just yet. Lincoln even manages to start getting hidden messages from Daisy whom he doesn't trust but still pines for like an annoying puppy dog. The team still wants badly to save her, but even Coulson is resigned to take her down with Hive if they have no alternative.
At their base of operations, Hive oversees the draining of Daisy's blood to use for experimenting on humans to give them the equivalent of the Terrigen effect. For such a hyper-intelligent and powerful being, Hive's plan seems oddly generic. But, they do need to experiment on someone so who better than the intolerant and hate-spewing Watchdogs. The thinly veiled political message here in treating the Watchdogs as a Trump-loving militia was not lost on me but also felt incredibly heavy-handed. Still, seeing these rednecks reduced to ghastly, melted-faced zombies was a bit refreshing if not a sign of their token existence to fuel a fight by episode's end. But, Hive's misplaced trust in Daisy comes with a cost. As Daisy believes she is getting Lincoln on her side, it turns out to be a ruse and everyone is in on it.
The master plan turns out to be the old Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. adage: every Inhuman exists for a specific purpose. In this case, they believe that Lash is meant to destroy Hive so they send a quinjet. Hive and Lash show down and the smug look on Grant Ward's skull is beautiful as it changes to a grimace. Lash repels Hive's mind control and blows a hole into his chest. Lash then takes down the melted Inhumans with ease before pulling the mind control sand from Daisy's body. As he takes her to the jet, Lash is killed by James and his flaming whip which reveals to Lincoln that Lash's true purpose was to save Daisy. May mourns Andrew/Lash, Daisy is put into isolation, and the rest of the team prepares for the worst. Yo-yo says farewell to the recovering Mack and gives her a crucifix for his building faith.
Ultimately, the episode delivers the big plot device that will drive the season finale next week: in analyzing Daisy's blood, Fitz and Simmons manage to deduce that Hive could use the serum Dr. Radcliffe made with her blood to turn a vast majority of the Earth's human population into Inhumans. When questioning the delivery method, Talbot reveals that the item stolen by Hive's minions a few episodes back was a fully functioning warhead. That means that Daisy's vision from the mid-season premiere of a spacecraft crashing could be one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents sacrificing themselves to save the world. The question is who could it be? Mack now that he has been given a crucifix we saw floating in the ship or someone else?
This was a solid episode, but one that suffers from a lot of plot holes. With such a massive villain proposing a way to destroy the Earth, why haven't the Avengers been called in? Yeah, Captain America is missing in action, but I would expect something this massive would be within the United Nation's scope to call in their newly registered heroes? This disconnect remains the biggest thing holding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back from the success it could have with just a couple of appearances from some true MCU superheroes. Regardless of that, though, there are some serious stakes built up that could change the way this show approaches the next season, especially if the character who dies is one of the core team.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The episode opens with a news broadcast indicating that Steve Rogers is still missing. Multiple references to the Sokovia Accords through the episode. Coulson mourns the passing of Peggy Carter.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Absolution" and "Ascension" air May 17th - It's a showdown a season in the making as S.H.I.E.L.D. takes onHive, and when his master plan is finally revealed, the team must spring into action. Who will live and who will die?