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TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 1 "Laws of Nature"

09.30.2015
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EPISODE 1: "Laws of Nature"

SYNOPSIS:  Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Agent Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) leading the charge as S.H.I.E.L.D. searches the world for more powered people in the aftermath of their epic battle with Jiaying and her army of Inhumans. However, Coulson and the team soon find out that they are not the only group looking for these new Inhumans.

BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).

Well, here we are at the beginning of season three of the series everyone loves to bash. Despite tying into and advancing the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has suffered through two uneven seasons. Despite vast improvements and consistency last year, there was still a lot of room for better narrative and dialogue from the Joss Whedon created series. Season three has been promoted over the summer to include the debut of the Secret Warriors as well as a new threat to Phil Coulson's rebuilt and reinvigorated S.H.I.E.L.D.. After having watched the third season premiere, I can say that is only half true.

The biggest problem with this premiere is that not too much actually happens. Yes, we catch up with the various members of Coulson's team months after we last saw them. Coulson is still missing his hand, Skye now goes by her birth name of Daisy, May left for vacation and never returned, and the rest of the team are working together to try and rescue as many Inhumans as they can find. The residue of the Terrigen Crystals was dispersed into the food supply which is causing the evolution of countless humans to evolved beings across the globe. But, before Coulson's team can find and help these individuals, another shadowy organization has been beating them to the punch.

Led by Rosalind Price, the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (ACTU) is a newly formed government entity designed to track down and capture any superpowered beings that cause devastation and destruction now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is no longer in existence. Price and Coulson share a showdown aboard a subway train where neither fully reveals the truth to one another but both are hesitant about the other's motives. Coulson is still adamant that the Inhumans need to be saved, but both leaders reveal that their teams are being undermined by a third party. While recruiting Lincoln, now working as a doctor, Daisy and Mack encounter the Inhuman who is causing all of the mayhem: a giant named Lash who bears a body covered in spikes and seems to possess multiple special abilities.

While Coulson's team struggles with the new world order and the existence of the ACTU, Coulson confronts Fitz about his obsession with finding Simmons. After being sucked into the obelisk in last season's finale stinger, Fitz has been searching for documents or artifacts that could release the woman he loves. Coulson convinces Fitz that he is being irrational and needs to let Simmons go for the betterment of himself and the team. Fitz begrudgingly agrees but not before we get a final scene showing Simmons alive and on the run on what appears to be an alien planet.

As far as premieres go, this was definitely the weakest for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The episode felt a lot more like a mid-season premiere with the time jump from last aeason leaving the viewer in flux as to where things stand and where characters have moved onto since we last saw them. The good things are the special effects are dramatically improved this year along with a more free use of superpowers on screen. The Inhumans appear to be an integral part to the series moving forward and the introduction of new character Joey Gutierrez as a gay man/new Inhuman stands to replace Skye/Daisy as our entry into this crazy comic book world.

I feel a bit underwhelmed after the premiere as not much of interest was setup for where season three will be taking us. I definitely want to know where in the universe Simmons ended up, but the new big bad ACTU organization feels like a watered down replacement compared to HYDRA last year. I am hoping the plan for this season will start to come together in the next few hours as there are a lot of dangling plot threads that deserve to be addressed.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: William Sadler reprises his IRON MAN 3 role as President Matthew Ellis. References are made to the events of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER and the Sokovia incident from AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:

Episode 2 "Purpose in the Machine" airs October 6th - Fitz and the team enlist the aid of an Asgardian to unlock the secrets of the ancient monolith that swallowed Simmons, and Agent May is at a crossroads in her personal and professional life.

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:04PM on 09/30/2015
I think ACTU would've been less lame if they had been a player in season 2. Sure, even as a hinted-at shadowy organization it probably would've made things a little busy, but at the same time I generally dislike antagonists that jump into the spotlight without prior buildup.
I think ACTU would've been less lame if they had been a player in season 2. Sure, even as a hinted-at shadowy organization it probably would've made things a little busy, but at the same time I generally dislike antagonists that jump into the spotlight without prior buildup.
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7:33PM on 09/30/2015
What buildup do you want? Two years ago they didn't need it, super powered threats were still on the fringes and either unknown or kept hidden from the public. This group was put together because the threats and destruction are out there for the world to see. The US government put this ACTU together at last to combat the threat due to SHIELD falling from Hydra infiltration. A government isn't exactly known for moving fast. So taking a year to put together a task force such as the ACTU isn't so
What buildup do you want? Two years ago they didn't need it, super powered threats were still on the fringes and either unknown or kept hidden from the public. This group was put together because the threats and destruction are out there for the world to see. The US government put this ACTU together at last to combat the threat due to SHIELD falling from Hydra infiltration. A government isn't exactly known for moving fast. So taking a year to put together a task force such as the ACTU isn't so far fetched. And what prior buildup do they need other than what the President explained in his speech on the show?
9:46AM on 09/30/2015
Wow, so we only need to wait until episode 2 to get the obligatory Lady Sif episode this season. Good to get it out of the way early I guess.

On the whole, I didn't mind the premier episode. I'll certainly be checking back in for the next few weeks. But there were definitely a few things that annoyed me with the set up and encounters this episode.
1) The ACTU is definitely a third rate HYDRA knock-off. And considering season 2 finale set up Ward as the new head of HYDRA while they
Wow, so we only need to wait until episode 2 to get the obligatory Lady Sif episode this season. Good to get it out of the way early I guess.

On the whole, I didn't mind the premier episode. I'll certainly be checking back in for the next few weeks. But there were definitely a few things that annoyed me with the set up and encounters this episode.
1) The ACTU is definitely a third rate HYDRA knock-off. And considering season 2 finale set up Ward as the new head of HYDRA while they rebuild seems a little redundant. I think it's bad enough that the show has basically developed into a GI Joe knock off where SHIELD takes on HYDRA every season. So couldn't they come up with something more creative than ANOTHER organization to battle?

2) Why is Coulson so ready to let Simmons go. For whatever reason Fitz knows that Simmons was sucked into the obelisk. So they know something happened to her, but not that she died. Coulson's insistence of forgetting about her seems very out of character since the last 2 seasons established that he never wants to give up on anyone from his team (i.e. Why Fitz was kept around despite is failing mental capacity in season 2).

3) I really like the new SHIELD team/dynamic. So I'm hoping the development of the Secret Warriors does not detract from that this season.

4) Who is currently funding SHIELD? At the end of season 1 the entire organization was disbanded. Season 2 had them on the run while they solved the Inhumans mystery. To some extent SHIELD was reformed at the end of season 2 by members of SHIELD, not necessarily anyone in power in government. And now in season 3, the government has formed ACTU to replace SHIELD. So if the government isn't funding SHIELD and continues to keep them disbanded, how are they getting their funding for all the new ships. I know at the end of AOU there was the new Avengers facility, are they apart of that? In which case, is the government funding them? And if so, why are they sending ACTU into battle against SHIELD? I just think there's some more exposition needed to establish the current status of SHIELD and where it stands in the MCU.
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6:48AM on 10/01/2015
0.5) It won't be Sif: it will be Professor Elliot Randolph. [link]

1.0) You've got it backwards: when Marvel got the license to make GI Joe comics, they wanted to have GI Joe fight Hydra but Hasbro did not want the GI Joe characters to be part of the Marvel Universe so they had GI Joe fight Cobra instead. It's obvious when you think about it: GI Joe is SHIELD and SHIELD is GI Joe. They are literally alternative versions of each other.

1.5) The ACTU isn't Hydra. They aren't even the
0.5) It won't be Sif: it will be Professor Elliot Randolph. [link]

1.0) You've got it backwards: when Marvel got the license to make GI Joe comics, they wanted to have GI Joe fight Hydra but Hasbro did not want the GI Joe characters to be part of the Marvel Universe so they had GI Joe fight Cobra instead. It's obvious when you think about it: GI Joe is SHIELD and SHIELD is GI Joe. They are literally alternative versions of each other.

1.5) The ACTU isn't Hydra. They aren't even the bad guys. This is Hand and Talbot and Gonzales all over again: ever since the events of Winter Soldier, SHIELD has had to deal not only with Hydra but also with government organisations dedicated to taking them down. That being said, with every that is going on, why don't they send in the Avengers? And if the government knows Coulson is still alive then why don't the Avengers know?

2) In all fairness, Fitz had a very convincing arc of him getting better every episode. They've had similar arcs on CSI: Miami and CSI: New York with officers shot on duty and needing a season to recover before they come back to full capacity. Simmons is a different situation: in real life when a person has been missing for long enough they can be declared dead even without a body.

3) Yeah, I didn't miss May, Ward or Simmons. The smaller cast (compared to the last few episodes of last season) gave Coulson, Daisy, Mac, Hunter, Bobbi, Fitz, Joey and Lincoln more time. I suspect that when May and Simmons come back some people will get short shifted. Hence the need, I suppose, for a spin off.

4) I don't understand where the money is coming from to fund Coulson's group either if not from the American government. And what happened to the aircraft carrier they had at the end of Season 2? Did they sell that and buy new hardware? If SHIELD was a privately owned and run organisation then they can sell off assets if they want even though that would technically make them arms dealers. Coulson could have sold the aircraft carrier to a non-threatening country like the Philippines and the US military wouldn't care one bit. I'm assuming that's what happened until we get information one way or another.

4.5) Even assuming that Coulson has money, who built their new plane? Stark? But then wouldn't he have to know that Coulson is still alive? The new plane is bigger than the bus but smaller than a helicarrier: it's like an entire base of operations but without the need for all the personel from the carrier. (Agent Weaver, in particular, appears to have moved on to another job.) It must be expensive to operate too: constantly being in the air would use up a LOT of fuel.

9:31AM on 09/30/2015
"and the introduction of new character Joey Gutierrez as a gay man/new Inhuman"

Quite sadden to see this character's sexual orientation being used as a label.

That being said I really enjoyed this premiere episode and the dynamic between Coulson and Rosalind. Should make for an interesting season.
"and the introduction of new character Joey Gutierrez as a gay man/new Inhuman"

Quite sadden to see this character's sexual orientation being used as a label.

That being said I really enjoyed this premiere episode and the dynamic between Coulson and Rosalind. Should make for an interesting season.
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3:12AM on 09/30/2015
WE'RE BACK!!! Ahh its been too long since I got my Tuesday night MCU and DCTVU fix. I'll give my rating up front and then go into it below. First it was an 8 for me. I will agree it is definitely a slower build than last season's opening which was one of the best episodes they've ever had. This show laid a TON of groundwork for what is to come this season for TV and then entire MCU. Yes it was slow but I loved every minute of it.

So picking up where we left off last season we got a glimpse
WE'RE BACK!!! Ahh its been too long since I got my Tuesday night MCU and DCTVU fix. I'll give my rating up front and then go into it below. First it was an 8 for me. I will agree it is definitely a slower build than last season's opening which was one of the best episodes they've ever had. This show laid a TON of groundwork for what is to come this season for TV and then entire MCU. Yes it was slow but I loved every minute of it.

So picking up where we left off last season we got a glimpse into a vastly different SHIELD. They look much better funded now and more organized, yet at the same time the team seems much more serious. They've gone through a lot of shit last year and the wear and tear is showing for sure.

Daisy/Skye - She now has an air of leadership about her. Gone are the clueless plucky hackstivist days. She is in a unique position within SHIELD where they need her as much if not more then she needs them. But this is her family, a family which is going to be growing. Today we took the first steps into seeing just how she'll pull Caterpillar Team 1 into being. Actually she surprised me. A season ago she would have been gushing with feelings and trying to nurture this poor man who just went through a life changing transformation. Now however she is precise, professional, and almost cold at times more worried about the business at hand rather than coddling the guy. Her throwdown with Lash and the quick thinking destroying the floor was very awesome. Seeing her in full on comic costume that was 100% accurate was icing on the cake. I am loving her character, which is a feat because I didn't like her much in S1.

Coulson - Poor dude still. With all the ways the MCU has to rebuild and regenerate, this man can't find a hand that works to his liking or is normal/natural? We have Extremis, Deathlok, Starktek, and that super regen thing from Age Of Ultron. And this guy has to clip on his hand that does nothing so far other than look like luke skywalker's hand with the glove on? I will say this it was awesome to see the Axe that Mac used hanging in Coulsons office on the wall, and his hand in the lab. Little eggs like that I always love. Coulson also almost seemed to take a back seat tonight to Daisy. I'm not sure if I'll like that as the season goes on. he is the leader, not co-leader, he needs to stay in that role unless they are going to move him back to the movie wing of the MCU for civil war.

Mac - they seriously need to get this man some superpowers. The more I see this guy in action the more he deserves more than just a normal Shield agent role. God could you imagine this guy as Luke Cage, or Rage or just someone. He is one guy I wouldn't complain about if they race changed a character for because I'd love to see him be more. He also seems to have less hatred for Inhumans. Maybe not all the alien tech/science but the people themselves he seemed encouraging to.

Bobbi/Hunter - Weird to see Mockingbird in a lab coat as the replacement Simmons heh. As an actress she is always believable so I loved it anyway. I just wish there were more Hunter wisecracks this episode. This episode was crammed with setups for the season so I can understand why they didn't do much other than lay the potential groundwork for them leaving, again, no really its for real this time, again they're spinning off...we think..y'know maybe this time for real. Yeah their spinoff was on and off again as much as their on screen romance apparently lol.

Fitz - Wow did Fitz ever grow some serious balls since we last saw him. His stuttering seems to be gone, and he has no aversion to dying trying to find Simmons. He seems to have changed more since the last time we saw him than anyone. And that final scene of him just breaking down was powerful.

Simmons - Well well well, my prediction from last year's finale didn't seem to happen. I figured she would get changed into Dr Minerva. Since she was so seemingly anti Inhuman, that would be the path I figured they'd take it. Dr Minerva was a Kree biologist who was a hunter of Inhumans. Had powers and all that jazz. I thought the Obelisk was the MCU version of the Psyche Magnitron which was a Kree device that gave regular humans powers to fight the Inhumans. It turns out it was a portal, and Fitz was onto something. I am wondering if Simmons is now on Planet Hala, the Kree home world.

Ward/May - Nothing much to report here as they were both MIA. Guess maybe we see them next week.

LASH! - Wow even though I knew they were bringing him in this year, which still surprised me, I can't believe they did it in the first episode. God they made him badass looking. great practical makeup job. I was torn on how he'd look here. On one hand they did Raina and he makeup job was amazing, on the other hand they also did Mr Hyde and he was laughable at best. Lash was going to require full body makeup and from what I have seen, other than the color change, he looks fucking awesome. He appears to be a hell of a menace. In the comics he considered himself judge jury and executioner for Inhumans. He sought out every Inhuman and judged whether they were worthy of the gift. If they weren't in his mind...well you get the idea. He can teleport, control and manipulate energy. All around scary badass.

Misc - I personally loved the setup for Civil War coming. I hope it doesn't tie the hands of AOS like they were for Winter Soldier in season 1, but given they have so much to explore with Inhumans I don't think it will be a problem. They couldn't do much in season 1 while the Hydra reveal was building, now they have a ton of story to explore and the Civil War story can just remain as a tie in to the MCU but in the background and not the sole focal story. I also absolutely loved that William Sadler reprised his role. Those little things that come about in the single MCU are what I love., Continuity is a beautiful thing. The same thing with the Sokovia references, the Pym particle references, the London and NY references. Knowing the history of what has gone on in the last 8 years does have those little payoffs.


All in all I was very happy with this episode. It was slower than the last few episodes and finale last year. But what this has done is lay some amazing groundwork for what is to come this year.

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12:31AM on 09/30/2015

You missed an MCU tie in.

During the end convo between Fitz and Colson, Colson mention the Pym labs explosion, eluding to Ant Man.
During the end convo between Fitz and Colson, Colson mention the Pym labs explosion, eluding to Ant Man.
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+2
12:30AM on 09/30/2015

I'll never understand Alex....

He gave every episode of Arrow WAY too high of a score last year (including ones Arrow fans said completely sucked), now he's taken an entertaining (and much larger feeling) episode and says it's the worst premier of the series. I hate to quibble, but the first episode of AoS was complete crap and roundly panned by EVERYONE. So how is this episode (which you gave a 7 to) worse than that?

Seriously, I see your individual points, but not only did I enjoy the episode overall, I was
He gave every episode of Arrow WAY too high of a score last year (including ones Arrow fans said completely sucked), now he's taken an entertaining (and much larger feeling) episode and says it's the worst premier of the series. I hate to quibble, but the first episode of AoS was complete crap and roundly panned by EVERYONE. So how is this episode (which you gave a 7 to) worse than that?

Seriously, I see your individual points, but not only did I enjoy the episode overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how polished this episode was (far better than previous seasons). I'd give it a 7 to an 8 as well, but that's infinitely better than most of it's first season and much of last season. I can't see how that's anything other than a step up for this show.
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12:16AM on 09/30/2015
Man, I hope they aren't in another limbo until Civil War comes out. Season one was okay and started faltering until winter Soldier happened. Hopefully the same thing isn't going to happen here.
Man, I hope they aren't in another limbo until Civil War comes out. Season one was okay and started faltering until winter Soldier happened. Hopefully the same thing isn't going to happen here.
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