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