Agents of SHIELD Season 3 Eps 1-2 (TV Show Review)

Agents of SHIELD is a show that has had a rather roller coaster ride since it debuted in 2013. It got off to a really shaky start and didn’t get better until well into the first season, around the same time that the phenomenal Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie came out. The first season ended on a good note, and then the second season last year beat most of my expectations with how good it was and how it introduced the Inhumans to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which was an excellent move on the part of the showrunners.

And now, after Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gotten more dangerous, because people with powers are being feared all over the globe, and because the misguided actions of Skye’s mother have released the Terrigen mist to spread all over Earth. New powered people are popping up everywhere, and it is up to SHIELD to keep them safe, and perhaps even put them in the field against those who would harm them. That’s the basis for the new third season of the show, which steps up the action and intrigue to a whole new level, and is the better for it.

Laws of Nature” and “Purpose In The Machine” are the first two episodes of the new season and they both do a damn good job of setting the stage for the new developing stories of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The most important here of course is what kind of a role Agent Skye now has with SHIELD, and who the new big bad is.

The season premiere starts on a rather ominous note. We meet Joey Gutierrez, an average Joe who has recently developed the ability to melt metal, whether at a distance or by touch. Unable to cope with the changes happening to him, he runs off on his own, and ends up being chased by an unknown government agency that is out to just kill him outright. And so enters SHIELD, or rather, so enters Agent Daisy Johnson aka Skye, all badass and really kicking it down.

Part of the episode is set up to help Joey deal with his abilities and acclimate to his situation. Another part however, deals with how Coulson is rebuilding the organization. With all the new Inhumans popping up everywhere, his teams have their hands full tracking them down and bringing them in for safety, so that they can be evaluated, added to the Index, and perhaps even made a part of the larger picture. So, they need some new blood, and they also need to get over some of their internal problems. The scenes with Joey are pretty straight up, and it is all just setting the stage for something that will undoubtedly follow in the later parts of the season. Where they are good is in making clear what the stakes are for these Inhumans, especially since the unnamed government agency is apparently in possession of some Inhuman corpses, though it is not yet clear how and why they all died.

The real kicker comes when the new big bad of the season is revealed. We know from information revealed in the months leading up to the new season that Lash, an Inhuman belonging to an ancient tribe is going to be one of the major villains this year, and that is indeed the case here. His entry is phenomenal, and rather action-packed as well, in the true spirit of many of the major moments in the show’s history. If there’s one thing that the showrunners have gotten right, it is his look, which is a direct and pretty accurate reflection of his look from the comics. He was the major villain of Charles Soule’s first arc on the new Inhumans series from last year, and he is definitely here to stay. Porting over a character like him should yield some great dividends, and I’m really looking forward to how things progress from here. For now, everything is A-ok.

Like I said, the team is short-handed and is rebuilding. Part of the problem is that none of the Inhumans brought in so far have been cleared for duties yet by the agency’s psychologist-on-retainer, Dr. Andrew Garner, who also happens to be Agent May’s ex-husband. There’s a great dynamic in this episode between Dr. Garner and Skye/Daisy, and I love that the writers took the time to bring it into focus. It adds a certain charm to the whole thing, and shows the vulnerabilities of these characters. It shows the more…. human side of things as far as they are concerned and presents a very…. well-rounded aspect of how this team functions. He was a great inclusion last year, and he can only get better from here.

Episode 2, “Purpose In The Machine” is where things start to go really haywire. As we saw at the end of the season 2 finale, Agent Jemma Simmons was swallowed up by the Monolith when she was trying to get some readings off of it. We didn’t find out then what had happened to her, a mystery that was left until this season to unfold. And this episode is where it all comes full circle for her. At the end of the premiere, we see where she is and in what state. In this episode, we see how far Agent Leo Fitz is willing to go to get her back. Last episode, he had already taken on a gang of terrorists in order to find a clue as to what had happened to her, and now he goes full-out crazy about it, unwilling to back down in his search. And I love that. He is kind of that “sweet puppy in love” with the way that he is acting, but it is also understandable because she is someone he has always been close to, and they are a solid pair together, especially when it comes to their work.

The reveal about Simmons’ status, as well as how it all works into the larger mystery of the Monolith, is at the heart of the episode this time and the writers do a good job with it all. We get some nice juicy lore morsels to chew on, and we also see the return of a character we haven’t seen in a long time, the Asgardian known as Eliot Randolph, all the way back from season one. He is part of the mystery of the Monolith, and it is pretty exciting to see how he works with Coulson and others to solve these same mysteries. I was prepared for something simplistic, or something overly complicated, but the writers did a fine job of balancing two extremes and presented something very compelling, something with a lot of potential.

In addition to all of this, we also have whatever the hell is going on with former SHIELD agent Grant Ward, who turned out to be a HYDRA agent in the first season. At the end of last season, we saw that he had declared his intention to rebuild the shattered remnants of HYDRA following the thrashing given to them by SHIELD, especially when Coulson and his team maneuvered its leadership into taking each other out. The death of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in Avengers: Age of Ultron certainly didn’t help matters, and now Ward is set on becoming the top boss in HYDRA. Which is kind of a chilling prospect since he is as nuts as they come, as crazy as they come, and as ruthless as they come.

In this episode, we see how Ward has started to strike back at his former team members within SHIELD, and how he plans to rebuild HYDRA, using any and all means necessary to achieve the results he wants. There are hints here as to his larger plans of course, but the value of what we get to see is that we see a very different side of this character. As much as any of the original cast, Ward has also grown through the seasons, and now he is in a prime position to be a real villain, someone on the same level as some of the other big bads of the Marvel universe. And this episode makes things pretty clear in terms of his ambitions and his ruthless tactics. We got a good sample of it in the last few episodes of the previous seasons, but this time he has upped the intensity significantly, and he’s more determined than ever to be a dominant player. I like that. I utterly hate the character because of all he’s done in the last two seasons, but I like how he continues to grow and develop.

Agents of SHIELD Season 3 Cast

The biggest thing here however is how all the cast members have developed since the season 1 premiere in 2013, especially Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet, Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, who have been around the longest. The inclusion of Henry Simmons, Adrianne Palicki, Nick Blood and Luke Mitchell last year certainly didn’t hurt matters. I am very surprised to see how far Chloe Bennet particularly has come, both in terms of her performance and her character. Skye is a character who was pretty disappointing in the first season, but got better in the second, and is now a powerhouse. Chloe is someone who has matured well, and visibly grown in confidence. There’s a certain attitude to these actors that has developed over time, and I’m pretty glad that all the negativity of the first season, especially its first half, is so far behind us now.

The show has come far, and if these two episodes are any indication, then we have some great things to look forward to in the third season, which certainly promises to be much more explosive than before. And all the stories are still multi-layered, and all the characters get some screen-time, with no one being ignored in any way. Damn good start to things!

Agents of SHIELD Season 2 reviews can be found here. They only go up to Ep 10.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 reviews can be found here. I’ve reviewed every episode so far.

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Posted on October 14, 2015, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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