Sunday, October 4, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.01: "Laws of Nature"

“You have shown so much heart never giving up on Simmons, and I will always respect you for it. But look around. We need you. We need that big brain of yours and that heart here.”

I have lots of thoughts about the third season premiere of “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” but they’re all still kind of swirling around in my brain a bit. I think of all the plots set in motion this week, I care most about Fitz’s quest to find and rescue Simmons, but that shouldn’t really be surprising. Sad FitzSimmons makes me sad, after all. Plus, Iain De Caestecker is just a fantastic actor, and it is hard not to feel his rage at repeated failed rescue attempts. The rest of the episode centers around what to do about the rapidly increasing number of Inhumans following the distribution of the triggering compound (I forget its name) through fish oil supplements at the very end of last season’s finale. We see on a small scale trying to help one particular Inhuman manage his transition, and on a larger scale, we see Coulson trying to figure out who was behind the distribution and who has been trying to capture the new Inhumans as they appear.

The beginning of the episode introduces us to Joey, a new Inhuman who has the ability to melt metal, basically. His inability to control his powers is wreaking havoc in the downtown of a city. Also unfortunately for Joey, a mysterious black ops team is trying to capture him. Just as the black ops team is closing in, Joey is approached by Skye (who now goes by Daisy) and Mack, who usher him into a pod that keeps his powers contained. The pod then ascends up into a new, fancy S.H.I.E.L.D. plane. ON the ground, the black ops team realizes that they lost the Inhuman they were supposed to capture, and the mysterious woman who leads them is extremely unhappy about this. Apparently they have been noticing both an uptick in Inhumans (and related property damage) and disappearing Inhumans.

When they all arrive safely at the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane, Joey is deposited in his Inhuman-proofed quarters, and Daisy and Mack try to explain his situation to him. Joey asks to be just told straight, so Daisy lays it all out. He’s got a bit of alien DNA, it gives him special powers, and he is never, ever going to be able to return to his old life again. Joey doesn’t take this well at all. He liked his old life, and it took him a long time to build a life he was happy about, so he’d like to get back to it as soon as possible. A news report on the destruction he caused and the resulting manhunt, however, makes it clear that a return to his old life is not going to be happening for the foreseeable future. This makes Joey very agitated, and Daisy is somewhat at a loss for what to do. She thinks the best answer is to recruit the help of Lincoln, who did such a good job of convincing people that their powers were a gift back at Afterlife.

Meanwhile, much has changed at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. May is still on her end-date-TBD vacation, so she’s not around. Simmons is still missing following her encounter with the monolith. Bobbi has recovered significantly from the injuries she sustained thanks to Ward in the finale, but she still has a messed up knee. She has a biology degree, so she’s been working in the lab until she’s back in field condition. She’s also been covering for Fitz, who has been going on wild goose chase after wild goose chase in his effort to get Simmons back. She and Mack do a lot of the research and investigation in this episode that FitzSimmons would have done in happier days. There’s also been some tension between Bobbi and Hunter, although we’re not exactly sure why. It may have to do with their trying to decide whether or not they want to get remarried.

This time, Fitz’s latest “last lead” on Simmons takes him to Tangiers, Morocco. I’ve been to Morocco (you may recall my very sparse blogging in January, 2012, although I think I did post once from Rabat), but never to Tangiers. It strikes me as likely the most European-influenced city in Morocco due to its close proximity to Spain. We really don’t get to see enough of the surroundings to peg it as a specific Moroccan place, though. Anyway, Fitz is in Tangiers to pay a visit to an extremist who has an ancient scroll that may explain how the monolith works. It’s a very precarious situation. Fitz tries to strike a bargain, which the leader of the extremist group doesn’t appreciate. He tries to take the weapons Fitz is offering without giving up the scroll, but Fitz deploys another weapon as a distraction, grabs the scroll, and runs away amidst a hail of gunfire.

Coulson really wants to know who is running the black ops team, so he and Hunter set up a trap on a Metro train. On the Metro car, he meets the woman who he has been looking for, and at least for the time being, her name is Rosalind (previous S.H.I.E.L.D. research turned up countless aliases). She won’t say who she is working for, though. I’ve also got to take a moment here to complain about the inaccuracy of the Metro car. WMATA Metro cars don’t have seats all the way along the side like this one does. Most of the seats are forward or backward facing, like a typical train. It’s a point of contention with many Washingtonians, who believe Metro could transport people more efficiently with the seat configuration used in this episode. I can understand why they used it for filming, though. There was more room for action because there was a much larger center aisle than in a real-life Metro car.

Rosalind reveals to Coulson that her team hasn’t been killing Inhumans. She also reveals that she knows about T.A.H.I.T.I. That first point greatly concerns Coulson, because obviously his team isn’t killing them, either. Meanwhile, Daisy and Mack go to the hospital where Lincoln is working to try and recruit him. Lincoln’s not really feeling it, but the conversation is cut short by an encounter by the creature that actually is doing all the Inhuman killing. That would be Lash, and Inhuman with the power to manipulate energy. He runs off before Daisy and Mack can capture him. Daisy and Mack themselves have to run because the black ops team is hot on the trail. Lincoln runs, too, but not back to S.H.I.E.L.D. Speaking of escapes, Coulson and Hunter also manage to make a rather daring escape from Metro. Nothing your average commuter on the Green line hasn’t had to do at some point, though.

Everybody regroups back at base, where the President is giving a speech to announce that he has created a new task force called the ATCU. The President uses the same phrase about laws of man needing to catch up with laws of nature that Rosalind used in the Metro encounter, so it’s pretty clear that ATCU is Rosalind’s black ops group. Fitz has returned from Morocco, and Coulson confronts him about how he needs to accept that by this point, Simmons is likely dead. Fitz defiantly breaks out the parchment from Morocco, but when he looks at it, all it says is the word “death” in Hebrew. Fitz goes to confront the monolith one-on-one, begging it to “do something.” I guess he’s hoping it will take him wherever Simmons went? I’m quite surprised how much cognitive function Fitz has regained compared to where he was for much of season 2. It doesn’t quite seem realistic. Anyway, in the episode’s tag, we learn what has become of Simmons. She’s on another planet, and she’s being chased by something nasty.

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