Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.02: "Purpose in the Machine"

“My mother created a halfway house for Inhumans, and it was not enough. I want Inhumans taking action with S.H.I.E.L.D. to see that being different can mean making a difference.”

There were two things that I particularly liked about this episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The first was that we got to check in with all the characters that we didn’t see last week (what is this, “Game of Thrones?”). We got to see May, who is really, really trying to be the person she thinks she should be instead of the person she truly is, and we also see a bit of Ward, who is just as psychopathic as ever. The second was that there were good FitzSimmons developments, and happy FitzSimmons makes me happy. It wasn’t all bright and shiny, and I think they’ve got a rough road ahead, but it was nice to see positive developments after all they have been through.

This episode begins with a flashback to Gloucestershire, England in 1839, for reasons that will soon become apparent. A group of men are having a fancy dinner party, and they seem to be drawing lots to figure out who is going to have to do something unpleasant. The (un)lucky winner, after saying goodbye to his companions, departs for another room, where we see the monolith. He gets sucked into it, and we don’t see him again. It’s interesting to know that the monolith has been in play for that long. In the present day, Daisy is trying to get Coulson to approve of Joey for her strike team (he says that Andrew should evaluate him first) when Bobbi interrupts to say that Fitz has entered the room with the monolith. They manage to pull Fitz away just before it sucks him in. The failed teleportation attempt does leave behind some ancient sand, though.

Meanwhile, Ward is hard at work remaking Hydra in his own image. He recruits a rich frat bro named Werner von Stucker, who happens to be the fun of the late Hydra operative Baron von Stucker (we met von Stucker the elder in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”). Before officially making the offer to join/help finance the new Hydra, though, Ward has to test him. One of his goons roughs up Werner, but Werner proves himself in the fight. By the end of the episode, Werner is approaching Andrew (who is May’s ex, remember, and now very involved in rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D.) and asking him if he can transfer into his psychology class. Nothing good can come of Werner moving in on Andrew, clearly. It’s tough to tell if Ward is trying to get at S.H.I.E.L.D. in general or May specifically with this move.

Speaking of May, she’s in Sun City, AZ, ostensibly taking care of her father, who is recovering from a broken hip. She has broken things off with Andrew again (which made me a little sad, because he seemed to be the one person who could get through to her), and she’s only in occasional contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. Hunter finally departs on his mission to find and kill Ward, and his first stop is to Sun City to try and recruit May to his cause. When she hears Hunter approaching the house, her first instinct is to prepare for an attack. She almost kills Hunter before realizing who he is. May’s father has some things to say about this. He thinks she is acting like her mother, always convinced that the world is out to get her. I liked the insight we got into May and her family history through this plotline. Her father makes many references to her mother throughout the episode, and it’s clear they aren’t together anymore, but he doesn’t seem to resent May for taking after his ex. He is proud of her and wants her to be who she is. He also has some fantastic advice. She is so worried and on the defensive because she has unfinished business. He thinks she should go finish it. And with that, she joins Hunters crusade.

Speaking of Andrew, he does evaluate Joey, and he doesn’t think he is ready for duty just yet. He wants to wait three months and reevaluate. Daisy, naturally, is not at all happy about this, especially because this is what Andrew has been saying about all the candidates she has put forth. Daisy is just really anxious to give her fellow Inhumans a place where they feel they belong. She doesn’t think just giving them a “half way house” like her mom did with Afterlife is enough. The Inhumans need to become invested in outside society, and she thinks they’ll do that if they’re allowed to help with her team. Luckily Andrew still has greater safety at heart, so he fends of Daisy for now.

Coulson decides that the best person to examine the monolith sand is an Asgardian we met last season named Dr. Randolph. He’s in prison, though, so first the team has to break him out. Once he’s convinced to help him, though, he just opens the cell. He’s really just been in prison by choice. Randolph’s condition is that the team destroy the monolith as soon as Simmons is rescued. He quickly leads the team to the Gloucestershire castle from the opening scene of the episode. Above two of the doorways is the Hebrew symbol Fitz saw on the scroll. More specifically, it translates to “death by punishment.” Which doesn’t sound good for Simmons.

Coulson’s team gets the monolith set up in the castle, and it starts to vibrate, causing Daisy a bloody nose. The success doesn’t last long, which is probably a good thing for Daisy, since she’s in bad shape. Once she’s recovered a bit, Daisy realizes that they don’t need the rig in the castle anymore (it broke). She can make the monolith vibrate at the right frequency, and she thinks she can hold it for about a minute. Fitz immediately agrees to jump in. He’s tethered, but it’s still a dicey situation, since he only has a minute. On the other side of the monolith is a desolate wasteland, and somehow, Fitz and Simmons are able to hear each other. They are having trouble reaching each other, though, and Daisy is almost tapped out. At the very last second, Fitz grabs on to Simmons. The monolith implodes, and both are alive at the bottom of the pit that once held the monolith. By the end of the episode, we get a taste of what the near future will be like. Simmons wakes up from a likely PTSD-induced nightmare, and her first instinct is to curl up next to Fitz.

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