Saturday, March 19, 2016

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.11: "Bouncing Back"

“You joined the Calvary.”

While I think, overall, when it comes to Marvel shows on ABC, I prefer “Agent Carter” to “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the mid-season premiere of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” was a solid effort. The episode definitely set up plot arcs for the second half of the season and gave us as viewers a good sense (I think, at least) of what the second half of the season is going to be like. Daisy is going to continue to build her team, but in a different way than she anticipated, and maybe with a more international flair. Ward/Maveth is going to be a big threat that the team is going to have to face. Coulson will have to continue working through Rosalind’s death and what he had to do on the planet on the other side of the portal. FitzSimmons are going to have to keep working on figuring out what they are to each other (even if it is rather obvious to viewers). Bobbi, Mack, and Hunter are going to continue to hit things. It should be a good time had by all!

The opening of the episode, which takes place three months in the future, suggests things are going to become dire for our team soon. We see a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship in space with a floating cross necklace and an alarm going off. The ship explodes. We then roll back to the present day, to Bogotá, Colombia, specifically. Someone with powers raids a police van and steals their stash of high powered weapons. The culprit is a woman named Elena, and she has super speed. She is also helped by her super-powered cousin. We’ll learn much more about them soon enough.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Coulson meets with none other than the President himself. Oddly, the meeting is at Rosalind’s house, because neither trusts the other to see their base of operations. The President wants S.H.I.E.L.D.’s help dealing with the Inhuman issue, but he wants the help to be on the down-low. Coulson prefers black ops to bureaucracy, so he’s interested. The ATCU will still be the public face of the Administration’s Inhuman response, but the President promises he will name a new head of the ATCU who will answer to Coulson. Unfortunately for Coulson, we learn in the episode’s tag that the new head of the ATCU will be General Talbot. That pair-up could be interesting, to say the least! Coulson also asks for the President’s help with the Gideon Malick problem, but the President says Gideon is too powerful for him to deal with. Of course he is – he’s played by Powers Boothe! Powers Boothe also plays shady, too powerful for their own good, characters.

Most of the team is dispatched to Colombia to deal with the police van rade. Daisy and Joey talk to one of the police officers, Ramon, about what happened, while Hunter, Bobbi, and Mack search outside. They come across a weird scrape in the road that FitzSimmons and Lincoln are asked to analyze back in the lab. The results are inconclusive, but FitzSimmons are super awkward about it. They still haven’t gotten past the whole kiss and Fitz killing Simmons’ maybe-ex boyfriend thing, which I guess is understandable. Mack keeps searching outside, and he finds another scrape in the road. Then he finds the boots that made the scrape, which are attached to a super speedy woman (Elena). She grabs Mack’s gun, then shoves him into the back of a van.

Coulson urgently pulls Fitz out of the lab, because he wants him to set up the crazy brain reading device again. This time, though, it’s not for himself. He wants to put Von Strucker in it and see if he can tell them anything about how to find or contact Gideon. Simmons, understandably, thinks this might not be such a good idea. Once they put Von Strucker in the device and ask him about Gideon, he gets stuck in a loop of reliving the moments before he lost consciousness while being tortured by Gideon. He repeats “just kill me” over and over. Lincoln has to (reluctantly) give him a little electroshock therapy to snap him out of it. After that, Coulson is able to learn how to contact Gideon. You go to what kind of looks like a bodega and say you know somebody from Princeton, then you’re lead into a back room with a phone that calls Gideon. Coulson follows the directions and calls Gideon. Threats are exchanged while S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to trace the phone call. By the end of the episode, Gideon’s businesses are failing worldwide.

Mack wakes up in the bathroom of Elena’s house. Her cousin leaves while Elena stays home to watch Mack. Mack manages to get out of the duct tape Elena has used to bind him, and a fight between the two of them ensues. Elena eventually wins, of course, (she’s got powers, after all), but she’s surprised by how much of a fight Mack puts up. When Elena ties Mack back up, they have a very interesting conversation about how Elena feels that her power is a gift from God. Mack also manages to find out that Elena first got her powers when having fish for dinner. Before the conversation can continue further, however, Daisy, Hunter, and Bobbi arrive on the scene and contain Elena.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Elena strenuously resists being contained, and she creams at Joey when he first tries to talk to her. Eventually, however, they all start having a more productive conversation. Elena and her cousin weren’t stealing the guns to use for something. They wanted to destroy the guns. She calls the local police “thieves in uniforms,” and she wants to use her powers to do good for her community. Bobbi and Hunter, meanwhile, find Elena’s cousin dumping the guns in the river. They barely have a chance to confront him, however, before the police are on the scene. One of the police is an Inhuman, and he uses his powers to freeze Bobbi and Hunter. Then they shoot Elena’s cousin to send a message.

The rest of the team finds the cousin’s dead body, and Mack lets Elena out of containment to mourn. He tells her that he relies on his faith too, even though he doesn’t talk about it often, and he’s starting to think that maybe powers are a gift from God after all. Elena is going to help the team rescue Bobbi and Hunter. The rescue sequence is a lot of fun, even if it is kind of cheesy. Elena just seems overjoyed with herself every time her use of her powers helps the team. It’s all going well until Elena tries to get to the eye-freezing guy before he can freeze her. Spoiler alert: he freezes her. Luckily, Daisy takes him down right after that. As the team is trying to escort the eye-freezing guy to their ship, a Hydra ship intercepts and takes him away.

Once they are safe, Mack tries to recruit Elena to S.H.I.E.L.D., but she really doesn’t want to leave her life in Bogotá. Daisy mentions that back when she was a hacker, her team was very close despite being on separate continents. This leads to the development of a very creative solution. Elena is given a smart watch that can be used to communicate with S.H.I.E.L.D. If she needs help or if S.H.I.E.L.D. needs backup, that can happen. Meanwhile, Elena gets to live a normal life. Daisy also offers the same deal to Joey, who is excited that he’ll get to go to Sunday dinners with his family again. Lincoln is the only one to not take the deal, for obvious reasons (he wants to be within easy smooching distance of Daisy of course…could I be any less invested in this ship?).

Speaking of ships (and one in which I’m much more invested), there were some FitzSimmons developments in this episode that I’m not sure how I feel about. Near the end of the episode, Simmons broaches the subject of how there is a “chasm” between the two of them. They are being cold and professional. She wants them to sort of reset their relationship and go back to the beginning. Fitz seems a little offended by this at first, but then Simmons describes it as being about to embark on a relationship that will change their lives. They reintroduce themselves to each other to mark the reset, then they fist bump. The tension seems to be at ease, but I’m not sure how I feel about them resetting. Meanwhile, in Coulson’s office, Coulson and May have a drink as they talk about recent events. May says Coulson has joined the Calvary after what he did on the planet at the other end of the portal.

Meanwhile, at Hydra HQ, Gideon pays a visit to Ward, who is locked up and looks decidedly worse for wear. Ward/Maveth says he is hungry, so he is treated to a buffet of raw meat while watching historical news footage. He remarks to Giyera that humans haven’t really changed in the time he’s been on the other side of the portal. At various points in the episode, he accuses both Gideon and Giyera of not believing he is really Maveth. At the end of the episode, he promises them both that he’ll make them believe. He extends a hand, which seems to grow claws, and the whole arm seems to start disintegrating into sand.

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