Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Season 3 Episode 1
“Laws of Nature”
Agents of SHIELD returns for a third season and furthers the exploration of the super powered individuals known as Inhumans that were introduced last year.
Season 2 ended with Terrigenesis crystals finding their way into the ocean and being an ingredient in fish oil of all things. I could see what they were trying to do in having something innocuous that many people would have access to be the thing that spreads this throughout the globe but using fish oil was fairly laughable. Thankfully this episode fixes this by talking about it being in the water supply as well as other sea life so it’s clear that high concentrations of exposure will be the thing that triggers the dormant gene within people and grants them their abilities.
This is exactly what has happened to poor Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) in the opening minutes. He has discovered that he has the ability to melt certain types of metal at a short distance and he’s struggling to control it. The scene features a man who is confused, terrified and concerned that he’ll cause harm to others. I found this to be a great fit as an introduction to what will probably become a common occurrence in the early part of this season. I dare say the Inhumans that are featured will come in all shapes and sizes. Some will be good by nature, some will be bad and there will be plenty that will tow the line once they start to get a handle on their powers.
Starting off with a very normal good guy is a great start as it really brings the issue of spontaneously developing super powers to a very personal level. Joey’s live has been completely upended by this sudden change and that’s something that will be relatable to many people. In time he will adapt but for now the change is terrifying.
His situation is made worse by the arrival of people with guns who are clearly after him and consider him a threat. All Joey wants is to be left alone so that he doesn’t hurt anyone but his pursuers cause him to feel very uneasy as you might expect. Fortunately for him Daisy -née Skye-, Hunter and Mack show up with the intention of getting him to safety which only adds to his confusion.
The scene was really nicely put together with some great special effects on display. Everything came across as frantic as the audience was really brought into Joey’s confusion in a way that makes it easy to empathise him. Daisy’s introduction where she uses her powers to subdue the other team was effectively timed and looked great. I really like that Agents of SHIELD is fully embracing the potential it has to show various super powered characters doing different thing. The normality factor is still there but now more than ever the show feels like part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Joey is returned to throughout the episode as the audience gets an idea of how he is feeling while he processes what has happened to him. Daisy is full of sympathy for his situation as she has gone through it herself and know exactly where he is coming from. Interestingly Daisy seems to be slotting into a similar role with Inhumans as her mother. She is using her experience to ease the transition for people who have undergone Terrigenesis.
The reality of his situation is drummed into Joey and naturally he feels resistant to the fact that his life as he knew it is over. Kudos to the people working on this show for casually mentioning Joey’s ex-boyfriend and not making a big deal out of it. There’s a lot more of this happening on TV and I find this to be very progressive without using it as a marketing gimmick.
It is also pointed out that their retrieval of Joey is actually quite rare as usually they are too late to do anything about it. The assumption is that the team they faced got there first and killed the emerging Inhumans but thankfully that answer is too easy and there is something else going on beneath the surface as revealed during a conversation between Coulson and the leader of the other team Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer). It was really cool to see these characters verbally spare and Rosalind fits nicely into the DNA of this show. I hope that they keep her as an effective foil for Coulson for a while as I’d enjoy seeing more scenes like that. There’s something of a flirtatious edge to their interaction which makes it stand out with the similar scenes he shared with Talbot and Gonzales last year. They are definitely a formidable threat to his team and have their own agendas but the common threat that clearly lies beyond their actions should muddy their antagonistic relationship a bit.
We all know that Coulson likes to approach situations while thinking about him which allows him to not ignore the obvious and so far Rosalind exhibits similar traits. She accepts that S.H.I.E.L.D. aren’t killing Inhumans as they emerge and takes Coulson at his word but it doesn’t mean she likes S.H.I.E.L.D. either. There’s a lot of potential to her character and the establishment of an Advanced Threat Containment Unit suggests that she’ll be around for a while. I’m hopeful this will be an enhanced version of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Vs. real S.H.I.E.L.D. conflict from last season without relying on a clumsily tying into a film to resolve it. Having William Sadler return as President Ellis giving a speech to establish this unit was a great touch and only helps to tie this show into the universe it inhabits. I really hope for more of these sorts of cameos..
As many of you will already know Captain America: Civil War is coming up next year and having the government take interest in containing the threat caused by people with powers is a good start at establishing what will almost certainly be one of the central focuses of that film. More than ever this plot will need to take precedence on Agents of SHIELD as the show will be running while the film comes out. The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to run pretty much in real time based on the references to events in Ant-Man so it makes sense that they have to lay the ground work for that film in some way and deal with it in some detail.
The real culprit for the murder of the emerging Inhumans is briefly shown in this episode. A character called Lash (Matthew Willig) is hunting down Inhumans he feels are unworthy of Terrigenesis -I assume as that’s what he’s known for- but hits a snag when he comes across Daisy and Lincoln who use their combined powers to keep him at bay. I loved this scene as it set up Lash as a formidable opponent who won’t be easily dealt with. The make-up used was great and I got a real kick out of seeing Daisy and Lincoln attacking him with their combined powers. Having them stand there holding out their arms while special effects did the work was a little dull but it was a cool scene nonetheless. It establishes a firm antagonist for the team and I look forward to seeing what else will be done with him.
Lincoln’s return left him in something of a tragic situation. We see him as being happy in his life as a Doctor and settled into a normal routine which quickly gets upended by the arrival of Daisy and Mack. I imagine Lash was also on his way but the important thing is that Lincoln doesn’t trust S.H.I.E.L.D. so will blame them for pulling him away from a life he was happy with. As he puts it “My life is in ruins!”. I feel for Lincoln and I’m interested to see what part he will play in the season. I’d like to see him on the run for a while before reluctantly joining Daisy’s team but we’ll see.
Coulson isn’t featured all that heavily in this episode but he’s around enough to be caught up on how he’s feeling. The loss of his hand has deeply affected him as none of the prosthetics feel right to him. Loss is a common theme in this episode through Joey losing his life as he knows it, Lincoln losing the same and Fitz finding it tough to handle the loss of Simmons. I’ll come back to Fitz but Coulson ties that theme together nicely as he interacts with most of the characters throughout so carries it with him.
His conversation with Daisy where he mentioned that the loss of his literal left hand and the loss of his figurative right one in May who has gone away somewhere undisclosed for now is tough for him to handle. He’s trying to be strong and “directorlike” with everyone but there’s a vulnerability to him when he interacts with Daisy that isn’t present anywhere else. I feel like this season is going to hammer home the father/daughter dynamic but make it more of a mature relationship than before. If that’s the case then I welcome it as it works really well here.
Bobbi is still in rehab after the torture she endured at the hands of Ward. She is putting her biochemistry skills to good use by working in the lab but she is really frustrated as she is desperate to be back out in the field. There’s a sense of hesitation about her that might signify fear and a bit of denial as to her real state of readiness. The torture she endured was brutal and it’s nice to see that she doesn’t simply snap back from that as it would make her seem somewhat unrealistic if that was the case. Hunter has vowed to hunt down Ward for her but Bobbi wants to be in on it when he does. I would like to see how she reacts when she sees him as Ward is clearly still in her head which was probably his intention in the first place.
Fitz proves to be really interesting so far this season. We find him in Morocco chasing the latest in a long line of leads about the mystery surrounding the monolith that swallowed up Simmons. It is mentioned that the way he copes is by throwing himself into his work but the rest of the team are seeing it as him being in denial. He is refusing to admit the truth to himself and accept that Simmons is gone. This attitude gets him in a lot of trouble and culminates in a really powerful scene that sees him yelling at the monolith to “Do something!”.
The final scene where Simmons appears on some sort of alien planet was really intriguing. It deepens the mystery of what the purpose of the monolith is and opens up a ton of possibilities for where she is and how she’ll get back. Not to mention that it looked fantastic. I also wonder what she’ll find when there. I would love if this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Negative Zone but maybe that concept belongs to Fox since they own the Fantastic Four. Still, I can dream about seeing Annihilus appear in this show.
Ward and May were absent from this episode but their lack of presence was felt due to the fact that they were mentioned on numerous occasions. I found it refreshing that the focus was kept on a handful of things without needlessly shoehorning other characters in just to make them appear. Mack was a little underdone here but his mistrust of Lincoln and desire to build some crazy weapons just serve as a way to deepen the tapestry of the team.
It’s too early to tell but there’s a confidence to this episode that hopefully signals a renewed confidence in the show as a whole. There are lots of great ideas here and the characters are all being used really well so there is plenty to chew on for the rest of the season already. Also, the new plane is damn cool!