Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Season 3 Episode 18
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD sees the team lick their wounds after Daisy’s attack on the base and try to figure out their next move.
The team have had to endure some severe losses over the past few episodes. Bobbi and Hunter leaving lost them some significant skills so Daisy being under Hive’s control is pretty much the opposite of what they need right now. They are short handed and it really shows in this episode.
Adversity does make for good drama though so it’s interesting to see how they deal with the problems they have with far less people to work on it. They’re pretty much at a dead end at this point as they have no leads and no plan to stop Hive even if they could find him. It’s a fairly grim situation but they just need to suck it up and deal with it.
One plan is to go after Alisha who might be a prime target for Hive given that she’s Inhuman and all. I’m not sure what the reasons for singling her out specifically but I imagine it was largely dictated by Alicia Vela-Bailey being the available actress at the time. There’s a real sense that Coulson is grasping at straws by doing this but at least it mitigates the frustration caused by doing nothing. If they’re too late then they have to deal with an Inhuman enemy but if they’re on time then she can be protected from Hive.
Unfortunately it’s the former as Hive has already got to her and shows the depths of his control through her willingness to kill one of her duplicates. She is shown to be affected by having to do that but is so committed to the cause that she realises that it’s for the greater good. Basically loyalty to Hive is absolute and there’s nothing his followers won’t do for him.
This is explored through Daisy who definitely comes across as far more than a mindless drone. Her current state is described as an addiction which allows for her personality to remain intact while still being under his control. The effect he has on Inhumans feels great to them and the way to keep feeling that way is to do what he asks of them. Daisy has had problems with her identity and sense of belonging since the first episode so it’s clear that Hive makes her feel that she has a place in the world though it’s up for debate how artificial that is. Also, once Hive is inevitably defeated and the effect presumably wears off what will be the implications of that for Daisy and the others who were under his control?
Hive uses Ward’s memories to better engage with Daisy. It’s clear that he doesn’t care about humans as we’ve seen but Inhumans are a completely different story. I wonder how much influence the memories he has gained have over his interactions with people. Is he fighting against feelings that come with those memories or are they simply information that he can access?
There are strong arguments for both as he is also shown to use Will’s memories when talking to Simmons to force a connection with her. It feels like more than accessing memories as he talks to her like as Will would talk to her but uses the word “we” to suggest that Will as an individual is part of this “one organism”. It’s really complex stuff and makes Hive as a threat incredibly interesting.
Hive’s information on Daisy is out of date as shown by him calling her Skye which she immediately corrects him on. The themes of identity and belonging come through strongly when she catches Hive up on what has happened since Ward would have seen her last. This is also what establishes that her mind is largely her own with the notable difference of her wanting to do what she is asked even though it might involve her doing terrible things. Basically she’s a functioning addict with a dealer who has her on a short lease. It’s a really nefarious form of control as Daisy won’t be able to dismiss what she did as simple mind control. She actively decides so do something while feeling part of something much greater than herself. Hive repeatedly mentions that he and all of the other Inhumans under his control are “one organism” so the individuals will feel like a small part in something huge and important which means that their actions feel like they are leading to something massive.
Her attack on Fitz shows this very clearly as she points out that all of the affection she had for her former teammates is still there but she has simply found a higher calling and feels like part of a family for the first time in her life. She proves that the respect for her former teammates is still there by giving Fitz a taste of what she can do as a warning of what will happen to him if she encounters him again. Daisy lets him live this time out of courtesy because of their friendship but tells him that it’s a one time offer and runs out the next time she sees him. She was definitely fighting the urge to kill Fitz at this point but the fact that she didn’t shows that she still has plenty of agency.
The loss of Daisy is given a lot of attention in the episode with varying reactions from the different characters. Lincoln wants to save her because she’s his girlfriend whether that’s believable or not but Coulson has a clear and deep desire to have her come back. It is something that is finally addressed after lingering in the background of this show for so long when May calls him out on the hypocrisy of being willing to sacrifice Lincoln but being completely unwilling to do the same to Daisy no matter how dangerous she is. Coulson admits that he considers her the daughter that he never had which is a bit too on the nose for creating a further emotional connection to the situation. Coulson was guilty of talking endlessly about how special Daisy was back in season 1 -when she was still Skye- so having it categorically stated that he thinks of her as a daughter largely solves that issue but doesn’t really add anything to that relationship. Logically Coulson should be more conflicted over the potential of making the choice to sacrifice her. Essentially every time he sends her out on a mission he is putting her life in danger so this is just more of them same just on a grander scale.
Another long shot lead is to attempt to recruit a scientist because he has studied parasites and might give them some insight into how to break down Hive’s control over Inhumans. This means that Fitz and Simmons have to go undercover in a Transhuman club. Transhumans are people who improve themselves using technology in some way. Some analysis of the idea can be found here.
The introduction of Transhumans as a concept is really interesting as there is implied difficulty in enhancing yourself using technology. Someone who goes through this essentially has to find a way to adapt to some kind of cybernetic addition to their biology that will give them the illusion of some sort of superpower. This proves to be a contrast to the Inhumans who have a natural change thrust upon them and have to adapt to that. There are a lot of ways to gain superpowers in Marvel comics and they all have their drawbacks so it’s interesting to see another angle. I also like the idea that Transhumans would be envious of Inhumans as their physical changes are brought on more easily.
We even see a small piece of the opposite argument from the Inhuman James aka Hellfire (Axle Whitehead) who turns his nose up at them for being pretenders who wish they could do what comes so naturally to him. This is only the beginning of this clash of ideologies but there’s plenty of scope for this to be developed in future seasons.
Fitz and Simmons’ mission is used as an excuse for them to attempt to figure out their relationship. The title of the episode comes from the mathematical concept that Fitz uses to articulate his fears on what sleeping together would do to their relationship. Simmons completely understands where he is coming from of course and it feels really appropriate for these characters to discuss their relationship in this way since they are both scientists and in moments of discomfort they will return to what they feel most comfortable with. I like how this is put across and how maturely they make decisions that will fundamentally change what they mean to one another. Their decision to try being more impulsive is a collective one and a really amusing contrast when you consider that they make a rational decision to be impulsive. Those two ideas shouldn’t normally go together but for Fitz and Simmons they do.
Dr. Radcliff (John Hannah) is introduced fairly late in the episode but is an engaging presence so far. The mind games he plays with Fitz and Simmons to establish who they are come across pretty well and he seems to be a complex enough character so far. His fascination with the Inhumans makes a lot of sense given his work to improve humanity and the clear curiosity he has around Hive instead of fear hints at an interesting dynamic over the coming episodes.
Hive buying an entire town for the next part of his plan really intrigues me. Clearly he is putting Malick’s money to good use but I wonder what his endgame is. He tells Daisy that he isn’t looking to raise or lead an army because he wants everyone to work towards a common goal but what that is remains a mystery.
The destruction of H.Y.D.R.A. by Talbot’s forces probably shouldn’t have been in this episode considering how significant a threat they have been. It is easy for them to act as a crutch for the show to lean on whenever a bad guy is needed but given how important their presence has been I would expect an episode devoted to the end of that organisation rather than what we got here. I find it unlikely that they are gone for good but still that was weak.
Another major question I had throughout the episode was where Joey and Elena had gone. Fair enough they were lacking in trust for S.H.I.E.L.D. but if Hive gets to them then that’s two more Inhuman enemies they have to deal with. Having them around when the team are so short handed should surely be a must but they’re just absent with no real explanation.
A great episode that adds more depth to Hive’s control over the Inhumans by revealing that it takes the form of addiction but still allows Daisy and the others to have plenty of agency as characters within the story. The development of Fitz and Simmons’ relationship was handled really well and completely works for them as characters. The introduction of Transhumans as a concept adds further complexity to the idea of gaining superpowers and compliments the Inhuman story well. Coulson’s admission that he sees Daisy as the daughter he never had is a bit on the nose and the destruction of H.Y.D.R.A. happening off screen was really weak but there is plenty of compelling story to carry the rest of the season.
- the development of Hive’s control and what that means for those controlled
- Fitz and Simmons’ relationship moving forward in ways that work for them specifically
- Transhumans as a new idea to compliment the Inhumans
- the unceremonious destruction of H.Y.D.R.A.
- Coulson’s unnecessary admission that he sees Daisy as a daughter