Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Season 3 Episode 17
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD brings the Secret Warriors together to mount a rescue mission while Hive’s influence creates a lot of mistrust.
There wasn’t anything about the early part of the episode I didn’t like. Daisy signaling Joey and Elena while they were in the middle of their day to day lives was a really nice touch and quickly showed the burden placed on someone who has a secret identity where their social life is concerned. Fair enough Elena was only getting on a bus but an interruption is an interruption. The rescue mission was brilliantly put together from the teamwork on display to imaginative uses of Lincoln’s powers shown by the electric lasso. It was a really fast paced and exciting action sequence that showcased the potential that the Inhuman characters have to create some really memorable.
It also really helps that these characters have been introduced before so already have some history and established character traits. Joey in particular has had some opportunity to develop and definitely comes across as the Inhuman “everyman” where Elena is at the start of her development. I really liked the relatable conversation that Joey and Elena had in the elevator before combining their powers to take down a group of henchmen.
The rescue is a complete success and Gideon Malick is also taken prisoner to sweeten the whole thing. One of the biggest threats is their prisoner and there’s an opportunity to extract information from him. The fact that Hive isn’t the least bit worried about this isn’t ominous at all, not one bit! He mentions having someone on the inside which could be taken to mean Malick initially but definitely isn’t.
A short conversation with Malick reveals that someone has been infected by Hive and completely under his control. Since Hive can only control Inhumans that narrows the list of suspects to Daisy, Lincoln, Joey and Elena. Ever since the Inhumans were introduced the show has dealt with the inherent mistrust people have of something that is different and this episode amplifies that to an extreme level.
Much of the rest of the narrative is basically a whodunit set in the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Arguably it’s a fairly bland setting though I think it looks fine but it takes on a whole new life in this episode as being more of an inescapable prison with a traitor on the loose. Shades of John Carpenter’s The Thing fill this episode as people hang on every phrase that could be construed as even slightly suspicious, the feeling of mistrust grows with each passing second and everyone is always seconds away from being at each other’s throats.
It’s handled really well as the insecurities that the characters already have are brought into it all. Elena already has difficulty trusting S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organisation so the way she is treated confirms every bad thing she has ever thought about them. Joey latches onto being persecuted simply for being different which in turn makes his behaviour seem suspicious.
The scene where Elena and Mack talk in Spanish about why S.H.I.E.L.D. are committed to helping people nicely underpins this whole thing. Elena is seen to relax a little around Mack and really trust what he says as he seems genuine. He meets her on her level by learning Spanish and constantly shows her kindness. This makes it more powerful when everything she was just told about S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be proven as a lie. The way the episode places suspicion on her by making a point of her being told what the lethal and non lethal weapons are. Having the camera linger on the missing landmine brings this across perfectly.
Daisy finds herself in the middle of this as she understands why Coulson would order this but is also torn by her desire to protect her team and doesn’t want to see them automatically accused of acting against her. She comes across as a true leader and has already forged a bond with what she considers to be her team.
Lincoln comes under suspicion when it is revealed that he wasn’t authorised to remove the Terrigen Crystal featured in the previous episode. His ability to take things without people noticing makes him very suspicious indeed and the fact that he stands up for what he did doesn’t really help matters. It’s not difficult for all of the facts to be put together and Lincoln locked up for it. Considering there was still quite a bit of the episode left at that point I knew it wouldn’t be as simple as that but I found him being falsely fingered as the guilty party to be effective. Lincoln is still fairly underdeveloped so it doesn’t seem outside the realms of possibility for him to be responsible.
The way the suspicions build are really well handled. Nobody is acting especially out of character for most of the episode but everyone is stressed out by the situation and completely on alert. Mack puts it best when he says “everyone looks suspicious if you stare at them long enough”. That is exactly the mentality of everyone in the base at that point and the audience is being conditioned to think like that as well. It’s a really tense and claustrophobic situation that builds nicely over the course of the episode.
Having it turn out to be Daisy was something I didn’t quite expect but it made complete sense when it did happen. Of the Secret Warriors it was only her and Lincoln left alone during the rescue for any length of time so Hive had plenty of opportunity to bring her under his thrall. We see through flashbacks how this happened and the results are fairly brutal. I initially thought that Malick had been dispatched far too unceremoniously for such an important character but we got to see his death in the flashforward and it matched the vision of his death shown in the previous episode. The future is still inevitable it seems and I’m absolutely fine with that.
Daisy’s actions after the reveal were really shocking as well. Her conversation with Lincoln where she assures him that Hive -referred to by her as “we” cares about him and wants him to be part of the plan. Chloe Bennet doesn’t change Daisy’s mannerisms in her performance too much which suggests that she isn’t simply a mindless drone that follows Hive blindly. I wonder how aware Daisy is of what she is doing and if the control can be overcome with enough willpower. Seeing her use her powers to their full potential to level the base was a great visual and really reinforces how much of a threat Hive is.
Malick’s death was a complete surprise as the episode seemed to be setting him up as an informant who could have spiritual and philosophical conversations with Coulson. I found their discussion about Gods really interesting as they both have defined ideas about what that means. Malick is faced with the reality of his God not being what was promised to him and has to deal with the fact that he released the Devil. I’m not sure how I feel about Hive being the root of all the Devil myths as it completely lacks originality. It’s a really obvious attempt to establish how evil he is when the show is doing that just fine by showing his actions.
Coulson’s perspective on Gods is that they aren’t all that impressive considering he has met them and seen them bleed. It echoes Mickey Rourke’s line in Iron Man 2 – “ If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in him”. Since Coulson has seen those that were once worshiped as Gods bleed he no longer believes in the concept and is more concerned with the practicalities of dealing with powerful beings from somewhere beyond Earth.
Malick remains a zealot to the end and points out that freeing himself from being enslaved is a good story to attach to a God but he has lost faith after his daughter was killed by Hive. This made him realise that Hive doesn’t care about humans and can’t be trusted. Malick seems genuinely broken yet still conducts himself with a lot of pride in this episode so it’s a shame that this won’t develop any further. Powers Boothe does give an excellent performance on his final outing though.
Fitz and Simmons finally act on their attraction and decide to be together. It’s a moment that feels well earned due to the significant character development that both of them have had. In the early episodes they were immature children but their experiences have slowly shaped them into well rounded and interesting characters. Their romance feels like it has been building for a while and having it finally pay off works well. It is also typical of them to be about to have some kind of happiness right before a tragic event. Having your base collapse on you is about as tragic as it gets.
I found it odd that the Secret Warriors would come together and be torn apart in the same episode. I think this story would have been more effective if the team had been brought together more than once and there was definite trust there from every member of the cast. It would have given the doubts more impact and give Joey, Lincoln and Elena’s feelings of betrayal much more impact. The execution was fine as it was but it felt a little forced since the Secret Warriors are a new thing and there hasn’t been enough time to fully trust them as well as depend on them.
With Daisy under Hive’s control and an untold amount of damage done to the S.H.I.E.L.D. base things are shaping up well for the sprint to the end of the season. I look forward to seeing what Hive’s plan turns out to be and I find it interesting that he still calls Daisy Skye because all he has to go on are Ward’s memories. Little details like that are what make the writing more clever.
A really good episode that provided a superb introduction to the Secret Warriors after so much teasing. The rescue mission was really well handled and the subsequent “whodunit” narrative was really compelling. The episode built doubt and tension nicely with the reveal coming across as a real shock. It would have had more impact had the Secret Warriors been a more significant presence but what we got here was good regardless. I look forward to seeing what comes next.
- the Secret Warriors!
- tension that builds nicely throughout the episode
- a shocking reveal
- the impact of the mistrust being slightly reduced since the Secret Warriors were just used for the first time
- Malick’s death being too early