The longer “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is away, the more excited I am for its return. What is that old adage about the heart growing fonder? When we last left our heroes, they had been reunited, scored a major blow against Hydra, and made it home from the distant planet Maveth. Unfortunately the ancient Inhuman god they were trying to stop also made its way to Earth as well… in the form of ex-Agent Grant Ward… Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Bouncing Back.”
State of the Agency
The big news in the land of the Marvel Television Universe, a suburb along with the Marvel Netflix Universe in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is the renewal of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” for a fourth season. Word is, that along with a green lit pilot for “Marvel’s Most Wanted,” “Agent Carter may be returning as well, although that last one isn’t one hundred percent finalized yet. That’s not even counting the long-talked-about “Damage Control” series and the unrevealed John Ridley project.
On the good side, this should give “S.H.I.E.L.D.” showrunners some space to stretch out and explore more and larger possibilities for the future. And of course, that also means we end this season on a cliffhanger that will make this winter recess seem like a walk in the park. That’s okay though. These last few episodes have made a major improvement as far as character, plotting, and surprises go. I’ve hated Ward, and wanted to see him go, but as Hive, he has entered a whole new dimension…
Now we know the name. Hive. And I’m not talking about the DC Comics bad guys from New Teen Titans and the terrorists who won’t go away on the past season and a half of “Arrow.” Hive is the name that’s been given to the ancient Inhuman god that had been exiled to the planet Maveth. More a force than a living physical creature, Hive may well be one of the most dangerous foe the Agents have ever faced, and now it lives inside the shell of the dead Grant Ward.
In the comics, Hive is just as dangerous, maybe even more so. It was created in a lab to embody Hydra in the form of a hive-like intelligence composed of an unknown number of genetically engineered parasites. This entity jumped from host to host until it found the perfect body from which to rule, becoming one of the heads of the Hydra organization. Hive is not to be underestimated, but be assured, the showrunners will have some surprises for us with their television version of this monstrous villain.
A concept that we have been waiting for almost all of this season has been the Secret Warriors, or the television version of them at least. In the comics, this team was formed in the aftermath of the Secret Invasion, a crossover event in which the Earth was invaded by the shape-shifting alien Skrull, a situation that resulting in no one knowing who to trust, as one never knew if anyone else was themselves, or a Skrull in disguise. This undercover black ops team of metahumans within S.H.I.E.L.D. helped Nick Fury ferret out Skrulls and Hydra agents alike inside the organization.
Led by Daisy Johnson, also known as Quake, and known to TV viewers as Skye, the Secret Warriors fought against many threats including ones we’ve seen in the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” series itself like Kraken, Leviathan, and the Caterpillars (possibly related to the Centipedes first seen in the “Pilot“).
Borrowing from the Arrowverse
We open with the same type of deal as “Arrow” season four did, with a funeral that hasn’t happened yet. Here on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” it’s a “Three Months From Now” caption and a spaceship ominously approaching Earth. I’m betting this is our season ending cliffhanger right here. And just the blue hue tells me it probably has something to do with the Kree. We quickly switch scenes to firefight in Bogata, Colombia, with metahuman powers and Hydra-like graffiti on the walls.
Daisy leads a team to investigate, including Lincoln and Joey, as we see the beginnings of the TV Secret Warriors. Mack runs afoul of a speedster, and I get the ‘vibe’ that the showrunners at “S.H.I.E.L.D.” may have been jealous of the CW’s toys and wanted a crack at “The Flash.” This speedster, Elena Rodriguez, can move at super speed in the space of a heartbeat with nice, and different, effects. Mack ask her the question I often ask myself when watching Telemundo… three years of Spanish, you’d think… I liked how Elena and Mack conquer their language barrier. As it turns out, Elena and her cousin are fighting the corrupt Bogata police.
Coulson is changed by Rosalind’s death, and his murder of Ward on Maveth. I love how May (where was she this episode?) says he joined the cavalry on Maveth. There’s been a lot of press recently about the character’s possible descent into darkness this and next season. His actions in this episode are certainly the beginning, if not a continuation of that process. He has Fitz pull out the T.A.H.I.T.I. machine and hooks up the mentally wounded Werner Von Strucker to it. It’s not water boarding, but wow, it’s taking a step over the line.
Meanwhile, Gideon Malick and Iron Chef Inhuman R. Giyera try to make Hive feel at home. He’s hungry and is devouring raw meat and television broadcasts. Brett Dalton is extremely creepy as Hive, with his sunken eyes, weird protruding ribs, and the hand-shaped bruise on his chest left by Coulson. Is that the Hydra symbol on his chest?? Extra creepy is how he talks to Giyera as a fellow Inhuman and the others as… almost cattle…
There are as many things tied up easily in this episode as those left hanging and aggravated. Fitz and Simmons seem to have mended fences. Coulson has a new, cooler hand. A meeting with the President, played by William Sadler, an actor whose roles are not the most trustworthy, lets S.H.I.E.L.D. continue as a clandestine operation, with A.C.T.U. under them. The Prez also named Glenn Talbot as the head of that group.
Meanwhile things got a bit rough in Bogata. Elena’s cousin Francisco is killed by those corrupt cops, one of who is an Inhuman. He had a weird flash vision that incapacitates, a weird paralyzation and petrification takes his victims. Medusa Eyes is what Quake calls him. It’s a dangerous and useful super power. I guess that’s why Hydra steals him for their own use. Daisy/Quake gives Elena a JLA, I mean S.H.I.E.L.D. signal device so they can contact each other should the need arise. In the end the Secret Warriors, not really fully assembled, disassemble. But you know they’ll all meet again.
Next: “The Inside Man”