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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S03 E20: Emancipation

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In the aftermath of Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are forced to register Inhumans, while Hive and his followers try to create a new breed of the race from Daisy’s Kree DNA. Meet me after the jump for more details, as Fallen Agent continues, and my review of “Emancipation.”

It’s All Connected

This must have been an easy and fun scene to do, Agents May and Coulson chilling in the diner that sits above their underground base, watching news coverage of the events of Captain America: Civil War. Of course, this isn’t the game changer that Captain America: Winter Soldier was during the first season when S.H.I.E.L.D. literally collapsed to reveal Hydra within, but it’s still very relevant to this series in a big way. All ‘enhanced individuals’ will need to be registered. I wonder if that includes Coulson himself with his cybernetic hand?

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We not only find out whose side Coulson is on in the superhero civil war, but he namechecks Captain America, the Avengers, and Agent Carter. Phil is obviously not a fan of the Sekovia Accords. May ducks out the back as General Glenn Talbot enters. The Hulk’s old foe is here to do in the Marvel Television Universe what his mentor General Thunderbolt Ross did to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – sign ’em up or line ’em up. You can smell Tony Stark on him. And I’m not sure what I smiled at more, the James Bond entrance from the diner to the underground base, or the look on Talbot’s face when the booth/elevator drops.

The Walking Tour

In the air of full disclosure, Coulson gives Talbot a tour of the old SSR base that now serves as S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. Coulson doesn’t want his Inhumans registered as it would defeat their usefulness, as he puts it, some need to be ‘secret warriors.’ Yo-Yo arrives just as the tour begins, she’s here to see Mack, but is happy to give the General a demonstration of her powers. When she sees Mack, their sweet subtle romance continues and they talk of faith, and how he needs to have it.

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Also on the tour, Talbot gets to meet Lash through his prison pod. He calls him Rasta-Hulk, yeah, that’s about right. Rather than settle the argument, this sideshow helps Talbot’s argument for registration. Lash is a real danger and proof of what needs to be done. Meanwhile in the base, FitzSimmons have their hands full with other problems. Daisy is not just spending her time giving DNA to Hive, she’s also been actively hacking S.H.I.E.L.D., and alternately Fitz is spending all his time deflecting her attacks.

Watchdogs Redux

The tour aspect of the episode also lets us find out how others feel about the Sekovia Accords, specifically the Watchdogs, who are still out there and still training for the war against these non-humans. We find that they have a contact at the A.C.T.U. that has a list of Inhumans, and they now have a target.

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The problem is not that the target is James, but that the whole thing is a set up. James leads the Watchdogs down an alley, then grabs a chain and plays Ghost Rider with them. Some of them are captured and brought back to Hive… as guinea pigs for the Kree DNA. He tests the transformation on them, and they don’t quite melt all the way like the Hydra leaders, these beings are still alive, and responsive to Hive’s orders. No one says the words, but they’ve become Alpha Primitives. Join the Evolution…

Alpha Primitives

In the comics, the Alpha Primitives were the worker class of the Inhumans. Genetically engineered thousands of years ago in Attilan to do all the manual labor and other menial tasks so that the Inhumans could devote themselves to the pursuit of knowledge. These nearly mindless super strong servants kept the city running while the Inhumans evolved their minds and powers. For millennia they were considered sub-human and eventually became the minions of Maximus the Mad who would experiment on them for his own evil pursuits.

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After one such incident of Maximus inciting the Alpha Primitives against the Inhumans, they were emancipated and sent to live below the city. Knowing no other life, many of them simply continued in their duties, serving the Inhumans. While it’s never said aloud here in the episode, the saga and history of the Alpha Primitives is very relevant to what’s happening here, and I don’t mean with these newly created beings.

Love in the Time of Hive

Lincoln is still in incarceration, and when Talbot visits, he wants out so bad, he offers to sign up. Hearing this through her hacking, Daisy offers to help him escape. Lincoln still wants to be with her, but no Hive, no S.H.I.E.L.D., and no brainwashing. So Daisy, looking rather pale from the blood loss of experimentation, offers Lincoln a chance to leave, and gets him out by remote. There’s a nice psychology in that we know that Daisy is no longer one of the good guys, and yet we still root for her when she’s helping Lincoln MacGyver his way out of his cell and the headquarters.

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This is like the evil other side of the romance coin to Mack and Yo-Yo, and speaking of Mack, he’s the one who runs afoul of Lincoln on his way out. Unfortunately Mack, especially after his bout with Quake last episode, gets the worst in a fight with this lightning bug. With Mack down, Lincoln is free to escape in one of the quinjets. Too bad Daisy is doing all of this under orders from Hive.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

One thing I have learned writing these reviews of this series is that nothing is what it seems and clues are always planted early on. I watch the episodes twice so I know this for fact. Every surprise is set up and foreshadowed. It makes the surprises more fun when they happen, like this one. A switch has been made, and Lash is in the quinjet, and he was meant to be all along. Just as Daisy was setting up Lincoln with Hive, Coulson and crew were setting up Daisy with Lincoln.

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The moment when the quinjet bay opens and Lash is standing there facing Hive is one of those Yeah! moments we rarely get on this series, and their battle is epic, or at least epic for the budget of the show. Just when Lash is about to close in for the kill on Hive, he’s distracted by the Alpha Primitives, easily defeated, and then Daisy. Her Quake powers now, just as before, are no match for Lash. But he doesn’t kill her, he kills the Hive parasites inside her. Daisy gets away, but not before Lash is killed by James.

Endgame

With Daisy back in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D., and free of the parasites, she’s a bit better, but still weak from losing all that blood to make the Alpha Primitives. Based on her information and what FitzSimmons have managed to piece together, Hive’s plan becomes apparent. He’s going to launch a warhead into the atmosphere to infect a large percentage of the world’s population and turn them into Alpha-Primitives. This is going to be some season finale next week.

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In the end, Yo-Yo gives Mack a cross to cement their conversation earlier about faith. If the cross looks familiar, it should. It’s the cross we see floating in the zero gravity of in the crashing quinjet cockpit as it hurtles to Earth from space in Daisy’s future vision. The Fallen Agent scenario is still in play… who will die? Will it be Mack? Or someone else?

Next: Absolution and Ascension, the Season Finale!

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About Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker is a professional writer, and editor-in-chief and contributing writer at Biff Bam Pop!. A blogger, podcaster, and reviewer of pop culture in all its forms, he's done stints in radio, journalism and video retail. Ask him anything about movies, television, music, or especially comics or French fries, and you’ll be hard pressed to stump him or shut him up.

Posted on May 11, 2016, in agents of shield, Glenn Walker, Marvel, television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Nice couple of tie-ins with Civil War but not only did they kill Peggy, they canceled her show too 😦

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