10 January 2016

Agents of SHIELD S3E1 "Laws of Nature" review

To say that Agents of SHIELD received a mixed reaction when it first launched would be something of an understatement - there are very few people who would consider the first half of season one to be anything other than a failed experiment, Marvel Studios unfortunately stumbling in their initial foray into the world of TV. Despite the show improving fairly quickly after the all-important Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in episode and continuing that improvement with its second season, it will still be interesting to see how many people decide to tune in for the season three opening.

Regardless of viewing figures, Agents of SHIELD is back and it's better than ever. We meet up with Director Coulson and company several months after the season two finale, where we find both SHIELD and our main characters in a very different place to one we have seen them in before - SHIELD now seems to be primarily concerned with the emergence of new Inhumans, who are gaining super-human powers at an extraordinary rate since the Terrigen Crystals manufactured by Jiaying last season found their way into the food supply.

Our introduction to the season sees us following new Inhuman Joey as he inadvertently causes panic in the city he lives in after undergoing Terrigenesis (the process which gives latent Inhumans their powers) and being completely unable to control his powers. Just as he is about to be put down by a mysterious black operations group, Skye (now going by the name Daisy full-time), Mack and Hunter show up in order to save his life. It's a great introduction to the season, at once showing us what appears to be an increased special effects budget (Daisy's powers look better than ever) as well as setting up what it looks like this season will mostly be dealing with - SHIELD attempting to handle the chaos caused by the unexpected arrival of super-humans, and the mystery of "Who is this black operations group?".

It is Coulson and Hunter who end up investigating the aforementioned black operations group, and although I don't want to get into any spoilers I'd just like to say how much I enjoyed this portion of the episode. A confrontation between Coulson and the head of this group sees Agents of SHIELD produce some of the finest verbal sparring it has ever contained, and it seems that Coulson may be meddling in matters that are above even his security clearance this time.

We also have time to catch up with Fitz, who is naturally devastated after Simmons was swallowed by the Monolith in the last seconds of the season two finale. He's on a mission to find out what has happened to her,  and it doesn't look like he is going to let anything get in his way - he's putting himself in real danger here, and when he finds out that things haven't gone according to plan we get a glimpse of just how much the disappearance of Simmons has damaged him. It's a great bit of acting (I've always said that Iain De Caestecker was one of the better actor's on Agents of SHIELD) and I'm looking forward to seeing how Fitz develops over the course of  season three.

My only real complaint with "Laws of Nature" is that our introduction to what appears to be this seasons 'big bad', Lash, was somewhat under-whelming. His actual design seemed just fine and the CGI rendering of his, Daisy's and Lincoln's powers were all competent - but the practical effect used to create his hair just didn't look very good, and it distracted me way too much from what was actually happening. Anyone who saw the second season finale will know that Agents of SHIELD should avoid using prosthetics, because let's face it - I want my bad guys to look scary and intimidating, not like they just walked off the set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Overall, "Laws of Nature" is a great start to the new season of Agents of SHIELD - maybe not quite the immediately obvious increase in quality that the season two opening showed off, but at minimum a continuation of what fans of the show have come to expect since the second season. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Agents of SHIELD is a show that has proved itself as being worth your time, and a must see for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

This article was originally published on OutLoudCulture.

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