24 January 2016

Agents of SHIELD S3E3 "A Wanted (Inhu)man" review

Despite being a fan of the show, I do still have my concerns about Agents of SHIELD. The quality of the first half of the first season still looms over any discussion around the show, and I've often find myself becoming overly defensive about Agents of SHIELD which, if we are being totally honest, could still be a lot better than it is. One common criticism is the shows tendency to spin it's wheels and drag things out for too long, which I talked about a little last week - but the other is it's habit of not being all that original at times. One of my main concerns with season three so far has actually been the appearance of the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (ACTU) - as competent as the SHIELD versus Real SHIELD storyline was in the second season of the show, I didn't want to see it repeated here with a different agency.

"I'm done fighting with people over who gets to fight the real fight. It's a colossal waste of time and resources".

That's Director Coulson speaking, in reference to Rosalind Price and the ATCU. Consider me relieved.

"A Wanted (Inhu)man" goes a long way to soothing a lot of the concerns I had about the third season of Agents of SHIELD after last week. Not only does it deal with the issue of the ATCU being just another agency for Coulson to battle, it also proves to me that Simmons' disappearance into the Monolith and time spent on another planet wasn't just a throwaway cliff hanger. It looks as if Simmons has been deeply affected by her time on... wherever the hell she was, and a line right at the end of the episode gives me a lot of hope that the future of the Simmons story could mean big, big things for Agents of SHIELD. "A Wanted (Inhu)man" also has us catching up with Lincoln, who went on the run at the end of "Laws of Nature", and both May and Hunter, who are attempting to infiltrate the new Hydra.

I can't say that I'm overly fond of Lincoln's contribution to this episode to be honest - he sets a fairly important event in motion, but he as a character ends the episode in exactly the same place as he starts it (physically within the season, not emotionally), at least as far as I can tell. Don't get me wrong, it's entertaining enough and it played with my expectations of how the story would progress based on what I had seen in the episodes various promotional material, but other than as a reason for other plots to progress quicker (and an excuse to shove in what maybe the most out-of-nowhere kiss since Man of Steel), Lincoln's role in this episode is really as a plot device rather than a character. That being said, the actual ramifications of this part of the episode are potentially massive - as always I don't want to veer into spoiler territory but with Captain America: Civil War on the horizon it certainly makes sense to sow the seeds of discontent amongst certain SHIELD agents.

I'm also not entirely sure about the Hunter/May pairing that Agents of SHIELD seems to be committing to. I like both of these characters separately, but at the moment the dynamic between them is stilted and awkward - potentially a deliberate decision thanks to the vastly differing personalities of these characters, and I admit that it will be interesting to see if Hunter is able to get May to open up, but I'm also somewhat concerned that the two actors simply don't have much chemistry. It'll be interesting to see how this plot changes them though - I quite liked the Fight Club-esque feel that was on display in "A Wanted (Inhu)man", and a brief shot of the new Hydra logo makes me think that Hunter and May might be in more immediate danger than they realise.

The real highlight of the episode comes from Fitz and Simmons though. Their relationship, platonic or not, is by far the best thing to come out of Agents of SHIELD so far, and the ways in which the show enjoys slowly tearing them apart both physically and mentally is heart breaking. This time we get to spend a lot of time with a deeply disturbed and clearly mentally scarred Simmons - she can't even bear to be in the laboratory she used to love, but still Fitz does his best to make her happy. A scene where Fitz finally gets to take her out to dinner is both overwhelmingly adorable and incredibly sad, reminding me just how much I care about these characters when the show wants me too. If any Agents of SHIELD writers happen to be reading, then please, for the love of God - let them rebuild, even if only for a short time.

As always (well, at least since season two), I'm looking forward to seeing where Agents of SHIELD goes next with it's various plots. It seems to me that the show has really figured out it's rhythm now - developing multiple plots simultaneously means that even if one doesn't quite work in an episode, the others will probably make up for it. If I do have any complaints, it's that Bobbi hasn't had a single thing to do since the season started now - I was half hoping that "A Wanted (Inhu)man" would give her something to do, and unfortunately it didn't. Does this have anything to do with the still potentially happening Most Wanted TV show being banded about? I have no idea, but even if it does I'm not sure it excuses side-lining one of the show better characters. Regardless, "A Wanted (Inhu)man" is a good episode overall with a few great scenes sprinkled in, and I don't see what more could be asked of the show at this stage.

This article was originally published on OutLoudCulture.

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