21 February 2016

Agents of SHIELD S3E7 "Chaos Theory" review

I don't think I'll ever not be impressed with the speed at which Agents of SHIELD is progressing in its third season. I was so sure that the show would choose to slow down a little bit here and take a look at where May's true loyalties lie - but instead, Agents of SHIELD plays its hand straight away, doing more in this one episode than we would have seen in up to half a season of Agents of SHIELD in the past.

Putting several of the seasons sub-plots to the side for now (while tying others into the main story of the episode in a really organic way), "Chaos Theory" is predominantly focused on dealing with the 'Andrew is Lash' revelation of last week. For the most part we follow May, who wastes no time at all in confronting Andrew after doing some basic fact checking to ensure that the theory given to her by Werner von Strucker is at least plausible.

It's a very tightly focused episode, potentially even more so than last weeks "Among Us Hide..." which is certainly saying something. Other than a brief conversation between Hunter and Bobbi towards the start (still hinting at the potential Most Wanted spin-off) and a short scene between Fitz and Simmons towards the end, "Chaos Theory" spends nearly every second of its run time either trying to explain Andrews actions or exploring how and when he was turned into Lash.

As such, "Chaos Theory" effectively lives or dies based on whether you can buy what Andrew (played by Blair Underwood) is selling, and for the most part you absolutely can. Despite the out-of-nowhere nature of the 'Andrew is Lash' reveal, the idea that Andrew doesn't seem to have all that much control of Lash makes him somewhat more sympathetic, as does the air of instability that surrounds him after he learns that his secret is out. As far as his 'performance' goes, he doesn't have the power or the raw emotion of the other two 'performances' we've seen this season (Fitz in "Laws of Nature" and Simmons in "4,722 Hours"), but he's good enough to sell me on the idea that Andrew really is Lash - something I didn't quite buy when Werner von Strucker first told us last week.

Elsewhere in "Chaos Theory", we get to see Rosalind and Coulson grow closer as Daisy confronts her about her approach to the Inhumans after we (and Daisy) saw the science-fiction prison that the ATCU uses to store Inhumans until a cure can be found. We've seen this kind of morally ambiguous argument in other superhero fiction many times before, but somehow it feels fresh here - whether or not it ends up tying into the upcoming Captain America: Civil War still remains to be seen, but the last-minute teaser for next weeks "Many Heads, One Tale" would seem to indicate that the moral differences between the ATCU and SHIELD may be even greater than we realise. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how this latest development plays out - and I'm hoping that we get to see a lot more of Grant Ward in the process, who really hasn't had all that much to do so far.

I'm also really happy that we finally get to see Joey again in "Chaos Theory", the first time since his introduction into the show in "Laws of Nature", but really it is the episodes finale that turns "Chaos Theory" from a good episode into a great one. Despite the still ropey nature of the fight scenes, the CGI and the visuals in general, it's a tense, 'anything-could-go-wrong' affair that is only made more dangerous by Lincoln's contribution to the proceedings. As always, I can't go into too much detail because I want to keep these spoiler-free, but I doubt Lincoln will have particularly enamoured himself to SHIELD with what he does in "Chaos Theory" - although I do like the way that, unlike anyone else in SHIELD, he was able to figure out what everyone else had to be told.

Overall, "Chaos Theory" is another great episode of Agents of SHIELD, the latest in what is quickly becoming a long line of solid, well-written and exciting episodes. Should the show have maybe taken its time a little more with May and Andrew? Yes, potentially - but I'm happy to be able to say that the show is progressing slightly too quickly, rather than the older complaint of "Jesus, this is taking forever", and with Agents of SHIELD still moving from strength to strength I'm more excited than ever to see what is in the shows future.

This article was originally published on OutLoudCulture.

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