16 May 2016

Agents of SHIELD S3E19 "Failed Experiments" review

Opening with a brief flashback that shows us how Hive was first created by the Kree, the main plot of "Failed Experiments" sees SHIELD on a mission to try and kill Hive, or at least find out if they even can. At the same time, Fitzsimmons continue their work on an antidote for his ability to control Inhumans, while Hive starts work on a process that will turn regular humans into Inhumans.

I've got to say, I find myself quite disappointed with "Failed Experiments". Last weeks "The Singularity" was a surprisingly good episode of Agents of SHIELD that went to some interesting places while dealing with the consequences of "The Team". "Failed Experiments" seems to want to do the same, the problem being that it ends up hitting many of the same character beats as last weeks episode without really adding anything new. Again, we see Daisy threaten someone we know she cares for deeply thanks to Hive's influence; again we see the lengths Lincoln is willing to go to in order to help Daisy. It's repetition for no reason, something that even the first season of Agents of SHIELD managed to avoid.

Furthermore, even when "Failed Experiments" isn't repeating that which has came before, all it's really doing is stalling for time, which makes it the most filler episode that the show has ever given us. By the end of the episode, nothing has actually changed - all our characters are in the same place as they were when the episode started, and anything that looks like it might have been progressing the plot is reset back to where it was by the end of last weeks "The Singularity". This would be disappointing at any point in the season, but when we are this close to the end of the season? It's a huge blow, sucking a lot of the momentum out of the season wide story right as we are meant to be getting most excited about how the season might conclude.

And it's not that "Failed Experiments" is a bad episode of television when taken on it's own merits, it's just that within the context of the season at large it's meaningless. There are a lot of moments that on their own work really well, whether that be a fairly cool fight sequence or an emotion-filled conflict between Daisy and a member of SHIELD. But the fairly cool fight sequence ends up having no impact on anything at all, and the emotion-filled conflict ends up being far too similar to what we saw Daisy and Fitz go through last week, and it becomes impossible to divorce these otherwise interesting aspects of the episode from the fact that the episode on the whole is simply stalling for time.

Throw in a couple of frustratingly forced references to Captain America: Civil War, and "Failed Experiments" ends up being just an unnecessary diversion that really feels like it only exists to make sure the season meets it's 22 episode order, certainly not what you want to see this late in the season. So yes, it's a disappointing episode made more so by it's position in the season - but it also isn't enough to completely derail the season as a whole, which could still end up being the best Agents of SHIELD has produced so far as long as next weeks "Emancipation" can get the show back on track. And, as always, I remain confident that it will.

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