Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is back. Months after the events of the season 2 finale, the episode picks up with the remaining agents in the fray.
Season 3 picks up with a little fast forward to 6 months after the end of last season. Skye and Mack are the tip of the spear of Coulson’s new initiative to recruit Inhumans. Because of the introduction of the Terrigen chemicals into the fish supply, there are now new Inhumans popping up all over the place. Specifically, people with dormant Inhuman genes are taking fish oil pills (and possibly other things) that are triggering their Terrigenesis. Making matters more complicated is the fact that there’s some kind of black ops group that’s hunting down the Inhumans before they can get to them. The team manages to bring in Jose “Joey” Gutierrez, a new Inhuman who seems to be able to warp metal at will before the black ops team takes him down. While Skye and Mack try to help Joey adjust to the new reality of his life, Coulson is hunting for the mysterious female leader of their unknown competitor.
Even though the team is moving ahead as normal, there have been quite a few personal changes for everyone. May is still on leave. Coulson is adjusting to a prosthetic hand and trying to call Skye by her new name. Skye…I mean…Daisy has started going by her birth name and is starting to develop an partnership with Mack, who was creeped out by a lot of the Inhumans stuff before. His old partner Bobbi is still rehabbing after the beating she took from Ward. Hunter and Bobbi are pretending to not talk to each other after she betrayed him but, in reality, they’re back together and just want to keep it a secret. Hunter has a plan (that’s been approved by Coulson) to go after Ward for what he did; and take him out. Bobbi is also covering for Fitz in the lab. In the months since Simmons was sucked up by the Monolith, Fitz has been scouring the globe to find a way to bring her back. Apparently, he’s started acting even more of an agent while trying to save Simmons than he ever was before. Well, except that he just won’t come back to the team without solving the problem first. All of this is leaving everyone at SHIELD pretty stretched and with a lot going on.
Coulson gets a break when Bobbi tells him how to find the leader of the black ops group. Coulson tries to surprise her but, it turns out that he and Hunter walked right into her trap. The woman introduces herself as Rosalind (played by Constance Zimmer). Through some very coy and witty banter between her and Coulson we find out that Rosalind is very well informed and very well connected. Later, it’s revealed that the name of her organization is the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (or ATCU). It’s also revealed that she has the full backing of the government and even has the ability to influence someone as high up as the President. She knows that Coulson and SHIELD have proverbially come back from the dead but lets on that she might know more by saying, “I’ve never been to Tahiti, but I hear it’s a magical place.” She says that she’s been tasked with bringing in what they call “altered humans” in order to neutralize the threat that they present. So, both she and Coulson have the same agenda and they both want to know where the other is keeping the Inhumans they’ve taken. She also lets it slip that some of them have been killed. That’s when both she and Coulson realize that there’s a 3rd party, that neither of them had accounted for, who’s killing the Inhumans before either of them can get to them.
Skye and Mack find the mysterious 3rd party when they show up at a hospital to talk to Lincoln. They want to bring him in to help recruit the Inhumans, but Lincoln’s so disillusioned by what happened with Jaiying that he doesn’t want anything to do with the Inhumans. It doesn’t help that Lincoln and Mack aren’t necessarily on friendly terms. Their hostile meeting is broken up when a giant blue humanoid shows up and tries to kill Lincoln. Between Skye and Lincoln’s powers they’re barely able to hold the monster off but Lincoln still wants no part of working with SHIELD and flees.
In the aftermath of recent events, the President of the U.S. gets on TV and informs the nation of the creation of the ATCU. His statement confirms to Coulson that Rosalind is actually the one pulling the strings. That coupled with the apparent outbreak-like spread of new Inhumans, make SHIELD look very out-manned at the moment. Coulson waits for Fitz and tells him that they need him back on the team and that he has to accept that Simmons is gone. The world is starting to fall apart and they need all hands on deck. When Fitz’s last clue turns out to be a dead end, he is forced to accept that he may not be able to find her. He bursts into the room with the Monolith and proceeds to scream at it to do something while pounding on it. In the tag scene from the episode, we see that Simmons is, in fact, still alive and running for her life on some alien world.
- Fitz has nothing to lose
It was particularly frustrating to watch Fitz spend all of last season without the full use of his mental abilities.
- Wait, is this still cagey banter, or are we being honest all of a sudden?
The banter between Rosalind and Coulson was really fun. They look like they’re going to be a very even match for each other for however long she’s around.
- The entire end of the episode
Even though he wasn’t on screen for a lot of it, this was a really strong episode for Fitz. He looked like he’s better than ever with the way he’s working to get Simmons back. Watching him just pound on the Monolith in frustration was borderline heartbreaking. Then, the big surprise (well, kind of a surprise) was that Simmons is still alive. The more surprising thing is that she’s been surviving in this dangerous, desert environment for 6 months by herself.
This premiere really did hit the ground running. The big action sequence at the beginning showed so much. Daisy being comfortable with her powers and sporting a new hair-style that brings her closer to her comic book persona. The contaminated fish oil that’s causing problems all over the world, and just how dangerous the Inhuman situation is. The rest of the episode does a good job of letting us know where the characters are without getting bogged down in exposition. In short, everyone’s just trying to hang on in this new situation they’ve found themselves in. With both May and Simmons gone, the team seems to really be feeling their short handedness. Especially Coulson (I swear that’s not a hand pun), who tells Fitz that he’s still trying to adjust to missing his left hand and his right hand woman. He can’t even manage to remember what to call Daisy. To be honest, I empathize with him on that one. I’m having a hard time making the Skye to Daisy conversion in my mind.
Given how thin everyone is stretched, I do wonder about the wisdom of Hunter wanting to go off on a Ward hunting mission, alone. I also don’t quite get why Bobbi and Hunter seem to want to keep their rekindled relationship a secret. Although, it looks like Mack might now be on to them. I don’t see how Hunter going after Ward could really end any way but bad. Especially since Ward has been gathering up his own little mini-HYDRA over the last few months. Maybe sense will prevail and Hunter will stay behind. But, given how everyone seems to be acting so emotional, I doubt that will happen. It’s actually an interesting change in the SHIELD dynamic. They’re letting Hunter and Fitz go off on missions fueled by passion and Daisy is convincing Coulson to try to let her use a gentler touch. That’s a bit different from the SHIELD in season one that seemed to be taking cues out of the Men in Black handbook.