“Will he come back?”
Whilst the first episode of ‘AoS’ Season 3 showed a definite sense of purpose and a renewed drive to give us great storytelling, the second episode failed to carry on the momentum. It was enjoyable, in parts, but it felt at once rushed and dragged out. We now know about May, Ward and Simmons, but what actually happened? Of substance? The rescue of Simmons was far too easy and haphazard, and the split attention between the stories of S.H.I.E.L.D, Ward and May dissipated a lot of the tension in the episode.
Did we really need the Ward storyline and the May storyline all in the second episode? There are twenty episodes left; slow things down a little! But not too much! In the first episode, we didn’t know where Ward and May were; nor did we know if Simmons would be rescued anytime soon. However, like a batch of fast food, we were given all of this information in one sitting. There’s no need to drag things out, nor is there a need to splurge everything onto the screen at once. Imagine setting up May’s return to S.H.I.E.L.D over a couple of episodes by having Hunter searching for her. Every other episode, they could have had Ward slowly rebuilding H.Y.D.R.A. Instead, we know where the two characters are heading, without much foreplay.
“Show me you are not dead weight”
The lack of foreplay extended to the rescue of Simmons. After Fitz’s rage-filled meeting with the Monolith at the end of the first episode, I’d forgive ‘AoS’ for making us wait a while for Simmons rescue. Instead, her rescue was incredibly easy, considering she was imprisoned on an alien planet. Convenience after convenience set up the inevitable rescue, which made it all the more implausible. Why not spread it out a bit more? I was hoping that Fitz would fail at the end, just to add some extra pathos to proceedings! Imagine waiting episode after episode for Simmons to be rescued; each attempt goes wrong, and Fitz’s frustration and desire increase exponentially. His successful attempt at rescue would be incredibly rewarding, both for him and the viewer. In reality, she’s only been imprisoned for two episodes!
Inevitably, the rescue was underwhelming, and the emotional payoff was lacking (however, it could be a great twist and reveal that it isn’t actually Simmons…) But there were still bits and bobs to like about ‘Purpose In The Machine,’ generally coming from the interplay from the characters (as always!). Although I disapproved of revealing May and Ward so soon, Ward’s story in particular was intriguing (although once again, HYDRA are on the scene!). May’s story, centring around her relationship with her father, didn’t resonate much with me. That, plus her easily joining Hunter in his quest to kill Ward, made things seems a little trivial.
“I wondered if you had it in you”
What particularly riled me was the never-ending stream of sci-fi babble coming from the characters, in particular Fitz and the special guest Randalph (remember that Asgardian from the previous series who wanted to stay one earth? He played Vigo’s slave in Ghostbusters II!). I can only take so much nonsense in one sitting! It reminded me of an episode of Doctor Who! Of course, after the great first episode, I expected much more. I did receive a lot of stuff, but too much and too little. ‘AoS’ is speeding through plotlines already. It used to be the opposite problem: everything moved too slowly! I fear that the Season will run out of steam before it even hits the halfway mark…but I hold out hope!
VERDICT: 5/10. ‘Purpose In The Machine’ sped through major plot developments without giving them time to breathe, and thus lessened the impact of each one.
(Click here for my review of Agents of SHIELD: Season 3: Episode 1: Laws Of Nature)