“What exactly are these things that we’ve considering?”
After last week’s disappointing effort, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ returned to form with ‘A Most Wanted (Inhu)Man,’ regardless of the silly title. The Lincoln escape, Hunter and May’s efforts to infiltrate HYDRA, and the slow reconciliation of Simmons to normal life, all blended together very effectively. The three major storylines were well-balanced and almost bled into one another. You could grumble at the focus on HYDRA, after almost two whole seasons with HYDRA at the forefront of things, but there’s enough vigour in the plot (and ‘borrowing’ from Fight Club) to gloss over the repetition.
You’d be forgiven for comparing Lincoln to the Spider-Man villain Electro, especially since it wasn’t too long ago that he starred in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2.’ But Lincoln here shows the awesome potential of controlling electricity, far more than Electro did in the Spider-Man sequel. Here he is a palpable threat and his ability is showcased in more than a few shocking (sorry!) ways. Lincoln’s just a man who wanted to help people, without using his abilities. But he’s on the list of Inhumans to be hunted by Rosalind Price’s ATCU, and thus becomes a pawn in the struggle between S.H.I.E.L.D and Price. It results in a moving exchange (literally and metaphorically) with Daisy, who reveals her true feelings to Lincoln. Cue a big smooch with a dead body in the room. A little silly, but the emotional reveal rings true and increases the emotional stakes in the conclusion.
“I’m not accustomed to so many distractions”
Another tug at the heart strings occurs with the story of Simmons’ rehabilitation. The camera work and sound effects help us to empathise with her situation. She’s been living on an alien planet in (presumably) absolute silence, and now she’s back in the noisy S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier. Even the slightest vibration of a mobile ‘phone disorientates her. Fitz does the best he can to alleviate her disturbances, and although he can’t quite do it, the rebuilding of their relationship gave us some much slower and deeper scenes in amongst the action. And if you didn’t have a tear in your eye when Fitz revealed he had a table at a fine restaurant fully reserved for a long time for him and Simmons, then you have no heart!
Over at the attempt by Hunter and May to infiltrate Ward’s New HYDRA, the influence of ‘Fight Club’ reverberated strongly. To gain a place in the lowest echelon of HYDRA, Hunter had to enter a fight to the death. Hunter’s question “are there any rules I should know about?” was perhaps an overt reference to Fincher’s film. Just like the fight scenes in Fight Club, Hunter’s fight with the man who helped him attain a place in the fight was brutal and grungy. Every punch yielded a cut and more blood, every blow yielded an ugly bruise. It reminded me not only of Fight Club, but the realistic fight scenes in DareDevil. We only ever see the sarcastic and witty Hunter, so to see a pretty remorseless Hunter fighting to the death was a pleasant surprise. Also, we got to see May take out three men with ease in a backroom in about a quarter of the time it took Hunter to win his fight. You should never mess with May!
“That’s who I really am”
Hunter and May, Fitz and Simmons, Daisy and Lincoln were all subordinate to the importance of Coulson and Price. Ultimately, those two are the power players (well, along with Ward), and it was their compromise at the end that can only signal good things for the future of the show. Coulson is tired of fighting battles against other groups, just like we are tired of seeing the same storylines being repeated over and over again. Seeing two groups work together? Now that’s something different! Let’s hope the compromise holds for more than a few episodes.
‘A Most Wanted (Inhu)Man’ caused me to rethink my harsh evaluation of last week’s episode. The promise of Simmons going back to the alien world may yet give a great reason for her all-too-easy rescue. Ward rejuvenating HYDRA may be bringing back an old enemy, but it gave us a brilliant and brutal fight scene with Hunter (and May kicking ass once again!). We are seeing with Daisy and Lincoln the reverse of their situation in Season 2. Then, Lincoln was trying to calm Daisy down, and bring her to his side. It caused Daisy to fall in love with him, and now she’s trying to bring him over to her side. Whether or not that side is the side of S.H.I.E.L.D. is something Daisy will have to figure out sooner or later. Overall, a very good episode that showed that ‘AoS’ still has plenty of promise, and is yet to peak.
VERDICT: 8/10. Broken down into three easy to consume (but emotionally complex) storylines, ‘A Most Wanted (Inhu)Man’ proved that the disappointment of ‘Purpose In The Machine’ was hopefully an anomaly!
(Click here for my review of Agents of SHIELD: Season 3, Episode 2: Purpose In The Machine)