I mean…May’s missing, Simmons is presumed dead, Coulson’s short one arm, Bobbi is in rehab, and Fitz is a bonafide badass now, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back!
I feel like I could literally talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever, but I will keep this at a svelte 80 paragraphs or so.
I was one of the few people who was totally on board the Bus (R.I.P.) from day one. I love the MCU and I am obsessed with Joss Whedon, and this show didn’t disappoint. I think the world was thinking “Yeah new superheroes!” while I was more like “Yeah character arcs and gutwrenching deaths!” Oh, those Whedons.
Season 3, however, immediately feels more like the show Marvel fans were clamoring for – and I love that, too. Not only do we get an epic grand entrance of Quake (remember – she’s Daisy now, not Skye!), Terrigen was released into the water supply. That’s a big deal. THAT’S A BIG DEAL.
Now everyone who has descended from a Kree/human hybrid, when exposed to Terrigen, gains superhuman abilities. As it turns out, there are a lot of them. This IS HUGE because, of course, Marvel Studios does not have the legal film rights to the X-Men franchise.
How do you work around the X-Gene and still have every-day citizens popping up with uncontrolled powers? How do you parallel X-Men’s oft-used allegory for McCarthyism and the Lavender Scare? What’s a really awesome way to set up for Captain America: Civil War?
The Secret-Warriors-to-be rescue a new Inhuman named Joey, who is like a poor man’s The Melter. However, he is almost snagged up by the new cats in town, the government-sanctioned A.T.C.U., who appear to be a more violent and militarized S.H.I.E.L.D. We had HYDRA, we had Real S.H.I.E.L.D., bring on A.T.C.U.! The unit is run by a mysterious woman with many aliases (fingers crossed for Abigail Brand!) who is currently going by Rosalind Price and seems to be Coulson’s match in every way. Romantic tension, enter stage left.
But wait – if A.T.C.U. isn’t the one butchering Inhumans, and it’s definitely not S.H.I.E.L.D., who is it?
Only Lash, one of the coolest brand-new villains in the Marvel comics! He can absorb and re-direct energy, and has decided that he is the judge, jury and executioner on deciding whether or not Inhumans are “worthy” of their powers. He’s also over 7 feet tall, built like truck and looks like a supersaiyan Na’vi from Avatar. I was afraid from the trailers that he would look Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk crossed with a porcupine, but I was pleasantly surprised.
So Coulson and Hunter are meeting with the A.T.C.U. head; Daisy, Mack and Lincoln are fighting Roidrage the Hedgehog; Bobbi is recuperating and doing science stuff at the base on Joey. Where’s the rest of the gang? Ward, May, Fitz – most importantly, where’s Simmons?
Though they don’t appear in the episode, we can assume Ward is off keeping HYDRAted and May, supposedly, has not returned from her vacation in the season 2 finale. You earned it, Ming-Na! Simmons is still missing after getting devoured by the Monolith (The Psychomagnetron? Eldrac the Door?) and Fitz is on his own adventures through Asia chasing another lead after everyone else gave up.
It’s definitely weird seeing Fitz as a stubble-chinned, suit-wearing, cold-blooded badass, but I don’t mind one bit. I’m digging the Fitz Fuzz. The suit says nine AM, but the beard says five o’clock! He makes a dangerous deal with some dangerous men to acquire a scroll that will tell him what the monolith is and does, and returns to the base.
As he opens the scroll, he finds one word: the Hebrew word for “DEATH”. Coulson tells a clearly distraught Fitz that it’s time to notify her family and start moving on and healing.
Then comes, by leaps and bounds, the acting highlight of the episode! Kudos to Iain de Caestecker for his third spectacular year in a row and shame on you, Emmys!
Fitz grabs a shotgun, and makes his way to the restricted area holding the Monolith. He kicks open the door, blasts the lock, and climbs into the cage with it. He starts challenging it to do something – to swallow him too. Then he starts screaming it. He’s pounding on the Monolith, screaming at it to kill him so he can be with Simmons – yet it does nothing. If the tear doesn’t roll down my cheek, it doesn’t count, right?
The episode closes with the Marvel trademark post-credits scene, which features a terrified Simmons running on a planet that most definitely is not Earth. And then we have to wait another week.
I think it was a very strong start to a season, and though you get the feeling that time has passed, it doesn’t feel as disjointed as season 2’s premiere where you have no idea who Mack, Hunter, Hartley or Idaho are. If I had to give it a rating, I’d say a solid 8/10 for a premiere – I might have even gone higher as I have no actual problems with the episode, but I have the sneaking suspicion that we’re going to have some stronger ones to come. It’s a good time to be a comic fan!
BONUS: Crackpot theories and speculation!
1. In season 2, Lincoln claims that he doesn’t really get along with his family. Constance Zimmer, the actor of our A.T.C.U. head Rosalind, hinted that at some surprising moments with her character, and that we will learn a lot of secrets about some characters. Now, one of Price’s aliases is Margaret Campbell – a common last name, but one she also shares with Lincoln. Remember that sad, wistful look she gave to Lincoln’s picture on the hospital computer? Could A.T.C.U. be an overreaction of a scared mom who couldn’t deal with her son “coming out” as Inhuman?
2. So where the hell is Simmons? I have some theories.
2a. According to people who speak Hebrew, the scroll didn’t say “death” – it said “Death”, referring to the entity. Death is a character in the Marvel Universe who is closely associated with Thanos, the overall “Big Bad”. Is this her domain? Does it belong to Thanos?
2b. The entity Death is also known as Pluto. Could it be as simple as that?
2c. The next episode features a character named Lord Thornally. This character does not exist in the comics, but a Google Search suspiciously brings up the page for Lord Mar-Vell, an alternate reality version of the original Captain Marvel who took over the hell dimension known as the Cancerverse. If it’s anything like the comics, the Cancerverse may play a large role in defeating Thanos. Are they introducing it early, like the Inhumans?