Damn, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., that was only episode 2!?
This week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally starting to ramp up into something exciting and worth watching! Or, at least, that’s what I’ve read about every single episode since Jemma jumped out a plane in season 1, episode 6. When are we going to admit to ourselves that the show has been great, and no show should have you gripping your seat this hard by episode 2?
We take a break from the unfolding Inhumans plot this episode and wave goodbye to Joey, Rosalind, Lash and Lincoln until next week – it’s time to check in on Andrew, Ward, May and Simmons.
Our episode starts with some English lords in the 19th century, drawing stones. I assume this was before the invention of the straw. One lord draws a white stone instead of black, is armed, and sent in to face…The Monolith. The lords reassure him, but point out behind his back that no one has ever returned.
Oh, good – this bodes well for our missing English biochemist.
Centuries later, as Daisy complains about Andrew’s psych assessments for her Secret Warriors (they said it; take a shot!) the gang rushes in to tell us that Fitz has broken into containment. Either this takes place immediately after last episode, or Fitz has had a busy week. As they pull him off the rock just in time, he realizes something – this is an interplanetary portal and they are getting Simmons BACK!
As the team saddles up to go on a mission, May is spending some quality time with her recently injured dad. (Bonus points if you caught the Mulan reunion.) Despite cute moments about a young figure-skating May, it becomes more and more apparent that she is paranoid for her father’s safety, and attacks a visiting Hunter, who wants her help tracking down and killing Ward.
Ward, of course, is talking to Kebo, the assistant you thought he killed in last years’ finale. They cruise though a parking garage in a new car decorated with a terrified ex-HYDRA agent on the hood, explaining that the new HYDRA is about proving yourself – actions speak louder than words, and status and name mean nothing. They oh-so-politely let the man off their car, and he tells them the location of, who else – Alexander Braun? What? Who?
Mr. Braun, however, turns out to be a more-than-necessary alias for the pretty boy, yacht- owning Werner von Strucker, spoiled eldest son of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. You know, that now dead monocle guy from the Winter Soldier post-credits scene and the intro to Age of Ultron? Well he has a son now, and that son is played by (newest Whedon alumni) Spencer Treat Clark. Alexander is not Phobos as I theorized but I am okay with this.
Back to the gang. Needing an expert on interplanetary travel, they decide to consult their Asgardian ally on Earth, Dr. Elliot Randolph – aka Peter MacNicol, straight off a stint on CBI Cyber. He’s the Berserker staff guy from season 1, but this time around he is a lot more interesting!
He tags along after his escape from a delightful European jail; mainly to confirm the portal’s existence and destroy it. He recognizes the Hebrew from the scroll and realizes that he had seen this somewhere before – an English castle in the 19th century. To the plane!
After some sleuthing, they find a large secret chamber in the castle that looks straight out of a Mary Shelley novel. Fitz fonzes the machine and it all starts up. The machine is revealed to act as a large subwoofer, vibrating the room to a certain frequency and opening up a rather Monolith-shaped hole in the floor.
Mack and Daisy load the infernal object onto the Zephyr One (the new Bus) and take it to Frankenstein’s castle for a little experimentation. They find out that the room vibrates at a frequency that opens the portal. It also gives Daisy an epic nosebleedin’ headache. (It’s a weapon against Inhumans, after all).
The machine breaks, but luckily they happen to know a special gal who can also vibrate things at certain frequencies – how convenient! Fitz and Bobbi prepare a camera pod on a rope to throw into the portal as Daisy starts tuning. Here comes the most intense sequence on a Tuesday night.
Daisy opens the portal, but due to headaches and nosebleeding, can only hold it for a minute. This doesn’t stop Fitz from quickly unhooking the camera, clipping the rope to his belt and jumping in. Fitz is wandering around the alien planet during a duststorm, screaming Jemma’s name. Mack and Bobbi are trying to stop the rope mechanism from collapsing, which was not made to hold Fitz’ weight in a sandstorm.
Violins are swelling. Fitz screaming for Jemma. Daisy struggling to hold open the portal. Bobbi trying to keep the mechanism from coming unbolted from the ground. Mack bellowing in a show of strength as he grips the rope so they don’t lose Fitz completely. Fitz screaming. Daisy struggling. Bobbi trying. Mack bellowing.
Jemma calling out Fitz’ name.
Fitz follows the voice and oh my God it’s Jemma. She’s right there. SHE’S RIGHT THERE. As they slowly try make their way to each other through the storm, things are getting more and more difficult to manage on Earth.
They manage to grasp hands, and slowly…slowly…lose grip and pull apart. Right as Coulson yells “THAT’S ENOUGH, PULL HIM BACK!” Fitz immediately gets yanked backwards. DON’T YOU DARE. They struggle more, everything on Earth is getting bad, they’re pulling Fitz back, him and Jemma grasp hands again, they’re losing grip….slowly…
The Monolith explodes.
Didn’t see that coming.
In an agonizingly long sequence the gang looks horrified at the rubble, only for Fitz to slowly emerge, dazed. But…did he..?
He slowly pulls Simmons out of the rubble too. Oh, Fitz, I could kiss you. Take that, 1800’s British lord!
The rest of the episode is spent with the gang rejoicing (Hunter’s overjoyed reaction to the news will make you fall in love with him, while Simmons wakes up from a nightmare, traumatized and wielding a shank, in the medical pod. She slowly realizes where she is and lays her head on a sleeping Fitz’ lap.
In our post-credits scene, a young new transfer student joins Andrew Garner’s psychology class. He is taking psych to “understand his family – you’ll never guess how messed up his is”. Well, if you told him your name was Werner von Strucker instead of Alexander Braun, he might have some idea! Anyway, there’s no way this will bode well.
Overall, this episode is really split between three parts – May/Hunter/May’s dad, Ward/Kebo/Werner, and the Fitzsimmons plot. The first two seem to be taking their leisurely time, so I am very surprised the third one was resolved so quickly. She was only devoured by the Monolith a few television hours ago! R.I.P. Monolith, we hardly knew ye.
I really liked the main plot of this episode and it was refreshing to see all our old faces again – even Elliot Randolph, surprisingly. Wouldn’t mind him as a series regular. Coulson needs another sassy middle-aged man on the show, and it felt weird that they had an Asgardian ally on Earth and never used him. The episode normally would garner a 6.5 or 7 – it was interesting but nothing special. That sequence on the other planet, though – that bumps it to a definite 8/10 at least. My heart was pounding, there were tears in my eyes. Too intense.
BONUS CRACKPOT THEORIES AND SPECULATION
So some of my theories last week were proven wrong. Have no fear! I always have more!
– One of the translations of the Hebrew word everywhere specifically states “Death by punishment”. Is this an exile planet created by Kree to send Inhumans to die? What was chasing Jemma – Alpha Primitives?
– In episode 9 of season 1, they deal with, essentially, a ghost stalking a woman. It is revealed to be a man who got trapped between our dimension and one of Thor’s nine realms, Hel. A simulation Simmons runs in that episode looks a lot like the landscape of the planet she was on in this one. Could the Asgardian guest star in this episode be a clue?
– A behind the scenes photo of Elizabeth getting sprayed with fake dirt gives us a closer look at a bag she is holding – the same bag the unfortunate Lord held before drawing the white stone. Did she meet him? Find his corpse?