Previously on Agents of SHIELD, “Failed Experiments”
Agents of SHIELD – s3e20 – Emancipation | Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, Luke Mitchell, John Hannah, Axle Whitehead | Writer: Craig Titley | Director: Vincent Misiano
While the inhumans and SHIELD are gearing up for a massive campaign, the US government decides to poke their nose in Phil’s affairs after what occurred between the Avengers in last week’s box-office breaking Phase 3 film, Civil War. “Emancipation”, for all intents and purposes, was a glorified filler episode that offers little progressions, provides a few answers to questions we never asked, and meekly connects Agents of SHIELD to the recent events that occurred in the MCU.
SUFFERING THE POSTBELLUM BLUES
Now that Captain America: Civil War has come and gone (and kicked all kinds of ass), the Sokovia Accords remain the hotbed issue for every major government. Coulson has firmly planted his feet and not allowing General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) to shake up SHIELD operations, especially when they’re at their most vulnerable. Nevertheless, Phil gives Glenn full access to their facility and to put it kindly, the man isn’t impressed. At all.
Despite their recent setbacks, Coulson doesn’t want to give any excuses for his operation not running on cylinders. Regrettably, the chinks in his armor continue to amass while Talbot is present. While Phil acquaints Glenn with Lincoln and Lash, FitzSimmons stayed on their toes to prevent Daisy from gaining access to SHIELD’s mainframe. None of this bodes well for the gang. Whilst simultaneously picking up the pieces and preventing a cyberattack, Coulson and May are tiptoeing around Talbot who’s essentially conducting an audit on the fragile agency.
It was admirable that they discussed the Sokovia Accords throughout “Emancipation” but the issue never had any real weight, compared to previous cameos and references in seasons past. Part of this feeling is due to a relative lack of association with the MCU, but it’s chiefly due to SHIELD no longer having to rely on the movies to be a relevant series. What happened to SHIELD during Winter Soldier’s release was substantial and show-altering; while HYDRA’s ouster lead the show’s arc for the remainder of season one and most of season two, it also gave the series legs strong enough to carry its own weight and confidently run off to create unique story lines.
While it would be fun to witness more distinct effects from the films in SHIELD during its run, it’s not a necessity as it once was.
OH, THE INHUMANITY!
If anybody was emancipated from their bonds of boredom, it was we the viewers witnessed the merciful end of the unimpressive Watchdogs. True, it was only one cell of the allegedly nationwide domestic terrorist group, but it felt like this team represented the head of the snake – minus Felix Blake – and their demise would spell the end of the Watchdogs soon after. Unfortunately for that racist bunch, Dr. Radcliffe’s experiment made them the very things they hate, and extremely subservient to Hive’s commands to boot. At least those guys eventually lived up to their moniker… just not as they intended.
In true gotcha fashion, Lincoln pulled a fast one on Daisy and Alveus, sending Lash (Matthew Willig) in his stead. After all the proclamations Dr. Garner had made earlier this season about expunging the unworthy from the gift of terrigenesis, Andrew – now in his irreversible inhuman form – has the opportunity to eliminate the biggest Kree mistake of them all. For a minute there it almost appeared he was going to do it, but this isn’t the season finale, now is it? Instead of gunning for Alveus, Lash removed Hive’s parasites from Daisy’s body, eliminating at least part of Hive from one inhuman that has the best chance of saving the rest of her brethren. Sadly, it was new pal Hellfire that put a hole through Lash’s chest before he and Johnson took off.
You did good, big guy. Kind of. It doesn’t excuse you from murdering dozens of innocents over half the season, but thank you for your sacrifice? It’s always a perplexing circumstance when the very monster who threatened practically everyone’s lives saves the day. It’s also very frustrating when that same creature with supposedly irredeemable qualities appears to have partially restored some of his humanity off-camera. So Dr. Garner had some control after all? Did Andrew and Lash’s personas merge into a new being? No matter, he’s gone now.
Still, it was a surprisingly emotional send-off for a thoroughly reviled villain.
MEANWHILE IN THE LOVE DEPARTMENT
It’s funny how feelings work, huh? The world as you know it could be collapsing all around you with death creeping around the corner… and all you can think about it snogging. Despite the stress of the moment, that’s all FitzSimmons was down for in the server room. There was little room for them to let their hair down this week but when they did, it’s actually quite cute and wholly authentic. Both Henstridge and Caestecker are able to imbue their romantic scenes with a heavy dose of whimsy even during rather tenuous scenarios. Alas, the two couldn’t even pash thanks to May and her poor timing.
Elsewhere, Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) has returned to lend a hand and look after Mack. While FitzSimmons’ adoration for each other is cheery and presents a nervous energy that’s barely restrained, Mack and Yo-Yo’s friendship (and potential devotion) runs silent but is just as profound. Theirs is the type of fondness that has likely taken some bumps and bruises down the road to reach a more pragmatic approach on love. When Elena passes Mack a beer, it’s not just to make him stop thinking about his worries for the future, it’s a comforting hand. Certainly the most worrisome moment in their scene was Elena trying to reaffirm Alphonso’s faith by giving him something of hers that has strengthened Yo-Yo during such trying ordeals.
Remembering Daisy’s glimpse into the future, plenty of viewers did not like this gesture one bit.
Lash, to Daisy: You are free now.
There was little action in “Emancipation”. After all, one must temper their resolve (and budget) if SHIELD is planning to pull all stops during the season finale. The episode did give us a little taste of what’s in store thanks to big bad Lash confronting Hive for all the marbles. The Parasite versus The Big Blue Murder Machine! It’s over almost as fast as it started but boy, was it pretty exciting!
Now that Hive has his hands on a warhead to spread his quick fix inhuman serum across the world, SHIELD has only one chance (and two hours) to stop the ancient evil once and for all in “Absolution” and “Ascension”, Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC!
AoS S3E20 = 8.3/10