Hanna is out of the country for a few weeks so I’ll be taking over the remaining reviews for Agents of SHIELD, season the third.
My review style will be different than the conversational format of Hanna and Damian’s reviews.
Let’s get this started with a swift recap:
S.H.I.E.L.D. recovers from the damage done to its base. Hive, with Daisy fully under his thrall, seeks out more Inhumans. Meanwhile, Fitz and Simmons make steps forward in their relationship as they and Mack track a doctor who may have a cure for Hive’s infection. Coulson and May pursue other leads and, in the wake of Gideon Malick’s death, the last of Hydra’s infrastructure falls.
So this was another decent episode! Not perfect by any means, it’s rushed and is mostly about setting up the finale. Nothing much new actually happens but it’s fun and delivers some solid moments.
The biggest aspect of “Singularity” I want to talk about is Daisy because I’m fairly certain she’s going to be powering a lot of the final push towards the finale what with Hive infections, future visions and literal earth-moving powers.
Science fiction shows have a certain advantage that can also be their curse. Because of their speculative nature they have at their disposal any number of means to use their main cast in interesting, variable ways. A regular cast member, often regarded as a hero, becomes an antagonist. One actor fulfills multiple roles. Orphan Black has clones. The Vampire Diaries had doppelgangers. Fringe has alternate reality versions of the main characters. On S.H.I.E.L.D. when Grant Ward became stale they killed him and had Hive (or Alveus) an Inhuman parasite infect the body, allowing Brett Dalton to stay on and bring Daisy onto his side. It could easily turn melodramatic, or lose its innate terror if overplayed, but for now, the show is treading that line beautifully. Brett Dalton is clearly having fun and Hive is a suitably unsettling and powerful villain for the season three finale (though his place beyond that is up in the air).
But having Daisy on his side makes things very interesting. It raises the stakes considerably.
Daisy has become the team’s powerhouse and having her suddenly on the opposing side has everything crashing down, metaphorically and literally. Seeing her getting cozy with Hive in Ward’s body is creepy in a skin-crawling, shuddering way. And yet there is conflict. Chloe Bennett isn’t playing her straight up brainwashed, which is a detail I did not expect. She corrects Hive when he calls her Skye. Her name is Daisy. She does not kill Fitz when confronting him at the geneticist’s lab. She easily could. Instead she delivers a warning, not only to stop their pursuit, but also relays the vision she had of a ship exploding in space. Despite her infection, she’s trying to keep the team alive, though she will kill them if she has to. I like that her takeover has layers. It honestly makes it more frightening that Daisy maintains some level of self-awareness while her brain is being hijacked.
On a happier note: I giggled through Fitz and Simmons’ adorably awkward conversations about the state of their relationship. And literally shouted at my screen “FINALLY” when they cross their personal event horizon at episode’s end. It’s nice to have some happy, even in the midst of failure, to balance out the horrible in this episode.
Because there’s a lot of horrible.
We’re entering what is clearly going to be The Empire Strikes Back portion of this season. Our heroes literally don’t land one victory in “Singularity” and Hive and company are always two steps ahead. Yes, they wipe out Hydra, but at this point it’s a hollow victory. As Coulson says, it should have been a good day, but it’s not. They’re beaten, broken. They lost the geneticist to Hive. Daisy is still under his thrall and, with her help, his army is growing AND he’s bought a whole town with Malick’s leftover millions for his new base of operations. Hydra may have finally fallen (hopefully for the last damn time) but it’s the least of the team’s problems now.
Other stuff I didn’t like:
I’m loving the FitzSimmons conversation in the bar where they use scientific metaphors to discuss their relationship (and the fact that they’re being adults and are fairly frank about sex) but IS IT REALLY THE TIME OR THE PLACE. I get that it’s been a long time coming but they are technically meant to be agents.
James. I knew he would be back. His first appearance in “Paradise Lost” felt like a introduction. He’s based on the comics character Hellfire but they’ve given him more Gambit-style charge and explode powers, which are flashy and fun, but makes the Inhumans status as mutant stand-ins even more obvious. Also, as a character he’s just plain annoying and his gag of constantly trying to decide on what his codename should be was not funny. He’s obnoxious to a staggering degree and it’s an easy way to make him a ‘bad guy’. I don’t watch S.H.I.E.L.D. for nuanced character work but this is broad strokes even for this show.
Would it be possible to have Elena and Joey in more than one episode at a time? They light up the show when they’re on screen. I want more of them both! They understandably want nothing to do with S.H.I.E.L.D. after the last episode but I want more than a throwaway line about them, especially considering Elena’s necklace is such a focus of the death vision for season’s end. I know it’s probably a red herring, but it still feels like she, and Joey, should have more screentime and development if they’re on the potential candidates list.
Other stuff I liked:
SIMMONS SHOOTING HIVE RIGHT IN THE GUT. Earlier in the episode May handed Simmons a literal Chekov gun. As soon as Hive cornered her, with Ward’s face, speaking Will’s words, I was whispering “shoot him, shoot him” at the screen. And she does. I cheered. Of course it doesn’t kill Hive but it’s a great moment for Simmons and Elizabeth Henstridge plays it perfectly.
The last couple episodes have given May better material than she’s had all season. I particularly liked her calling Coulson out on his bullshit double standard when it comes to Daisy. Hopefully this trend continues. It was frustrating to see her so mishandled for the better part of this season (yeah, I guess that was half something I didn’t like…)
On a similar note—Lincoln also continues to be better. I still don’t love him and he’s top of my list of people to be in the exploding spacecraft (though I doubt that will happen) but his material is better and, as a result, the actor is far more engaging to watch.
It was fun to have Alisha back! Her replicating powers always make for interesting fights (the fight in the parking garage was fun, though it felt like May going down was VERY convenient even if Alicia is an Inhuman) and seeing her suddenly ready and willing to sacrifice her doubles when we know the pain and trauma she experiences with those deaths makes Hive’s control even more terrifying than it already was.
I’ll be back next week to review “Failed Experiments”!