Agents of SHIELD: Maveth – Was that a Star Wars Reference? (Review)

Agents of SHIELD with Maveth brings it. Fitz kicks major a** and Phil gets his own back for the death of Rosalind. Speaking of Phil, after his Rosalind dream, he wakes up on the planet and looking at the big moon he murmurs “Tatooine.” So…Was that a Star Wars reference? If so, wow.

MING-NA WEN, HENRY SIMMONS, CHLOE BENNET

Agents of SHIELD with its Maveth episode  brings it. Fitz kicks major a** and Phil gets his own back for the death of Rosalind.  Speaking of Phil, after his Rosalind dream, he wakes up on the planet and looking at the big moon he murmurs “Tatooine.” So…

Was that a Star Wars reference? If so, wow. If not, well, it sounded like a Star Wars reference, so it still counts as wow. Now if someone else had said Anakin and Skywalker the moment could have become sublime and not just wow.

This fall finale  was a show stopper of an episode.  Between the action on the planet and back on Earth things were kept tight, suspenseful and action packed.  Mack proved that he was not afraid to make the hard decisions and when things got tough made the sacrifice play. Of course Daisy/Tremors would not allow Mack to do it solo:

“But one thing … I’m staying with you, because, “a,” I can keep the portal open if something goes wrong, and, “b,” I’m your partner…Technically, that’s two things.”

As one site pointed out, the episode was very busy. A lot went on in the fall finale.  Jemma gets loose,  Fitz finds “Will,” Andrew/Lash gets out and is very busy, Simmons finds Andrew and releases him,  Phil crushes Grant, Fitz kills “Will” and Ward comes back very different but no less deadly.

In a nutshell, the Agents of SHIELD covered almost every possible base in this one. With everything that went on, there were many standout moments.

Standout Moments:

That giant HYRDA statue in the middle of the barren planet. 

Fitz shooting “it” Will and then frying him with the flare gun.

Grant complaining that he could go much faster if Phil had not shot him…twice.

Phil crushing Grant Ward’s chest with his synthetic hand.

Joey Gutierrez being so excited that he saved Daisy’s life. 

Bobbi’s helping Joey to describe his Inhuman power as an “Amazing new superpower.”

Simmons crying when she learns Will is not back. 

Malick coming across a dead Grant Ward who is obviously inhabited by “it.”

All in all, a very hectically paced segment.  In some ways, it also foreshadows what is happening in the real world. When the agents are talking about HYDRA’s plan to bring back an ancient HYDRA God, aka “it,” Mack snorts and asks them to listen to themselves.

Lincoln responds:

“The world’s changing. Deal with it.”

The reluctant Inhuman hero could be talking about our world and not just that of the Joss Whedon small screen Marvel verse.  Campbell is, however, speaking more specifically about the changes coming up in the Marvel world of superheroes.

There are big things in store on the big screen, for instance Captain America:  Civil War is the next Marvel  film to hit theaters. Not surprisingly, it seems that SHIELD may be setting things up for the  upcoming film; as it did in season one with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Build-ups to feature films aside, and possible allusions to same (Star Wars),  the end of the episode; the fall finale, has Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) in tears when she learns that Will is not back from the planet.  It also has Ward as an “it Zombie” aka possessed by an ancient HYDRA God standing in the dark for Malick to find.  

Viewers  see a return to that cool professional SHIELD agent that Phil Coulson was on the big screen. The guy who shoots Loki, and then “dies” the man who despite his diminutive stature and demeanor was ready, willing  and able to kill.

Stand out performances from Clark GreggIain De Caestecker and Henry Simmons make this one special for fans and guest stars Powers Boothe and Dillon Casey also impress.  One thing to point out is that disturbing look from Phil as Melinda May comes to hug him…Intense, cold and angry. Looks like “killing” Grant really did not give Coulson the closure he was seeking. 

Mad props to Henstridge who managed to make viewers cheer and cry with her actions.

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE
Jemma, aka Elizabeth Henstridge

As we wait for the new year and the next installment of the small screen’s  Marvel verse only one question remains. Was Phil Coulson making a Star Wars reference when he said Tatooine?  Fans may never know, but if that is what the writers intended, well done.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in when the fall break is done and see just how different “zombie” Grant Ward may, or may not, be from his old self…

Agents of SHIELD: 4722 Hours – Jemma’s Tale

Elizabeth Henstridge

This week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD, 4722 Hours, the tale of Jemma’s time “in the monolith” is told and we finally learn why she is so desperate to get back.  The whole installment feels a little like “Jemma Crusoe,” trapped on a desolate planet, with no sun and a couple of moons, who finds her “man” Friday and the two of them combine forces to get out of the wormhole destination they have found themselves in.

Although there is more than enough semblance to the classic deserted isle scenario shades of the 2013 film Riddick are also present. In the David Twohy movie, Riddick (Vin Diesel) is stranded on a “deserted” planet and kills, as well as eats, a water “monster” just as Jemma does in 4722 Hours.  Granted, Riddick does not giddily call his dinner “biatch.” 

Another space film homage is present with the script alluding to the 2000 film Red Planet. As Will and Jemma head to the spot where the portal is due to open next, Daniels tells her: “I’m glad that thing sent you over and not the janitor.” In Red Planet a team land on Mars and all of them die expect for Val Kilmer’s character who is, basically, the spacecraft caretaker, aka the janitor.  Daniels’ team, three more astronauts who all self-destruct, except for one who he has to kill, also closely mimics the fate of the Mars landing team in the Antony Hoffman movie.

After a good long amount of hours Simmons is captured by a NASA astronaut named Will Daniels (Dillon Casey). Jemma escapes and the two become allies and then later, lovers.  Simmons and Daniels are opposites that compliment each other. She represents hope, he is doom. 

The astronaut has been on the planet since 2001 and mapped out the surface.  While Daniels is a presence through a large part of this episode, 4722 Hours belongs to Elizabeth Henstridge, full stop.

On the planet giant dust storms come at inopportune times and, according to Daniels, contain something evil. It is, he asserts, attracted to blood. Later, Jemma sees a figure, it is apparently male and wearing a cloak. In all likelihood, it is the man who entered the monolith when it was in Victorian England. If not, it would be a nice touch and not too inconceivable. After all, time apparently moves differently in “monolith world.”

Henstridge does a cracking job playing an educated scientific woman trapped in a place where she is, for quite some time, alone.  The actress rocks it in the Simmons, sans Fitz, storyline, although Iain De Caestecker is ever present with Jemma talking to him, or his picture. (She also replays a video he made for her birthday.)

Agents of SHIELD  has devoted  time to “Fitzsimmons” in the past, but never to such an extent.  The isolation of Henstridge’s forced exile to the deserted planet where she eventually teams up with the gloomy NASA survivor, “I had one job to do…” allows her to showcase the size and skill of those impressive acting chops.

Come Emmy time, Elizabeth Henstridge should get some sort of gong for this episode. Even her retelling of her ordeal to Leo, along with his impassive reaction, getting up and with no expression on his face at all, reveals that they will go back for Daniels. When Henstridge’s character gets tearful, our eyes well up in sympathy.

In 4722 Hours, the actress almost effortlessly delivers moments of truth that feel real and plausible, despite the setting being a desert planet on the other end of a wormhole. At the end of the episode Daniels throws away his now useless gun and the sun sets as he desolately walks away.

Despite the homages to other films with a scientific setting, the overall feeling is of a Robinson Crusoe on Mars but with the second banana getting left behind. Jemma is Crusoe and Daniels is Friday;  she is the brains and  an imaginative thinker, he is the astronaut who was hired to be, essentially, a bodyguard.

Agents of SHIELD, 4722 Hours belonged to Elizabeth Henstridge totally. Her delivery of Jemma Simmons’ time on the mysterious rock was an impressive array of emotions ranging up and down the scale. The series airs Tuesdays on ABC and continues to deliver some high quality entertainment. Tune in and get caught up in the world of small screen Marvel.

 

 

Agents of SHIELD: A Wanted (Inhu)Man – Cockney Slang Rules (Review)

MING-NA WEN, NICK BLOOD, DANIEL FEUERRIEGEL

Agents of SHIELD, A Wanted (Inhu)Man starts with Lincoln being tracked by Coulson, after Mack inserts a tracker in the man’s arm,  back in the last season’s finale episode. The shoe then moves to Lance and May meeting with a HYDRA associate who can get Hunter into the Ward run organization.

With everything else that is going on in the small screen Marvel verse, the scene in the pub and its “spot-on” dialogue brought the level of writing and realism up to a new height.  Brit slang, done properly for once, peppered the conversation between Lance and his old mate. Donkey’s, muppet, gutted, “sod off,”  et.al. equal “proper”  slang, although “donkey’s”  is specifically Cockney slang, i.e. “donkey’s ears” equals years and the proper way to used the south/east London term is just “donkey’s” (or one can say donkey’s years). Only tourists and “outsiders” use the whole term…Just saying.

 

This was a cracking way to start the episode, especially when one includes Ming-Na Wen and her response after learning that talk would not commence until after drinking:

“Right. ‘Cause you guys aren’t hard enough to understand as it is.”

A sentiment obviously shared by Bobbi when one hears her exchange with Leo in the gym and he manages to give the American pronunciation to “anti-thesis” and points it out to the exercising agent.  SHIELD has a number of British agents, Fitz, Simmons and Hunter all speak the “Queen’s English” (with regional variations and being a former soldier Lance uses the most slang). That the writers of the show have managed to “get it right” is impressive and thus far a feat only shared by one other program on American television TNT’s The Last Ship in season two.

*Sidenote* It may be the influence of London born Nick Blood who plays Lance Hunter…Whatever the reason, well done for getting it right, there is nothing worse than “Yanks” writing dialogue for “Brit” characters and mucking it up. 

While the Lance (Nick Bloodinfiltrating HYDRA works brilliantly at the pub and later at the “last man standing” fight where Hunter kills his old “mate” (who proved to be anything but…) the episode also dealt with Simmons’ return and Leo trying to help her to adjust.  On top of these two storylines, Daisy, Mack and Phil keep trying to bring Lincoln in before ACTU can capture the inhuman electrically powered doctor.

Coulson contacts Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer), the head of ACTU to talk a deal.  A humorous scene where Phil’s eyes are locked on Price’s ride and she tells him, coldly,  “eyes up here.” “Busted,” Coulson replies and then asks “What’s her name?”  The two spar verbally for a short while as Daisy and Mack try to extract Dr. Campbell from the apartment.

Later, when Lincoln has been offered up in place of Daisy, Coulson trades himself to the new organization when Rosalind tells her troops to take Daisy when Campbell escapes.  Phil explains toward the end of the episode why he made the choice. Coulson says he is tired of fighting and wants to train the new group.

At the Hunter fight, May gets to kick butt. An excellent scene since the agent was clearly frustrated that Lance was getting to fight while she  had to watch.  After she takes out the three thugs, May tells the groaning men, “How about I do you a favor and not tell anyone that a tiny little Asian woman kicked your a**.” A great carry over from her conversation with Lance earlier when she offered to fight in his place.

Daisy shows Lincoln just how much she cares for him just before Rosalind’s thugs break in. Back at the lab, Fitz is busy trying to return the favor that he owes Jemma after she tried so hard to help him recover from Ward’s murder attempt.  Simmons is hiding something, her issues have much more to do with the distractions (cell phones buzzing and other discordant noises appear to hurt her ears) or problems with gravity differential  and at the end of the episode she reveals that she  “needs to go back.”

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE, IAIN DE CAESTECKER

Presumably in that other world she left something, or someone behind, a person or thing that helped her to survive. Phil’s gone to the “other side” in an attempt at bridging the gulf between ACTU and SHIELD.  Although the way he looked at Rosalind’s car, he may want a chance to get at those wheels.

Lincoln Campbell is in the wind again, but on the plus side, despite Mack not agreeing with Daisy on the way the whole thing was handled, the two are still “buddies” and play a video game together. Hunter wins his fight and goes into the  HYDRA “reception area” and is met by Grant Ward’s associate and Lance may well bump into his target earlier than he wants.

Agents of SHIELD continues to  be addictive viewing, Clark Gregg just gets better and better, as does Wen, Chloe Bennet and Iain De Caestecker. It has to be said, however, that while last week belonged to Iain, this week Elizabeth Henstridge killed at the dinner scene. Those tears her character spilt were heartbreaking to see and Henstridge sold it, 100 percent.

The series airs Tuesdays on ABC, tune in and get caught up in all the subterfuge and spy-stuff or just to watch Ming-Na Wen kick more a**se.

Agents of SHIELD: Purpose in the Machine (Review)

IAIN DE CAESTECKER

Agents of SHIELD continues the missing Jemma storyline, but only until the very end of Purpose in the Machine. Last week saw Lash killing new inhumans before Phil or the opposition could collect them and Fitz going into the monolith room and beating at the huge hunk of rock while screaming at it to “do something.”

This week, we learn where May (Ming-Na Wenis and what Grant (Brett Daltonhas  been up to.  Another Asgardian is turned to; Professor Randolph (Peter MacNicol) who first appeared  in 2013,  via the episode The Well, for help with the monolith.  May, is with her father (James Hong), the victim of a hit-and-run accident that may or may not have been orchestrated by Ward.

Meanwhile, Grant is busily kidnapping Baron Van Strucker’s son. Strucker was in Avengers: Age of Ultron and a member of HYDRA, as well as SHIELD. Ward is rebuilding HYDRA and he is intent upon making it better than it was before.

Leo, who was last seen beating the big rock with his fists, is rescued by the team just as the stone changes.  He finds a grain of sand, which proves his portal theory which prompts Coulson and his agents head to Norway to collect Randolph who reluctantly agrees to help.

Fitz and the team, along with Randolph, head to Gloucestershire where the monolith appears at the start of this episode. The group discover an oddly shaped room with old electrical equipment.  This room was a container for the monolith and Fitz, with a little help from Daisy, goes into the the stone, that Mack brings from HQ and Leo rescues Jemma.

While this episode has a number of references to the big screen verse of Marvel, “floating cities” and Baron Von Strucker and new inhumans, there was plenty of small screen focus going on. Daisy, whom Phil insists upon calling Skye, is becoming a “leader.” At least that is Dr. Andrew Garner’s prognosis.

Fitz becomes action man as he refuses to stop until he gets Simmons back, which he does in such a spectacular edge of the seat fashion that the viewer was in danger of getting muscle cramps.  May is hunted down by Lance, who reveals that he knows why she is looking after her father.

Ward has prior of hurting the opposition by harming/killing those closest to his target. As shown at the end of the episode by Von Strucker’s son enrolling in Andrew’s psych class, May’s old flame has obviously been targeted by HYDRA’s new leader.  Besides turning into a leader, Daisy also shows that she has learned to master those new powers, it is her controlled tremor that keeps the portal (monolith) open long enough for Fitz to bring back Jemma.

Purpose in the Machine ticked all the right boxes this week:  A white knuckle rescue, reaffirmation that Grant Ward is the nastiest bully in the playground and enough tears to sink Nick Fury’s flying fortress.  In terms of emotion, and the requirement for a box to tissues, Whedon and director Kevin Tancharoen hit viewers with a double whammy.

As Fitz was being drug back by the cable, he and Simmons’ hands kept slipping and after losing her hand once, the final “pull” looked to have left Jemma behind as the monolith was destroyed by all the tremor action going on.  Leo is seen emerging from the rubble and  then he matter-of-factly  reaches into the crushed remains of the stone next to him and pulls out Simmons.

“Fitz-Simmons” are back together, and if the emergence of Jemma from the rubble did not bring at least a lump to the viewer’s throat, then Simmons’ waking up and crawling over to the sleeping Fitz and putting her head on his lap guaranteed floods of tears.  Tissues are required for this episode unless you are Hunter who opted to crack open a beer in celebration at the news.

This episode belongs to Iain De Caestecker; his focussed Leo was the hero of this story, although Daisy (Chloe Bennetcomes in a close second with her tremor control allowing Fitz to grab Jemma and retrieve her from that alien world.  Brett Dalton proves yet again, that even with just a small amount of screen time he convinces as one nasty bit of work.

DAZ CRAWFORD, BRETT DALTONNow that Leo and Jemma are back as a team, it may be his turn to help Simmons to cope with what she’s been through.  Daisy has a cool new nickname, Mack calls her  “Tremors” after she helps Fitz and May decides to help Hunter in his plan to take out Grant from within HYDRA. Andrew, however, looks to become a Ward casualty.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and get your Marvel fix.

 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Laws of Nature (Review)

CONSTANCE ZIMMER

The season three opener of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Laws of Nature” sees Fitz searching compulsively for Jemma, Hunter avoiding Bobbi and Phil getting used to his missing hand and arm, along with trying to remember that Skye is now Daisy. It also gives Coulson’s team a new “nemesis” in the shape of  “Rosalind” (Constance Zimmer).  The episode starts with a man surrounded by armed troops who melts anything he touches.

The poor chap is an Inhuman, but he does not know it yet. As the armed men and women move in to either capture or kill the man, Daisy, Hunter, Mack  and other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents step in and rescue him. The new inhuman, Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) is confused, scared and unhappy. Daisy attempts to calm him down. 

Phil wants Fitz (Iain De Caesteckerto come in and Bobbi calls him. Leo is out of pocket; he is in Tangier, Morocco searching for a scroll that tells what the Monolith is.  While Mack complains to Bobbi/Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki) Fitz forces a terrorist to cough up the parchment. The scientist has hardened up since Jemma went missing, almost Bond-ian in his resolve and actions.

Daisy and Mack go to see Lincoln in the hopes he will help with the new Inhuman problem. Bobbi shows Phil where he can get in touch with his new “adversary” Rosalind.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Laws of Nature (Review)

As Lance and Rosalind verbally spar and show just how much they know about each other “read the homework,” Lincoln tells Daisy that he does not want to play. Both Coulson and Rosalind learn that neither of their agencies (Rosalind is the head of ACTU) are responsible for the dead Inhumans being found.

At the hospital, there is an unwelcome visitor, Lash, and it  takes Daisy, Lincoln and Mack to turn him away from the intended task of collecting Lincoln. It appears that Lash is the one responsible for killing the Inhumans.

Phil and Lance escape from Rosalind’s team.  Lash (Matthew Willig), the unwanted hospital visitor escapes after proving that he is more than a match for the three S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Hunter tells Bobbi that he will hunt down Ward and make him pay for what he did to her.

Fitz comes back and Phil tells him that they must come to grips with Jemma’s death. After he opens removes the parchment in the container, Leo learns that it has one word on it. The Hebrew word for death.  He goes down to the monolith and screams at it. After the credits roll, we learn that Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is trapped on some alien world and that something is hunting her.

LUKE MITCHELL, CHLOE BENNET, HENRY SIMMONS
At the hospital…

This proves that Fitz’s theory is correct, the Monolith is some sort of blackhole made solid that can “warp space/time”  to another world. Sadly, he cannot prove it.

May is still gone and the team has gotten very small.  Roles have changed, Skye is now Daisy – Inhuman. Fitz has recovered but now is frantic to get Jemma back. (Leo standing in front of the block of rock, pounding it with his fists and screaming at it to “Do something” is real tissue box material, or at the very least “lump in the throat time.”)

Mack may be the only one of the team who has not changed. He is still the voice of reason. It appears that Rosalind, the head of the ATCU (an organization so big that the president of the United States answers to her apparently) will be the thorn in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s side this season.

*Sidenote* Nice to see William Sadler (who plays the president in the news clip) looking a bit better than he did in the role of wagon master in “Z Nation” last week.

Phil has a “new arm and hand” with his old one kept in a glass case in the lab. The team have a new vehicle:

Phil: “Plus, this new aircraft can stay in the air much longer than the old plane. Days, really, so rapid response anywhere is… ”

Daisy: “You love your new toy, don’t you?”

Phil: “I very much love my new toy, but even with the mind-boggling range on this puppy…”

JUAN PABLO RABA
Joey, the latest Inhuman to be rescued…

There was not a lot of the usual humor in this episode although the exchange between Coulson and Rosalind on the subway was not without a few chuckles, especially when Phil questions where the ACTU leader has taken the conversation:

Wait, is this still cagey banter, or are we being honest all of a sudden?

Season there of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is continuing to entertain and enthrall.  All the players keep the viewer tuning in for more. So many questions remain. When will May return? Will Fitz rescue Jemma? And most importantly why is Lash killing all the Inhumans?

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and see where the team are heading in an continued fight against HYDRA and now ACTU, or just to see how kick-a** Daisy has become since her transformation.