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 Wen) is and what Grant (Brett Dalton) has 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 Bennet) comes 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.
Now 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.