[This is a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]
Last week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. diverted from its season 3 course to tell the story of what happened to Simmons in the time after she went through the portal in the monolith until she was saved by Fitz. While '4,722 Hours' delivered one of the show's best episodes, season 3 has largely been dealing with the growing number of newly-transformed Inhumans, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s semi-allies the ATCU, and Ward's efforts to rebuild Hydra. Two weeks ago, 'Devils You Know' left viewers with two cliffhangers: what happened to Andrew Garner and who is Lash?
In this week's episode, 'Among Us Hide…,' written by Drew Z. Greenberg and directed by Dwight Little, May takes Bobbi out into the field to track down Ward after Garner's injury in the convenience store explosion. However, they settle on following Werner von Strucker, who has fled from Ward to his father's old friend Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe). Meanwhile, Daisy, Mac, and Hunter follow a lead on the human identity of Lash, Fitz continues searching for a way back to the alien planet where Simmons was trapped and Coulson has a meeting with Rosalind at the ATCU facility.
New vs. Old Hydra
'Among Us Hide…' saw the re-introduction of Gideon Malick, who first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the World Security Council from The Avengers (and helped decide to launch a nuclear missile on New York City). Since that time, Hydra was outed as a rogue organization with S.H.I.E.L.D., and Gideon was absent from the council in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, his friendship with Wolfgang von Strucker, as well as his ties to Hydra, are revealed in this episode when he takes in the fleeing Werner and confronts Ward via phone call about his efforts to rebuild the organization.
Boothe is well known for his ability to play menacing characters, having portrayed them a number of times on series like Deadwood and Nashville, or on film in Sin City; he pulls off another intimidating character in Gideon despite only having a few scenes to work with. Boothe's ominous delivery of the dialogue up against Brett Dalton's performance as the cavalier Ward works well to create a tension between the two factions of Hydra. Whether these two will continue to work together for the good of Hydra remains to be seen -- and seems unlikely given their different philosophies. But, for now, Gideon has chosen a side as he tells Ward, "Remember when I come calling that I chose a side," which gives the distinct impression Gideon has had trouble choosing sides in the past.
Though Bobbi has been a staple around the S.H.I.E.L.D. base in season 3, working with Fitz in the lab, commiserating with Simmons over keeping secrets and using her PhD in biology, she had yet to return to the field since her injuries sustained at the end of season 2. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has kept Bobbi on the back burner, but has slowly been developing the storyline of her healing throughout the beginning of season 3. That story finally came to a head in 'Among Us Hide…' when May ambushes Bobbi in the gym as a test before taking Mockingbird out on a mission to track down Ward through Werner. However, Bobbi is hesitant to resume fighting, choosing to try to talk her way out of a situation, but inevitably confronts her fears and uses her experiences to strengthen herself.
Although not much focus has been placed on Bobbi's path back to full fighting capacity, her revelation of regaining confidence in her skills and abilities felt earned. Additionally, Adrianne Palicki was able to carry the ongoing storyline with only a few scenes about her recovery in previous episodes, helping to give Mockingbird's final battle against Ward's second in command a truly triumphant feel. Given this spectacular return of Mockingbird, it's easy to see why ABC is developing a spinoff based around the character and her ex-husband.
Humanity vs. Inhuman-ity
Coulson is scheduled to tour the ATCU facility in 'Among Us Hide…" but the organization's head, Rosalind, does everything in her power to stall, including (possibly) staging a break in to her home. However, Coulson continues to push, refusing to become emotionally attached or sympathetic to Rosalind. She finally reveals that the ATCU is keeping Inhumans in a "suspension stasis," which she likens to a medically induced coma, until they can find a cure. Rosalind also explains that her drive to find a cure for Inhumans is driven by her husband who died of cancer.
The storyline acts to delve into the gray area between humanity and inhumanity, with Coulson declaring to Daisy that he can cut himself off from emotional attachments, while Rosalind reveals she's driven by an emotional tie. Despite some dialogue that's a bit on the nose, Clark Gregg and Constance Zimmer pull off their encounter well, with their chemistry established earlier in the season helping to give the characters more depth. However, when dealing with not one but two heads of spy organizations, it's difficult to say how much of their interaction is genuine -- though it's clear that, for the moment, the two have found some common ground in wanting to retain their humanity in the face of the Inhumans.
'Among Us Hide…' is bookended by offering answers to the two major questions from 'Devils You Know,' beginning with Garner's story as to how he got out of the convenience store with his life, and ending with Werner revealing to May that Garner is the human form of the Inhuman Lash. The majority of the episode is focused on May's return to S.H.I.E.L.D. -- with a cheesy, but still gratifying, "Yeah, I'm back" moment -- and her hunt for revenge against those who hurt Garner. Meanwhile, Garner is shown around the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, talking with Simmons about recovering from a traumatic experience and speaking to Daisy about Lash's psychology -- interactions that take on a more sinister tone once he is revealed to be Lash.
Another throughline of the episode is the consequences of Hunter's choice to go after Ward rather than save Garner; Coulson takes him off the Hydra mission, Bobbi refuses to let him come with her into the field, and Daisy confronts him about his anger issues that led to his actions. These scenes all work to set up the emotional consequences of Garner's reveal as Lash that will be felt by the team members in upcoming episodes. The beginning of this is shown with May when she learns of how Garner escaped from the convenience store by transforming into Lash, and transforming back, before setting the fire himself. With so much focus placed in earlier episodes on May and Garner's relationship, it appears that it will continue to be explored as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Lash problem gets even more personal -- which should make for some compelling drama.
A few other observations and notes:
- 'Among Us Hide…' is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s 50th episode
- Daisy uses Dwarf 2.0, a newer version of the Dwarf technology used by Fitz in season 1
- Although Fitz has so far been unable to find a way back to the alien planet, he has been researching Will Daniels
- Daisy is still in contact with Lincoln, though she doesn't know where he is
Share your thoughts on the episode and theories in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues next Tuesday with ‘Chaos Theory’ at 9pm on ABC. Check out a preview below:
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