[This is a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]
Last week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., answered a big question from previous episodes, revealing that May's ex-husband Garner is Lash, the Inhuman killing others of his kind. Meanwhile, Director Coulson toured the ATCU headquarters with Rosalind Price, Fitz continued researching the mystery planet on which Simmons was trapped and Ward received a phone call from an older Hydra operative, Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe).
In this week's episode, 'Chaos Theory,' written by Lauren LeFranc and directed by David Solomon, the characters learn of Garner's Inhuman alter-ego and are forced to deal with the fallout when May goes after him on her own. To help S.H.I.E.L.D. understand Garner's transformation, and exact some revenge on Lash, Lincoln returns to the fold. Meanwhile, Fitz makes a breakthrough in the search for Simmons' mystery planet and Coulson grows closer to Rosalind, who is revealed to have Hydra connections.
One storyline of season 3 that has been largely separate from the ongoing conflict between S.H.I.E.L.D., the ATCU, and the Inhumans is the mystery of where Simmons went after she was dragged through the portal to an unknown planet. Although '4,722 Hours' dealt with this mystery in a big way, it has taken a backseat in more recent episodes, 'Chaos Theory' included. However, Fitz makes a small breakthrough here, discovering a connection between the castle where they rescued Simmons and a patch on Will Daniels' (Dillon Casey) jacket, which could indicate a more widespread and secretive organization investigating the Monolith and its portal.
That being said, the larger implications of this discovery is even still eclipsed by the emotional moments of Fitz reliving Simmons' experience through the voice memos, pictures, and videos recovered from her cellphone. The relationship between Fitz and Simmons is fraught with obstacles -- not the least of which is Will -- and could very easily veer into typical love triangle territory. But, the friendship and bond between the two is stronger and more complex than that, as evidenced by their final scene of the episode watching the sunrise.
Although season 3 has focused almost entirely on Inhumans, recent episodes have shifted gears toward how S.H.I.E.L.D. and the ATCU are handling the widespread Terrigenesis, with the Inhumans themselves (aside from Lash, Daisy and Lincoln) taking a back seat. However, 'Chaos Theory' not only revisits Joey Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Raba), the Inhuman taken in by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the season premiere, but it also explores the culture of Inhumans that existed before they became known to the world. Joey has spent his time developing his ability and learning how to control it. He mentions wanting to join Coulson's team of powered individuals, helping to move the story toward the Secret Warriors, who are set to become fully realized later this season.
As for the Inhuman community, Lincoln has been the face of it since he was introduced in season 2, helping Daisy make her transition after undergoing Terrigenesis. He returns in 'Chaos Theory' to further humanize the Inhumans, seeking vengeance on Lash for killing his friends and fellow members of the community. Lincoln also figures out that Lash must be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent because he was killing people from a ledger of Inhuman genealogy kept by Jiaying, which serves as both a convenient explanation for how Lash found the Inhumans as well as an insight into their community.
To New Beginnings
'Chaos Theory' may have had one of the bigger fight sequences of recent episodes, but it also contained one of the more relationship-dependent storylines, with the majority focused on May and Garner's relationship. Season 3 has been teasing their complicated break up, and 'Chaos Theory' revealed that Garner's transition into Lash was at the heart of their problems. Though May attempts to appeal to Garner to prevent him from lashing out, Lincoln explains the reason he can shift between his human and Inhuman forms is because he's still in transition, so he will eventually transform into Lash permanently.
Largely, this comes off as another convenient explanation in terms of the laws of Inhumans, bending them to fit the narrative tension of the story and provide a big twist -- remember, Raina's appearance changed drastically after undergoing Terrigenesis, and remained that way. In lieu of a strong story, the episode falls to Wen and Underwood to portray the emotional consequences of Garner's transition on their relationship, a task they don't quite pull off. Whether this is because they struggled with the script under the weight of the storyline, or some other reason, is unclear.
'Chaos Theory' saw the first real collaborative team-up between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the ATCU as the two organizations attempted to capture Lash. Additionally, after an argument over what to do with Inhumans and whether the world should be afraid of their powers, it seemed Rosalind may have seen Daisy's point about certain Inhumans being saved from Lash by Daisy. However, Rosalind's new relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. (and her new romantic relationship with Coulson) may be short-lived as she is revealed to be connected to Gideon Malick, who is shown giving advice to Ward on how to build his new Hydra.
Both Gideon and Rosalind have been painted as characters with dubious loyalties, and so far season 3 has made a point of keeping their intentions hidden from both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the viewer. With not much known about where this particular story thread is headed, it's difficult to say whether it will provide some compelling tension in the spy-vs-spy world of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, with the tangled web that has formed between S.H.I.E.L.D., the ATCU and Hydra, there's certainly a possibility for entertaining drama.
Share your thoughts on the May-centric episode and theories about Rosalind and Gideon's connection in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues next Tuesday with ‘Many Heads, One Tale’ at 9pm on ABC. Check out a preview below: