Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Laws of Nature Review
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back for its third season, and it has returned with a mighty fine premiere. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it stellar, since it has to go through the admittedly slightly arduous task of reintroducing many of the world elements that were introduced in the tail end of the last season, and let’s face it, there are a lot of those to cover. But it still does a notably good job of reintroducing the fans to the goings on. Hell, I review the show and I had forgotten about Bobbi’s injuries from the season 2 finale, and, furthermore, I didn’t even notice May’s absence until Laws of Nature had already reached its halfway point. Despite the amount of necessary backtracking though, Agents still was able to lay the groundwork for some interesting plotlines to develop.
The episode kicks off with Daisy, Mack, and Hunter helping extract an Inhuman after his powers manifest and he is confronted by a heavily armed unit intent on taking him in dead or alive. This segment goes by a bit quickly, but it is well shot and even has a nice touch of slapstick humor in its execution, as we see a number of the soldiers get thrown forcefully past the entrance to an alleyway… followed shortly thereafter by their SUV. It would appear that Daisy has continued to improve her control over her powers. The Inhuman in question is Joey Gutierrez, an understandably terrified man who appears to uncontrollably liquefying any metal that is in close proximity to him. Daisy guides him into what could best be described as the S.H.I.E.L.D. version of Willy Wonka’s Amazing Glass Elevator, which then rockets up into the sky where the new version of The Bus is waiting. When it comes to the design of the new Bus, I’m a fan. While the old one had plenty of cool aspects to it, it really did just look like a somewhat standard plane. The new one blends the traditional aspects of the original with a more helicarrier-esque design, and I think it works rather well. In fact, there was a brief second where I mistook the craft for a helicarrier, and I suppose the fact that I was not disappointed by the full reveal is a testament to how cool the design is.
Daisy runs through the basics of Inhumans with Joey. The scenes in which she explains how it all works still come off as exposition, but that is mainly due to the relative speed with which they go through it. This type of expository dialogue ensures that there is a limit to how much new information can be introduced. There are roughly three new reveals that the show prevents the viewer with. The first is the militarized group that has been pursuing Inhumans. They are led by a mysterious woman who possesses many aliases, but primarily employs the name Rosalind Price. Her group, referred to as ACTU, appears to be at least partially focused on guarding Earth against extraterrestrial threats. I find myself questioning whether we might be seeing the start of either A.I.M. or S.W.O.R.D. Both tend to have an ends justifying the means approach, and I could see Rosalind Price turning out to be either Monica Rappaccini or Agent Brand. Admittedly, she doesn’t have the trademark green hair that both of those characters possess, but it’s just speculation anyway. Suspecting that Price has taken custody of at least five Inhumans prior to the incident with Gutierrez, Coulson attempts to arrange a face to face meeting. Ms. Price, as it turns out, is expecting him and confronts him about the numerous Inhuman corpses that her group has recovered, apparently believing that he is responsible for their deaths.
Now, the viewers had been shown the image of a morgue filled with Inhumans with holes in their chests earlier in the program, but from the context one would most likely extrapolate that it was Ms. Price and her black ops unit that had killed these individuals. The second big reveal of the episode is the introduction of the real culprit. With Daisy feeling like S.H.I.E.L.D. needs help introducing Inhumans to their new powers, she decides to reach out to Lincoln. Apparently, in the aftermath of Jiaying’s demise, he had responded by shunning all of her teachings, and is attempting to live a normal life as a medical doctor. He is quick to dismiss S.H.I.E.L.D.’s request for aid and even hints that he may have come to view Inhumans on the whole as a mistake. Their conversation is cut even shorter when the power in the hospital goes out. Daisy, Lincoln, and Mack emerge to see a security guard get killed by a large black figure that bears more than a passing resemblance to Blackheart. Apparently, this is the Inhuman Lash, though given my knowledge of the Inhumans, I barely know enough to recognize that it isn’t Ms. Marvel. His design is quite menacing, and it holds up far more favorably in wide shots than Cal’s did. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it might be the best rendering of a monstrous character that we’ve seen in the show. It still isn’t clear what his goals are or why he’s killing off Inhumans, but the trio succeed in driving him off.
As the episode approaches it’s end, we end up getting our last big reveal. Fitz spends most of the episode MIA, apparently attempting to track down information on the stone that swallowed Simmons back in season 2. He ends up acquiring an ancient scroll that is said to have information on it, but the only thing written on the parchment is the Hebrew word for death. Fed up with his inability to make any headway, Fitz storms into the quarantined area and tries in vain to get the stone to do something. It is then that the episode cuts to an alien landscape as Jemma runs across it trying to evade a pursuer. It probably isn’t surprising to say this about the reveal that they saved for last, but this is probably the bit that succeeded in getting me the most excited and most curious. Agents has dabbled in the cosmic side of things before, but always in a very limited manner. Depending on how they deal with this subject, this could potentially turn into a game changer. Color me intrigued.
Before I wrap up, a Few Notes and Nitpicks:
- The line that went through my head when I saw the planet hanging in the sky above Jemma, “Was it all just a dream? Or maybe a vision…”
- While the ACTU does bear some similarities in its purpose to S.W.O.R.D., I find it unlikely that Price is actually Agent Brand. I get the feeling that if Brand was going to show up in a Whedon show, they would at least give her the green hair and gloves… and probably the glasses as well. That being said, she doesn’t quite have the temperament of Supreme Scientist Monica Rappaccini either… which is to say that she doesn’t come off as batshit crazy (Viper gets disqualified for roughly the same reasons… and why are all the characters I’m considering green-headed?).
- There is no sign of May or Ward in this episode. Given the amount that was covered already, this is understandable but I wonder if we’ll be touching in with either of them next week.
- Likewise, there are no new faces on Team Daisy at the moment. I hear that the show intends to draw inspiration from the comic/team Secret Warriors, so I’ll probably give that a read in preparation for covering this season.
- Much like with the Inhumans, I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to the cosmic stuff in Marvel, so I really don’t have any idea where Jemma might be. My only guesses is that it might be a Kree world or Attilan. Other than that, your guess is a good as mine… actually yours is probably better.
- Bobbi spends most of the episode working in the lab due to the fact that she is still recovering from her injuries. She doesn’t get much to do, but then again she practically gets top billing when compared to Hunter who only gets a single conversation with her and a couple quips with Coulson.
- Those guns that the black ops team has look incredibly silly. It’s like they welded meat tenderizers to the ends of the pistols.
- …I really want to see Jessica Jones…
Laws of Nature is a strong start for the third season of Agents. It’s not an exceptional episode, but it does a good job laying the course for what is to come. It looks like the show may be getting into the more cosmic based elements of the Marvel Universe, and, if that is the case, it is simultaneously an exciting and admittedly slightly disconcerting possibility. Still, I am eager to see where the show will go from here, and, on that front, this was certainly a successful premiere.
While it is not quite as exciting as the premiere of the season that preceded it, Laws of Nature has a lot going for it, and I'm hoping it can effectively carry over that promise into the season proper.