Tuesday, September 29, 2015

REVIEW: 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' - Coulson and Daisy Locate New Inhumans and Face New Threats in 'Laws of Nature'

ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Episode 3.01 "Laws of Nature"

When Coulson and the team discover a new Inhuman, S.H.I.E.L.D. comes face to face with another organization searching for powered people. Still reeling from Simmons' dramatic disappearance, Fitz goes to extreme lengths to try to learn how to get her back.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has gotten more confident with each passing season. Yes, the show still experienced some major narrative stumbles in the second half of last season. But it still returns with "Laws of Nature" determined to forge ahead into unknown territory for all of its characters. It was hard to know what exactly the audience should care about in the last few episodes. This premiere puts the focus intently on developing a Secret Warrior program and tracking down the new Inhumans before various other interested parties do as well for their own nefarious purposes.

This is a tense episode. That's an impressive feat given how many new stories are also introduced. This premiere has no time to deal with Ward as the head of Hydra or May happily on vacation. They aren't too terribly missed in this episode either. They are both reference but the characters have more pressing concerns than those two. Namely trying to identify the various groups that attack the new Inhumans as their powers emerge. Skye is now going by Daisy and she seems to be the only person attached to an organization who cares about protecting these people in their most confusing and challenging time of need.

The hour opens with the latest human realizing he has been given amazing and terrifying powers due to the Kree technology spreading around the world via the fish oil. Joey is an ordinary guy who enjoys drinking a beer with friends. His life changed radically in a matter of seconds. One moment he was just taking his vitamins and the next he was liquifying metals and causing mass destruction. The special ops unit first on the ground is given orders to use lethal force if needed. He is so confused by what has happened to him. He doesn't want to hurt anyone but he has no control over his own body and his new powers. He doesn't understand. It's a good thing Daisy is there to rescue him and protect him from these unknown people and himself. It's a lot for him to process. He won't be able to return to the life he used to know. He will never be the same. The world is changing. That's a key theme of this first episode back. Everyone has to decide how they are going to change in order to deal with it.

Coulson and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team are still trying to do good. They are just as confused by alien technology as everyone else. But they have a willingness to embrace the uncertainty and attempt to understand it. The President has commissioned a new tactical unit to replace S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to handle these increasing alien threats. Their commander, Rosalind Price (played by UnREAL's Constance Zimmer), is very intimidating and mysterious. She and Coulson meet face-to-face. They both prove themselves to be very smart at the espionage game. She knows about T.A.H.I.T.I. while he knows next to nothing about her - including her real name. While they are positioned as enemies though, they could become reluctant partners in the future because of an even bigger threat to the Inhumans.

As Daisy and Mac head to the hospital where Lincoln is trying to live a normal life, all three encounter a monstrous enemy who is able to withstand all of their attacks. Not even Lincoln and Daisy's combined powers are enough to stop this new creature. He is determined to attack Inhumans - even going so far as to kill an innocent bystander in order to get to Lincoln. It's unknown why he is targeting them and what the scope of his powers are. He is a very powerful force to deal with who can also destroy walls instantaneously. This threat could unite the various teams. Or it could lead to an even more precarious situation in the future. Everyone remains divided. Lincoln runs off instead of joining Daisy and Mac to safety. Coulson and Rosalind still have major doubts and concerns about each other. But this threat could be more important than any of that.

And then, there is the premiere's strongest story - Fitz's search for Simmons. Their relationship quickly became one of the more emotionally investing stories of the second season. Fitz has gone through a lot in order to remain a part of this team. Neither one of them are the same agents they were when Coulson first brought them on board. They have changed. And now, that's become more drastic and even more heartbreaking. Fitz is desperate to get Simmons back. He's chasing lead after lead not willing to accept that she may be gone forever because they don't understand this alien technology. It's devastating watching as he approaches the object and begs for it to do something. It does not change. It remains a solid. Meanwhile, the audience gets a glimpse as to what has happened to Simmons. It appears that Fitz's theory about the technology being a black hole is correct. She appears alive on some desert planning fighting for survival. That tease alone is so exciting. This is a strong start to the season and I look forward to seeing where things go next.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Laws of Nature" was written by Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen and directed by Vincent Misiano.
  • It's going to take some time before it's natural to call Skye by her real name, Daisy. It's a meaningful decision by the character to go by that name now that she is more connected to her alien heritage. It's just going to take some getting used to.
  • From a few angles, Joey looked so much like Ward. That was only distracting a couple of times. But he seems like an interesting addition to the season so far.
  • Fitz is now quite the badass. He travels to Morocco and faces off with some serious criminals all in the hopes of obtaining an object that was once connected to the Kree technology. He's able to handle them with relative ease because he has nothing left to lose. That's an exciting character twist.
  • Isn't it great that the movies cast an actor to play the President who was just as comfortable doing the big movies as well as the TV show? I don't know if William Sadler will play a big part in this season but his presence here was a nice touch.
  • Bobbi and Hunter's relationship is still very complicated. She is still recovering from her injuries and confined mostly to the lab. But they are still getting it on regularly. In fact, the only thing keeping them from just being a married couple at this point is a piece of paper. Though Hunter also voices his revenge plans to kill Ward as soon as he tracks him down.