Tuesday, November 10, 2015

REVIEW: 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' - May Learns the Truth About Andrew While Ward Shares His Big Plan in 'Chaos Theory'

ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Episode 3.07 "Chaos Theory"

As Daisy and the team fight to protect Inhumans, S.H.I.E.L.D. discovers the shocking truth about one of their biggest foes. Fitz helps Simmons recover information that could lead them back through the portal.

The show really could have gone in a number of different directions when it came to dealing with the aftermath of the reveal that Andrew was the villainous Lash. The show was so successful a few weeks ago when it focused on Simmons' journey to the other planet. This episode could have done a similar thing in showing just how all of this happened to Andrew and why he's doing what he is doing. Instead, "Chaos Theory" delivers those answers much too quickly at the top of the hour and then proceeds to barrel ahead with the main narrative as everyone learns about Lash's true identity. It's somewhat of a letdown because it features so much of Andrew telling the audience about this experience. It could have been so much better if the audience actually got to see Andrew go through all of this. That's just a missed opportunity on the show's part.

Andrew has had a purpose in the narrative doing his tenure on the show. He shows a different side to May while also offering a professional opinion on the psychological states of all of the various characters. It really hasn't been an intimate or complex role. This reveal gives the character much more volatile urgency. It could have gone any number of ways when it was decided that the entire team would work together to contain this threat. It relies heavily on the happiness and love Andrew and May have for each other. That is communicated with a brief glimpse at their vacation in Hawaii. That was the last time they were truly happy. Andrew changed as a result of coming into contact with the mist while analyzing the various Inhuman artifacts S.H.I.E.L.D. had recovered. Andrew never stopped loving May but he had to put distance between them in order to protect her from the monster he had become. That's the kind of tragic love story that could be very effective when done right. But Andrew doesn't have the kind of character depth that makes such a moment work as well as it wants to.

May is distraught over learning the truth about Andrew. She has to make sure that it's true before letting the rest of the team know that he is the monster they all have been hunting. They all figure it out eventually because Lincoln pops back up having put all the pieces together. But it's still something very personal to May. This is her chance at happiness and love. It's at risk of being taken away by something she can't control. That's terrifying for her. She wants to be able to work this out with Andrew. But he may be changing too much as a result of becoming Inhuman. The episode doesn't do a fantastic job at explaining how much control he has over his actions when he becomes Lash. Nor does it bother with the distinctions between the good and bad Inhumans he is hunting. Daisy is good and so is Joey - the Inhuman who can melt metal from the season premiere. But everyone else including Lincoln has been a bad Inhuman. Those distinctions will need to come into sharper focus moving forward.

Lincoln's presence forces Andrew to Lash out when everyone learns the truth and wishes to contain the threat. They all want to do right by him because he has helped them so much over the past few months. He's doing monstrous things but deep inside they still believe he has some humanity left. They don't understand the change that he has experienced. He has become a different man. One who they are uncertain if they can save. But are they are able to lure him into the containment unit. Plus, Rosalind's team is able to preserve his body before it makes its full transition into the Lash form. And yet, all of this remains a temporary solution. Something that May is incredibly numb to. But it's as much a focus on Coulson and Rosalind's teams as it is about May. This episode forces the two sides to see the other's point-of-view with understanding. That comes about because Daisy saves Rosalind from falling to her death and Rosalind offers a possible solution to saving Andrew. It's not all that subtle but it happens nevertheless.

However, "Chaos Theory" isn't solely about dealing with Andrew now that his secret has been exposed. It probably should have been. The other stories had some great moments as well but they felt misplaced in this hour. It was devastating watching Fitz as he listened to the various messages Simmons had recorded for him on the other planet. It also gives him a new lead for how to find another portal back there. Elsewhere, Bobbi convinces Hunter that they can no longer pursue Ward because their personal plans for revenge have obstructed their judgment in the field. And lastly, there's the big tease of what Ward is really planning with this new version of Hydra - to kill Coulson and effectively end S.H.I.E.L.D. It seems wildly inappropriate for an episode to focus so primary on the team dealing with Andrew and then to have the final tease be about Ward and his new dynamic with Powers Boothe. The tease that Rosalind may be working with them is exciting. But it also feels like a lot of plot thrown into this episode for very little purpose or reward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chaos Theory" was written by Lauren LeFranc and directed by David Solomon.
  • The human body being encapsulated after being exposed to the Inhuman mist was a special effect that has worked much better in previous instances. Here, it felt poorly rendered as visual effect work.
  • In more special effects, the plane landing on top of another plane looked solid. But Daisy rescuing Rosalind and Joey turning a metal desk into a ball were also pretty questionable.
  • All Hunter wants to focus on when it comes to Fitz's mission to get Simmons back to the other planet is the fact that Will is very handsome. Fitz is handling the situation very well. He doesn't need Hunter offering his opinions over his shoulder.
  • Fitz and Simmons also have a fantastic moment watching the sun rise and talking about the future of their relationship. Those two really have become the best characters on the show.
  • Coulson and Rosalind have finally slept together. That seemed inevitable. Now the question becomes: Is one of them playing the other in order to get them to drop their guard? Some big twist is still coming - and it may be connected to that phone call Rosalind has in the final tease.
  • Also, are things about to take a dark turn with Lincoln? That may actually make him a more interesting character. Hey, it worked for Ward for a little bit.