A quick note on last week – Agents of Shield has been struggling for a couple of weeks now. It’s hard to put a finger directly on the issue: perhaps the show is trying too hard. Perhaps there is a lack of stakes, or things keep happening to characters we don’t care enough about. But the show’s formula simply isn’t working as well as it has in the past. The middle of this season was a new high point for the series, but the past couple of weeks have seen the show floundering. Last week, the show ran in place, the Kree looked god-awful, and the climax of the hour ended up counteracting the entire hour itself, essentially wasting a week of the season.
This week’s episode, “Emancipation”, suffered from similar ailments for the first three-fourths of the hour. The show was spinning its wheels without going anywhere, following an absurdly predictable pattern. Thankfully, the last fifteen minutes went a long way in redeeming Shield from its multiple-week struggle. The refreshing twist pulled off by Lincoln and May was a ray of sunlight shining through the clouds, and watching Lash achieve his purpose was a truly surprising, yet purely enjoyable experience. Well done, writers.
Let’s dive through the muddy first part of the episode so we can get to the good stuff.
This week, of course, tied into the newly released film Captain America: Civil War. The third movie in the Captain America trilogy focused on the Sakovia Accords, a superhero registration enacted by the U.N. to keep the collateral damage caused by heroes in check. This creates a rift between the Avengers, particularly Captain America and Iron Man. [For more on Captain America: Civil War, check out the new episode of the Film Fallout podcast HERE or read the BagoGames film review HERE.]
The Accords also have an effect on Shield and the Inhumans of the show. General Talbot (now the head of the ATCU) has made his way to the Shield base, representing the government’s need to enforce the new Sakovia Accords on the Inhumans. Coulson, of course, is opposed, if for no other reason than because they don’t have the time to be held back by meetings and paperwork. It’s nice to see these larger ideals affecting the members of the show, but it would’ve been more effective to spend more time on it, discussing it. Instead of throwing away an episode last week, focus more on things like this.
The focus of ‘Emancipation,” however, is on Lincoln and Daisy. I’ve been vocal in the past about my feelings regarding this awkward and potentially unnecessary relationship, but the final moments of this episode did a lot to redeem this as well. Lincoln proved that he has more depth than simply being a lovesick waste of power, and it was a refreshing breath of fresh air for the character. Not only that, but it also showed that Lincoln actually cares enough about Daisy to want what’s best for her, not just to be with her no matter what. It showed maturity, which the show desperately needed.
Of course, the title of “Emancipation” refers to multiple characters: Lincoln’s emancipation from his cell, Lash from his cell and his monstrous life and, of course, Daisy from Hive’s sway. The moment when it was revealed that Lincoln wasn’t the one on the Quinjet, but Lash, was a cheer-out-loud moment. It was so obvious – the way Lash had said he was the cure, the purpose of each Inhuman. It was a satisfying and surprising connection. In fact, it could’ve been the final twist at the end of the finale and it would’ve been worthy. It was unfortunate that Lash couldn’t kill Hive, but something needs to happen during next week’s 2-hour season finale!
Fortunately, Lash did have a chance to save Daisy by removing Hive’s sway over her. When he said, “Now you’re free,” it was a sincerely sweet and well-earned moment. Daisy returned to the base looking weak and defeated, so hopefully the repercussions of her time with Hive will not be lost by next week.
The other major aspect of the episode was the continuation of Hive’s plan to transform humans into Inhumans. As it turns out, Hive’s new pathogen (utilizing Daisy’s Kree-infused blood) turns them into strange, ugly, strong Inhuman abominations, who can be controlled by Hive’s sway. It also turns out that Hive was able to steal a warhead from the ATCU (Seriously? This is why we can’t have nice things), so it appears as though his plan next week is to launch the warhead and turn millions of people.
Finally, Yo-yo gave Mack a cross necklace. Their discussions throughout the episode on faith are pleasant and make for a nice life from the pacing of the rest of the episode, and the significance of the cross necklace in the spaceship vision from the beginning of the season was not lost on most viewers. As promised, someone IS going to die next week. It’s just a matter of who.
Marvel’s Agents of Shield airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC