Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back with a little time skip, where Skye has fully embraced her new identity and others have not been so lucky. Where is everyone, anyway? Oh, right…
One of the most interesting things about this show so far is how every season has given us a very different start while still feeling like the same show. Season 1 opens with the big, powerful SHIELD that we saw in The Avengers, a massive agency that sometimes gets mired in its own bureaucracy and gave people like Skye plenty of reason to be suspicious with their Big Brother-like tendencies. By season 2, that SHIELD was gone, and a smaller, more intimate and more dedicated organization had taken its place, albeit one that was barely being held together by a leader who was just as close to coming apart at the seams. Season 2 SHIELD was more unambiguously good, but we eventually discovered they weren’t the only successors to the name, and finally by the end SHIELD was both back to being respectable, both in terms of strength and goals.
In a lot of ways, this premiere is similar to last season, in that the organization is a bit frayed and not all of our characters are wanting to take part any more. Simmons vanished in the final post-credits scene of S2, Fitz is so caught up in learning what happened to her that he’s effectively absent, and May is just flat-out gone without any explanation. We saw her leave in the finale, yes, but there was nothing to indicate this would be a long-term vacation. Lincoln, too, has reappraised his position and decided that being an Inhuman is a curse he wants no part of, but as we all know, the call to adventure knows where you live. And it’s no surprise that we haven’t really caught up with Ward just yet.
As a result, the focus is relatively small, keeping it on Daisy (yes, she’s going by her birth name now, presumably in honor of her father) and Fitz. Daisy’s been putting together her Secret Warriors… or trying to, anyway, as the new government-run organization ATCU–Advanced Threat Containment Unit, run by people who aren’t as good at snappy backronyms as most organizations in the MCU–keeps beating them to the punch. But there’s a third party as well here, the superpowered Inhuman Lash, who shows up when Daisy and Mack go to meet Lincoln and has a less than perfect introduction. He’s just straight up killing new Inhumans for reasons that aren’t quite clear yet, but he seems to have some insane endurance as he shrugs off attacks from Lincoln and Daisy simultaneously. We also get some exposition here for new viewers in the form of Daisy’s conversations with their rescued Inhuman Joey, whose reluctance to give up his ordinary life is pretty relatable. And since his power just makes metal around him melt, it’s a pretty dangerous one without any obvious offensive capacity. Will he join their team? Only time will tell, I suppose.
Fitz’ arc throughout the episode is the most interesting. As you might expect, he didn’t take Simmons’ disappearance well and has been in denial about it for months. This has led to all manner of wacky theories to explain where she’s gone, but when the last one (which puts him in a very dangerous spot) fails to pan out, Coulson tells him he has to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone. It culminates in a very emotional scene with the monolith that took her, which feels all too authentic.
We naturally get a few answers to the dangling questions of last season. The fish oil capsules don’t contain diviner metal, and thus won’t kill regular humans, so there’s no reason to recall them as far as the general public knows, and that means there’s just going to be more and more Inhumans cropping up over the coming months. Coulson’s also got a new robot hand–several, it seems, as he changes them out a few times throughout the episode and mentions having tried at least 3. Wonder if his robot hand will have any cool spy gadgets in it as the season progresses? And most importantly, we see what happened to Simmons: she’s been transported to an alien planet, apparently quite far away. Bet you didn’t guess that one. No one else knows this yet, although they’re going to find out next week.
Other interesting things to note: Bobbi’s taken on Simmons’ role as the doctor-like figure; the team has a new plane which is way cooler than the old plane. It actually looks really sci-fi-ish, even cooler than the helicarriers if you ask me. Who’s flying it? Good question!
All in all it’s a good start to the season, but I can’t wait to see what happens with Simmons next week in “Purpose in the Machine.” We’ll also see Ward again, too.