Synopsis of 3×02: Fitz and the team ask an Asgardian for help unlocking the secrets of the monolith that swallowed Simmons; May comes to a crossroads
I have to admit, after last week’s premiere episode, I lost a significant amount of faith in this show. But, with a new week comes a new episode, and the return of the entire main cast! Granted, they’re all separated and fractured, but my expectations for the show have lowered a considerable amount.
After the arrival and subsequent imprisonment of Joey in one of their chambers, SHIELD calls in Dr. Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood). His suggestions to allow the new recruits three months to settle is about the sanest thing I’ve heard in a long time. And after the reality of losing his entire life to SHIELD, I think Joey deserves some time to think before he has to sign himself away to be SHIELD’s foot soldier.
Of course with Garner back, we get some much needed insight and real talk. Not only does he think that the people they capture has the capacity to turn into monsters, but their own team has the same capacity. He duly calls out Coulson for being desperate and willing to do anything to grasp at power, citing Hunter’s vendetta and Fitz’s one-man mission as prime examples.
In a show that basically glorifies Coulson as the coming messiah, Garner is refreshing. Yes, Coulson’s little quips are funny and he seems to have heart, but he has all the makings of a selfish leader. Garner sees something within Daisy that could make her great, and a true leader. Deciding that Joey is not ready at all to join in with the Secret Warriors, he can’t sign off on Joey joining the team.
The interaction between Garner and Daisy feels similar to the one between Coulson and Rosalind in last week’s episode. It’s interesting that the show would have two foils like Garner and Rosalind, both from very different camps, disagreeing with Coulson. In my heart of hearts, I’ll admit I want them to see the vast flaws I find in his character. But only time will tell if the show capitalizes on Coulson’s desperation coming back to bite him in the ass.
It might take form in Hunter’s carte blanche to go after Ward. Coulson has basically told him that he doesn’t want to know what Hunter has to do and should kill Ward. Instead of going straight off to find Ward, Hunter tracks down May, who is spending time with her dad in Sun City, Arizona.
After her father (James Hong) was injured in a car accident where the driver could not be found, May has been paranoid that it is Ward coming for revenge. Yeah, I’d be paranoid too if I’d set up a trap where my enemy killed his only ally. Struggling to settle a peaceful side of herself versus the warrior side of herself, we see glimmers of a multi-dimensional Melinda May when she interacts with her father.
Hunter’s arrival brings the action back into May’s life. His plan to infiltrate Hydra is weak at best, since it seems like all he has to go off of is rumors. And by the looks of this new Hydra, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be as easy. But regardless, after an episode of contemplation and playing golf with her dad, May is back on board with Hunter to take out Ward.
Who, by the way, is apparently leading Hydra into something of a socialist movement? I’m not complaining, of course. I unabashedly enjoy Grant Ward’s character, and he brings a spice to the show that it misses. Seeing him back in action, zooming around in a black corvette (Lola, you’ve met your match) with a old-generation Hydra member clinging to its hood is thing of beauty.
His “leaner generation” promises recruits that prove themselves in blood and seem to have been hand chosen. Yes, both SHIELD and Hydra are both in their “startup phase” of the business. Ward and one of his lackeys, Kebo (Daz Crawford), attack a yacht and kidnap a kid from it. The brief, but wholly enjoyable action sequence lead by Ward as he picks off the security surrounding the kid’s yacht is a refreshing change of pace in a show that seems to lead more towards the fantastical side of action.
After some interrogation, it’s revealed that this is Werner von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark). Werner also gets an opportunity to prove himself and is recruited by Ward to infiltrate Garner’s life as one of his students. I see Ward and Hunter are taking a page of out the same book.
And, of course, the big climax of the episode was the team finally getting Jemma back from the other world. After finding evidence of the wormhole, Coulson, Bobbi, and Fitz seek out Dr. Elliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol). Last seen in 1×08 “The Well”, Dr. Randolph is the Asgardian who stayed on earth, and is currently in a Norwegian prison. Randolph doesn’t seem to care at all about their concerns, and rejects the offer to help them. After some very thinly veiled threats about handing Randolph over to be used as a test subject, Randolph agrees to help but only if they destroy the monolith afterwards.
It’s hard to imagine the Coulson from The Avengers ordering someone to kill for vengeance’s sake, but we’ve come a long way from that version of the character, haven’t we? It was enjoyable to see Randolph again, and hear him mention how Coulson has changed. This episode is full of indicators that SHIELD is vastly different and maybe not in a good way, and I love it.
Their journey to the location in England where they put the monolith into a ditch is vague and slightly uninteresting. It’s all to bring the team into this room where Daisy must use her quake abilities to vibrate the room in a certain frequency and “activate” the liquid form of the monolith. There’s some weird connections of the monolith to other societies (including a weird 1839 flashback in the opener), but it’s all exposition to bring us to the climax.
The vibrations required to activate the monolith are physically damaging to Daisy, and she can only hold the frequency for so long. Initially planning to drop a probe into the wormhole, Fitz jumps in at the last minute and is brought over to the other side. After an heart-pounding search for Simmons while Daisy struggles to hold the vibrations, Fitz finally brings her back with the monolith being destroyed in the process.
It’s clear that Simmons is going to have some serious PTSD from her six months in this other world, but hey imagine what would have happened if they’d all just stopped searching.
The episode, as a whole, was much more enjoyable than last week’s. There’s still a lot of exposition hurdles to jump over, but we can start to see threads to storylines being formed. Watch Hydra being formed in scenes that go back to back with SHIELD’s demonstrates an interesting yin and yang between the two organizations, both desperate and clawing at power in the very similar ways.