Spoilers ahead for “The Singularity,” the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
The short version: Daisy is still under the influence of Hive/Ward, so FitzSimmons go under cover to contact a scientist who might be able to stop the ancient Inhuman baddie. It doesn’t go well. Oh, and Hive/Ward continues to amass his super-powered, creepy army family.
The good: FitzSimmons, FitzSimmons, FitzSimmons
The transformation from geeky comic relief to the literal heart of the series has been amazing to watch. The character growth of Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons is truly a testament to just how far this show has come since its first season, and where it’ll hopefully be going for years to come. The two largely take center stage this week, leading a mission to contact a scientist who is well-versed in the type of freaky organism science that could hold the key to stopping Hive.
Their cute little friendship blossomed into a quiet potential romance, often overshadowed by the love triangles involving folks like Ward and Skye/Daisy. But now their relationship is about the only thing that isn’t completely screwed up in this crazy world of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fitz literally tore a hole in the universe to save Simmons, and that passion finally came to a head this episode, with Fitz adorably comparing it to the singularity.
Though he’s partially slid back into his comfortable role as science geek, you can’t forget just how much Fitz grew up while Simmons was trapped on the alien world. He became a legit, no-holds-barred badass, taking on terrorists and kicking all kinds of butt to try and figure out how to reach that planet. He’s more than proven himself in the field, and gets a chance to (subtly) show that here. He handles the mission well, and when security comes to haul them out as things go sideways, he drops the guard before the guy even knows what happened. He also has the confidence to shut down Mack’s (endearing) geek-shaming. This is not the Leo Fitz from the early days. This is Leo Fitz Prime.
Though the arc is over, Simmons also received one of the best stories of the season, after spending months trapped and forced to survive on a (mostly) dead Kree world. The episode recounting her experience is one of the best hours of television of the year (regardless of genre), and this episode included some subtle nods to that history. Seeing her forced to talk to Will’s consciousness in the Ward meat suit was heartbreaking, but even though you can tell it’s tearing her apart, she still comes through on her promise to shoot Ward if she ever sees him again. Sure, those three bullets to the gut won’t kill an ancient Inhuman, but it showed her strength in the face of a creature that literally just filleted a guy alive.
More good stuff: Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. shield
Who didn’t cheer when the camera pulled back to reveal Coulson was using an ultra high-tech version of a Captain America-style shield to block that explosion? It’s a subtle nod to Coulson’s long-established fandom for Cap, and a nice piece of sci-fi tech. Well played. The episode’s opening, with Mack and May doing a walk-and-talk through the base, was also a nice scene. Comparing the Hive infection to a drug addiction is an interesting analogy, and I'm curious to see where it goes next. The adorable “Dr. Fitz,” “Dr. Simmons,” scene. Lincoln’s murder-vest. Coulson’s smile as he turns off General Talbot’s screen mid-sentence early in the episode. May butting heads with Coulson over him forcing her to make the tough calls. If anything, I would’ve liked to see that explored even more.
The bad: Brainwashed Daisy, the HYDRA threat is defeated in a throwaway scene?
Pitting Daisy against the team plays into the classic trope of having a hero brainwashed, and though it’s been mildly interesting to see her struggle with her dual allegiances (i.e. warning Fitz to stop trying to help her, not killing everyone on the base last episode, etc.), the storyline just seems to be missing something. Maybe they’re cooking up a good twist, but right now it just feels like a typical “Oh, no! The good guy is brainwashed into fighting the other good guys!” kind of story. Meh. Side note: It was also super-creepy to see her laying her head on Hive/Ward (though she’s still glad Ward is dead, apparently). Again, she’s obviously conflicted — but they need to show more than tell.
This episode also found Hive/Ward and his gang of merry Inhumans tracking down that wannabe Inhuman who had the Kree artifact, and it just so happens this alien device is the magical McGuffin that can defeat Hive (as the ancient alien politely reveals through some very on the nose exposition). Well, isn’t that convenient? Sure, they’re going to need to set up something to eventually take Hive down, but this whole sub-plot just felt clunky.
Oh, and the final dismantling of Hydra happens off-screen, and is handled by ATCU tactical teams, apparently? Sure, Hydra has largely been crippled, but this twist felt like a major letdown. Hydra has been a huge force for multiple seasons (and decades in the comic lore), and though bad Inhumans have obviously become the dominant threat now, it felt like such a cheap way to put a lid on the Hydra storyline. If you’re finally taking out Hydra once and for all, at least let the team be involved, right?
Line of the night: ”I thought it would be cool if the director of SHIELD had a shield." -Coulson
Up next: Hive is looking to recreate the Kree experiment that made him, though we’re not exactly sure why (maybe so he can infect humans?). Oh, and real, live Kree are coming!