Batter Up.

Coulson and Co. are back and ready for action, and the season premier did not hesitate to get things going. This episode did a great job setting things up and getting us to start speculating. The question, then, will remain: can it deliver? This show has undergone many changes in the past two seasons, so predicting where things will go is not an easy task. It’s also not a job for today, so let’s just look at this episode.

In the first few minutes we learned two things: Inhumans are popping up all over the world and a new organization looms large over our heroes. Neither of these are surprises, as the Inhumans momentum was expected to continue into the season, and the show has always worked best as a spy vs. spy adventure.

Coulson and Hunter, the runaway hit character from last season, are looking into the mysterious organization while Skye Daisy and Mack are helping their new Inhuman friend, Melty (that’s my name for him). Fitz, meanwhile, is off looking for answers on how he can save Simmons, and Bobbi is doing something vague in R&D. Agent May is nowhere to be seen. Thankfully, this is all established in the first fifteen minutes of the episode, so we don’t lose too much time being reminded on who is where and what’s going on.

Fitz’s journey is far and away the most interesting thing in this episode because, well, that was the big cliffhanger last season. You can’t just suck a girl into a rock and expect us not to ask questions. Fitz takes a turn as an unlikely action star before being told by Coulson to just let her go. He is needed on the team, but he can’t give up Simmons. His frustration is palpable, and although we know that Simmons is alive, we can’t help but feel for the guy…he just can’t catch a break. It really speaks, too, to the writing of the character. In the first season, he and Simmons were basically the same character (FitzSimmons!), so props to the writing team and to Iain De Caestecker for giving this character some extra dimension.

Coulson and Hunter were runners up on the interesting meter, with the intrigue of this new shadowy organization on the forefront of our minds, headed by House of Cards alum Constance Zimmer. I was surprised, however, with how quickly we got resolution on this. There were some solid wannabe-Aaron Sorkin zingers thrown about on the subway and then we…found out rather quickly who she was. Turns out the President created an organization strictly to combat alien threats, after the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. (reference!) and the events of The Avengers (reference!), Thor 2 (reference!), and Age of Ultron (reference!). While this did deflate a bit of the mystery, I’ve got to assume there is a bigger picture here.

And that bigger picture comes in the form a new, supernatural threat. A mighty force of destruction, Lash, showed up briefly in the hospital and caused some serious damage, forcing the Inhumans into action. He also reminded me of one of them twilight monsters from the Legend of Zelda.

ShadowBeast

Yeah, that guy!

Daisy and Mack’s foray into the hospital was, unfortunately, the least interesting thing in this episode only because we’ve seen it before. Whether it’s Inhumans discovering their powers or Extremis patients discovering their powers or that jerk with the ice powers discovering his powers; we’ve seen this stuff before. The network-television-Cronenberg-esque body horror was cool at first, but it’s just a bit tired at this point. Yes, people will be scared by their new abilities, but seeing a watered-down freak-out is just retreading the same ground at this point.

And that does play to another point worth mentioning: the visual style of the show. I mentioned in my Season 2 review that the show has yet to find a tone or flair that suits it. Daredevil, for example, had that dark and gritty noir sense to it, and Agent Carter had an old-school throwback vibe to it. But S.H.I.E.L.D. still looks like…network television. I’m not sure what it is about the direction and cinematography, but a unique visual style could elevate this show quite a bit.

All in all, this was a good setup episode. We got some quick reminders on the state of our characters, had some new elements introduced, and enough questions remained unanswered for us to be intrigued enough to tune in next week. Sure, it was a set-up episode, but that’s the nature of serialized entertainment. Now we just need to see if this season can deliver.

Odds and Ends

  • Lincoln does not look old enough to be a doctor. Who is he fooling?
  • Melty’s homosexuality was referenced in passing. No big questions, not a big plot point. +1
  • Fitz did not eat a sandwich in this episode. -1
  • The monolith has clearly given us the most fodder for speculation. Look at that background (you know which one)!

    Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.

Alex Russo

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