The World’s Biggest Subwoofer.

Yes, that was a line really said in the episode. It was actually a plot point. And while that may sound pretty cheesy, don’t be fooled…this was one of the best episodes of this show to date.Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3E2: “Purpose of the Machine” Review

One of the biggest hiccups with serialized television is that the overarching story is planned out, but the details in between are often not. This results in a lot of filler and some “in-between” episodes that have a bit of added fluff. This was the antithesis of that problem, as the episode had excellent structure: a clear, definable problem, a plan to address said problem, and ties to the universe at large.

The “Where is Simmons?” problem was the topic on everybody’s mind, and after the tease at the end of last week’s episode, it was clear that this was going to be a bit issue. So, naturally, here it was, front and center, and it was really well done. There was a puzzle to be worked out and a purpose for everyone in the room (except Bobbi). There were some unique elements, some memorable visuals (firing the flare into the liquid portal), and it gave the episode an excellent backbone on which to hang the stories of the side characters. Speaking of which…

Hey, it’s Agent May! We got a look at how she’s been spending her time since her unannounced departure from S.H.I.E.L.D. and it’s…well…kind of what you’d expect. She’s gone home and is visiting Papa May, who is dropping not-so-subtle hints about his failed marriage with Mama May and just how much mother and daughter have in common. There are also a few inspirational beats that are a bit on-the-nose, but they are effective enough in the context of the show. She’s clearly taking steps towards getting back into action, and with Hunter there to persuade her, hopefully she’ll be back with the rest of the gang in the next episode or so.

May wasn’t the only missing character to make an appearance. Grant Ward is back and evil as ever, attempting to rebuild Hydra from the ground up. To do this, he recruits Werner Von Strucker (reference!), and while their plan is mostly unknown at this point, the tease at the end gives us a bit of a hint…

It looks like Hyrda will be…infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D.

Oh.

This is my one fear for the show and, hopefully, the writers recognize this enough to subvert it. The television shows obviously play second fiddle to the films within the Marvel Universe, and as such, they need to avoid causing an upset (or at least so much of an upset that it makes sense to call in at least an Avenger). As a result, there is always that looming threat: treading water. The notion that the show just runs in circles until the next film comes out isn’t altogether impossible, and while the second season managed to avoid this for the most part, it does make me question the show’s stamina. How long will the Inhumans be a major element of the show? Hopefully not for the next four years leading up the film…

Well, it’s nothing to stress about too much now. After all, we did just have a great episode, so before we speculate the show to death, let’s just celebrate the fact that tonight’s episode was wholly entertaining and the Fitz did get a sandwich after all.

Odds and Ends

  • I hope that, while we did get Simmons back, that isn’t the end of that mystery realm. I doubt it would be, but hey, I gotta say it…that has some real potential right there.
  • I hate this Strucker kid. And not just because he is the son of a Nazi.
  • Ain’t nobody mess with Fitz. You see him just jump into that hole?
  • I liked that historical prelude at the beginning of the episode. It was a nice touch to establish just how old that monolith is.

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

Alex Russo

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