Here’s the thing about the third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: It knows what stories to tell. Gone are the days when we sat through hours of team building and character backstories, slowly building mythology until we could get to the meat of an episode. While we’re still building mythology — a lot of it — and while we’re still building a team, the speed at which we’re moving is a much, much faster pace.
Case in point: TPTB weren’t kidding when they said that we would find out sooner rather than later what happened to Simmons. Granted, being rescued doesn’t mean the door is shut on that front at all: We’ve still got a long way to go in terms of finding out exactly where she was, and how that experience has changed her. But last week we saw the planet she had been transported to, and this week, we brought her home. We’ve got our Science Team back, and I’m pretty sure Fitz deserves a really long nap, or cookies, or possibly both.
Before we can talk about Simmons’ return, though, we need to talk about how we got there. And that starts in 1839 in Gloucestershire, England, at a dinner party where there’s a game going on to see who’s going to draw the unlucky straw (or in this case, rock). The chosen one gets to take “a journey,” which basically translates into, “take this sword — which will probably not be much help — and go into a locked room that holds the monolith.” The man wonders what will happen if he fails to return, and that question is answered for him when he gets swallowed up. Will he come back? Well, the bad news is, nobody has ever returned.
In the present day, Daisy is trying to convince Mack that Joey’s a real candidate for the Secret Warriors team. Mack disagrees. He wants to wait for Dr. Garner to make his assessment, and Daisy’s less than thrilled with this answer because apparently Garner’s been denying potential team members all over the place. They’re interrupted by Hunter and Bobbi, who alert them that Fitz has broken into the room that holds the monolith. Along with Coulson, they manage to get Fitz out before the artifact actually DOES react. The team tries to talk him down, but Fitz is too determined to quit. And serendipitously, he notices that in his confrontation with the rock has left him with the gift of small grains of sand — finally, a lead. Tests show that the sand predates Earth by at least a billion years, which means they can prove that the monolith is a portal that leads to another planet… and that since the sand can obviously travel back and forth through the rock, there’s a chance Simmons is alive. It’s all the confirmation everyone else needs, so, yeah, they’re going to find her. Once Fitz gets all the scientific things he needs to finish researching. And a sandwich. (Prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella with homemade pesto aioli, perhaps? Also, what is it with Marvel people asking for scientific things and also really wanting sandwiches?)
Once again, Bobbi tries to convince Hunter to let her go with him and hunt Ward. Once again, Hunter denies her. Hey, at least she gets to do some flying, because Coulson needs her to accompany him on a trip to see someone who has traveled through space in a portal. Who is also an alien. Who is also Professor Randolph, the Asgardian from very early in season 1, who you might remember from the time he spent wielding a Berserker staff. He’s continued to live on Earth, and they find him in a prison cell, because while Asgardians can hold their drinks, apparently they can’t hold all the drinks. (I’m guessing he wouldn’t fare well in a contest against Cap and Thor.) Coulson threatens him into talking, which is apparently all the push he needs: Certainly, his super strength means he has no problem getting himself out of lock-up.
To his credit, Randolph is able to figure out the monolith pretty quickly. There’s something triggering it, possibly on the other planet, but here on Earth they have no idea how to control it. He agrees to help “Amazon woman and Robot hand” get Simmons back, but only on the condition that the portal is destroyed afterward, so that no one can pass through it again. At this point, I think Coulson and everyone else would rather die than keep this thing around, so it’s not a hard deal to accept. They show him the parchment with the Hebrew that Fitz found earlier, and Randolph tells them he’s seen this writing before: In England, carved into the walls of a palace in the 1800s, when he had gone there for a costume ball. Looks like the team’s going to England, then.
NEXT: All hail Ward’s new regime