Welcome back, recruits, to another year of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Before we get this recap going, allow me to formally introduce myself: I’m Andrea, and some of you may know me from Marvel’s Art of Evolution, or maybe from recaps all the way back in season 1 — that naive, innocent time where no one knew Ward was evil and Coulson still had two hands. I’ll be the agent talking about the show with you this year, so without further adieu, it’s time to dive into season 3: the season where everything is shiny and new, from Daisy’s name to Coulson’s hand to Fitz’s reemergence of courage. In fact, the only thing that’s not so shiny (despite being new) is the after-effect of those terrigen crystals that we saw being released into the ocean at the end of last season.
And to prove that this year is going to move fast (and furiously), we open on one such incident: Joey (Juan Pablo Raba), who has had his Inhuman abilities awakened by ingesting the fish oil vitamins. Joey’s abilities seem to be centered on being able to liquefy metal — nearly everything that he touches blows up or disintegrates. He’s coming into his powers in a Hulk-esque way, running amok through the city and causing destruction wherever he goes, without really knowing why he’s doing it at all. Two black cars show up attempting to subdue him, but before they can officially take him in, they’re blasted away by what is arguably one of the most badass superhero arrivals of the season.
Enter… Quake! Or, as we now know her: Daisy Johnson. Call her whatever you want, just don’t call her Skye, because she’s finally got a real identity (and some new hair, and a new uniform) and homegirl is OWNING it. Along with Mack and Hunter, she also seems to be running her own op, and it looks like the past few months have done a lot of good for the plucky hacker who spent a lot of last season afraid of herself. Daisy manages to get Joey into a special carton (specifically, a polytechnic adaptive module that can be customized to someone’s powers) and sends him straight up into the sky, effectively making Joey’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day even worse. In the aftermath, we’re treated to our first introduction of the woman we’ll come to know as Rosalind Price (UnREAL‘s Constance Zimmer), who is apparently behind the other people who are trying to take Joey in. A one-armed Coulson, meanwhile, spies from the crowds.
Understandably, Joey is freaked out by everything that’s just happened. Daisy tries to talk him down and explains that they’re just trying to protect him, despite this “biomorphic event” that’s currently happening. Although Joey’s safe, he doesn’t really feel safe, but he’s grateful that at least they didn’t shoot him. “It may feel like your life ended, but it just got… more interesting,” Daisy tells him, trying to soothe his fears. (I feel like S.H.I.E.L.D. at some point just becomes a therapy breeding ground, where people have their own terrible experiences and then use them to help others acclimate.) She then asks if he takes vitamins because Coulson and his team are still attempting to figure out just how far and wide this stuff has spread.
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According to Coulson, it’s definitely spread, and although the product has been pulled from shelves, they can’t pull every bottle sold. The good news? Despite the fact we’ve seen that terrigen crystals aren’t so great for humans, if you’re normal, you’re not affected. The bad news? If you’re Inhuman, you’re screwed. And there’s a good chance the crystals have spread to other sea life, which means that until they can get a read on just how widespread it is, they have no idea what kind of outbreak they’re looking at. This is the third incident this month, new cases are popping up all the time, and hey, did we mention Coulson got a brand-spanking new aircraft called the Zephyr One? (I hope he doesn’t love it more than Lola.) The mysterious Black Ops, run by Rosalind, have already taken at least five people, but no one can figure out who she really is. According to searches, she’s used a number of different aliases along with different professions, all of which make her impossible to find. The only thing they do know is that she’s not Hydra, despite being well-funded, because Hydra’s essentially gone silent. Rosalind, in turn, is trying to figure out who is running their operation, as she collects all the Inhumans she can get her hands on. And from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like she wants them so she can make them her BFFs and braid their hair.
When the plane lands, Joey and his Magical Carton are introduced to Bobbi, who is waiting in what will become his new room. It’s kind of like those rooms they have for people in The Island, all white and closed off with a happy little landscape tacked to the wall so you feel like you actually have some connection to the outside world. Bobbi’s cleaned up pretty well from the last time we saw her, and is also wearing a white lab coat — which, along with the line from Coulson about her biology degree, is a nice nod to one of the more prominent aspects of the character of Bobbi Morse. As much as Bobbi is a fighter, which is how we saw her most of last season, she’s also an insanely smart scientist (like, PhD smart) and it’s fun to see that Easter egg reflected as part of her recovery process. Joey’s still unwilling to cooperate, even after Bobbi drops all of her Facebook-earned spy knowledge on him, so Daisy and Mack attempt to talk to him, instead.
Unsurprisingly, this talk doesn’t end well. Daisy attempts to tell him about the terrigen, alien DNA and all, which goes over about as well as you’d expect for someone who was just living a normal life before taking a few vitamins. Joey can’t comprehend the fact that he can’t go back to his old life, even after Daisy and Mack show him footage of the destruction he’s caused earlier. “The world’s been a little twitchy since Sokovia fell out of the sky,” Daisy says, and man, has it ever. When he lashes out at her, Daisy lashes back, and gives him a taste of what her powers can do. (Hint: Don’t mess with Quake, okay? Just don’t.) Joey’s far from convinced about his new life and new abilities, but it’s safe to say that in time, he’ll probably end up as the first official recruit to the Secret Warriors team.
NEXT: Fitz will do anything for love (yes, he’ll even do that)
Since Hunter refuses to be in the same room as Bobbi for reasons unknown, Coulson checks in to see if there’s any new information on the monolith, a.k.a. that huge stone that sucked poor Simmons away just as our favorite science buddies were on their way to revealing their true feelings. Mack has since locked up the room and Bobbi reveals that no one’s stepped into it since the occurrence, and also that Fitz is M.I.A., chasing down leads on his own time.
Where are those leads taking him to? Morocco. (In addition to being out on his own and competent, it’s nice to see Fitz looking super suave in his travel digs. Props to costume designer Ann Foley for some great work.) The place where he’s going is somewhere that’s so dangerous, even his driver tells him that he shouldn’t go there alone. Carrying a silver briefcase, Fitz asks two men to arrange a meeting with a man named Yousef Hadad.
Apparently, we learn that Fitz’s studies of the monolith have led him to realize that he needs to understand its properties. That involves finding a skull casing over 1,000 years old that contains a parchment, which will hopefully explain what the monolith actually is. Fitz had tracked it to a museum in Iraq where Yusef’s thugs had taken it and now, he wants it back to save a friend, in exchange for what’s in the briefcase. And, yeah, it’s an impassioned speech — and a great moment for Iain de Caestecker, who I continue to feel has showcased the most amount of growth since season 1 — but it takes Yousef and his gang awhile to buy the deal. Yousef finally asks Fitz if he loves the girl he’s talking about since he went through all of this trouble, and I find it interesting that Yousef immediately makes that assumption, as Fitz never specifies who he’s trying to find. Nonetheless, Fitz says yes, so FitzSimmons shippers, this is your cue to go wild.
The two end up making the trade, with Fitz securing the artifact and Yousef receiving a case of the splinter bombs used in the U.N. attack, the same weapons used to kill Bakshi — the ones that leave no remains. Only, Fitz has outsmarted them, and when Yousef tries to use one, Fitz takes his chance and escapes with the precious cargo. Back at headquarters, we find out Bobbi has gotten a hit on our mystery woman: Apparently, she visits a DC branch office every few days and then goes home alone on the Metro. Coulson uses this information to secure an impromptu meeting, but Rosalind is one step ahead of her. Anticipating the attack, she corners both Coulson and Hunter on the train.
The two do get to have their little talk, though. We learn that Rosalind is just as aware of Coulson as Coulson is of her — so aware, in fact, she even knows about Tahiti. But that’s neither here nor there. Rosalind wants to know where Coulson is hiding the Inhumans, because she’s been put in charge of neutralizing the threats. We’re under the impression Rosalind’s idea of “neutralizing” means cutting them open like we saw at the beginning of the episode, but then she mentions that she’s been finding carcasses with chests burst open from energy blasts. She’s assumed that Coulson is the one behind it, which he’s obviously not. If it’s not Rosalind, however… who is taking down these people?
Bbefore they can finish the conversation, they’re both interrupted by their phones; they take their respective calls, Coulson using the moment to break free while Rosalind moves to another car. When she returns, she finds most of her men dead and the car destroyed, Coulson and Hunter having escaped. Looks like even one handed, Coulson is still a step ahead.
Not knowing how to deal with Joey, Daisy considers calling in Lincoln for help, because if she’s had issues with adapting to her powers, Lincoln’s got her beat by a mile. We get the impression that Lincoln has kind of peaced out of the whole S.H.I.E.L.D. thing, and we’d be right: He’s now working in a hospital, trying to start over. Daisy shows up anyway with Mack in tow, attempting to lure him back. An argument escalates, culminating in some crazy electrical surges that Daisy thinks are coming from Lincoln’s powers. They’re not, but once she sees what IS causing them, she probably wishes it was just Lincoln going crazy. There’s a new visitor in town — something evil, something Inhuman, and something angry. It’s blasting holes in people’s chests (ding ding ding) and it’s seriously pissed off.
S.H.I.E.L.D., meet Lash (Matthew Willig). We’ll come to know him as someone who is hunting down other Inhumans to see if they’re “worthy” of living with their gifts after having their powers awakened. In the comics, Lash assembles a group called the Tribe, which are essentially his own collection of Inhumans. They continue their “mission” of hunting down other powerful people until they come into contact with another group called the New Warriors. Is it possible that instead of the New Warriors, we’ll be seeing a conflict between Lash and Secret Warriors? It remains to be seen how the show will use the character, but we’re deep into Inhuman territory here, so I’m thinking there’s going to be a lot of complicated mythology to dig through this season. Lincoln, Daisy, and Mack try to ward off Lash with their respective powers (Mack using his awesome gun), with Lincoln and Daisy eventually combining Avengers-style to send him through the floor. Lash ends up escaping, though this is obviously not the last we’ve seen of him, and Lincoln rightly decides he’s had enough.
NEXT: Simmons, where art thou? (And other tales to astonish)
Despite last season’s reconciliation, we’ve been led to believe throughout the hour that something serious has happened to Bobbi and Hunter — especially considering that Mack’s conversation with Bobbi seemed to indicate he was concerned about them. Happily, it turns out that the only reason Hunter was shying away was because “you’re not supposed to see your bride on your wedding day.” Yep: Bobbi and Hunter are considering getting remarried, and Hunter has even returned Bobbi’s ring for the occasion, despite the fact he doesn’t have his own. (It’s somewhere underwater, so does that mean it has Inhuman powers now?) Although Bobbi tries (and fails) to refute that when she told him “I can’t do this anymore” on her deathbed, she didn’t mean they should get married again, Hunter refuses to take no for an answer. He’s going after Ward and Hydra, and even though Bobbi wanted him to wait until she was totally healed, Hunter’s determined. It’s time to fight for HIS love.
Mack interrupts them to call everyone’s attention to a presidential address, which is being delivered by the MCU’s own President Ellis (last seen in Iron Man 3). It’s rare that there are crossovers from the movies to the show that don’t involve larger guest stars like Jaimie Alexander or Maximiliano Hernández (Jasper Sitwell), so this is a fun reminder of how “everything is connected,” even if we sometimes forget that things are happening simultaneously. Ellis talks about the public’s growing concern of the “threats we face that are not of our world,” referencing the events of New York (Avengers), London (Thor 2), and most recently, Sokovia (Age of Ultron). To help ease the public’s fears, they’ve created a specific task force called the ATCU — Advanced Threat Containment Unit, a.k.a. Rosalind’s team — to neutralize those threats in lieu of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s downfall. While Ellis talks, Coulson runs a trace that shows how far the terrigen will spread, and according to the bottom of the screen, we’re to believe that in 17 months and 21 days since the crystals will be basically everywhere.
With Fitz finally back, Coulson gets a chance to corner him about Simmons. He essentially gives us a rundown of all the research Fitz has immersed himself in over the past few months (props for referencing “the Pym Technologies disaster”), all of which has resulted in little to no success. Fitz is convinced that opening this artifact will finally hold the answer to what the monolith is, but the only thing written on the parchment is a string of Hebrew letters that mean “death.” Not very helpful, or hopeful.
Coulson wants to tell Simmons’ family that she’s MIA, and also wants him to consider the obvious: that maybe Simmons is gone for good. Fitz, obviously, refuses to accept that, and storms off to the room that holds the monolith. He breaks in and uses a gun to shoot open the container, where he steps up to the rock and screams. And screams. And screams, while he begs the object to do SOMETHING, even if it means getting swallowed up himself. Poor, poor Fitz. But if you thought this episode would end without even a hint of where Simmons might be… well, you obviously aren’t familiar with how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. works. Not only is Simmons alive, but she seems to have been transported to a very, very different place.
THEORY TIME: I highly doubt the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. bosses are going to reveal Simmons’ actual location anytime soon, at least not without a few twists — this is Marvel, after all. But let me throw my own theory out there, and open up the floor for discussion: The Blue Area of the Moon. We’ve spent a lot of time theorizing where Simmons might end up after being sucked into the Kree stone, and this particular place is one that makes perfect sense. A short detour for a history lesson: The environment was created by the Skrulls as somewhat of a “testing site” for the Kree and another, similar race called Cotati. It was the Kree that built the Blue City, while the Cotati developed an ecosystem, and the two races eventually came to blows over which “accomplishment” was greater, resulting in an all-out brawl. Is this possibly who or what Simmons is running from? Although the planet has since been abandoned, the show has never followed comic mythology to the letter. Personally, I hope that Simmons is at least being chased by Lockjaw (because I really want to see Lockjaw show up) but either way, Simmons is definitely running from something. And judging by the way she’s using dirt to cover a cut on her face, it totally seems like she’s trying to hide herself.
The most interesting thing about the Blue Area of the Moon is that a lot of super interesting comic history happened here: The Fantastic Four discovered it, it contains the ruins of the Citadel of the Watcher, it was used for a prominent combat trial between Phoenix and the X-Men, and, most importantly, the Blue Area was where the Inhumans transported their home city of Attilan. We have an Inhuman movie coming in 2019 and it’s still unclear as to how much Marvel is going to establish it on the small screen, but it’s obvious that no matter how Simmons comes home, where she’s been is going to be a huge focus this season. And it seems like it’s all going to lead back to here.
- Not sure if Joey’s sexuality will be something that will get explored further. I like to think that if the writers dropping more than one reference, it’s something that will become prominent, but I’ll remain hopeful in the meantime.
- Coulson’s new hand looks awesome and I can’t wait to find out more about it. (Not sarcasm — I legitimately am excited about Coulson’s new tech.)
- Are Daisy and Mack the SHIELD version of Strike Team Delta? Because I could totally get used to their partnership, especially if it means we get more of Mack in any scene.
- I loved the moment where Coulson admitted it was hard to get used to calling Skye “Daisy,” which felt like both a nod to the fans who have gotten used to the character over the past two years, and to the fact that Coulson always associated Skye with a family-like feeling more than anyone else on the team did.
- Rosalind and her team see Lincoln’s face and name on a computer at the hospital, so should we assume she’s going to go after him, next? Even though it’s pretty clear she’s not the one killing people, Rosalind is still shady, and I’m not sure how much I trust her motivations.
- In case we’re wondering about the absence of Agent May: She’s “on vacation.” Was that a sarcastic comment, given how strained the relationship is now between Coulson and May, or is she really sipping Mai Tais somewhere? Either way, hey, even The Cavalry deserves some time off.