Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: Bouncing Back
Secret Warriors take shape in the show's midseason premiere.
The title of the first episode following Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s winter hiatus is “Bouncing Back,” and it’s pretty appropriate for the plot of the episode itself. After Rosalind’s death, Coulson has bounced back. After Coulson and Fitz’s otherworldly trip, they’ve (kind of) bounced back. After suffering a loss of Inhumans thanks to Garner and the demise of the ATCU, Daisy and her team have bounced back. After dying and being resurrected thanks to the great monster of all Inhumans, even Ward has bounced back (and he’s not even Ward anymore). What has not bounced back, however, is S.H.I.E.L.D. because President Ellis (William Sadler) won’t reauthorize it.
But we’ll get to that in a bit. Where we actually start the episode is three months from now, with a shot of the inside of a quinjet blowing up, with an astronaut that has a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on its sleeve. That’s all we get, but it’s enough to whet our appetites and remind us of everything that we laid the groundwork for in the fall with Will and Simmons figuring out that NASA and Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) sent astronauts through a portal to find their precious Inhuman monster as part of a covert program. In the present day, a high-speed chase is taking place in Bogota. No one knows what’s going on, but the vehicle under attack, which is transporting a bunch of guns, ends up being taken out by a mysterious woman with powers. Her name, we’ll later learn, is Elena Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley).
Coulson, meanwhile, has set up a meeting with Ellis at Rosalind’s place. They don’t know what’s happening, but hey, if Fox News won’t shut up, then you know it’s bad. They have to do something, and Coulson assures Ellis that they are. (Cut to the Inhuman Team of Awesome, Daisy and Joey, as they try to talk to police and find out what happened to the girl who attacked them). Ellis reiterates that the ATCU will still be the face of everything publicly because, you know, S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t actually exist. When Coulson asks about Malick, Ellis says he can’t pull on that thread because Malick’s too powerful. But it doesn’t mean he’s not going to let Coulson go after him.
At the lab, Lincoln, Fitz, and Simmons are trying to use their research to help the rest of the team, who are in Bogota with Daisy. The police think Elena’s invisible, which leads Hunter to lament, “Imagine the possibilities,” while looking at Bobbi. That was worthy of a smack, but let’s just imagine Bobbi mentally smacking him because you know Hunter did. When Mack tries to go after our mysterious invisible woman, she takes him out easily and then takes him hostage. Mack’s good, but he’s got no advantage against this girl’s powers. After looking at a surveillance tape, the group at the lab realizes Elena’s not invisible — she’s just accelerated. And as Lincoln notes, those powers aren’t random. According to Jiaying, the powers were specifically given to individuals in order to create equilibrium in the species. Elena’s inclusion in the show isn’t random, either — her character is based on Slingshot, who appears in the Secret Warriors comic series, recruited onto the team by Nick Fury.
Their work is interrupted by Coulson, who takes Fitz aside for some work of his own — to find Malick, they want to bring in a still-vegetative von Strucker and put him in the Tahiti machine to see if they can force him to give up information. We also find out that despite the happy reunion we saw when Fitz and Coulson escaped from the planet, things between our favorite science duo are definitely still strained and rocky. And Simmons has been spending a lot of time with Lincoln in lieu of Fitz apparently keeping to himself.
NEXT: Inhumans vs. the World
Turns out, von Strucker doesn’t do too well in the Tahiti machine. He wants out, and Coulson wants Lincoln to use his powers and give him electroshock to stabilize him. This is literally the last thing Lincoln wants to do, but he’s kind of pushed against the wall, so he does. In doing so, we get our info: Malick sold him out, and he went to him because he didn’t have anyone else. Coulson visits the secret Mission: Impossible-type hideout, where he’s let into a room with a phone. He calls Malick while May traces the call, and after some classic hold music (because Coulson is very good at being put on hold during important moments) he wastes no time in threatening him — though Malick isn’t exactly worried.
Back in Bogota, Elena is keeping Mack in her bathroom, though Mack gets loose and figures out a few things on his own, like the fact that while she can move quickly, she can only snap back to the same spot. After being bested yet again while trying to escape, Mack and the girl form a rapport. He tells her about the Terrigenesis, buying himself enough time for Daisy and the team to come save him. They put Elena in a containment module and figure out that her cousin was her accomplice in the weapons heist. Joey attempts to talk to her, though it doesn’t do much good because Elena is too scared and too upset. And, well, what do you expect when you essentially find out you’re an alien?
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Bobbi and Hunter go to track down her cousin and find him, surprisingly, throwing the weapons over the bridge. Turns out, Elena and her cousin weren’t bad people doing bad things. They were just scared of the police and what they’ve been doing to powered people. Bobbi and Hunter learn about this the hard way because when local law enforcement shows up and they prepare to take them down, they find themselves outnumbered thanks to some Cyclops-stunning action from an Inhuman officer, who then kills Elena’s cousin before taking Bobbi and Hunter hostage.
After finding out about her cousin, Elena’s pretty much devastated. But she has powers now that she can use for good! In addition to her yo-yo skills, her powers are connected to her pulse, so she can go as far as she can in a heartbeat. Daisy, Mack, and Joey stake out the facility where Hunter and Bobbi are captured, and Elena helps them by stealing a keycard. They get inside easily, but subduing the Inhumans? Not so easy. In the attack, Elena manages to move fast enough to get a bracelet on “Medusa eyes” and stop his powers, but not before she takes a decent hit. And not before Hydra takes the rogue Inhuman from right under their noses. (Is he supper?) When they return and have recovered, Joey attempts to convince Elena to stay at S.H.I.E.L.D., though Daisy thinks it’s better for the team to be scattered. They’re all powerful together but they’re also all vulnerable, and if one gets a hit, all of them do. So Elena decides to go off on her own, but not before she apologizes to Mack for kidnapping her: “I’ll see you soon, yo-yo.” (Lincoln, of course, has the option to leave, too, but chooses to stay with Daisy.) A team of Secret Warriors disbanded, but not forgotten… I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing them all team up again soon. Besides. It’s like the Avengers — you wouldn’t want to keep everyone living in Stark Tower together forever. (What would Tony blow up while you weren’t looking?)
NEXT: Starting over with a Fitzbump
Whom haven’t we really talked about yet? Our favorite science team. Simmons finds Fitz working late and tries to clear the air between them because, “I miss you.” (We miss you, too!) And, you know, there’s a LOT to talk about in terms of what happened between them. Like Will’s death. And that KISS. And the fact that Fitz went back over to the planet with the intent of trying to help Simmons, and instead of saving Will, Fitz essentially had to kill him (even though it wasn’t really Will but the monster). Did I mention that kiss? No longer content to just watch the sunrise, Simmons is doing whatever she can to help Fitz out of his misery. “You’ve been nothing less than extraordinary this whole time,” Simmons tells her best friend, before asking if they can start over for real: as in, 16 and “achingly shy” FitzSimmons at the Academy. And then they actually do start over. Complete with an adorable first meeting and fist bump. (When I first wrote this recap, I typed “Fitzbump” by accident without even realizing it, so I give you guys full permission to use that if you care to.) I still refuse to believe Fitz’s thinking that the cosmos have it out for them.
In Coulson news, he’s got a new (realistic-looking) hand! And May notes that he’s starting to trust the team more. It’s a conscious power shift: He’s not really leading them as much as he’s following his own trails and leaving Daisy and Mack to do a bunch of the work, and it’s a smart move, honestly. At this point, the team is more than capable of handling things on their own, given how everyone has grown in the past two years. Coulson is still working through the aftermath of what happened on the planet, but May knows what happened: “You joined the Cavalry.” Coulson is still worried about Malick, though. If he’s got all the heroes on his side, whom does Malick have on his side?
Well, Malick has the monster, a.k.a. Hive, a.k.a. the Man Formerly Known as Ward. Much will be analyzed about Ward and why the show chose to go this particular route with his character, but let’s unpack this briefly. In the Marvel comics, Hive was created in the Hydra laboratories as part of an experiment: Ultimately, he was to be the “Hydra ideal,” which corresponds with our S.H.I.E.L.D. story line of Hydra being involved in this mess from the earliest years. Hive was essentially a collection of genetically engineered parasites, which unsuspecting Hydra agents were fed to — which also corresponds to the fact that here, Hive needs to eat other Inhumans in order to gain full strength and become powerful. (Note that at the end of the episode, Hive tells Malick, “I’ll make a believer out of you.”) What’s interesting is that Hive is known for having no identity, given the ability be a host to whomever the parasite latches onto, and Hive is also known for being completely dedicated to the Hydra cause. Although Hydra is theoretically disbanded given that there are bigger threats at work, I wonder if between Malick and Hive we’re going to be resurrecting a Hydra regime of sorts.
But all that aside, Malick at this point is still hesitant to believe he is who he says he is, even after Ward eats a disgusting amount of meat (Inhuman meat?) and shows off his powers — comics-wise, part of Hive’s powers involve the parasites of his body being able to detach themselves from his body and attack other things or people, and if that last scene was any indication, we can look forward to seeing that.
Oh, by the way. Our tag is Ellis calling Coulson and telling him he’s making Talbot head of the ATCU. Something tells me Coulson isn’t entirely happy about this…
- Lance and Bobbi’s conversation about trying fish oil pills to see if they could unlock their own powers made me laugh, just because it was so Hunter and Bobbi. Besides, “rehab was a bitch.”
- I love Mack calling Elena “yo-yo” not only because their rapport was adorable, but because it was a shout-out to the Marvel character’s nickname.
- Best line for the night is a cross between Mack’s “Whoosh, whoosh” and Bobbi’s “Medusa eyes.” It’s hard to choose.
- Brett Dalton has now essentially played three different characters since the show debuted in 2013. I’m personally glad that they keep finding ways to keep him around and keep his character different because I really enjoy seeing him take on all these different personas.