Sunday, 15 May 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 'Emancipation' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

'Rasta-Hulk is your husband?!'

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. nears its end point and manages to tie into Captain America: Civil War in a very believable and competent way, whilst still managing to do its own story development.

When General Talbot comes to visit the base following the events of Civil War in order to evaluate S.H.I.E.L.D.'s enhanced agents in the wake of the Sakovia Accords.  It's a very believable scenario within the world that the series has created, with several outside parties becoming more concerned about Inhumans, as well a tying into the new status quo created by the events of Marvel's latest film.

It's also the only time other than Winter Soldier that the series has tied into the events of one of the Marvel films without it feeling forced or disjointed.  The Thor: Dark World tie in was lacklustre and dull, and the reveal that Coulson was behind the Avengers discovering the location of Loki's sceptre, and where Nick Fury got the helicarrier from, felt very shoehorned into the second season.  But here it not only makes perfect sense, especially as S.H.I.E.L.D. is starting to become part of the government again, but it's a good way of bringing Talbot back into the proceedings, which is always enjoyable.

The episode also brought Yo-yo back under the pretext of being one of the enhanced agents there to meet Talbot.  Hopefully the show will keep her around for more than this one episode (especially with only two left to go) as she's a good presence.  She has a very cool power set that doesn't require a great deal of the effects budget like Daisy or Lincoln, plus she's just a genuinely nice character whose relationship with Mack is interesting.

Carrying on from the previous episode we discover that Lincoln is still being kept under quarantine, partly because of his testing the Hive cure on himself, though also because the team appear to believe his judgement has been compromised by his feelings for Daisy.  Now, by the end of the episode we find out that this whole thing was just an act in order to get their secret weapon to Hive's doorstep, but it seemed so in Lincoln's character that I did genuinely believe it.

I've not liked Lincoln for most of the season, I've found that his motivations for being there have been fairly dull and centred only on wanting to be around Daisy.  With so many other great characters dedicated to the cause that we've lost over the course of the show, such as Tip, Hunter and Bobbi, it annoyed me that someone with his kind of character was kept around.

Thankfully from the little double-cross at the end of the episode and the reveal that Lincoln was working with May and Coulson the whole time helped to redeem his character a little for me.  I'm not saying that I like him much more than I did before, but if they can keep developing him like this and make him more than just a lovesick puppy it'd help a hell of a lot.

One character that really shone this week, and if I'm being honest somehow want to end up on the team, is Hellfire.  Not only is the character a lot of fun, channelling a little bit of the wisecracking attitude that Hunter used to bring to the show, but his powers are being utilised in some cool ways.  The scene where he took on the group of Watchdogs in the alley was particularly good.

Speaking of which, I can't be the only person who saw him with the flaming chain and immediately thought that Marvel are practicing their effects for Ghost Rider can I?

Whilst the episode did do a lot right I can't help but feel that it let itself down slightly towards the end.  As soon as I found out that Lincoln wasn't inside the Quinjet I immediately knew that it'd be Lash, and that we were going to get a confrontation that I'd been eagerly awaiting for weeks.  The Quinjet lands, the ramp lowers and Lash and Hive come face to face and I'm ready for one of the best action sequences the show has given us.

Then not a great deal actually happens.  The two of them throw each other around a bit, and Hive is definitely on the back foot here, which after seeing him take out the Kree Reaver last week shows just how powerful Lash is, but the fight feels very slow and sluggish.  This sense of pacing isn't helped by the action cutting back to the team on the base, but then that might be to try and hide the fact that there isn't really that much of a fight.

It's not all bad, there are some good moments in here, watching Lash deflect Hive's sand attack stuff with his glowing energy is kind of cool, and the moment that he burns a chunk out of Hive is awesome, especially because of the look of fear on his face as he's realising that he's probably going to lose the fight.

Sadly for Lash, and possibly for the world considering Hive's plan, due to extracting Hive's control from Daisy and saving her life by putting her inside the Quinjet, he leaves himself open to a sneak attack from Hellfire and dies.  At this point Lash was definitely the best, if not only, weapon that our heroes had at their disposal.  Killing Lash does take that away and raise the stakes going into the finale, but it does rob May from the chance of getting her husband back.

I think it's a shame that we get only a brief shot of May stroking the hair of her dead husband instead of getting the chance to see more of how that scene could have played out.  Yes, May was probably resigned to the idea that Andrew was lost, but there would have still been emotional impact from losing him, especially with as we saw just before he died he could have had some last words with her.

By the end of the episode the team have Daisy back, with makes things a little easier going into the finale as they not only have one of their strongest fighters back, but they no longer have to worry about trying to save her, or at least not kill her, in the middle of a fight.  Unfortunately the team also discover Hive's plan, that he's planning on using a missile to release a terrigen cloud in the atmosphere that will turn every human into a primitive Inhuman slave.

One last thing of note from the end of the episode too, Elena gives her crucifix necklace to Mack.  As we saw in the episode 'Bouncing Back' and in Daisy's vision a member of the team is going to die in a Quinjet floating in space that suddenly explodes, someone who has that necklace.  At this point it looks highly likely that a member of the team is going to sacrifice themselves to destroy Hive's terrigen missile, but will it be Mack or will someone else be lost in the final episode?


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