Thursday, 5 May 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 'Failed Experiments' Review

This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally moving into their endgame as Hive begins to put his plan to change the earth's population into inHumans into motion.

The first half of the episode is full of lab talk and experiments, from both our heroes and villains.  Whilst there are some good moments here, such as the awkwardness between Fitzz and Simmons as they realise that they have opposing views on how to handle a work situation, and over at Hive's compound as Dr Radcliffe tries to find a way to make his experiment work whilst also staying alive.

Yes, the first half of the episode is definitely slow because of these similar themes that are going on, but it's the personal interactions that set them apart and let them stand out from each other.  Fitzz and Simmons are still genuinely sweet together and watching them figuring out their new relationship and it plays well without feeling forced or unnatural as a lot of television romances have a tendency to do.

The scenes between Hive and Daisy on the other hand don't seem to add anywhere near as much.  It might be interesting to see the moment that Hive was taken by the Kree to be experimented on thousands of years ago, but learning that he's afraid of the Kree and that he has more emotion and depth than would first appear doesn't actually make him that much interesting.  

Some people complain of two dimensional villains on shows that have a new bad guy every season, and for the most part S.H.I.E.L.D. has managed to avoid falling into that trap, but Hive is one villain that I think would actually benefit from having less character development.  We know that he retains some of the memories of his hosts, and that' fine, but I liked him when he was just some ancient monster that was worshipped as a god.  To find out that he has an emotional range, limited though it may be, takes some of the mystery and creepiness away from him.

I'm sure that there are some people that will feel the opposite, and prefer more fleshing out for his character, but this is just my own personal opinion.

Thankfully the second half of the episode livens up as S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to track down Hive's location and heads to the old mining town he's holed up in, hoping to be able to launch a surprise attack and kill him.  Whilst they do manage to infiltrate the town successfully enough things get complicated as Hive activated the Kree device he'd gathered, which turned out to be a signal device.

Things take a turn for the dramatic when two Kree Reapers arrive to kill any inHumans that they come across.  They're not the first Kree that we've had in the show, but they're some of the more interesting ones.  They fall more in line with Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy then other Kree we've seen, essentially powerhouse warriors that cut down anyone in their way.  The two of them kill several Hydra soldiers, as well as the final two versions of Alisha, killing the character for good this time.  

Showing the Kree as being so powerful and deadly only goes on to display the destructive ability that Daisy has developed when using her powers.  Wanting to capture one of the Kree alive in order to get fresh Kree blood for their experiments Daisy is able to disarm her opponent, then uses her earthquake powers to shatter the bones in his arms and legs, before destroying his spine.

We've seen Daisy use her powers to throw people around or destroy objects but this is the first time we've really seen her let loose on an opponent with such vicious and brutal consequences.  With her now firmly on the side of the bad guy it certainly raises the stakes for our heroes, especially as she then comes so close to killing Mack too.

To be honest I thought that Mack was something of an idiot when he tried to talk Daisy around, his insistence that the real Daisy was still inside and trying to call out for help seemed incredibly misguided and foolish.  To be fair, there is a little of the real Daisy there still as she does try to give Mack the chance to walk away, but then he goes and ruins Hives plans and Daisy beats the living hell out of him.  If May didn't show up at the very last moment and shot her then she would very probably have killed Mack.

With the revelation that the potential cure for Hive's control failed it's looking less and less likely that Daisy will be re-joining the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. to fight against Hive.  The bar has definitely been raised in this episode, both in the story and the visual effects department.  Not only do we get three members of Hydra getting their faces melted off in one of the goriest moments in the show yet, but we also get to see Hive putting his powers into use in combat when he sandblasts the face off one of the Kree warriors.

The show might not be at its best storytelling (I still think the story of season two is better than season three) but its visual effects are definitely improving in both their quality and the way that they are being put into practical use in the story and action.  With only three episodes left, and two of those airing on the same night, the show is definitely beginning to speed up a little and raise the stakes as we get close to the finishing line.

'Failed Experiments' might start fairly slowly, and it does take away some of the mystery and threat that Hive had previously, but the second half contains a lot of action and drama that help to elevate the episode and prepares for what could be a spectacular final run.  A few less forced allusions to Civil War would have been nicer though.


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