The latest episode of Agents of SHIELD ties up loose ends as the team learns the true identity of Lash, and sets up future episodes as the ATCU and Lincoln come closer into Coulson’s inner circle. Also: What was that strange symbol connected to the monolith? Shhh… we can’t say it out loud.
A day late and a dollar short, but here’s the post anyway.
Spoiler-light recap: May knows Garner’s secret, but will it get her killed? And who else has secrets, and how will they come back to bite the Agents of SHIELD?
On with the Comic Connections
The episode opens with a flashback to Waiea Beach in Hawaii. While Jemma was missing, Melinda May and Andrew Garner were trying to patch things up, but May had reservations. Neither here nor there, but as just about every religion is based on empirical fact in the Marvel Universe, so of course, the Hawaiian goddess Pele has her place in the Marvel pantheon.
Things seemed to be going okay, and a few days after their trip Garner was sorting the records of Jiaying, Daisy’s Inhuman mom. The books hold genealogies of Inhumans, which is a major part of Inhuman culture (especially in the main city of Attilan). The pages are only shown for a few seconds and it’s hard to make them out, but the dates are interesting, as the 1920s and 1950s are both mentioned – could this lead to an Agent Carter appearance of Jiaying? If only.
There’s also this rather interesting page showing someone holding a giant butterfly, although at first it seems as if it’s a person with butterfly wings. According to the 1998 Inhumans mini-series, “fliers” are rare among Inhumans. Still, at least two butterfly-winged Inhumans exist: Tonaja of the royal guard, and Iridia, who was an old woman when the mist hit her, and she appeared young and vital when emerging from her cocoon.
The biggest surprise in Jiaying’s books, however, is the Terrigen booby trap inside the spine (man, considering it’s a rare and valuable substance, she sure loved throwing it at people). This transforms the generally peaceful Garner into the murderous Lash. As he explained it, he found himself “drawn” to other Inhumans and the mental anguish didn’t end until he “lashed out” at them. Garner seems to think he’s keeping the (human) world safe from “dangerous” and “bad” Inhumans – or at least those he deems to be a threat. This is similar to, but distinct from, the motivations of Lash in the comics. Lash was a member of the secretive Inhuman community Orollan, where (as with Afterlife in the TV series) only a select few Inhumans were allowed to undergo Terrigenesis. When the Inhuman King Black Bolt unleashes Terrigen on the world, the uncontrolled transformations in Orollan (and specifically the one of Thanos’ half-Inhuman son, Thane) causes the deaths of most of the residents, Lash leaves his community to find and kill any Inhumans who could be a threat to the future of Inhumanity. After “testing” new Inhumans (usually fighting them unprovoked or murdering their family members) he either recruits them into his new Orollan tribe or takes them out of the genepool.
Oh, and Garner got his philosophy doctorate at Brown University. The more you know.
Back in the present, Daisy is understandably upset about the ATCU’s “ice prison,” where an unrevealed number of Inhumans are held in a “gel matrix” stasis until Rosalind Price’s people can develop a “cure.” Obviously, “cures” have been an ongoing concern amongst mutants and Inhumans for decades, but recently the connection between these two groups has gotten stranger as Terrigen has proved nocuous to mutants (including Rogue, as seen above). A real cure may need to be found, and soon.
Speaking of Rosalind, she invited Coulson to a (secret?) meeting with global leaders at the NORAD base in Colorado to discuss the growing concern of “enhanced people” (more build up for Captain America: Civil War). As SHIELD doesn’t technically exist after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Coulson is merely going as an advisor. In the episodes stinger we learn that Gideon Malick, the mysterious old man talking to Ward about Hydra, was there as well, and was eager to meet with (his subordinate?) Rosalind who promised to “bring him” (Coulson?) soon enough. The plot thickens…
Garner, meanwhile, is eager to inspect (and test) the young Inhuman Joey Gutierrez, who has learned he can not only melt metal, but reshape it however he likes (without the kind of heat and smoke you’d expect from metalworking). Garner’s stated goal is to kill “dangerous” Inhumans, and Joey clearly isn’t as unpredictable as he once was, but Garner seems to excuse his behavior by intimating that Joey’s powers could still threaten the world. Previously, I suggested Joey could be the MCU counterpart of the Melter, as that’s what his powers did, but here he seems more closely connected to the old Hulk enemy, the Metal Master.
Joey figured all this out at the secret New York City training facility, The Cocoon. In the comics, the Cocoon was Nick Fury Sr.’s Secret Base 17, the main base for Daisy Johnson’s Secret Warriors. Soon, Agents of SHIELD, soon, you will give us a team of super-spies. You will do it.
Of course, all this time, May was following up on the info young Werner gave her, so she shows up at the Cocoon just in time to save Joey’s bacon. Very unprofessionally, she tells no one about her suspicions, evidence, or self-directed mission – not even Bobbi, who was with her when they found Werner. Admittedly, this is because of her close emotional connection to Garner, but a spy of May’s caliber should know better. He ICEs (reminder: Fitz-Simmons invented ICEr guns to instant incapacitate targets) her and chains her in a conveniently abandoned building at Culver University, his place of work (that first appeared in the Ed Norton-starring Incredible Hulk movie). While trying to explain his motives, Garner mentions Bahrain, where May was forced to kill a young Inhuman girl to save dozens of others. Dirty pool, sir.
The real hero of this story, is Mack. Mack spends much of the story in the background. When Garner is talking to the SHIELD agents, Mack’s in the background taking a clandestine call from Lincoln. When May is investigating Garner, Mack serendipitously walks behind her, noticing her search (but not telling anyone at the time). Master of fading into the background, that guy is. When they meet, Lincoln tells Mack he’s deduced Lash is with SHIELD, and that Lash has been killing survivors of the Afterlife (the secret Inhuman community from last season). The two find evidence while heading toward Coulson, enabling the cavalry to rescue The Cavalry.
Mack and Lincoln find Coulson on Zephyr One, their “flying base” (a Quincarrier?), with Daisy and the ATCU. Rosalind and Coulson bonded, but Rosalind and Daisy clashed (so the father figure’s little girl doesn’t approve of the new lady in his life). Coulson was aware of May’s disappearance, but chalked it up to a lover’s quarrel until Mack’s new information forced them to turn around and save May. And Coulson almost got to meet the president too.
Interestingly, Lincoln claims Lash’s ability to shift between human form and monster is temporary because Inhumans can’t do that. This is partially backed up by the comics, as everyone’s favorite teen hero, Ms. Marvel, could original change her entire body in seconds, physically becoming other people and things, but now seems only able to change size and stretch. It’s been suggested her body is normalizing, and once it has settled, she won’t have as much shape-changing freedom as she originally had. However, there is an exception to every rule, and for the Inhumans, Devlor seems to be it. He can transform at will from scrawny teen to giant, ape-like creature.
Coulson, suave guy that he is, walks in on May and Garner before things get too deadly, but he’s quick to point out, he’s not alone. Aside from the regular SHIELD crew, Lincoln is tagging along, as is Roz and her ATCU crew. Interestingly, she confirms that this is “Coulson’s op,” so he gets to call the shots. Maybe she could lead SWORD after all? Garner “Lashes out” when Lincoln makes his presence known, and when he learns the ATCU wants to find a “cure” for Inhumanity, Lash declares “I am the cure!” Good to know.
As with the Deathlok Hydra agents from season one, the ICEr bullets have no effect on Lash, neither do regular bullets (and Mack again wants a shotgun/axe weapon – make it happen Agents of SHIELD).
When Lash throws Roz down several floors, Daisy “catches” her with her quake powers. Neat! Always good to see alternative uses for powers.
The conflict is brought to a close when May gets Lash – or rather Garner – to lower his guard so they can throw him in one of the Inhuman-proof chambers. Roz offers to put Garner in the gel-stasis, and even Daisy, who was opposed to the idea before, seems to think it’d be for the best, so May consents.
Lincoln also considers joining SHIELD. More powered people! Yay!
Now, about that symbol relating to the strange Kree monolith. Early in the episode, Jemma gave Fitz her damaged sim card, so he could extract information about her time lost in space. Unlocking the secrets is a heartbreaking journey for Fitz, as he hears her suffer, see her hugging Will, and hears her repeatedly declare her loyalty to Fitz (before meeting Will, of course). At some point Jemma mentioned her desire to settle down in Perthshire, in Fitz’s native Scotland, so that’s sweet. Anyway, during the search, he realizes Will’s NASA Pathfinder patch seems awfully familiar, as he connects it to the strange symbol above the monolith chamber in England.
Initially, I suggested this could be an oblique reference to the Hellfire Club, but that is seeming less and less likely. However, the Hellfire symbol is a three-pronged trident, this is clearly a two-pronged fork. Now, how would a two-pronged fork be associated with the Inhumans? Well, it just happens to be the royal symbol of the House of Agon, the Royal Family of the Inhumans. Specifically, it is worn by the silent king Black Bolt, his dog Lockjaw, and most of his wives (as well as many of his wives’ retainers). Could they (or their followers) be the secret group behind the English castle and the NASA Pathfinder mission? Seems probable.
Before checking out, let’s check in on Hydra. Earlier, Hunter mentioned Bobbi taking out Kebo – is he finally dead now? And later, Gideon tells Ward that Werner better not wake up – is he not dead? Then of course, Gideon gets the call from Rosalind.
Turns out, Coulson spent the night at Rosalind’s place before the pair headed out to Ruthie’s Diner (the restaurant Daisy/Sky met Mike/Deathlok in way back in the first episode). Also, Coulson was opening up to Rosalind emotionally (as well as physically) because he mentioned that his missing hand hurts “every day.” Intense stuff. I sure hope nothing happens to break up the happy couple.
Next week: Something happens to break up the happy couple.
Last week, Hunter mentioned Bobbi’s “ex,” and I forgot to point out who that (probably) is:
Maybe we’ll get a guest star later this season?