SHIELD is back and so are the Inhumans – and they brought a major villain with them too! But who else is on SHIELD’s tail, and whatever happened to Jemma Simmons?
Pretty decent start to the new season, with action, intrigue, new characters and old characters (though May needs to be here!). They’re really laying this whole Inhuman shtick down thick, which should pay off well if general audiences are at least peripherally aware of what Inhumans are when the film comes out in 2019.
Oh, and fair warning: I don’t have a DVR at the moment, so if I missed something, let me know.
Spoiler-Light Recap: In the fallout of last season’s Inhumans/SHIELD war, new Inhumans are popping up and SHIELD isn’t the only group looking for them. Who is hunting Inhumans and what do they want? Also, what’s up with that dude’s hair?!
This episode opens with a direct follow up on where the last episode ended: Terrigen contaminated fish oil supplements are randomly causing Terrigenesis (referred to as a “biomorphic event”), leading to new and confused Inhumans. Fortunately, the harmful components have been diluted, so no non-Inhuman people aren’t adversely affected. The same thing happened in Marvel recently, when the Inhuman king Black Bolt unleashed a Terrigen Bomb in a battle with the Mad Titan Thanos (that dude from Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers credits scenes). The ensuing Terrigen cloud has continued to float around the world causing new Inhumans to pop up everywhere. Similarly, while Terrigen was originally depicted as harmful to humans, the cloud seems innocuous to most people (some have died, but it seems to be a side effect of other factors).
Apparently there have been five reported Inhuman sightings, with three in the same month – but most of the Inhumans mysteriously disappeared before SHIELD could get there.
The first Nuhuman (a term used in the comics for the unplanned Terrigenesis-created Inhumans) audiences meet is Joey Gutierrez, a quiet but well-intentioned motorcycle enthusiast in Seattle who recently broke up with his boyfriend. Upon emerging from his fish oil-enhanced cocoon, Joey learns he can melt (nearly) any metal near him. Joey’s closest comic book counterpart seems to be The Melter – specifically the modern Melter (not the dead Iron Man bad guy). Upon first learning of his powers, young Chris Cholchiss accidentally melted his parents. Chris seems to have a good heart, but it’s kind of hard to be a good guy when your first superpowered act was patricide.
Just as some random military-looking guys show up ready to use lethal force (more on them in a second),
Skye Daisy shows up with Mack and Lance to kick butt and take names. They use a new device with the name TTD stamped on it. It’s made of “polytectic adapted material” that can be customized for (apparently) any Inhuman. In the comics, most Sentinel models can adapt to any mutant power, but it takes a few hits before they adapt – this rocket-powered elevator seems to need adapted beforehand (but how did Daisy know it would need to be melt-resistant?). Either way, seems like something out of Roald Dahl’s imagination (not that this is a bad thing).
The team hops in a Quinjet to joins the Great Glass Wonkavator aboard a new mobile base that can stay in the air for days at a time – apparently a bigger and bulkier version of the Bus (but not quite as big or bulky as a hellicarrier). In the comics, SHIELD has had a lot of specialized carriers – notably a Quincarrier, a cross between an Avengers-style Quinjet and a SHIELD-style Hellicarrier – but time will tell whether or not this is one. Outside of Marvel, it does remind me of the Ring Raiders’s Air Carrier Justice for some reason.
Once at the team’s Playground base Joey meets Bobbi, who is no longer in the field (after her traumatic torture at the hands of Ward) and is wearing a lab coat to do more science type work. This fits her comic book counterpart, as in the comics, Bobbi Morse was a scientist long before she ever became the superhero Mockingbird. Not sure if it’s on purpose, but her safety goggles do kind of look like her superhero glasses. Coincidentally, Bobbi and Lance still have their on-again, off-again romance, and Lance, at least, thinks they should just get married again. He’s also busy hunting Hydra to get revenge on Ward for Bobbi’s sake. In the comics, Mockingbird is starting to hook up with Lance Hunter as well, so all’s well that ends well.
Coulson, meanwhile, is getting used to the fact that he only has one complete hand, though with superscience being what it is, he’s already gone through several life-like robotic hands. He seems to be having a harder time adjusting to calling Skye “Daisy” than life with less digits, though. Coulson’s old, petrified hand is being kept in the science lab for study.
Joey learns that he can’t go back to his old life (meaning he’ll probably need to take an “Inhuman name” at some point) because news stations like KQJS in Seattle and WHiH are reporting him as a superpowered menace. Daisy explains that everyone is nervous since “Sokovia fell out of the sky.”
So who is the biggest threat to new Inhumans? It seems a secretive team called the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (or “ATCU,” rather unimaginatively) is working for a woman calling herself Rosalind Price (or “Roz” as Coulson calls her) is rounding up Inhumans and conducting autopsy on a lot of dead ones (presumably they killed them on sight). Roz has used a lot of aliases, including Sarah Russell, Margret Campbell, Samantha Potter, and Ms. McBride. The team is equipped with state-of-the-art DARPA gear (as Mack surmised) and have the ear of the president (still the same guy from Iron Man 3 – wonder if there’ll be an election soon). Roz herself seems to know a lot about SHIELD (including Coulson’s connection to TAHITI, but not including his robot hand), but neither she nor Coulson knew who was killing Inhumans left and right. If nothing else, the name ATCU calls to mind AIM (the Advanced Idea Mechanic terrorists seen in Iron Man 3), and the Tesseract (which looked like the Cosmic Cube, AKA the Cosmic Containment Unit). Honestly, it’s surprising they didn’t just call them STARS (Superhuman Tactical Response Squad) from the comics (which is what they are).
Update: BehindDarkGlass and others stated a theory so obvious it needs to be repeated. “Skye” was an alias for Daisy Johnson. We know “Rosalind” is an alias. Might her real name be Abigail Brand, and ATCU be the precursor to SWORD (Sentient Worlds Observation and Response Department)? Makes sense!
Daisy (sporting a cool new uniform), meanwhile, wants to recruit the Inhuman Lincoln (who used to work for Daisy’s mother) to help with “Intake” (how SHIELD introduces itself to people with powers, as per “Repairs”). Previously noted to have limited electricity powers, like causing short outs and minor levitation, Lincoln reveals himself to have impressive abilities here, blasting out electricity like a pro. He’d still rather keep his old life working at a hospital than help SHIELD though.
Of course, everything comes to a head when the new villain shows up. Lash, the Inhuman who hunts Inhumans, has been leaving a trail of dead victims in his wake, and when he turns up at the hospital, it takes the combined power of Daisy and Lincoln (plus Mack’s bullets) to drive him away. He seems to have some impressive energy powers, and can disintegrate walls with ease, but he did stagger a bit under the heroes’ powers. In the comics, Lash belonged to a sect of extremist Inhumans who believe only those worthy of power may undergo Terrigenesis. He personally tests each Nuhuman, and those found wanting (or who refuse to join his cult) are utterly destroyed. He also absorbs energy (so he may have just being charging up on Daisy and Lincoln’s blasts) to increase his strength. If you’re wondering about his strange haircut and facial features, this has a lot to do with him being designed by comics’ legend Joe Madureira. Joe Mad’s style is mad cool, but unfortunately whenever a heavily stylized artist first draws a character, subsequent artists struggle with how to depict him.
For his part, Mack remembers the axe he used to take out major threats at the end of last season and ponders getting a shotgun/axe combo weapon. Make it happen, Fitz!
At any rate, SHIELD, ATCU, and Lash all have their work cut out for them because Coulson estimates the entire world could be affected by Terrigen within 17 months (way ahead of the projected release date for the Inhumans movie).
Then there’s the episode’s other story. Fitz – no longer stuttering or second guessing himself – is acting like a bad ass. He’s ignoring Coulson’s calls, traveling the world surrounded by intrigue and adventure, spitting death in the face, and generally kicking butt. He knows the mysterious Kree-created Monolith from last season is responsible for Jemma Simmons’ disappearance, but as he and she have unrequited love, he will stop at nothing to get her back. He has followed several leads (including a theory she might have shrunk to a subatomic level after hearing about the Pym Technologies incident), and finally come to Tangier, Morocco, where some terrorists are hoarding relics “liberated” from Iraqi museums. Terrorist leader Yousef (last name?), curious about Fitz’ dedication and eager for the Splinter Bombs (created by Hydra from Kree technology) Fitz was holding, threatened Fitz, but Fitz still ran off with his prize: a strange scroll with the Hebrew word for “Death.” Spooky. Fitz doesn’t want to give up, but Coulson is ready to call Simmons’ family in Sheffield to report her MIA. Side note: Fitz can barely speak Arabic but can instantly read ancient Hebrew.
Audiences, however, get a peek at where Jemma really is. It’s revealed she is running for her life on an alien moon orbiting a large, unidentified planet, somewhere on the other side of the universe. Seems like a good excuse to get some sort of Guardians of the Galaxy cameo.
Next week: Ward is Back! So is that cool Asgardian guy! (Where’s May!?)
Kevin Garcia is a professional educator and freelance writer whose work has appeared in Marvel Comics, the Associated Press and on various blogs. As a fan, he doesn’t get paid to write Secrets of SHIELD posts about Marvel shows – or any other geeky posts for that matter – but hey, wouldn’t that be nice?