The agents are trying to recruit an estranged friend, while friends seek out a missing enemy. We more hints on where Simmons was all this time and see the growing tensions leading to Civil War - plus, Fight Club!
This episode didn’t seem quite as strong as the last two, but the story served as a solid bridge, hopefully linking to larger stories on down the line. Some characters (like Skye/Daisy and Simmons) are really coming into their own as fully rounded beings, while others (like Lincoln and Rosalind) are becoming increasingly hard to understand after only a few appearances.
Episodes like this need more Patton Oswalt.
Spoiler-Light Recap: Daisy’s friend Lincoln is still on the run while Simmons has just stopped running, but are either ready for their new status? Meanwhile, Lance Hunter and Melinda May are teaming up to kick but with fake names, but how close will it get them to Ward?
We open with Dr. Lincoln Campbell, still on the run from the militaristic, superpower-hunting ATCU and using his electrical powers defensively whenever possible. Of course, the ATCU play dirty, revealing Lincoln’s status as a wanted “alien” to law enforcement agencies and the press. Playing equally dirty, Coulson reveals he had Mack plant a tracker on Lincoln previously (which Lincoln promptly destroys). On the run and with seemingly nowhere to turn, Lincoln steadfastly refuses to join SHIELD. It’s been noted before, but by having the ATCU working begrudgingly on SHIELD’s turf but focusing so much of their energy on “alien” threats (albeit humans who are several hundred times removed from any alien ancestry), ATCU does seem to be setting itself up as a future SWORD. The Sentient World Observation and Response Department originally appeared in the pages of Astonishing X-Men but has been a staple of the Marvel Universe, especially Avengers comics, for a while now. How the agency could fit, if at all, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is anyone’s guess.
Simmons, meanwhile, is struggling to adjust to life back on Earth. What little information the team has gathered leads them to believe wherever she was had “some flora, no fauna,” but that she was being “hunted.” Despite being in an alien environment (with greater than Earth gravity) for months, they said it’s fortunate she doesn’t need to be kept in quarantine (What? That’s not how quarantine works…). Simmons seems to have the most trouble with small vibrations, causing intense PTSD-like flashes – but whatever was wrong with her, Simmons inexplicably wants (needs?) to go back. From a comic book stand point, there seems to be very little information here, but it seems she was in a very Earth-like environment with some plants, and was hunted, but not by animals – so plant-creatures? What do plant creatures have to do with the Kree? Everything. The original civilized culture of Kree homeworld Hala were the plant-based Cotati. Despite their frightful appearance and bloody (sappy?) history with the Kree, the Cotati are a peaceful race, but they do have difficulty communicating directly with humans, so it’s possible Simmons was disturbed by their attempts at communication through telepathy and possession – or maybe the whole “flora” thing was a red herring and this has nothing to do with the Cotati. Time will tell.
Back to the alien-on-the-lamb, Lincoln seeks out his friend (and AA sponsor?) John Donnelly for help, and everything goes smoothly until John turns on the TV. A few seconds of newscast convinces John to forego years of friendship and secretly turn Lincoln over to the ATCU. This is either commentary on the power of the press or emblematic of the state of fear and paranoia building around superpowered individuals in the MCU. After an intense non-stand-off between Lincoln and John, John suffers a fatal heart attack. Despite his medical expertise and built-in defibrillators, Lincoln is unable to save his friend and finally turns to Daisy just as the ATCU goons show up. Non sequitur here, but Marvel does have a superpowered medical doctor who uses his powers to affect people’s cardiovascular systems – he is appropriately called Cardiac. He has a cool look, but doesn’t appear all that often.
While all this is going on, Coulson heads to the beach for a private rendezvous with Rosalind “Roz” Price, mysterious head of the clandestine ATCU. Despite their many differences, both acronym agency directors apparently meet in good faith (without backup) and attempt somewhat earnest negotiations. Roz seems willing to overlook SHIELD’s quasi-legal existence, but is unwilling to budge on the capturing of Inhumans (as she needs to prove her agency is accomplishing something). The two do have their similarities though: Coulson named his car “Lola” and while Roz doesn’t name her classic car, she does say it’s a “him.” Eventually, Coulson orders Mack and Daisy to let the ATCU have Lincoln in exchange for Daisy’s anonymity, but when that predictably doesn’t work out, she orders her team to arrest Daisy anyway. Despite completely ignoring their just-established agreement, Coulson makes another deal, offering to serve as a consultant to the ATCU in exchange for leaving his people the heck alone.
As a side note, Lincoln completely hides from the highly-trained black ops ATCU team even as they strip the entire apartment bare, but just walks out as Daisy enters the room, as if he was just behind the door. The dude is a ninja. Also, Daisy admits having feelings for Lincoln, and Mack (apparently) didn’t share that breech of professionalism with Coulson out of loyalty to Daisy.
Daisy is understandably upset by the situation, but Coulson explained that after fighting the rogue SHIELD faction and Talbot’s SHIELD-buster unit, he’s tired of infighting between agencies. Also, Roz assured Coulson that her team isn’t harvesting Inhumans for parts, suggesting that the autopsies seen a few episodes back were the result of someone (or something) else killing Inhumans. (Here’s a hint: It’s probably the monstrous Lash.)
In an entirely different show, Hunter and May went deep undercover to find Ward. That means hooking up with Hunter’s Cockney drinking buddy Spud (a “murderous thief” who once bit a man’s nose off) while acting as arms dealers “Richie” and “Gina.” After a fun drinking game of spot-the-dialect, Spud reveals Hunter must enter a Fight Club-style fight-to-the-finish to win the respect of Spud’s buyers (i.e. Ward’s Hydra). The whole “deep cover” experience proves somewhat bonding for May and Hunter as Hunter learns it was Andrew who left May in the divorce, not the other way around. Coincidentally, there are plenty of fighting clubs in Marvel, notably Unlimited Class Wrestling, which boasts legal fights between superpowered opponents, but more on point here, the Thunderbolts comic briefly chronicled the illegal bouts of the Ultimate Brawling League, which featured no-holds-barred fights between down-on-their-luck supervillains.
May and Hunter agree that May winning a fight would be a little more conspicuous (though she does secretly beat some thugs up), so Hunter goes into the ring, only to face Spud, who wants to kill his old “friend” (presumably because he learned “Richie” was a spy). After a knock-down, drag-out fight, Hunter (unintentionally) kills Spud, but as he’s the winner, he’s rewarded – he gets to meet Ward’s right-hand man Kebo (who is not as dead as he appeared last episode, but is sporting a new facial scar). This can only end well.
Next week: The Inhumans are back in a big way, but they’re bringing all their troubles with them!
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?