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REVIEW: Agents of SHIELD 3×01: “Laws of Nature”

Written by Jason Wittmer

After a long summer, Agents of SHIELD is back, and we’re once again reminded why this show is so enjoyable. The first season of the show certainly struggled to find its footing, but in its second season, the writers introduced a larger cast of characters, developed some new connections to the overall mythology of the MCU, and altogether proved how the show can excel as both a supplemental installment to the Marvel films, while also still being entertaining on its own legs. Though the season three premiere took a little while to get rolling, the second half fired on all cylinders.

For those who thought the Terrigen-contaminated fish pills might take a while to affect the general population, then you were proven wrong within the opening moments of the season. We witness the wake of destruction caused by a man named Joey who has, unknowingly, just awakened his previously dormant Inhuman abilities. He’s quickly surrounded by a group of agents who are ready to take him in. These, however, are not the Agents of SHIELD we’ve come to know over the last two seasons. We hear a woman tell them over their comm. devices to “use lethal force if necessary,” which doesn’t exactly jive with Coulson’s tactics. And that’s when we first see the heroic introduction of Skye — I mean, Daisy — the leader of Coulson’s band of “Secret Warriors.” Chloe Bennet has grown into this role over the last couple of years, and she’s never looked better. Seeing Daisy in her Quake outfit is particularly cool, especially in retrospect, considering how far her character has come since the beginning of season 1. No longer is she a mere computer hacker plagued by existential questions of her ancestry. Now, she’s a badass Inhuman, confident in her abilities and in her mission. I’m excited to see where this season takes her.

Coulson’s also involved in this mission, as we see him standing by in a crowd to photograph the person in charge of this competing team of agents: a mysterious woman played by Constance Zimmer, most notably known from “Entourage” and “House of Cards.” After extracting the new Inhuman up to their base (a new-and-improved Bus, Coulson’s “new toy,” a sort of plane/helicarrier-hybrid), Daisy’s left to calm him down. I didn’t love this interaction. If I had just experienced a self-described “catastrophic meltdown,” I don’t think I’d be so easily convinced to rest now and have my questions answered later. What I did like, however, was the moment when he asked Daisy, “So, you guys can cure me?” This once again lent credence to the theory that the Inhumans would serve as the MCU’s substitute for Mutants. The “Mutant Cure” was first seen in Joss Whedon’s “Gifted” storyline in his run on the “Astonishing X-Men;” noteworthy, of course, because his brother Jed Whedon wrote this premiere, along with wife Maurissa Tancharoen.

As Coulson debated with Daisy about who the mysterious woman could be and what she could be doing, we witness Zimmer’s character telling her team the same thing about Coulson. If you’re wondering whether or not she truly is a bad guy, then you don’t have to wait long, as we see her look on at a room full of dead Inhumans, with their torsos eviscerated and their organs waiting to be harvested. Yes, the Agents of SHIELD apparently have another Daniel Whitehall on their hands. Key word? “Apparently.”

We next catch up with Fitz, who, ever since his counterpart Simmons was swallowed up by the monolith, has been relentlessly pursuing a way to bring her back, albeit with little success. One year ago, Fitz was an incompetent wreck – both mentally and physically – so it was especially enjoyable to see him play such a badass, unafraid to undertake secret missions of his own. Whereas Simmons was once the cause of his own inhibitions, now she’s motivating him to be the confident agent he’s evidently capable of being. Ian De Caestecker continues to do nice work.

The first standout scene would have to be the first face-to-face meeting between Coulson and Rosalind, the name given to the mysterious leader of rival agents. Coulson mentions the difficulty it took to track her down, saying “It feels like I’m talking to a ghost,” to which she rightfully replies, “I feel like I’m talking to a corpse.” The pair continue to exchange coy, snappy lines that perfectly border the line between insulting and flirtatious. Clark Gregg and Zimmer play off each other extremely well. Things take an interesting turn when Rosalind accuses Coulson of having killed the Inhumans she had possession of (having apparently taken them herself after they were presumably left for dead), leading to one of the best lines of the night; Coulson asks, “Wait, is this still cagey banter, or are we being honest all of a sudden?” If neither of them is responsible for the murdered Inhumans, then who is?

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As if on cue, in comes Lash. Daisy and Mack have gone to visit Lincoln, the Inhuman who helped Daisy first come to terms with her powers, in an effort to help new Inhumans come to terms with their newfound abilities. Just as the interaction begins to get hostile, however, we bear witness to the new villain of the season. In the initial promotional photo (seen above), I wasn’t completely sold on Lash’s appearance. I thought he looked like some sort of anthropomorphic porcupine, especially with his tendril-covered body enshrouded in shadows. If this was the first season of AoS, his full reveal probably would have been drawn out for several episodes. Instead, we see Lash in all his glory, and then some. His snarling face is perhaps most reminiscent of a panther (or even Kimahri, from “Final Fantasy X”), and we even get to see him in action, too. Daisy and Lincoln share an awesome moment together as they combine their powers to thwart Lash. Although it seemed to have ended a bit too easily, hopefully it’s only the beginning of things to come.

The episode concluded with the President giving a nationwide telecast, in regard to the many recent alien threats which have happened on Earth, specifically referencing the attacks in New York (The Avengers), London (Thor: The Dark World), and Sokovia (Avengers: Age of Ultron). Just as I was wondering why he did not mention the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the President explains, “the organization we had in place to protect us, SHIELD, brought airships raining down in our nation’s capital.” In conclusion, the President has now issued an executive order to create the ATCU, or, the Advanced Threat Containment Unit. Coulson’s new rival Rosalind, as it turns out, is enacting the direct orders of the President of the United States. This season was an astounding example of the benefits of watching AoS – sure, it stands on its own, but it also incorporates fun references to past events in the MCU, as well as setting up those for the future: in this case, undoubtedly, Captain America: Civil War.

Last but not least, what an awesome tag with Simmons! While it’s no surprise she’s still alive, where is she exactly? On another planet it seems. Perhaps near Attilan, home of the Inhuman royal family, located in the blue area of the Moon? Only time will tell.

Final Grade: B+

Extra Thoughts

-Aside from Simmons’ late appearance, the episode featured only HALF of the first season’s main cast in prominent roles. With Ward and May completely absent, the expanded cast from season 2 have all proven to be great additions

-Did you see the axe hanging on the wall of Coulson’s office? Just a nice piece of memorabilia, or insurance in case the other hand needs to be chopped off too?

-Speaking of Coulson’s hand (or lack thereof), we saw him taking off the prosthetic to escape the handcuffs from a mile away, but did that make it any less cool? No, it did not.

-I didn’t get to talk about Bobbi or Hunter much. They’re here, though not given much to do. They still like each other. They still “shag” (Hunter’s words, not mine). They still argue about whether or not they should still like each other. Yawn.

-If Rosalind was tasked with “neutralizing” the Inhumans, which apparently includes the use of lethal force, then why were her and her team so adamant to beat Coulson and his team to the subjects? And why would she care if Lash was killing them? Isn’t he more or less doing her job for her?

-Mark my words…Coulson and Rosalind will bang. It’s not a question as to if they will, but rather when they will.

-Another cool reference to the MCU, with Coulson name-dropping “Pym Technologies”

What did you think of the Season Premiere of Agents of SHIELD? Are you looking forward to this season of Inhumans and Secret Warriors? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Jason Wittmer