This season of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is truly proving to be one of the most consistently thrilling shows on television today. After the bombshell revelation in last week’s episode, “Chaos Theory” dug a bit deeper Garner’s origin as the monstrous Lash, as well as providing some interesting developments on the Coulson/Rosalind front. While it’s no surprise that Rosalind may have some possibly nefarious ulterior motives, it’s still intriguing to finally see some hints about her true intentions. And lastly, though we gained some insight as to when Garner first became Lash, did this reveal provide satisfactory answers to all of our questions after last week? Well, not exactly…
The episode begins with a flashback to six months prior, when May was still on leave from S.H.I.E.L.D., on vacation with Andrew in Maui. When they return from their trip, we see Andrew looking over some of his Inhuman research. Upon opening an archaic book, he’s suddenly blasted with Terrigen mist and inadvertently begins his own personal Terrigenesis. We learn later in the episode from Lincoln, as well as from Garner himself, that this book had been in possession of Jiaying, Daisy’s mother. The book contained a recorded list of many known Inhumans whom had been living at Afterlife. By booby-trapping the book with the mist, Jiaying was ensuring that the list would never come into non-Inhuman hands. Somehow, fortuitously, Garner happened to open the book, and just so happened to have also had dormant Inhuman abilities within his body.
In my review for last week’s episode, I acknowledged my shock over the reveal of Lash’s identity, yet also my trepidation in regard to its specifics. Now that we’ve gained more context into the Garner/Lash situation, I must admit that I’m not fully satisfied with the conclusions. I think it would have been problematic if it had been revealed that Garner had always been Lash for many years, including the time he spent married to May, so it’s relieving to learn that he only underwent the transformation a mere six months ago. What is problematic, however, is the notion that Garner was more or less a random victim in a terrigen mist attack, yet just so happened to have the capability to survive the ordeal. This also means that Garner was a psychologist specializing in super-powered-patients, who somehow, miraculously, just so happened to be super-powered as well. I may be nitpicking a bit, but it seems like too many coincidences for my liking.
The other issue with the Garner reveal involves the mission which Lash had been on to murder other Inhumans whom he deemed unworthy. As it turns out, Lash hadn’t been trying to fulfill some sort of ancient Inhuman prophecy, but rather a distorted attempt to carry out the mission Coulson had issued to Garner. When Coulson finally gets the chance to confront him, Andrew tells him, “I’m trying to sort the good and the bad. You gave me this job!” Although that’s not entirely inaccurate, I fail to see how Garner made the leap from “sorting” to “brutally murdering.” It’s quite probable that he has undergone some sort of mental delusion since his transformation, but I would have liked to see the writers play this up a bit more. Andrew Garner has always been a pillar of stability for May, so it’s still rather jarring to see him act so crass and unrealistic. Furthermore, now that we have a full understanding for Lash’s M.O., I’m still not satisfied! Why would Lash deem Daisy worthy, while Lincoln unworthy? Garner’s explanation is that Lincoln “has a dark side.” But what about all of the other Inhumans he has killed? Did they have dark sides too? How can he tell who has a dark side? As of now, I’m still left asking more questions than I had before, so hopefully some further explaining is done in future episodes.
The other major storyline this week involved Coulson and Rosalind getting, how shall I say this, closer. The episode saw the two leaders becoming more comfortable than ever before, with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the A.T.C.U. working side-by-side for an operation, as well as finally getting together and solving their problems…horizontally. But, of course, happiness doesn’t last long in the MCU, as we see that Rosalind has been speaking with Ward’s newest buddy, Gideon, and plans on bringing Coulson in to see him. Ward has avowed to “cut off the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and it looks like Rosalind may even have an indirect hand in helping him achieve that.
While it may have gone past under the radar, one conversation early in the episode seemed to be ripe with potential for the future of the MCU. Coulson, Daisy, Rosalind, and Garner all debated the efficacy of Inhuman treatment and induced stasis. This scene, in which Daisy emphatically said, “We are not a disease,” once again lent credence to the theory that Inhumans will serve as the substitute for the X-Men in the MCU, as the mutants often fought back against a government-imposed cure. Likewise, the scene also had implications for how Captain America: Civil War will potentially play out. Daisy and Rosalind’s first debate over whether or not Inhumans should be forcefully committed was thrilling to see – and although the connection may not be perfect, I couldn’t help but view it as a precursor to the debate Cap and Stark will have about the “Superhero Registration Act” in next year’s film. Relevant to that, of course, is the summit Rosalind mentioned in which the President would discuss the “future of enhanced people.” This show proves once again how integral it is to the MCU, as seeds are planted each episode for the films to later cultivate and take advantage of.
Although the episode was entertaining throughout, the follow-up to the Garner=Lash reveal was not as satisfying as its predecessor. The explanation for Lash’s backstory seems to be riddled with plot holes that are difficult to overlook. There are, however, still a number of other exciting ongoing storylines, as this season continues to fire on all cylinders.
Final Grade: B
-Garner to Jemma: “Secrets can eat you up from the inside.” Looks like Andrew learned from May and his other spy friends about what it takes to be a Double Agent. Witty banter is essential, obviously.
-The fake-out murder/daydream with Andrew and Joey was really well-done.
-I don’t think there’s ever been a worse utterance of “We need to talk” than when May said so to Andrew this week.
-Daisy saving Rosalind from falling to her death? Another great use of her Quake powers.