Saturday, 12 March 2016

Review - Agents of SHIELD: 3x11 - "Bouncing Back"

Agents of SHIELD
Episode 3x11 - "Bouncing Back"

Synopsis

Following the events on Maveth, Coulson showcases a determination to ruin Gideon Malick and put a stop to Hydra once and for all, while Daisy continues to build up her roster of super-powered ‘Secret Warriors’ when she encounters a new Inhuman in Colombia.

Review

Returning back to our screens after a three month mid-season hiatus, Agents of SHIELD continues to focus on the extraterrestrial with a deeply intriguing opening sequence which appears to showcase one of the team's latest recruits in outer-space. Judging from this teaser, it seems that the show isn't quite done with alien worlds and perhaps this second half of Season Three will continue to see our heroes exploring the cosmos – something I wholeheartedly welcome if it helps connect Guardians of the Galaxy closer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Somewhat surprisingly, this episode was something of an understated return, dealing with some of the loose plot threads established in “Maveth” and introducing a new Inhuman supporting character for Daisy's team of Secret Warriors. Wisely, the show's writers opt to position these new heroes as back-up to the main team of SHIELD agents, relegating them to guest appearances to avoid over-populating the main cast.

Continuing to borrow elements from Jonathan Hickman's Secret Warriors series, this episode introduces “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, a Colombian woman with the ability to travel at great speeds and then “slingshot” back to her original position. Interestingly, she appears a bit older than her comic-book counterpart and the writers appear to be setting her up as a potential love interest for Mac, although if that's her in the flash-forward getting blown up in outer-space, I don't envisage it being a long-term relationship. I quite liked her power-set, which evoked memories of Quicksilver's super-speed, but with a unique twist that prevents her from being too powerful for the show. Also introduced in this episode was Lucio, an evil Inhuman who has the appear to cause his victims to turn to stone when he makes eye contact with them. While it wasn't overtly stated in this episode, it does seem that this character has been inspired by The Gorgon, a powerful mutant with the same abilities who worked for both Hydra and the Hand. As a mutant, presumably the copyright to the character falls to Twentieth Century Fox, so I'm guessing the writers won't be making any explicit comparisons between the two.


The most interesting moments of this episode were the brief moments where the show focused on Grant Ward, or rather the Inhuman creature that possesses his body. I was expecting a lot more of Ward's personality to be present in Brett Dalton's performance, but he did a fantastic job at convincing the viewers that something else inhabited the corpse. Without spoiling too much, a similar situation occurs in LOST and Dalton's performance here easily rivals that of the veteran actor put in that position. The make-up team have done a tremendous job at bringing Ward's emaciated form to life, making him look genuinely unsettling without relying on gore. While it's likely that this is Dalton's final season on the show, his presence will be sorely missed as he manages to bring even more menace to the series now he has super-powers. Rather frustratingly we don't get to fully see what his power-set is in this episode, but it looks like he is either conjuring a swarm of insects or some kind of sand storm – there's definitely an Egyptian vibe about him, which helps back up the claims that the creature is centuries of years old. I also like that he intends to build up his own army of Inhumans to tackle Daisy's Secret Warriors – almost acting like a TV-scale version of Captain America: Civil War.

While there were some interesting moments in this mid-season opener, it didn't quite begin with a bang...well, okay, it technically did begin with a bang with that explosive flash-forward, but in terms of the story as a whole, it felt like a standard middle of the season episode. With the series revisiting two of his old themes (Inhumans and Hydra), the writers really need to concentrate on keeping things fresh and exciting to avoid repetition. I think the outer-space angle is definitely the way forward as it offers some brand-new to the series, literally taking our characters out of their comfort zones. I like that they are experimenting with flash-forwards to build mystery and hope that this is a tactic that reoccurs throughout the rest of the season. While it was fun to see new Inhumans added to the mix, I would love to see the show experiment more with their episode structure and storytelling, as seen in “4,722 Hours”, perhaps with a few more standalone episodes that don't directly impact the season-arc. Also, isn't it about time that we got some more MCU guest-stars? It feels like ages since Lady Sif or Maria Hill showed up!


Score - 9.2 out of 10


Easter Eggs/References
  • Yo-Yo Rodriguez, also known as Slingshot, is one of the Secret Warriors from the Marvel Comics series of the same name. The comics version is a lot younger than this cinematic incarnation, and is the daughter of super-villain The Griffin, rather than an Inhuman. (First app: Mighty Avengers # 13)
  • Could the Inhuman with the eyes that cause rigor-mortis be an incarnation of the Wolverine villain, The Gorgon, who also appeared in the Secret Warriors comic series as an antagonist. (First app: Wolverine Vol. 3 # 20)

Mysteries
  • Why is "Yo-Yo" in space during the flash-forward sequence, and what causes the explosion that seemingly kills her?
  • What powers does the Inhuman inside Grant Ward's corpse possess?

Next Episode - "The Inside Man"
Coulson and the team investigate an international conference on the fate of the Inhumans. Back on the bus, Fitz-Simmons may have found a way to stop the Inhuman gene from spreading.

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