Snark Tank; Recap
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 2: “Purpose in the Machine” Recap
This week in
Doctor Who Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we’re in Gloucestershire, England in 1839 where stones are being drawn to decide which lord to sacrifice to the same giant rock that swallowed Jemma hundreds of years later. Why exactly these secret society types are sending each other to be eaten by a stone they know no one has ever returned from we don’t know, but it’s exactly the ominous set up we need to get this episode going.
We pick up right where we left off last week, with Daisy and Mack’s conversation about Joey possibly joining Daisy’s new team being interrupted by news of Fitz’s screaming match with the rock. I have got to take this opportunity to point out that the monolith doesn’t liquefy again until Daisy is in the room and again later when someone else with alien DNA is present, so it’s still a possibility there’s something about Jemma we don’t know. Two Inhumans magically ending up on the same team without knowing it? Probably not, but Simmons did have a run in with alien DNA in season one and it could possibly have some lasting effect on her in a way the monolith picks up.
Fitz’s reckless behaviour pays off, giving the team a hint to what the rock actually did to Jemma. While they’re not willing to lose themselves to this mystery when it seems hopeless, it’s really nice to see the team’s instant determination to get Simmons home as soon as a real lead shows itself. With a new mission in hand they set to work.
Hunter, meanwhile, continues to ignore Bobbi’s wish to be involved with taking down Ward and goes off to track him down. And here we start the half of the episode that would have been better off as scenes of Jemma dealing with the horrors on her current alien home, but instead we get Cool Hydra Dad.
The best description I’ve seen of Ward right now is that he’s like a guy in college that got way too into Fight Club but didn’t understand the meaning. I want to like Ward as a villain because he has the potential for it, but time and time again I just find him cheesy and whiny, blaming other people for his problems rather than embracing the fact he’s evil. If the show wants me to believe him as one of their Big Bads they’ve got some work to do, and especially if they plan on keeping him alive beyond this season.
Lets just cover the rest of Ward’s stuff here because I don’t really know what to say about his Bond villain storyline. He and his lead henchman release a bunch of rats onto a boat to get party girls to clear out so they can kidnap the rich playboy they strapped someone to a car to find. Ward has the kid tortured only for him to fight back. Surprise, it was a test! Now the son of Wolfgang von Strucker has proven himself worthy of Hydra in Ward’s eyes.
Ward and Werner set out to rebuild Hydra and it seems, from the episode’s stinger, that the way Ward thinks they should do this is by putting Werner in the class of Andrew Garner, May’s ex-husband. As long as Ward’s focus with Hydra continued to be clear personal revenger I just can’t see him living up to any other Hydra villain.
Back in what I like to call the relevant part of the story, Coulson, Fitz, and Bobbi have gone to find Professor Randolph, an Asgardian living on earth that we met back in season one. Randolph agrees to help with the stone after Coulson and his Luke Skywalker hand show their dark side and make a couple of threats. I really couldn’t resist the chance to give Coulson a lightsaber in at least one of these recaps!
Can I just say if Bobbi is getting her own spin-off I would be infinitely more interested in Mockingbird and Professor Randolph as a twenty minute sitcom than I am in the current Huntingbird premise. The back and forth between these two during the episode is great.
Randolph doesn’t believe the monolith liquefying is in any way random and implies that it could possibly be to do with the status of the planet it leads to, rather than earth, but once again, we only see it turn to liquid when he is in the room and I’m not ready to let go of this theory just yet. Randolph claims not to be an expert on this kind of thing, but the history buff quickly finds a clue that leads the team to England. To the plane!
Daisy and Mack greet Andrew, who has once again come to evaluate an Inhuman for the team Daisy is starting. It’s interesting to hear her say he hasn’t signed off on anyone yet, since from the last episode I assumed Joey was the first Inhuman SHIELD had found alive so far. Andrew quickly makes it clear Joey can’t be joining any type of team right now (understandable, since he found out about his power yesterday), and Daisy and Andrew have a heart-to-heart about her new mission.
It’s nice to see Daisy’s determination and what she’s trying to stand for, since a lot of people consider the name change a complete character shift, what’s driving her is made very clear here.
While last season we saw May getting ready to leave for the beach with Andrew, she quickly seems to have abandoned him to take care of her father instead. It’s great to see her back after an absence last episode, and the show is taking straight into learning a lot about her past. Her father brings May into situations we’ve never seen her in before, and it’s a really nice change to see a different side of her life.
May’s family vacation is cut a little short though, Hunter soon makes his presence known and plans to drag May into his mission to infiltrate Hydra and get to Ward. A ridiculous mission, by the way, and something he literally did last season. If May doesn’t call him out on this and take charge I’m going to be disappointed. No wonder Hunter didn’t want to tell Coulson the details of his mission, the whole team would have called him out on his “plan.”
In England Coulson and the team find a secret section of the castle Randolph led them to. Fitz decides it’s used to control the monolith and make it liquefy at will, and though Coulson points out he maybe just hope that’s what it’s for it turns out to be true because… well the power of love, again, I guess. I really can’t help but dislike Fitz’s sudden character change into macho man. I don’t agree with this storyline but they could have still made him obsessive about getting Jemma back without making his character shift seem so jarring
Mack and Daisy are soon called in to bring the monolith to the room and after trying the machine Daisy realizes they don’t need it at all. She can replicate the frequency of the machine with her powers, even if when they turned it on the first time she seemed about to die from it.
Here I have another problem with how the show is handling this, because while Fitz jumps through the portal to save Jemma (instead of sending through a probe like intended) Daisy is right there risking her life to keep the thing open and so far hasn’t gotten any kind of credit for it in the show or from the fandom. We finally have our female superhero with powers guys, don’t let it go to waste when she’s doing awesome things!
The team succeeds, Jemma is rescued, but I’m still a little sad we didn’t get to see much of Jemma’s months on an alien planet. We do see she’s clearly having nightmares about the place however, and apparently she is used to sleeping with a shiv in hand now, so hopefully we’ll get to see more in future episodes. If the show handles her PTSD well the experience itself being shown won’t matter so much, but if this storyline is wrapped up neatly by the end of next episode it’s going to be disappointing never to see what she went through.
On other fronts: May is back (kind of) but I do hope we’ll see her return to the rest of the team soon, as Hunter’s plan for Hydra just seems terrible right now.
Ward’s storyline holds no interest for me yet and Rosalind’s absence was felt this episode. The storyline with her feels like the arc for at least the first half of this season and if Ward is around for twelve episodes simply to stretch things out in preparation for the second half of the season it could quickly become boring.
This was still a really good episode but I do feel like one of the few that liked it less than last week. I may not have wanted the mystery of where Jemma is to last half the season, but it would have been okay to see her survive there for a few episodes once we knew where she was. The rescue just didn’t feel earned to me, because we didn’t see the struggle of the months she was missing, and so her absence seems to be solved, at least for us, rather quickly.
P.S. The debate continues!