Pacing has been a consistent issue with season three of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That’s not to say there hasn’t been great moments, but particularly in the latter half of the season it often seems as if the writing staff are trying to cram two seasons worth of material of into one with no discernible purpose. “The Singularity” is one of the episodes that suffers from this, most notably in its use of implausible conveniences just to keep the plot rattling forward.
The ramifications of last week’s revelation – that Daisy is under Hive’s control – are immediately felt. The base is on frantic repair duties, and Coulson is hobbling around with a broken leg after having pieces of a concrete ceiling fall on him. After receiving questionable intel from General Talbot that the ATCU have miraculously used Malick’s assets to trace every main HYDRA compound (convenient plot point 1), Coulson orders the strike before transferring all S.H.I.E.L.D.’s data to Zephyr One to use as a temporary mobile base.
Elsewhere Daisy gets to bonding with Hive in her favorite spot on the outskirts of the city – information Hive has sifted from Grant Ward’s memories. After an eerie natter and a cuddle the pair make their way to the South Dakota Badlands to pay Lincolns old buddy, and former Kree-orb owner, James a visit. Apparently the orb only forms part of the entire artifact and after Daisy activates James with a Terrigen crystal he reveals the larger component buried under his shack.
In an annoying display of a handy MacGuffin (convenient plot point 2), Hive reveals the device is the only thing that can stop him. *sigh* Speaking of James, although we now know that he is the MCU version of minor Marvel character Hellfire: his powers here are visually executed in an almost identical way to a certain card-throwing mutant owned by Fox; quite frankly it’s amazing the AoS production team are allowed to get away with it.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Coulson somehow (convenient plot point 3) comes to the conclusion that Hive will go after multiplying Inhuman Alisha (Alicia Vela-Bailey), which we can just about believe given that he could thoroughly assess the most high-value assets for Hive to target. Nonetheless upon he and Lincoln paying Alisha a visit to bring her in its revealed that *gasp* Hive has already gotten to her (convenient plot point 4) and the team doesn’t hesitate in laying waste to her enslaved duplicates.
Meanwhile, Fitz and Simmons research into Hive’s brain controlling parasites continue and they put forth the notion of collaborating with renowned transhumanist scientist Dr. Holden Radcliffe (THE John Hannah) in the hopes of potentially finding a cure to what the pair now describe as a “Dopamine-overloading drug”.
Fitzsimmons once again shine and watching the pair go undercover for the first time in three seasons was great fun. As always their chemistry is wonderful, their flirting awkward and when they “have comms trouble” to freely discuss the state of their relationship is a highlight of the episode. The final scene of the pair physically cementing their new relationship state (the singularity of the title) is a genuinely punch the air and cheer moment. It’s just a shame we have to endure convenient plot point 5 to get there. Ready?
There is absolutely no way, no how, no chance that Hive and Daisy would know S.H.I.E.L.D. are going for Dr. Radcliffe? How could they? It’s a new piece of info only brought to light by Fitzsimmons a handful of hours prior. It’s an utterly ridiculous development; saved only by the creepy encounter between Hive and Simmons and the anguished force-choking threat that Daisy is forced to deliver to Fitz. Kudos to Chloe Bennet’s performance here – just a shame it’s surrounded by utter hokum.
At the episodes end the ATCU destroy Malick’s facilities as Coulson watches HYDRA “being wiped up for good.” Seems a tad too easy given the whole “cut off one head…” ethos. Oh, and Hive has captured Dr. Radcliffe, a man who didn’t even know Inhumans were real, in order to get his help in recreating the initial Kree experiment that created him. Er, what?
Although essentially built around the simple premise of Hive starting to gather the founding members of his Inhuman army whilst S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to outmaneuver him, the story mechanics of “The Singularity” just don’t hold up. Pacing issues, poor character motivation/decision-making, and murkily drawn paths from A to B have been all too clear. Although, quick shout out to Coulson’s Captain America-inspired energy shield!
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently airing Sundays at 9pm on E4