TV Reviews - - by Chris Townsend

REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3 Ep20 – “Emancipation”

REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3 Ep20 – “Emancipation”

It’s a whole new world in the MCU, as following the events of Captain America: Civil War the Sokovia Accords have been ratified, and passed meaning that all enhanced individuals must register with the government or face prosecution. The Accords provide a contextual backdrop to this week’s AoS proceedings.

In “Emancipation” General Talbot pays S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ a visit to unearth any potential Inhumans that Coulson – and therefore indirectly the ATCU –  is utilizing covertly to get them assessed and registered at Presidential request. This creates the main thrust of the episode as Talbot learns/is brought up to speed on the Hive situation and impending disaster it will cause which, rather bafflingly, Coulson has chosen not to share with his ex-foil and current partner in running all things S.H.I.E.L.D.

This once more only highlights what a total shambles S.H.I.E.L.D. can be sometimes under Coulson’s questionable management, and continues to shine a light on the fact that his team seem to exist in a little bubble, away from everything else that’s going on MCU-wise.

We open on Coulson in a bar, and after some rather on-the-nose news on the Accords for non MCU movie viewers, he addresses the death of Peggy Carter – as seen in Civil War; although the rather poetic cancellation of  the brilliant Agent Carter by ABC in the same week of it’s heroines screen funeral makes her passing even more bittersweet. After a quick chat about the current events with Talbot, the pair are off down the rabbit hole – or in this case a secret pub booth elevator – to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ to begin the inquiry.

Whilst Talbot and Coulson debate the registration of S.H.I.E.L.D.s Inhumans, Lincoln, still in isolation after last week’s failed experiment, secretly communicates with Daisy when she hacks into S.H.I.E.L.D.s. system – much to Fitz’s chagrin who constantly remains one step behind safeguarding the mainframe. Lincolns naïve and loved up attempt to talk the still Hive-swayed Daisy back over to the side of all that is righteous is infuriating and after weeks of starting to warm to him as a character he begins to irritate again.

It’s amazing how much drivel Lincoln has gotten away with over season three, and even more amazing that Coulson continues to put up with his moody teenager disobedience. This, combined with the above points have really started to paint S.H.I.E.L.D. in a way that undermines the power and seriousness that the organization once stood for. Where’s Nick Fury when you need him? He’d whip the fools into shape!

Unfortunately Lincolns irksome behavior has already incensed us as viewers, so by the time his secret screen-based trysts with Daisy were all revealed to be an elaborate set up to trick her into thinking he was heading to her on a Quinjet the episode had already lost a star or two. So what was actually on the Quinjet? More on that later.

Meanwhile Hive and Dr Holden Radcliffe have extracted enough of Daisy’s blood to confidently produce their Inhuman-making chemical weapon; the combination of her Kree laced blood, Hive’s spores and some Terrigen have created a deadly cocktail that will not only turn all regular human into Inhumans, but ensure all those newly powered people are already under Hive’s sway.

After last week’s failed attempt, test number two is conducted on a group of Watchdogs (the anti-Human terrorists who made their only appearance back in the episode “Watchdogs”) who Hive manipulates into being captured. It was good to see the Watchdogs hadn’t been forgotten, although once again they are wasted as a concept. This time however, there was no sign of their leader, ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Felix Blake, which is a shame as exploring his attitudes on the Accords would have been interesting, or even the possibility of him becoming Inhuman. But no, this is Aos after all and despite having 22 episodes a season, there just isn’t the time!

However, the test is a failure resulting in primitive, zombie-like Inhumans; Hive seems happy enough with the results though and moves forward with more blood extraction from Daisy.

That is until the Quinjet lands carrying none other than Lash, after destroying a burst of Hive spores, Lash leaves the creature severely wounded and then unexpectedly uses his powers to destroy the spores within Daisy, finally freeing her from Hives sway. It looks like the team finally have a weapon against the ancient Inhuman, or at least they did until James kills Lash with his Hellfire chain. Uh oh. Again, the murky storytelling is glaring here. If Lash has that much self control then why was he killing Inhumans to start with? We never did get a clear answer.

Daisy is returned to S.H.I.E.L.D. alive but weak, whereby Talbot informs the team that Hive stole a fully functioning warhead from the ATCU facility back in “Watchdogs” and intends to use it to disperse his Inhuman-creating gas into the atmosphere. Oh boy…..what a shame the team just lost Lash.

Additional note: The terrible “Parting Shot” has of course been rendered entirely moot as in the biggest non-twist of the week, Most Wanted has indeed been shelved.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently airing on E4, Sundays at 9PM


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