Agents of SHIELD: 303 “A Wanted (Inhu)man” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
With the third episode of its third season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D decides to focus on all the plot threads it introduced in the first episode, yet ignored in the second (well other than Lash, obviously). That however doesn’t mean other threads, such as the fate of Simmons and the hunt for Ward, are put on the back burner. This week’s episode had a lot to balance and a lot of risky decisions. Did it all pay off? (Spoiler Alert! Yes it did.)
So what made this episode such a success? Well, for starters the writers were finally able to make the humour feel organic, and the episode was so much better for it. Clark Gregg was given the chance to make Coulson the fun character we fell in love with, Nick Blood was able to be hilarious as both a guy getting smashed with his best friend and a guy getting smashed by his best friend, and Ming-Na Wen was able to scowl at Hunter a lot. Everyone was given an opportunity to make the audience laugh, and everyone took full advantage of that opportunity. This is the first episode I’ve watched and not groaned during in far too long.
Yet despite the episode having a lot of humour, it was written in such a way that it didn’t overshadow the drama. Elizabeth Henstridge was probably the show stealer this episode (Sorry Iain. There’s always next week) with her portrayal of Jemma Simmons. As much as the reunion of Fitz-Simmons should have been an occasion of fanfare, it almost felt as if Simmons wasn’t really there, and Fitz could tell. Despite not being the focus of the episode, these two characters continue to be the most consistently interesting thing about the show.
ATCU’s reemergence was definitely a welcome addition to the episode, with the show still not really seeming to know whether they’re good guys or not. Although they don’t seem to do things in the most moral of ways, neither do S.H.I.E.L.D, and S.H.I.E.L.D are definitely the good guys. It was made very clear on multiple occasions that ATCU don’t want to kill or harm the Inhumans, but they are working for the government, and if TV has taught me one thing, it’s that the government are always behind something evil.
Another welcome re-emergence was that of Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell) the electricity controlling inhuman who refuses to let S.H.I.E.L.D help him, until he changes his mind at the last minute, by which time, as you would have guessed, it is much too late. Mitchell’s performance was another of the very good things this episode had to offer, despite the fact I spent the whole episode wanting to shout at my television for him to just join Daisy. The scenes involving him and John Donnelly were, although touching, rushed and clearly only there so Campbell could, rather stupidly, kill someone accidentally. Him and Daisy also locked lips which is great, I guess, I don’t know, I don’t care. I’m 100% here for the action.
Speaking of which (Like my smooth segue?) this episode actually had some, the standout being the fairly brutal Fight Club-esque scene, involving Lance Hunter beating a guy to death with brass knuckles. Sure, it wasn’t quite Edward Norton beating Jared Leto’s face into a messy pulp and yes, there were often random men’s calves in the way of people’s bloody faces so we couldn’t see anything nasty, but the noises and blood caked all over the floor and men’s bodies was enough to make the audience feel a little uncomfortable. There was also a scene where three men seemed intent on (possibly) raping Melinda May, but as you can imagine, “The Cavalry” had other plans. It was great to see May go full Jean-Claude Van Damme on some fools.
As far as complaints go, there’s two at most. The first is the fairly weird writing. Plot devices like “In order to see the boss you need to beat some strangers” or “I don’t want to help or join S.H.I.E.L.D because… reasons?” are a little irritating, but if it makes the episode less boring then I don’t mind too much. The other complaint being, nothing really happens. I mean of course stuff happens otherwise the episode wouldn’t have been entertaining, but I am fairly certain you could watch the whole of season three other than this episode and not be in any way confused. Nothing particularly noteworthy happens until the very end, and even then the revelations are a little underwhelming. Coulson is going to have to work for ATCU, but since he was on the S.H.I.E.L.D ship at the end of the episode, it’s clear this position isn’t full time. Even the post credits scene involving Simmons saying she wanted to go back to the alien planet was nothing spectacular, as it was fairly obvious they were planning on returning there anyway.
But as far as meaningless episodes go, this one was pretty good. It didn’t make huge story advances, but it didn’t need to. All the show needs to do is produce solid superhero action week in week out, with good performances and enough plot to stop us from changing the channel, and this episode definitely did that. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D continues its hot streak, and this episode leads us looking forward to the next.