Agents of SHIELD: 318 “The Singularity” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
This instalment of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, we continued to follow Daisy and her exploits as a follower of Hive, while we also got to see Fitzsimmons get up to some espionage (as well as furthering their romance). As well as this, Coulson and May did… something?
Despite its lack of actual story development, this episode certainly wasn’t short on excitement. Straight out of the gate the show made it clear that the S.H.I.E.L.D squad were on the back foot, and that’s always exciting (okay, not always, but often). I always find that in situations like this, where the whole team are nursing a wound, that characters who normally don’t interact all that much end up having touching scenes with one another, and this episode was no different. For me, the particular interaction that I enjoyed the most was that between May and Mack. Although it wasn’t your typical heart-to-heart, it did show how much Daisy’s turn to the dark side has affected the team.
We also got a fantastic speech from Coulson, in which he became the S.H.I.E.L.D director they needed right then (but not the one they deserved?), reassuring the team that they were going to stick together and save Daisy. Clark Gregg is consistently either good or great, meaning he doesn’t get all that much praise, but this episode he really stepped it up. It’s clear that Daisy meant an awful lot to Coulson, and he does a great job of showing that this episode, while also doing a great job as a leader.
Also doing a fantastic job this episode was Brett Dalton. I’ve often had mixed feelings about Hive, unsure as to how powerful he is and why HYDRA sacrificed so many men into bringing him back, but now I’m fully behind him. Ignoring for a minute how he ended this episode with his own little stable of Inhumans (how awesome was that!), Hive is just an absolute monster. Not only is the sense that he pulls people’s flesh from their skeletons, which is pretty monster-like behaviour, but also in the sense that he takes so much pleasure in upsetting people. We see glimpses of it first when he is with Daisy and he is using Ward’s memories against her, but he truly became the villain we all want the moment he began to talk to Simmons. The way he slowly lets out bits of Will while he menacingly steps towards her was spine-tinglingly menacing stuff, and exactly what we need to see more of.
Speaking of Simmons, we also got everyone’s favourite star-crossed scientists going undercover and infiltrating a secret scientist meet up. Up to now, absolutely everything involving Fitzsimmons has been absolutely great. If the idea of Fitzsimmons both going undercover wasn’t good enough, which it absolutely should have been, the writers decided to throw in Mack, who is simply put ‘the best’, and have him effectively play the role of the third wheel (trust me buddy, we’ve all been there).
Everything about this worked. It gave the show a chance to develop the only romance in a superhero TV show that isn’t garbage, and it also showed off the terrific chemistry that Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge have with one another. The duo work fantastically well together, both as a romantic item (is that still a phrase?) and as fellow members of S.H.I.E.L.D. The back and forth they had with Mack down the comms was also superb, and the closing moments where Mack became a love guru were pretty spectacular.
We also got two pretty great guest appearances this episode (Three if you count the brief cameo of Glenn Talbot). We got the fantastic return of everyone’s favourite Aussie, James, who properly became comic book character, Hellfire, after he was gifted with the ability to blow up anything he touched. Coupling his already fantastic douche of a character with the coolest inhuman ability we’ve seen this season was a surefire way to make me love him even more.
As well as this, we got John Hannah, playing Holden Radcliffe, a scientist whose work mainly consists of body alterations. A bit of an odd ball character, whose introduction provides the team with more questions of ethics; it’ll be interesting to see where this character leads us, now that he has been taken by Hive.
There were a few odd decisions this episode. After HYDRA had been such a powerful force in the MCU, being the main antagonists of the greatest film in the MCU so far (undeniable), it was a little bit jarring to have them so easily destroyed – offscreen! Of course, knowing HYDRA, there’s every chance that someone somewhere survived, or there was a secret mini-HYDRA that Malick knew nothing about, or that Malick didn’t actually tell Coulson where they all were. We have to remember that this is a comic book show, and comic books are stupid, but it still felt like a bit of a kick to the stomach, after most of the MCU had convinced us they were an unstoppable force.
But while things like the destruction of HYDRA and the briefly used bomb vest was odd, they didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the episode. While there weren’t many huge turns or plot developments, it was the little things like Coulson using his own shield, and Lincoln’s blue electrified face, that were all a lot of fun, and ensured us an exciting and action packed episode of television.