Oh dear Agents of SHIELD… When I said that you had forgotten the ways of Series One and that things were much better now, that was not an endorsement for you to return to the bad old days. However, you just could not resist could you? This episode was a severe disappointment, throwing away plot threads and really letting us down with one of the more interesting elements of Series Three. This was a bad episode and I have come to expect more from the showrunners.
The biggest let-down of this episode was without a doubt Lash. The show had a really great opportunity to show his motivations and have Garner explain why he was turning into Lash, and to actually produce a villain with some character (you know, like Jiaying). However, what we had here was a villain who killed Inhumans because he had to. No reason, no justification, just that he felt the need to. It almost makes me feel bad for giving a previous episode credit for hinting at Lash’s motivations. What is Lash doing that is actually necessary? He is just a monster who kills Inhumans because he wants to, acting purely on instinct. You can see Andrew hinting at a reason but, just like the episode itself, it feels rushed and clutching at straws. If there was actually a reason, then the show communicated it so badly that it might as well not have been there at all, and if there wasn’t, then that is lazy writing. I am beginning to think it is just the latter.
I was also really annoyed at how they just put Lash in stasis and removed him from the episode. I get that there are other plots to explore, but why put this one on ice right now? It really seemed like the writers midway through realised that the Lash plot was not going to gel with the other plots and therefore needed to find a way to get him out of the picture. I know he will be coming back, he is still alive and in the hands of something at least partially controlled by HYDRA, but it felt really rushed to have the reveal and then just put him aside. It reminds me of how Spider-Man 3 was overstuffed with villains and how they therefore needed to put some of them on hold for stupid reasons to let their pathetic excuse of a plot limp ahead (and that is a standard no one should aspire to). This show really put away a good idea for a plot and I’m really not sure why.
I will say that there were some good parts of this episode. May’s reaction to finding out that Andrew was Lash was very realistic. At first she could not believe it and had to go find out for herself. She knew that she would have to do something about it, but she needed to find out why and hear an explanation. For a character who is so reserved and so good at doing things by the book she actually managed to let us see her emotions for once and we certainly know that Garner is a point of weakness for her. Her conflict was clear and it was good of the episode have her be the one that ended up stopping Garner. At no point did it feel contrived or silly, but it felt like something May would do.
It was also nice to see more of Rosalind Price. Here was a character we knew very little of, except that she and Coulson were both trying to play with each other. At this stage it is clear that there is a little bit more to her than that. We had hints of it last episode, but now you can see that she is certainly convinced about what she has to do. She does not hate Inhumans nor see them as inferior, but she is afraid of them and wants to fix what she sees as a problem. However, you can see that she is very much on the same page as Coulson and they together are very good allies (and now lovers). The fact that she has ties to that HYDRA bloke is interesting, and I wonder how much of this was a trap and to what extent is she is being used by that guy. Either way she is a good character and I hope the show does more with her.
Finally, continuing with the theme of Fitz and Simmons being the best parts of this series, again the scenes with them are nothing but pure gold. Seeing Fitz decrypt Simmons’ phone and then proceeding to watch the recordings and videos, you could genuinely tell how upset he was when he was watching what might well have been Simmons’ last message to him. As someone who has felt that his love is unrequited, he now feels he has a chance, only for that chance to be shared with Will Daniels, the man that he is trying to rescue. He is doing what he can for Simmons but you can tell a part of him does not want Will to come back. Some part of him wants Simmons all for himself and as seen by the recorded messages, he feels that he could have her but he is equally not giving into the temptation. The love triangle that this series is setting up is very interesting and I am certainly a fan of this.