Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Proves It's Team Cap in 'Emancipation'

Wednesday, 11 May 2016 - 10:51AM
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Wednesday, 11 May 2016 - 10:51AM
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Proves It's Team Cap in 'Emancipation'
As we were all fully expecting, this week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. set the stage for the upcoming two-hour season finale by playing on the events of Captain America: Civil War.

Spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Mild Spoilers for Captain America: Civil War follow


As a group, S.H.I.E.L.D. has always operated in the shadows, but with the Sokovia Accords threatening their operations, we start to learn which side of the idealogical battle our agents fall. Coulson opts to ignore the Sokovia Accords, staying true to character and siding with Cap, pointing out that "Nothing good ever comes from putting people on lists". The tie-in with the MCU went much more smoothly this time, and even included an especially sweet and meaningful moment in which Coulson mourns Agent Peggy Carter's death. The world as Coulson knows it is coming to an end with Hydra taken down, Cap estranged from the Avengers, and Peggy's passing. Could Coulson's time be coming to an end too? I don't think it's likely, since Coulson has already faced death once and came back to life through the sheer power of his fans' love. Clark Gregg is still the beating heart of this show, and it's hard to imagine what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be like without him. 
 
With the Sokovia Accords dominating the headlines, Talbot pays Coulson a visit in an attempt to bring his S.H.I.E.L.D. in line with the new regime. Unfortunately for Talbot, he's not met with Coulson's assurances and is, instead, introduced to the threat of Hive. Confronted with the possibility of catastrophic impending doom, Talbot (understandably) loses his chill. The General is uncomfortable with Coulson's rejection of the Accords and doesn't agree that the only way S.H.I.E.L.D. can operate is in the shadows. Coulson deals with Talbot in his usual manner: by going behind his back and continuing his plan to do whatever is necessary to get the job done.
 
The task at hand for S.H.I.E.L.D. is to stop an increasingly motivated Hive. We learn that Hive plans to use a warhead he stole from the ATCU to disperse Dr. Radcliffe's experimental gas into the atmosphere, creating a potentially global legion of Inhuman followers. If there was ever a good time to bring in the Avengers, this would be it. Bringing in a superpowered team member who can't be controlled by Hive would be especially useful, but even a powers-free addition like Black Widow would be an invaluable asset.  And besides, it would be amazing to see Black Widow kicking ass alongside Agent May. Hive wouldn't stand a chance. Damn the accords for robbing us of this opportunity. Damn them.
 
Meanwhile, Hive is still ramping up his efforts to test Radcliffe's Inhuman-generating gas. And, lo and behold, it looks like he might have succeeded… sort of. Hive's latest test subjects are the remaining members of the Watchdogs who, with the help of Radcliffe, he has turned into partially melted, mind-controlled, growling drones with a somewhat comical appearance. Hive going after the Watchdogs was oddly satisfying, but seeing him turn to Daisy and lovingly refer to his newly minted army as "our children" was a whole new level of creepy.
 
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., we're led to believe that Daisy has convinced Lincoln to break out of his S.H.I.E.L.D. captivity to join her to play happy families. It turns out, though, May and "Electroboy" have actually made the tough call to send in Lash to fight Hive instead. I'd like to take this moment to say "Yay, Lincoln! Finally!", since this was the first time he was able to make a tough call that wasn't (completely) about Daisy. He's grown a lot over the course of, er...-  one episode, but either way I hope this new and improved Lincoln is here to stay. Unless, of course, he's the Fallen Agent. No one is safe.  
 
Though it was fleeting in nature, the fight between Lash and Hive was pretty spectacular. The look on Hive's smug Inhuman face when he realized he'd finally met his match was kind of priceless, but alas, it all proved to be of little consequence in the end.
 
 
After his weird dog-people break free, Hive gets away and Lash manages to free Daisy from her brain-washed state, only for him to be killed by a mind-controlled Hellfire. Lash's focus on saving Daisy rather than killing Hive seemed to imply that Dr. Garner was still in there somewhere as the man behind the monster.  But STILL, it was remarkably frustrating that he couldn't have just focused for a few second longer and killed Hive? The small consolation is that the heroic sacrifice route was a fitting death for Lash, but somehow it lacked the emotional impact that it should have provided off the back of the heart-wrenching buildup of Andrew's plotline this season. It all felt a little rushed and, once again, the team's best chance against Hive was all too dismissed. Adding to the annoyance of this situation, the emotional impact of Lash's storyline has always focused on Agent May, but after he's gone we're only given a split second flash of May kneeling over his dead body. Granted, she had already accepted that her husband was gone, but we didn't get to see much of her coping with that loss. Agent May's emotional arcs are some of the best material the show has to offer, but this season has wasted a number of opportunities to take advantage of that fact. 
 
After Lash fails to remove the threat of Hive, attention turns swiftly to this season's big mystery: Who will be the fallen agent. It's at this point we're led to believe the showrunners are playing a few mind-games with us, when Elena gives Mack the cross pendant we see floating alongside the fallen agent in Daisy's vision. This should place Mack squarely in the crosshairs of the end-game, but it couldn't be that simple...could it?
 
 
Mack has become one of the most endearing and emotionally-developed characters on the show this season and, after the red herring last week, it would be a cheap and predictable cliché if they were still going to kill him off.  We were all worried about him as soon as we saw the necklace in the jet, and a budding romance with a new character is often prime fodder for killing off a character. However, after the events of the season constantly put Mack in mortal danger I began to feel a little safer, if not purely because there's cheap tricks and fake-outs haven't really been this show's style. The problem is that Mack is also the best candidate at this point for those very reasons. His kind, endearing, altruistic qualities make him a prime candidate to be 'red-shirted', allowing for maximum impact on the fans. Conversely, now that it's been so heavily implied that Mack is the Fallen Agent, the red-herring really could just be a red-herring.

Although the emotional impact would be greatest if one of the most beloved main characters like Mack bit the dust, it might be a risky move for the show to make, especially in light of the departure of Bobbi and Lance earlier in the season (not to mention the impending death of Hive, which means Brett Dalton will likely be off the show). But with Marvel's Most Wanted on shaky ground at the moment, we could be looking at losing three of the agents who have helped transform this show since way back in its second season. 
 
Hive's greatest weakness at this point is the connection that the team members have with his hosts, Ward and Will. It should be exciting to see how this potentially humanizing Achilles' Heel factors in during the two-hour season finale next week. One thing though we know with absolute certainty- not all of our beloved Agents are making it out of this battle with their lives.

 
Best lines:
 
What's he doing in here? I thought this was a germ-free zone.
 
Some battles need to be fought with Secret Warriors.
 
Who in tarnation names these things?
 
I could fry that mustache right off your face.
 
I'm beginning to think that I am not the Inhuman Whisperer.
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