After nothing much special happening last week, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D rebounds this week with an episode where not much happens for the most part... and then everything happens in the last 10 minutes or so. Not exactly appointment-viewing stuff, granted, but this time last year we were still dealing with the "Coulson keeps drawing maps" business, so yeah.
For the most part, we're continuing the threads laid down last time: S.H.I.E.L.D and ATCU are now (reluctantly) working together on the Inhumans "problem" in order to track the movements of the Inhuman-hunting monster Lash, with the added wrinkle of Daisy being extra-annoyed because she's getting the sense that Coulson's decisions are being swayed because he's kinda "into" ATCU boss Rosalind Price. Also annoyed: May's ex-husband Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood), the psychiarist who's been counseling Inhuman "Secret Warriors" prospects for S.H.I.E.L.D and isn't happy to learn that self-duplicator Alisha (last seen in Season 2) is already on active assignments. Meanwhile: Fitz is still trying to reconnect with Simmons, not yet aware that her real problem is that she actually wants to "go back" to the alien otherworld she was marooned on between seasons. Elsewhere: Agent May finally has enough of Hunter's recklessness in his let's-go-kill-Ward mission (me too - it's boring) and rats the whole thing out to Coulson, only to be surprised to find Andrew working at S.H.I.E.L.D.
The May/Andrew stuff is, surprisingly, the most compelling this time. The writing typically plays May as so close to the vest it's easy to miss when the show is actually setting up unseen parts of her story to be "mysterious" instead of just "taciturn badass." The idea is that she and Andrew did some near-reconnecting at the start of her leave, but then he took off without explanation and now she's even more bitter/jaded than ever - the duality now being that both parties have disappeared on the other to (apparently, in Andrew's case) go do secret work for S.H.I.E.L.D.
Oh, and it's also more compelling since Andrew promises to explain where he went and why "later" to May... only to be DEAD (apparently) by the end of the episode because Ward threatened to have him whacked after discovering Hunter's undercover gambit and Hunter called his bluff. So yeah, down goes Andrew, blown up in a convenience store explosion by Werner Von Strucker. Because this is a series that really needed to keep killing off it's Black supporting characters.
Anyway! The supposed Lash "origin" teased at the end of last week was more misdirection: Instead, we meet a soon-to-be-dead Inhuman whose "power" is breaking out in a rash around other Inhumans whose been helping Lash (who is also an Inhuman, just like in the comics) find his victims - his rationale being that being Inhuman is so unpleasant that these are mercy-killings. He turns out to be wrong, of course: Lash turns up to kill him by attacking the ATCU truck transporting him (and Daisy and Mack, reluctantly being allowed to inspect their "partner's" facilities) and describes his actions (existance?) as "necessary" rather than merciful.
For reasons unknown, Lash doesn't bother to kill Daisy - so she's alive/awake to see his retreating shadow seemingly morph back into that of a "normal" human (Lash looks like a hedgehog-man, if you haven't been watching.) "So he could be ayone!," she helpfully explains to Mack/The Audience... just before Rosalind awkwardly steps into the room (meaning that Lash is definitely NOT her, unless AGENTS' misdirection-lever is busted.)
And then there's Fitz/Simmons. After doing the world's worst job of hiding her private research into rebuilding the portal, Simmons reveals that she needs Fitz's help to go back to Planet Day-For-Night Desert because "something happened" there - something we'll presumably find out next week.
Good episode? Yeah, but more in the "keeps the stories moving" sense than "THIS is why you should be watching!" sense. I'm a lot more impatient for the next one than I was for this, though, so that's definitely something.
- Lemme get this out of the way straight-off: Andrew is NOT actually dead because Andrew is Lash. It explains everything: Why he vanished suddenly on May, why he's so big on helping S.H.I.E.L.D catalog Inhumans but not on actually clearing them for combat, how Lash is always one step ahead of everyone, where he's getting his data from and (from this episode) why Werner looked panicked instead of psyched after the hit. The only remaining question for me is whether he's always been Inhuman (meaning he would've been one when May killed the kid psychic in her "Cavalry" origin) or whether he's among the recently-turned.
- In the preview for next week, Simmons calls the mystery planet "Hell." Could be hyperbole, but recall that so far AGENTS' main point of connection to Cosmic Marvel has been through THOR-adjacent characters, and THOR: RAGNAROK supposedly involves Viking Hel.
- One imagines that Hunter probably isn't going to "come back" from willingly getting a fellow Agent's loved-one "killed" to settle a grudge. Is that spin-off back on or still off? I can't keep track anymore.
"4,722 Hours" appears to feature Simmons going all survivalist on Planet Whatever, with still no real indication as to why she'd want/need to go back there. Were there other people/things with her? Guess we'll find out in a week: