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MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: “Emancipation”

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. AND Captain America: Civil War! Proceed with caution, agents. If you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “Emancipation,” or the latest Marvel movie, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.

As every Marvel fan on the planet knows, there’s a little film in theaters right now called Captain America: Civil War. And it’s a film that’s very well deserving of all the praise it’s received. (Seriously, I can’t believe we finally have a superhero trilogy consisting of three great films.) But its events have cast a bit of a shadow on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first evidence of which can be seen in this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The film’s Sokovia Accords, under which powered people must register with the government, in order to be regulated in the use of their abilities, become a problem for Coulson when Talbot meets with him to discuss the Inhumans he’s sheltering. There’s a wonderful beat just before this meeting when the show acknowledges the events of Civil War in a far more graceful manner than it did those of Avengers: Age of Ultron. With Coulson hearing that Agent Peggy Carter has finally passed away and that Steve Rogers has gone missing. It’s a moment that’s genuinely moving, and entirely earned, as Coulson says that Steve and Peggy were his heroes; a sigh in his voice indicating as strongly as any of the film’s events that the world they helped create could soon be coming to an end.

Talbot, of course, is the perfect vehicle with which to introduce the Accords to S.H.I.E.L.D., especially seeing as how, in the comic books, he long served as second-in-command under General Ross, who initiates the Accords in Civil War. As Coulson points out, “Nothing good comes from putting people on lists,” and their dueling philosophies mirror those of the film’s Iron Man and Captain America.

The rest of the episode concerns Coulson’s efforts to show the worth of his secret warriors by using Lash to retrieve Daisy (which he does) and destroy Hive (which he does not). Meanwhile, Hive carries out his own secret plans, converting an anti-Inhuman hate group into Inhuman abominations who answer only to his will. Not that Hive has trouble getting regular Inhumans to support him. As made clear by Fitzsimmons, Hive is comprised of nanoparasites that eat human flesh but target the pleasure centers of the Inhuman brain, making the latter extremely susceptible to his/its suggestions.

I was never a huge fan of the Daisy-Ward dynamic. But it must be said that the young agent has a hundred times more chemistry with Hive than she does with Lincoln, who still seems to have little internal life beyond that which revolves around Daisy. Better chemistry is also displayed by Mack and Yo-yo, though the latter’s presence in this episode is largely limited to strengthening Mack’s spiritual beliefs, even gifting him by episode’s end with a gold cross. Their talk of faith may be designed to complement Fitz’s statements that many of the myths humanity has come to associate with the Devil come from Hive. But these allusions, as well as the discussion of Lash’s greater purpose, are so vaguely defined that it’s difficult to see them as anything other than a shout-out to the show’s Christian fans.

Still, with Hive now wielding a stolen warhead with which he intends to turn a good chunk of the human race into “primitive” Inhumans, an all-too-biblical apocalypse could very well be fast approaching, and Talbot may yet be proven correct in his support of the Accords.

Agents of SHIELD 2

Declassified Deliberations

— There’s a deliciously warped version of “playing house” going on when Hive tells Daisy the “abominations” made with the blood she told him to drain from her are “our children.”

— It’s a testament to how much the MCU has evolved that Coulson is now much less in favor of regulations and red tape than the Tony Stark of Civil War. The opposite was true when both characters first appeared in Iron Man.

— “We don’t need registration. We need extinction.”

— I’m curious to see if the show uses, as it well could, Daisy’s retrieval from Hive as a metaphor for drug recovery/cult deprogramming.

— “Rasta Hulk is your husband?!”

— So will May now blame Daisy for Andrew’s death the same way she once blamed Hunter?

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Featured Image: Marvel/Disney/ABC

Images: Marvel, Disney, ABC

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