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MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: “Laws of Nature”

It’s back, my fellow SHIELDies! (Or whatever we’re calling ourselves these days.) After season two’s gamechanging two-hour finale — and the long summer hiatus that followed — Marvel’s flagship television show hits the ground running with a very satisfying season three premiere. When we last left our heroes, a ton of Terrigen crystals had sunk to the bottom of the sea, making their way into the hands of hapless humans via fish oil pills. Sure it was a somewhat bizarre plot device, but the show all but admits as much in “Laws of Nature”, with Bobbi telling Coulson that A) unlike past Terrigen experiments, this outbreak hasn’t proved lethal to humans, and B) more than fish oil has been infected. To prove the point, Coulson runs some calculations and deduces that in just seventeen months, the earth’s entire population will have been exposed to Terrigen, thus resulting in a whole heckuva lot of new Inhumans.

The latest of which is Joey, a man with the power to melt metal. Skye, or Daisy, as she now prefers to be called, comes to his rescue before an unnamed black ops team can capture and experiment on him. Their leader, Rosalyn (played by Constance Zimmer), proves a worthy adversary for Coulson, and demonstrates some much-welcome sexual tension with the S.H.I.E.L.D. director. Though we learn she’s not the Biggest Bad this season has to offer, since someone is playing both of them from the shadows.

Meanwhile, back on the new and improved, super-streamlined Bus, Skye, er, Daisy (I sympathize with Coulson, it’s not as easy as one would think), finds that her counseling skills aren’t up to the task of acclimating Joey. So she enlists Mack to recruit Lincoln, whom we learn has, after the events of last season, tried to leave his Inhuman heritage behind, and begun working as a hospital physician. It isn’t long before the aforementioned third party comes calling in the form of a big blue bruiser out of Nightbreed, which gives Lincoln and Daisy the opportunity to use their powers to the delight of us superhero fans. Daisy, it should be noted, looks terrific in her new uniform, as sleek, stylish, and powerful as Coulson’s new plane. It’s much more satisfying to see her take an active role in protecting her fellow Inhumans, rather than moping around in horror and confusion at her newfound abilities as we saw her do for most of last season.

Fitz also gets a more proactive role than he did for the first half of last year. He refuses to accept and mourn the loss of Simmons, who’s been MIA since getting swallowed up by the Monolith in the season two finale. Instead, he’s been secretly searching the globe for a means of retrieving her. Coulson sympathizes since May has been gone as well since leaving for vacation last year. As he shows Fitz, he’s now left without his figurative right hand as well as his literal one.

And what of Bobbi and Hunter? The most turmoil-tastic couple in comic book TV hasn’t lost any of their appeal, even as they’re uncertain whether to remarry. One thing Hunter is sure of, however, is his desire to kill Ward for torturing his ex last season. Like May, the traitorous former agent doesn’t appear this week, but his absence gives more room for writers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen to develop the rest of their burgeoning cast of characters. The one I didn’t expect to see for quite some time, Jemma Simmons, shows up in the episode’s eerie coda, in which the S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist is shown trapped on a blue-hued alien world (of the Kree perhaps?), hunted and hiding beneath two unforgiving moons. The choice to roll the episode’s end credits with the howl of extraterrestrial wind in place of music only heightens the mood.

“Laws of Nature” is tight, fast-paced, and intriguing, while offering just the right amount of storytelling clarity (and special effects) to welcome new viewers to the show… And Daisy’s hair looks awesome.

Agents of SHIELD

Declassified Deliberations

— William Sadler’s Inhuman-fearing President looks likely to play a significant role in Captain America: Civil War based on the conflict he’s stirring up between those who possess superpowers and those who fear them.

— “Interesting? I’m not a freakin’ TED talk!”

— I’m praying Rosalyn sticks around for a much longer time than Coulson’s last several opponents. She’s a good Missy to his Doctor.

— So did I somehow miss the episode in which we learned Bobbi’s medical science skills were comparable to those of Simmons?

— Speaking of Simmons… Though I miss Fitz’s better half, her absence does give her soulmate an opportunity to show just how far he’s come since the beginning of last season, both physiologically and emotionally. He even admits his love for her to the Moroccan gangsters from whom he’s trying to obtain information.

— Daisy and Mack tell Joey he’s essentially their prisoner. Methinks the ethical questions raised will resurface later this season.

— Joey compares being an Inhuman to his experience being gay. It’s worth noting that Bryan Singer’s X-Men films use mutants as the same metaphor, and that Marvel’s inability to win the X-Men film rights back from 20th Century Fox is what inspired them to introduce the Inhumans into their own Marvel Cinematic Universe in the first place.

— Coulson has a Grumpy Cat mug. Of course he does.

— It seems Rosalyn has a superpower of her own: the ability to access the internet on her phone while riding the subway.

— “I need a bigger gun, I guess. Or my axe. Or maybe a shotgun-axe combination of some sort.”

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

Images: ABC

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