Agents of SHIELD Review: Of Con Games and Civil War Synergy

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Agents of SHIELD, Season 3, Episode 20, “Emancipation”

For an action series featuring spies, Agents of SHIELD uses con games the way your grandmother used her good china: Not very often but to dazzling effect when it’s all laid out. In previous outings, the audience has been in on the game, this time May and Lincoln run a con on everybody (especially Daisy) to get inside Hive’s new base and send them a little surprise.

Plot Snapshot

Days at SHIELD are never easy but this one is especially difficult with the Sokovia Accords in the news, Peggy Carter in the grave, General Talbot in for a visit, Lincoln down in the dumps and Daisy hacking into everything but the base’s toaster. Thanks to a little misdirection and a good acting job, May – under desperate times, desperate measures orders from Coulson – pulls the wool over everyone’s eyes to spring a trap for Hive.

The Big Deal

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Lincoln has been mopey and moody from the first time he came into SHIELD’s orbit. The one thing that has constantly kept him from smoking cigarettes behind the Dumpster and listening to The Smiths 24/7 has been his affection for Daisy. Knowing she is messing around in the base’s computer systems, he tries to reach out to her after a confrontation with May and a healthy meal. Of course she’s listening (and watching, stalker much Daisy?) and gets in contact with him through the monitor in his room. Daisy is overjoyed Lincoln is sick of SHIELD’s rules and wants to reunite. She immediately starts a plan to spring her lightning love. After some on-the-fly engineering and a well-swung food tray, Lincoln is free in the base as Daisy tries to find a way to get him out of there. A few wrong turns and a scrap with Mack later a Quinjet takes off … and Lincoln isn’t on it. Lincoln knew Daisy was too far gone and everything she has been saying is an offshoot of Hive’s sway. Knowing this, he teamed with May to get a jet to Hive’s base with Lash aboard. They gambled that Lash’s purpose as an Inhuman is to destroy Hive, even if didn’t work, Lash would still cause some havoc. Lash does mess up Hive pretty good, but he isn’t able to take him out. However, Lash does take the control parasites out of Daisy’s brain and put her on the jet for a return home. Unfortunately, Hellfire backstabs Lash and kills him.

On the Side

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After being isolated from the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a long time, the events of Captain America: Civil War played a role in the misdirection without spoiling the movie if you haven’t seen it yet. The Sokovia Accords were causing similar strife on the small screen as the big. In the spirit of the accords, General Talbot wants unfettered access to SHIELD’s base and to register any Inhumans Coulson has working for him. Coulson is decidedly #TeamCap (naturally), citing – from personal experience – that classifying and registering superpowered people eventually makes them targets, no matter how nobly intended the list is. Also, SHIELD always needs some wildcards so people like YoYo who can live peaceful, normal lives until called upon to help the greater good are important. But when faced with a difficult scenario Talbot defaults to a military solution – using a nuclear weapon to kill a swarm of flies. Thankfully, May’s plan sprang into action before things went off the rails.

Observation and Speculation

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*I hope that Peggy Carter obit isn’t a subtle signal that Agent Carter is also off the television coil. Come on ABC, renew Agent Carter. There is no such thing as too much Hayley Atwell in our lives.

*While she’s doing all this hacking, Daisy is busy giving away all her Kree DNA laced blood away to the cause. She is weakened and has a pallor that makes Keith Richards look tan in comparison.

*Lincoln and Daisy are a little young to have watched MacGuyver the first time around, but it’s good to see Daisy keeping her 80s TV references in the ABC family.

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*You have to love YoYo’s Tyrion Lannister philosophy. She drinks and she knows things. She also shares that wisdom with Mack over a beer.

*The “real time” use of YoYo’s powers was fun. The smile on her face after Talbot gives her the “any time now” thing was awesome. The look on Coulson’s face was also priceless.

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*Now that they’ve crossed the event horizon, FitzSimmons can’t even play kissy-face in the server room without someone interrupting them and making them, you know, save the world.

*Hellfire’s showdown with the anti-Inhuman militia was pretty awesome. The effects on the flaming chain whip he used was straight from the comics and looked awesome.

*Everything Hive touches is creepy. Those militia guys he turned into his mutated soldiers of the damned were nasty.

*Lash was redeemed in his final act of heroism, revealing that there was still enough of Dr. Garner inside of the beast even though the change into the monster was permanent.

*Daisy looks like a shell of herself upon her return to base. The season finale is going to be rough on her, I believe.

*In the last moments of the episode we got a lot closer to the space vision Daisy had a few weeks back. Hive stole an operational warhead from an ATCU base he plans to use to disburse his pathogen into the atmosphere to turn billions into Putty soldiers from Might Morphing Power Rangers.

*In the Agency of the Traveling Necklace, the gold crucifix from the vision passed from YoYo to Mack. For good measure, Fitz is holding it in the “someone will die” previews for next week.

Verdict

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The episodes before blowout season finales are tricky for shows to pull off effectively. They don’t want to blouse up out the effects budget or do anything too cool or shocking in order to keep the finale from getting overshadowed. The con game was well executed, didn’t require a ton of effects, tied up some loose ends and got “Fallen Agent” Daisy back into the SHIELD fold. Penultimate season episodes don’t get much better than this.

Craig Wack

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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  • AbbySaurus

    May and Lincoln fooled me. Also May is a cockblocker.

  • it was sooooo goood. Screw all other reviewers.

    but ya Daisy gon’ be F’D up next week.

    side note: I would like to start my own spy team. Hunter, James, YoYo and I ( fitz maybe too) are the AGENTS OF DRINK … we don’t really get our missions done…. perfectly but we always drink before and after. Sometimes during if Hunter and James have anything to do with it. (we also eat tacos after @abbysaurus:disqus wanna play?)

    • AbbySaurus

      Uhhh…..YES. I’m in. I can drink and eat tacos and pretend to spy.

      • YES. HIVE MIND UNITE. Oh maybe not hive mind. Hive is bad…

  • ChainedVase

    You guys. May sent her beloved to his death and all we get is a last shot of her holding his broken body? WTF?
    But otherwise great episode, I just always want MOAR Melinda.

    • more fuel to Craigs fire that shit is going to hit the fan with Melinda next week. cause she’s been fairly quiet lately

      • My sister’s fire, but legit nonetheless

  • Jelinas

    I cried over Lash’s final redemption. I have been very weepy over comic book adaptations lately.

    And that chain effect was off the chain.

    Penultimate season episodes are often flat. “AoS” and “The Flash” both really delivered this week. COME ON, “ARROW”!! YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!!

    • i think arrow has 1 more ep than the rest of the team. which means they slacked off this week

      • Jelinas

        UUUUGGGGHHHHH, I’m only fifteen minutes in and I already can’t wait for it to be over.

        NEXT WEEK HAD BETTER BE GOOD

  • abell

    Side note, whoever it is that plays Hellfire (no, I’m not going to google it) looks like a perfect match for Bigby Wolf, if anyone ever did a Fables tv show.