Halfway through the second season of "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." the show finally hit its stride. And then it picked up the pace, ending its sophomore year with a rip-roaring finale that left the team -- and the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- in a very different place.
Happily, that pace and focus keep up in the third season premiere, while offering a great jumping on point for new viewers. Here are the biggest moments from "Laws of Nature":
In case you've forgotten last season's cliffhanger, here's a handy reminder: Terrigen, the substance that changes people with alien D.N.A. into super-powered freaks (a.k.a., Inhumans) has been let loose into the ocean. Fish ate it, got turned into fish oil, and as we find out in the cold open, have started putting a number of people in the U.S. through the same change
SkyeDaisy (Chloe Bennet) went through in season two.
And in the premiere's cold open, we meet a new Inhuman, Joey (Juan Pablo Raba), who can melt metal in a three meter radius with his bare hands. A group of black ops agents attack him to take him down, and that's when SHIELD (not doing the periods, not gonna do it) comes in, including
SkyeDaisy, now in a bad-ass costume and in control of her powers (mostly).
Daisy pushes Joey into a flying elevator that falls out of the sky, for his own safety -- “It’s not like this day can get any crazier, right?" Joey quips -- and they rocket out of the alleyway they were hiding in.
So yeah, that was pretty cool. It's an insanely over the top, showcase opening that continues with the team's new mobile base (R.I.P., The Bus), and proves "S.H.I.E.L.D." has officially moved into the realm of superpowers we all wanted it to for ever so long.
Baby Now We Got Black OpsABC
Let's jump around a little, shall we? The new threat in this episode is a black ops team led by the enigmatic Rosalind (Constance Zimmer). She's set up as a foil to Coulson (Clark Gregg), and it works! Later in the episode, they have a battle of wills on a subway train: “You’re not an easy person to pin down,” Coulson says, thinking he has the upper hand; “Really? Because you were no trouble at all,” Rosalind quips back, taking him and Hunter (Nick Blood) hostage. Their whole exchange plays like that episode of "The West Wing" where Josh Lyman had a robot hand.
Turns out, though, that the DARPA backed black-ops group isn't actually the enemy: they're taking in Inhumans in a more aggressive, less training-y way that SHIELD, but still want to know who is killing them off.
Oh, Inhumans are being killed off, btw.
Regardless, as special guest star President William Sadler proves, Rosalind is extremely powerful, and won't make Coulson's Commando's lives any easier.
Also, her second in command is like a dollar store version of Jason Statham, so that's pretty cool.
Hey, this show has a lot of characters all of a sudden! We'll get to a few more in a second, but in case you were wondering: Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) is recovering from her injuries, but is okay because she's also a talented biologist, because comic books; Hunter (Nick Blood) wants to marry her, because they have a spin-off to set up; Mack (Henry Simmons) is... I don't know, doing stuff; Ward (Brett Dalton) has been quietly building up HYDRA, but doesn't appear; and May (Ming-Na Wen) is off on permanent vacation, so doesn't appear.
And that's what you missed on, "S.H.I.E.L.D."! Bahmp!
This is going to sound like a slam, but bear with me for a second: the Marvel Universe references are finally less awkward. Which is to say, in the beginning the show ham-fistedly shoved in mentioning Thor or The Hulk, and it was glaringly obvious they weren't going to show up. Now that "S.H.I.E.L.D." has hit its stride, it's way more confident in dropping an MCU bomb or two, but they fit.
There's Sadler, of course, who played the President in "Iron Man 3." But also Daisy explains to Joey that he can't leave SHIELD until he gets control of his powers because, "The world’s been a little twitchy since Sokovia fell out of the sky." And there's a casual mention of the "Pym Technologies disaster."
It's probably a combo of the actors and writers getting more comfortable with these aspects too, but it works, and makes the show fit better into the overall tapestry.
Hans My HedgehogABC
So, who is the new Big Bad? Or more likely, Little Bad working for the mysterious Big Bad? All we know is that he rips the hearts out of people/Inhumans, is powerful enough to stop both Daisy's earthquake powers and Lincoln's (Luke Mitchell) electrical powers at the same time, and he looks like Hans from the "Hans My Hedgehog" episode of "Jim Henson's Storytellers."
But who is he? At first I thought he was an evolved form of Raina (Ruth Negga) given the spikes, but then remembered she done died. Could this be a Kree warrior, hunting down the aberrant Inhumans? Or more likely, it ties into the big cliffhanger mystery of the episode...
Most of the episode, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is off on a mission to find his lost love, Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who got sucked into a weird, alien monolith at the end of last season. He takes down terrorists, steals a scroll, and discovers the only answer is a Hebrew word meaning "death." So he shoots open the case holding the monolith, and screams at it.
Surprisingly, the monolith doesn't answer.
In the post-credits scene, though, we see where Simmons has gone off to. She's panicked, clothes ripped, running on the surface of an alien planet. And tellingly, it has the same blue tinge as our mystery hedgehog (who is named Lash, by the way, but we'll find that out later). Could the two be connected????
Oh, and if this exchange didn't kill your heart, you're not human/a #FitzSimmons shipper: "This woman you’re looking for, you love her, huh?" asks the terrorist. Fitz pauses, and wistfully says, “Yeah." That Fitz is finally open about his feelings for Simmons... Look, we know they're gonna be kept apart forever, but we can hope, right?