Oh, so that’s why Andrew left May… This week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fills us in on how the good Doctor Garner went from sensitive shrink to Inhuman assault weapon. It seems Daisy’s mom left her ledger full of Terrigen crystals, should any human try to learn its secrets. As fate would have it, Andrew did just that while vacationing with his ex. But rather than die, he was transformed into the monstrous Lash, whose instinct is to slaughter those of his brethren whom he deems “deserve it.”
“Chaos Theory,” like so many recent episodes, grows the relationships between several different couples, including Coulson and Rosalind and Fitz and Simmons. The S.H.I.E.L.D. director grows ever closer to the beguiling ATCU head, and supports — or at least says he supports — her plan to put Inhumans in stasis until a “cure” for their condition can be found. He even goes so far as to side with Rosalind against an outraged Daisy, who’s understandably horrified to hear her new identity described as some kind of disease that needs to be treated. (The real-world parallels are obvious, most notably with that of LGBT teens forced to enter Christian conversion camps with their “Pray Away the Gay” programs.) Rosalind explains that not all Inhumans are dangerous, but that “For every Daisy there’s a Lash, and it’s ignorant of you to think otherwise.” The young Quake agrees to her terms, at least for the time being. Rosalind’s point is made clear when Andrew “lashes out” and threatens Lincoln. It’s May who shoots him down, conveniently into a makeshift cell. As she informs Coulson, she was aiming to kill — because no one ties up the Cavalry. Not even the man she loves.
Elsewhere, Fitz, in an effort to repair Simmons’ phone, stumbles upon the recordings she made while stranded on the alien planet. Despite the grief he’s experienced since learning of her relationship with Will (of which he sees evidence in a photo of the two), he’s moved to tears upon hearing her describe her true feelings for him while she lives what could have very well been her final days. It’s cause for all the feels in the world when he finally hears Simmons describe him as “smart and handsome,” and that she’d happily settle down in Scotland… Still working on a plan to retrieve Will, Fitz discovers that the logo of the agency that sent the astronaut through the portal resembles that of a carving on the portal’s chamber, causing him to wonder if Will was not somehow working for the ancient cult that used the Monolith to exile people.
Coulson and Rosalind continue to generate sparks. And when she offers to tie his necktie for him, his eyes light up like a sky full of fireworks. He admits for the first time that his missing hand is a constant source of pain (though we see it apparently has some useful superhuman strength when he uses it to keep Lash at bay for a second). By episode’s end, the two finally consummate their relationship (off-camera, this is a Disney show after all). But their first on-screen kiss is a brief one, shown just after we learn she’s working with Gideon Malick, and that she plans to bring Coulson to the new HYDRA head next week. Ah, well. Their flirtation was fun while it lasted. Yet part of me still hopes she’ll have a last-minute change of heart, especially in light of the fact that Daisy saved her life this week. Or maybe she’s just playing Malick. In any case, I’m damn sure Coulson’s playing her. The man’s an old-school spy, and he always did try to emulate James Bond.
Once again this season, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s storytelling is impeccable. Things move fast, but not too fast for us to care about what’s happening on screen. And the final showdown between Lash and the team is a genuinely suspenseful action sequence that offers such pleasures as Daisy finding a new use for her superpower, and a beauty-and-the-beast confrontation between May and Lash that beats Age of Ultron‘s Black Widow/Hulk moments hands down.
— “I really gotta commit to that shotgun-axe idea.”
— S.H.I.E.L.D. has developed the best ensemble cast of any comic-book-based show on TV. And everybody gets a moment to shine in this episode, even with twice the number of actors in season 1.
—- “I’m just gonna say what we’re all thinking. He has a hog face.” “He does have a hog face.” Fitz is almost as cute with Hunter as he is with Simmons.
— Ward is so much more enjoyable when he’s used briefly. We’re left wanting more of his smarminess.
— “For now, let’s just watch the sun rise.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).