‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Midseason Premiere Review: ‘Bouncing Back’ Is Fun, Frustrating
Recap and review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Midseason Premiere – Bouncing Back:
I guess I can’t knock Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for having its midseason premiere dedicate so much time to table-setting. “Bouncing Back” is a necessary episode to set up wherever it is we’re heading for the rest of Season 3. And yet, after being such a character-driven show in Season 3A, this midseason premiere can’t help but feel disappointing, even while moments of it were unabashed fun.
I would still argue that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does action sequences as well, if not better, than any other show on network TV. And we got action in spades. Seeing Daisy (Chloe Bennet) team up with newcomer Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) — the future “Slingshot” — was exciting stuff, and all the more so for how Elena was instantly integrated into the team through a bond formed with Mack (Henry Simmons). The mission in Colombia, the battle with a corrupt police force, and a fight against a new Inhuman who can turn people to stone with his eyes made for some thrilling setpieces. We even got some compelling moments such as Elena learning about the death of her cousin, and having a frank discussion about faith with Mack. While this might seem like a throwaway bit of character building, it actually ties into the “Three Months From Now” opening, which shows us a vague scene in which one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team members is on a spaceship that explodes. All we know is that this person was wearing a cross and a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform. So it looks like we’re going to get a mystery that illustrates how we get to that point, which feels straight out of the playbook of ABC’s Revenge. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. This show needs a hook to carry it through the spring, since I would imagine that whatever stories they have planned are mostly placeholders until after Captain America: Civil War is released, at which point their hands are no longer tied by the movies. If that’s the case, then I’m looking forward to what we’ll see two months from now, since the episodes following the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier were some of the best of the show’s run.
But I digress, as we finally get to see what has become of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). He’s now the MCU villain known as Hive, and it’s no surprise that Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) is treating him like a god, since this creature is the progenitor of Hydra. Interestingly, Dalton plays Hive with an otherworldly quality that makes the character downright creepy. This isn’t a possessed, zombie Ward. This is an entirely different creature altogether, and he’s downright chilling (right down to the creepy design, which features a blackened handprint on his sternum from where Coulson crushed his chest in). Hive also poses an entirely new sort of threat, not just to S.H.I.E.L.D., but to the ATCU, which has received authorization as the official anti-Hydra fighting force by President Ellis (William Sadler). However, this is simply for show, as S.H.I.E.L.D. has been authorized under-the-table. In a neat little twist, General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) is brought in to run the ATCU, but he now answers to Coulson (Clark Gregg). This, coupled with the Secret Warriors and agents like May (Ming-Na Wen), means we’re likely in for an all-new war with Hydra in the weeks to come. And that’s a fascinating prospect for a show that, as mentioned, does action as well as this.
With that said, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed by some of the character moments. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) are just sort of there. They were absolutely integral to what made Season 3A so compelling, but their relationship mostly gets token acknowledgment here, with the two of them vowing to start fresh. Meanwhile, Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood) are at a bit of a crossroads themselves, as Hunter admits to having tried to fish oil pills in an attempt to give himself Inhuman powers, while Bobbi admits to facing similar temptation. It’s an interesting direction for the show to potentially take, yet this revelation is mostly brushed aside and treated as comedic relief. The plot-driven nature of this premiere left a hollow feeling, since it hardly felt like we spent any time with the more notable characters of the show. Sure, it’s cool that Coulson has a badass robot hand now, but I’m far more interested in how he’s processing his grief over Rosalind’s death, going as far as to visit the site of her assassination as part of his hunt for Malick. It’s an awesome detective story that involves manipulating the brain of the near-catatonic Werner von Strucker, gaining access to a secret room, and making a phone call that leads to Malick having to shut down ten of his secret locations. Coulson is far more badass when he’s given these personal missions, and he’s in top form when threatening Malick in that phone call, which is an episode highlight. It’s great stuff, and part of an episode that also shows us how Daisy has chosen to lead the Secret Warriors, opting to let them live their own lives and remain in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s back pocket as a sort of on-call fighting force. Daisy has come a long way since her days as Skye, and I’d like to see more of how she’s grown (or failed to grow) as a leader since we last saw her. With that said, I still thought the premiere largely succeeded in giving us a juicy character arc, since it was interesting seeing how Hive accustomed himself to life on Earth. Honestly, while I didn’t love this premiere, I didn’t hate it either.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back, and although I love the action, the plot-driven nature of “Bouncing Back” didn’t do a whole lot for me, since it felt like character development was shunted off to the wayside. But we’re early in Season 3B, and an episode like this is necessary to lay the groundwork for the half-season ahead. So I’m confident we’ll get back to the good stuff in the weeks to come. If nothing else, I think the overall strength of Season 3A has earned Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that sort of leeway.
But what did you think of the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. midseason premiere, “Bouncing Back”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., read up on the spinoff pilot ABC has ordered for next season!