‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Season 3 Episode 17 Review: Hive Plants a Mole on ‘The Team’
Recap and review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 3 Episode 17 – The Team:
“The Team” might be one of the most twisty, brilliant episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season, even as its ultimate conclusion varied between obviousness and surprise. An Agatha Christie-style mystery of figuring out which member of the team is a secret killer who’s been turned by Hive (Brett Dalton) is a novel concept for an episode. And it works astonishingly well, since the mystery is rooted in our expectations of what each character is capable of doing. Can we really believe that one of our heroes could join Hydra?
The premise for the episode centers on the Secret Warriors, Daisy’s team of Inhuman agents. In rescuing the S.H.I.E.L.D. team from capture, one of the Secret Warriors is exposed to Hive, whose “sway” abilities can turn one member of the team against the others without that person necessarily realizing they’ve been compromised. This means the traitor is one of either Daisy (Chloe Bennett), Lincoln (Luke Mitchell), Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) or Elena/Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley). From the onset, it’s clear that the show wants us to think it’s either Elena or Joey, since Joey goes AWOL following the capture of Malick (Powers Boothe), and Elena is generally just acting shady, whipping back and forth on the security video that Mack (Henry Simmons) is observing. But it’s such an obvious misdirect that it can only ever be between Lincoln or Daisy. In fact, for much of the episode, it seems like a certainty that Daisy is the one who’s been compromised, since she’s supportive to an almost superhuman degree, backing Coulson (Clark Gregg) up even when his orders don’t make sense, and reassuring May (Ming-Na Wen) about Lincoln’s sketchy behavior.
The certainty that the traitor is Daisy is why it’s so surprising when the show pulls a left turn and implies that Lincoln was really the traitor all along. It’s a fake-out that really wouldn’t work as well as it does if there weren’t evidence for it, since Lincoln has made solo contact with Hive before, to say nothing of how guilty his angry outbursts make him look. When Coulson confronts him about betraying the team and murdering Malick, he’s quick to lash out by zapping his fellow Secret Warriors, and even sending Coulson flying. Had the episode stuck with the Lincoln plot twist, it would have already been one of the better episodes of this season. But we get a double whammy when we learn that Lincoln was framed by Daisy, who encountered Hive during the rescue mission at the start of the episode. She murdered Malick to keep him from giving away Hydra secrets, and then framed Lincoln for the deed, all while fostering distrust and paranoia among her team. It results in one of Chloe Bennet’s most interesting performances, because I think she has a lot of potential as a villain, if this is the direction the show decides to take. While her loyalty to Hydra is predicated on mind control, her selfish request that Lincoln run away with her to live happily ever after feels genuine. In a sense, Daisy is pure id right now, with no moral compass to inhibit her actions. She’s sort of a sociopath, mimicking the actions and emotions of someone who actually cares, yet behaving behind-the-scenes as a secret traitor. It’s a tremendous story arc, and I’d love to see it continue, particularly since her betrayal has a ripple effect through her team. Daisy destroying the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters with her earthquake powers while Coulson and Lincoln separately agonize over her betrayal is just great, and Hive’s determination to use Malick’s nearly $1 billion fortune to fund their goals suggests that Daisy might be the least of the team’s concerns.
And yet, the episode manages to find time to tackle a variety of different character conflicts, such as Elena losing her faith in both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Mack due to Coulson’s mistrust, and Coulson’s lingering pain over how his revenge against Ward ironically resulted in giving his greatest enemy new life. The show is good at exploring the pathos of its characters in between all its action setpieces (and that opening rescue mission really was a doozy, what with Lincoln’s lightning-fu, Joey and Elena’s time-slowing/yo-yoing combo, and Daisy blasting everyone with her quake powers). And that’s not all the show accomplished this week, as I feel there was serious groundwork laid for the future. On the one hand, you could argue that now really isn’t the time to dive back into the relationship Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). But I think this was a perfect encapsulation of why their relationship works so well, since there’s a lightheartedness there amid all the heaviness, whether it’s Fitz telling Simmons how badly he needs her during the autopsy of the stone-eyed Inhuman Lucio (killed by Joey at the start of the episode), or whether it’s Fitz joking about how he doesn’t need to go to space since he has something more valuable — a picture of space to hang on his wall! It’s one of those cute fakeouts that makes Fitz and Simmons’s relationship more endearing, and I think that’s a necessary issue to tackle, largely because I’m convinced it’s one of those two who’s dying in Daisy’s future vision in space. There’s just such a hint of whimsy and optimism to their relationship, the wishful thinking of a relationship outside the pressures and terrors of S.H.I.E.L.D., that it makes me feel like their days are numbered, especially when Simmons says, of their relationship, “It’s been ten years! Do you really want to waste any more time?” This is to say nothing of Fitz’s declaration earlier in the season, which is recalled here, that he and Simmons are cursed. I just feel like it’s either going to be Fitz or Simmons who perishes, and in order for that ending to have meaning, I think we need scenes like we got tonight between the two scientists. Of course, if someone else altogether dies, then forget everything I said. But right now, I’m simply going on instinct. But whether I’m right or wrong, one thing is for certain. “The Team” is one of the best episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season, at least in my opinion.
But what did you think of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Episode 17, “The Team”? Sound off in the comments!
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