‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: ‘Among Us Hide…’ Delivers THE Twist of the Season
Recap and review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 3 Episode 6 – Among Us Hide…:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t always a surprising show, and that’s usually too its benefit. One of the things I’ve always liked about it is that while it’s a supernatural espionage drama, there’s a touch of the familiar to it. It’s not a Marvel movie for the small screen, but it has a lot of similar elements, such as the action and the witty banter. But “Among Us Hide…” kicks it up a notch by delivering something truly unexpected: a twist to end all twists.
Maybe I’m overselling it, but I seriously never would have predicted in a thousand years that Andrew (Blair Underwood) would turn out to be Lash. Yes, Andrew is alive, and surprisingly unhurt, considering the amount of damage he was alleged to have sustained in the convenience store fight two weeks ago. But Andrew has an explanation, namely that a random S.H.I.E.L.D. agent came to his rescue and was killed in the process (with his body being the one viewers were meant to mistake for Andrew’s), culminating in the explosion, which knocked him clear of any real harm once he made it to the door. It’s a story that, on its face, is a bit silly. But we have no reason to doubt Andrew’s word, since Blair Underwood has played Andrew as a man of integrity. It’s inconceivable that he would lie about something like this, much less be an Inhuman who’s made it his life goal to kill other Inhumans. And I suppose that’s the real shock of all this, not that Andrew is Lash, but that Andrew knows he’s Lash. Seriously, once we learned Andrew was Lash, I immediately assumed that it was a sort of Jekyll and Hyde situation, where he’s not really responsible for his actions in his mutated form, because his id takes over. But we learn that he’s very much in control of Lash, not just the transformations but also the things he does while transformed. Every life he’s taken has been a calculated act, and that makes this downright chilling, particularly once Andrew changes back into his human form, and seems to take a sort of grim delight in setting fire to the convenience store. I can’t give it up for this twist enough. If I’d had 20 guesses, I don’t think I would have picked Andrew, although part of it is because Lash doesn’t look a single loving thing like Blair Underwood. Of course, I suppose that’s the point. Gotta preserve the twist somehow.
The episode constructs the reveal brilliantly by building the storyline around May (Ming-Na Wen) and her hunt for revenge against Ward (Brett Dalton). In short, May gets Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) to join her on an undercover infiltration mission. With any luck, they might find Ward, or at least someone who could tell them where he is, like the AWOL would-be Hydra operative Werner Von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark). Werner has been on the run from Hydra after surviving the fight at the convenience store two weeks ago, and both Ward and S.H.I.E.L.D. are looking for him. In desperation, Werner turns to a family friend, Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe), for help. And while Gideon is very reassuring at first, he inevitably sells Werner out in order to earn a favor from Ward. This means that by the time May and Bobbi get to the meeting spot, Werner is near death. And a stab wound to the gut pretty much seals the deal. While May and Bobbi are able to clear the compound in one of the best fight scenes of the season so far (seriously, there was far less shaky cam, and Bobbi got to be a badass by slamming one guy on top of another guy, and then electrocuting a third by dipping her baton into the pool!), May isn’t able to save Werner from his wounds. However, before he dies, Werner reveals that Andrew is the metahuman known as Lash, a horrific reveal that May refuses to believe at first. And with good reason. After all, this entire revenge mission has been in his name (which, honestly, is a bit hypocritical of her, since she chews out Hunter for nearly getting Andrew killed in the process of carrying out his revenge mission in Bobbi’s name).
Ultimately, May is forced to confront the truth that the man she loves is the man S.H.I.E.L.D. has been hunting all this time. And that he’s currently back at their base, with no one any the wiser about his true identity. He even menacingly stalks Daisy (Chloe Bennet) to ask for updates on Lincoln (Luke Mitchell). It speaks volumes of Blair Underwood’s performance that he’s able to turn his portrayal on a dime like that, with Andrew becoming subtly threatening and sinister. I love it, and I also love the implications it has for May. Presumably, we now know what it is that prompted Andrew to break things off with her, and it makes me wonder if perhaps there’s still the kernel of a good man in there somewhere, since his breaking things off with May implies he didn’t want to hurt her — either directly or indirectly — through his “kill all Inhumans” mission. Now, the former husband and wife duo are on opposite ends of this conflict, and it’s impossible to imagine that it won’t lead to a big showdown at some point. Underwood and Ming-Na Wen are two of the strongest actors on the show, so I’d expect fireworks if/when that showdown finally comes. This feels like a far more personal conflict than the one May has with Ward, since this is a man May still loves, and it’s rare we’ve seen May compromised emotionally. Put simply, this storyline has all the potential in the world to be among the best this show has ever told.
I also generally enjoyed the subplots this week. Daisy’s mission to find out if Rosalind Price’s lieutenant, Banks (Andrew Howard), was Lash was pretty standard stuff, but it brought some pretty cool moments. Hunter (Nick Blood) just walking straight up to him and shooting him with the icer rather than listen to Mack (Henry Simmons) and use stealth was pretty hilarious, since it was part of an episode-long arc of Hunter trying to be useful to different departments in S.H.I.E.L.D. once he’s taken off the Ward mission. This subplot also dovetails nicely into the bonding storyline between Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Rosalind (Constance Zimmer), as Coulson gets to know her, and learns that the loss of her late husband is what’s motivating her to find a cure for the people infected by the Terrigen. Of course, this bonding involves a rather unsettling reveal: the ATCU compound holds containment chambers for the Inhumans they capture, with detainees being placed in a gel that puts them in suspended animation. Zimmer compares it to a medically-induced coma that allows a patient to remain healthy until they can be cured, but Daisy, who’s witnessing the whole conversation from a video drone nearby, isn’t convinced that S.H.I.E.L.D. could ever work with the ATCU after this. To Daisy, this is the equivalent of herding Inhumans into a lab and locking them up like animals for research. Both sides have their points, with Rosalind and Daisy both differing in their opinions on what constitutes “helping these people”, but Daisy’s clear disappointment in Coulson for not being mad enough about these detainment cells is poignant in its own way (although she turns off the drone before she could see Coulson really lay into Price for this). I like these sorts of ideological conflicts, because they’re often rooted in character, and what these individuals believe. That means conflict is more character-driven than plot-driven, and the end result is usually a stronger story overall.
In fact, I feel the same way about the ongoing story with Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Fitz knows Will is the competition for Jemma’s heart, but he made a vow to help her, because her happiness comes first. Moreover, he states that he “owes” Will for keeping Simmons alive all those months, resisting Hunter’s advice to abandon the attempts to bring the astronaut home. It’s compelling to watch Fitz wrestle with his feelings for Simmons, since it’s a cross-section of his role in S.H.I.E.L.D.: he’s THE science guy, so bringing Will home is something he should be able to do. And he intends to do it, telling Simmons there’s not even a question of whether or not he’ll bring Will home. This is happening. And yet, the conflict is writ large across his face. In pulling up countless articles on Will at his work station, it seems Fitz is eyeing Will up, and wondering what kind of fight he’s going to be in for once the astronaut returns. That’s partially why I expect Fitz to fail, honestly. It would make for a decent story if Will did make it back, and Fitz had to deal with the aftermath. But there’s something similarly poignant about Fitz failing to make good on his promise, since Simmons’s grief over Will could be every bit as much of a barrier to her relationship with Fitz as Will’s actual presence would be. I just think there’s more pathos in Fitz failing somehow, although I doubt last week’s episode was the last we’ll see of that alien planet. There are a lot of directions the show could take this story, and I remain pretty confident since, for the most part, all of those directions are potentially good ones.
“Among Us Hide…” is up there with the best this season has had to offer so far. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on-track to have its best season ever, between tonight and last week’s stellar hour. This is very much a transition for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as the show moves into darker territory as we near mid-season. And, honestly, it’s a welcome departure, because the show is at its best when it’s tackling mature subject matter. After all, being an action-adventure series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t mean you can’t also be shocking or profound every now and then.
But what did you think of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Among Us Hide…”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., read our review of last week’s “4,722 Hours”, which was one of the best episodes in the history of the series!
Also, congratulations to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on their 50th episode!