This week on Agents of SHIELD, we find out what happened in the 283,320 minutes Jemma Simmons spent on an alien planet. And after the intense conversation in the comments of last week’s recap, can this episode live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
1. The Martian
Mild spoilers for a film currently in theaters that you had plenty of time to read the book for, but this episode was basically the same as The Martian — down to a few key plot elements, even. Which is probably not on purpose, but the timing is kind of great regardless. There were also quite a few LOST-esque moments in the episode, which I mean in the most flattering way possible.
This said, this was probably the best episode SHIELD has ever done, let alone this season. It’s kind of interesting to watch a bottle-style episode like this in comparison with other episodes of the show; the concentrated focus, the even pace, the building of tension — even with excessive tropes on display, the episode was easily the most captivating hour of television ever produced for this program. Even with Jemma’s safety known based on her returning to Earth in episode two, the constant shifting landscape of her surroundings combined with Elizabeth Henstridge’s performance made this quite the episode.
2. The Man in the Cave
While he doesn’t give us full name in the episode, the man that Jemma meets on the alien planet is Will Daniels, an inherently new character with no Marvel character equivalent for us to reference. A NASA Astronaut stranded on the planet since 2001, Will is the guide through which Jemma can find some semblance of understanding to the planet and use her science know-how to make an episode worth watching.
Of course, there’s a slight possibility that there’s a connection between Will Daniels and Marcus Daniels, aka Blackout from Season 1. You may remember that episode where we met Coulson’s Portland Cellist and the bad guy was killed with light, and that man happens to have the same last name as our new character. Coincidence? Or secret revelation of something more sinister? We know very little about Will; whose to say.
Of bigger curiosity is, what the heck was that weird cloaked being on the planet? There’s no real Marvel reference that I can think of here, but if we’re talking about a cloaked individual that can warp the minds of those it interacts with in order to show them specific tempting imagery, my best guess would be… well, Death, right? Who else would be veiled in such a fashion, or be as visually amorphous?
Would Death inhabit a planet on her own? And would Marvel use Death on a TV show that Thanos will never show up on? Sure, Agents of SHIELD and the MCU have somewhat crossed over, but there are rumors that the Inhumans film was cancelled and relegated the TV show because no one cares; seems odd that they’d feature a character as crucial as Death on something as seemingly inconsequential as SHIELD.
4. Where are We, Anyway?
So what was the planet that Jemma ended up on? The easy guess would be Hala, after some disaster. Will makes mention that the planet was supposedly once a paradise, and there have been a lot of references of the Monolith in relation to the Kree; with the unidentified alien from the first season having the same markings as the dead Kree in Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s perhaps safe to assume that this planet and its non-stop blue Instagram filter was once the capital home world of the Kree Empire.
If it is Hala, though, then what the hell happened? The only thing I could think of off the top of my head would be fallout from the Kree/Skrull War, but we’re likely never going to see the Skrulls in the MCU (to my understanding, legend has it that Marvel want the Skrulls in The Avengers but couldn’t due to Fox owning the rights, hence their use of the Chitauri, Millar’s Kree knock-offs from “The Ultimates”); we’ve had teases in the past that something happened to the Kree based on statements from the Inhumans, but your guess is as good as mine as to how they’re going to bring this in.Continued below
5. The Episode, in Greater Context
While I do think that this was maybe the best episode of SHIELD yet (I rewatched Season 1 before Season 2, but didn’t revisit Season 2 before Season 3 so my recollection is hazy on that one), I am kind of wondering what the point of this season is. It seems all over the place; where are we going with all of this? Season 1’s purpose was obvious: explore the weird, then battle Hydra. Season 2 was similar: battle Hydra, but also figure out the whole Inhuman thing. Now with a few episodes of the new season of SHIELD under our belt, we’ve had Inhumans, other planets, Hydra, a new government organization and more all mixed and mashed together with not a lot of coherence.
SHIELD has a bad history of being up and down, and with other comic book shows on TV that have obvious overarching plots (like all of DC’s shows), the lack of direction in SHIELD feels like it’ll be the main downfall this season. This episode was enjoyable, but if this season is about Inhumans, or Secret Warriors, or I Don’t Know Whatever, hopefully the next episode will shine some light on where we’re going with all this so when the show reaches its mid-season break we’re left with a good cliffhanger and not an excuse to just not watch TV Tuesday nights for a bit.