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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Agents of SHIELD S3 (Second Half).

Agents of SHIELD
Series 3 (Second Half).

Ah, Agents of SHIELD. My relationship with you over the years has been pretty mixed, not least because your quality yo-yos up and down to the most bizarre degree, but I've always been rooting for you, and you have, at least, never been afraid to mix things up. Not necessarily always for the better, I'll grant, but nevertheless.

It set the Inhuman alien - Hive, although he doesn't get called that until almost the end of the series - up pretty well as a villain, so I was pretty excited for this half of the series and seeing what kind of havoc it would wreak, and really, it didn't disappoint.

Picking up shortly after Coulson's return from Maveth, the second half of Agents of SHIELD's third series sees the team tangling with Hive, an ancient Inhuman with the parasitic ability to occupy dead bodies, and to 'sway' Inhumans by infecting them with its parasites, turning them into ardent followers. As Gideon Malec attempts to ingratiate himself with Hive, SHIELD attempts to hunt down and eliminate both it and Hydra - but when Daisy is swayed, the team is left racing to try to find a cure to Hive's sway, while Hive moves forward with his ultimate plan: To transform a large percentage of humanity into Inhumans under his control.

Oh, and Hunter and Bobbi get written out. I'd completely forgotten.

Well, let's start by talking about Hive as a villain, because it's fair to say that Agents of SHIELD has suffered from a lack of good villains in the past, and Hive's actually a pretty good one. Brett Dalton plays him as extremely soft-spoken, even almost monotone at times, but with a fairly noticeable sense of power and force behind his performance. It's nice to get to see Dalton, who is a genuinely talented actor, get to stretch his acting muscles a bit by playing a character that's fairly starkly different from Ward. 

A good villain is important in any series, and while Hive does lose a bit of scare factor from no longer being a mysterious body-hopping superbeing wandering around an alien world, that was always kind of inevitable, because it's difficult to have someone be the main villain for eleven episodes and still have them retain their mystery.

This half of the series is very much at its best when it's having the characters face off against Hive, and that only becomes more fraught when compounding factors like 'Daisy having seen a vision of someone dying' and 'Daisy becoming Hive's lieutenant' are thrown into the mix. An episode set almost entirely in the base, as Coulson and the others attempt to figure out which of the Secret Warriors has been swayed by Hive, is one of the best episodes in the series - tense, fraught, and with a genuinely shocking plot twist. 

Stylish Corpse Man.

There are other plots afoot in the series as well, of course - brief mention is made of Civil War in order to bring Talbot and Coulson's uneasy partnership back to the fore; May continues to agonise over Lash; and Fitz and Simmons finally get a proper romance (which I'm informed that fans have been adoring). Lincoln and Daisy continue their romance, and while they make a cute couple, I found it difficult to buy their romance as the all-consuming epic love the show sometimes tried to set it up to be, in part because there wasn't a huge amount of time sent setting it up.

That's unfortunate, because a lot of the last part of the series hinges on the audience believing that these two are madly in love with each other - that Daisy is enough in love with Lincoln that it'll blind her to pragmatism even when under Hive's control, that Lincoln is enough in love with Daisy that he'll behave totally irrationally, and, in the final episode, that Lincoln loves Daisy enough to choose to sacrifice himself.

The two actors cope with that material pretty well, but since the romance isn't well-established enough for the plotline it's meant to be engendering, the whole thing falls a bit flat.

Oh, hey, even Radcliffe matches the general colour scheme.

This series also sees the 'end' of Hydra, which in this case could mean either the actual end or just 'the end until we decide we need a massive evil spy organisation', and I would place my bets on the latter. It's a rather underplayed moment, but deliberately so, as characters point out that Hydra wasn't much a threat anymore, especially compared to Hive.

One thing that struck me about this series is that there were almost no crossovers, and that's a bit of a shame. It would have been nice to see Sif show up again, or an appearance from Matt Murdock or Jessica Jones. But that's just wishful thinking, I suppose.

Anyway, it looks like next series is going to have a bit of a focus on evil robots, with Radcliffe, a scientist introduced in this half of the series, apparently creating an intelligent robot called Aida. Also, Daisy's a supervillain now? What? I don't - why. How did that happen. Please explain, show. I'm cautiously hopeful for the next series, so we'll see what they do with it. 

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