Agents of SHIELD Season 3: “Spacetime” Recap and Critique

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Hive will ruin your business lunch

This week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD featured the return of a few familiar faces. Among them were Dr. Garner/Lash and Neo from The Matrix, oh wait … that was Grant Ward again? Ugh. Although “Spacetime” contained some entertaining elements, such as the morbidly prescient Charles Hinton, good acting from Powers Boothe in his role as Gideon Malick, exceptional Hydra ass kicking from Daisy, and Grant Ward–er Hive–putting his powers to use by liquidating some of Malick’s business partners, I felt let down by this episode after the strength of the previous two. But before I get ahead of myself, for those who need one, here’s a refresher …

“Spacetime” – The Recap

I liked the mysterious opening scene and the slow revelation that the homeless man, Charles Hinton, was an Inhuman. Whenever Hinton touches someone, both he and whomever he touches see a vision of a death that will occur in the future. Before being scooped up by Hydra, Hinton touches Daisy and the two share a vision of what appears to be Hinton’s death. Daisy is convinced that she can change the outcome of the vision and save Hinton’s life but the team isn’t.

Fitz and Simmons insist that the outcome of future events can’t be changed because of 4th dimensional laws of physics. And, although Coulson agrees with Daisy that the outcome of her vision can be changed, he elects to take a pragmatic approach. He orders Daisy to stay at SHIELD headquarters, ordering May to carry out the mission Daisy saw herself involved in during her vision.

The baddies are cooking something up as well, though. After capturing Hinton, Hive and Malick put him to use as part of a bargaining tactic. Malick, under instructions from Hive, calls a meeting with the board of directors of Transia Corporation, the private company that designed Coulson’s prosthetic hand, in order to buy the company’s controlling shares. Hinton is forced to show the CEO of Transia the future deaths of his fellow board members. After seeing a vision of the wholesale disintegration of the board, the CEO frantically agrees to the sale, signing the company over to Malick. Of course, Hive kills them anyway.

The hostile takeover complete, Hive tells Malick that Malick’s quest for power won’t be complete until Malick holds the power of life and death in his hands as Inhumans do. To this end, Hive tells Malick to wear a mechanical exoskeleton, provided by Transia, that will give him super-strength. Malick does so and in his first act of super-powered cruelty he crushes the head of Transia’s former CEO.

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Dr. Garner won’t be seeing many patients now that he’s permanently transformed into Lash

Things get even more unexpected when Dr. Garner shows up at SHIELD headquarters wanting to make peace with May before he turns into Lash forever. This makes May’s going on the mission out of the question and Daisy must go instead, just as her vision predicted. Sadly, after a heartfelt goodbye with May and a futile injection of Simmons’s experimental vaccine, Lash takes over Garner’s body.

Unfortunately, Daisy’s vision apparently didn’t go over the part where she got her ass handed to her by Gideon Malick wearing a Lex Luthor suit. Luckily, just as Malick is about to do Daisy in, Hinton touches Malick giving Daisy the opening she needs to incapacitate him. Unfortunately, Hinton suffers a mortal wound for his efforts. As Daisy and Hinton lie beside each other resting in the post-battle afterglow, Hinton begs Daisy to look after his daughter. Daisy agrees and as the two accidentally touch one last time before Hinton’s death, Daisy sees a vision of a SHIELD agent dying in space.

The final check-in with Hive, Malick, and Giyera show that things may not be going too well for Malick. Although he managed to escape capture, the audience is left to wonder whose death Malick saw when he and Hinton touched. Based on his agitated state and his phone call to Giyera ordering him to be at his side at all times, though, one wonders if Malick witnessed his own death. Giyera, with Hive in the background, ignores Malick’s order replying that he is right where he should be. We see a noticeably disturbed Malick take a very shaky-handed drink.

“Spacetime” – My Critique

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Hive: “I am smiling!”

There were lots of interesting elements in this episode. First, I liked finally getting to see the bad guys flex their muscles. Even though I don’t think that Brett Dalton is a very good actor, I’m not overly concerned with Hive so Dalton’s lackluster performance is no big loss for me from a Marvel comics fan perspective. It’s just that Brett Dalton doesn’t seem to have the chops to be any show’s main villain. The problem with Ward wasn’t just that he was Grant Ward, a character that had never appeared in a Marvel comic, it was that Brett Dalton is a one-noted performer. Coulson first appeared in Iron Man and he’s the best part of Agents of SHIELD. Coulson’s a good character because of Clark Gregg‘s good portrayal of him. The same can’t be said of Ward or Hive.

Also, when did we learn that Zombie-Ward is Hive? I think Malick may have mentioned it before Agents of SHIELD’s three-month hiatus but I’m not sure. Either way, both wikipedia and the MCU wikia have identified this character as Hive so I guess he’s Hive.

As I mentioned before, it was good to see Powers Boothe show some emotional depth in his portrayal of Gideon Malick, which evolved perceptibly in this episode. Once a leader simmering with intensity and self-confidence, Malick becomes an old man frightened of his own death. It was also good to see Boothe show his dark side both when he crushed his business rival’s head and when he kicked Daisy’s butt on the rooftop.

What was lacking in this episode wasn’t good ideas: it was strong execution. Strong execution lies in the details, such as: the viewer being given an opportunity to understand who the bad guy is aside from his being an alien, having an actor with emotional range play the bad guy, and having good dialogue for the actors to perform.

One bit of dialogue that particularly stuck out for me was the inevitable dumbing-down lines that followed Fitz’s remarkably easy-to-follow description of 4th dimensional physics. He used a flip-book to illustrate it for God’s sake! Unless Coulson has the intellectual capacity of a 7-year old or, more aptly, a person who’s not really paying attention to a network TV show, his line about being barely able to understand what Fitz was saying came off as formulaic more than anything.

Michael Bedford
Michael Bedford
Under intense scrutiny by the Temporal Authorities, I was coerced into actualizing my capsule in this causality loop. Through no fault of my own, I am marooned on this dangerous yet lovely level-four civilization. Stranded here, I have spent most of my time learning what I can of the social norms and oddities of the Terran species, including how to properly use the term "Hipster" and how to perform a "perfect pour." Under the assumed name of "Michael Bedford," I have completed BA's with specialized honours in both theatre studies and philosophy, and am currently saving up for enough galactic credits to buy a new--or suitably used--temporal contextualizer ... for a friend.

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