Failed Experiments – Agents of SHIELD Season 3 Recap and Critique

Well, never have I been so wrong in a prediction! Last night’s episode of Agents of SHIELD, “Failed Experiments,” barely touched on tomorrow’s release of Captain America: Civil War at all. In fact, the only nods to the new movie were a couple of throwaway lines, one from Hive about the Super Soldier and the billionaire not getting along and a line of Mac’s in which he described the unfolding events of the episode as a “civil war.” Aside from that, nothing! And, the episode itself was crappy too, especially considering that “Failed Experiments” was the second last episode before the big two-part season finale on May 17th. I sincerely hope that next week’s episode, “Emancipation,” will help pick up the pieces after the release of Captain America: Civil War but maybe not. Let’s have a brief recap …

“Failed Experiments” – The Recap

The episode begins with a flashback: an unknown man wearing a loincloth is being hunted by two blue dudes (these are the Kree we’ve been hearing so much about). The young man is cornered by the Kree and, as Brett Dalton‘s monotonous voice-over explains, we realize that this young man is Hive‘s original self, the first Inhuman. We see the original Hive personality injected with what appears to be Kree blood and the now-familiar process of terrigenesis occurs. Back in the present, Hive tells Daisy that his plan for the town Hive bought with Malick‘s money: recreate the original Kree experiments that birthed the Inhumans.

Meanwhile, the good guys are working on a cure to Hive’s brainwashing parasitic infection. Simmons believes that she may have an anti-toxin but needs an Inhuman test subject to try it out on. Lincoln volunteers but is shot down by Simmons. Eventually, though, he injects himself with the drug (right, he’s a doctor!) and nearly destroys what’s left of SHIELD HQ when his powers overload before he passes out.

In a mildly disorienting bit of time-lapse photography, Coulson sits very still for a very long time watching a monitor. We figure out eventually that Coulson is viewing satellite images trying to get a fix on where Daisy and Hive are. Daisy’s familiar image comes up and the team is able to locate Hive’s town. Mac and Coulson discuss what should be done. Mac thinks they should focus on rescuing Daisy but Coulson orders Mac to view this mission as a targeted kill: the only priority is killing Hive.

Failed Experiments
“No, I’m not Atlantean! Why do people keep asking me that?!”

Speaking of Hive, after a failed experiment at turning the remaining heads of HYDRA into Inhumans using his own DNA, Hive activates the Kree devices he amassed over the past few episodes. The activation of these devices recalls the Kree Reapers who have been napping in orbit for the past few hundred years. Hive hopes to lure them to his town to use their blood in further experiments. Their prolonged rest must have limited the Kree Reapers’ ass kicking abilities because both Daisy and Hive are able to, respectively, incapacitate and kill their would-be executioners. Unfortunately, both remaining Whitleys are killed in the process.

May is able to trick the loud-mouthed James into revealing the bulk of Hive’s plans to her (this guy is really stupid) and they learn of Hive’s plans to recreate the experiments to turn humans into Inhumans (Didn’t they figure that was the plan all along?). Back at SHIELD HQ, Simmons informs Lincoln that his immune system was compromised for naught: the anti-toxin had no effect.

Anyway, Radcliffe and Daisy start harvesting blood from the Kree Reaper she incapacitated but are interrupted by a crusading Mac, positive he can unbrainwash Daisy. But, it turns out he can’t. Mac uses a grenade to incinerate the Kree Reaper when he realizes Daisy can’t be reasoned with. That makes Daisy angry and she lashes out at her Mac, coming even closer to killing a former teammate than she did when she attacked Fitz.

Mac’s chest nearly collapsed, an evacuation pod is called after May shoots Daisy to stop her from killing him and the injured team beats a hasty retreat, but for some reason no one grabs Daisy even though she’s weak as a kitten after being shot by May. Back aboard Zephyr One, the team make renewed vows to not trust Daisy any more.

The final scene in “Failed Experiments” showed viewers one of the strangest endings to an episode of Agents of SHIELD yet. Daisy, suggesting to Hive that they use her blood for the experiment because she was previously injected with GH.325, sticks out her arms and says, “Drain me.” And then that was it, roll credits.

“Failed Experiments” – My Critique

What a waste of time! As a lead-in to Captain America: Civil War, it was a non-starter providing absolutely no hint that a game changing movie was about to be released concerning future relations between super-powered and unpowered individuals. As an episode, “Failed Experiments” was a failed experiment that didn’t move the show’s plot forward in any meaningful way, didn’t introduce new characters, and didn’t meaningfully flesh out existing ones.

For all intents and purposes, “Failed Experiments” was a place holder in between “The Singularity” and the season finale. It was good to see the Kree but they may as well have stayed home for all their effort. Why introduce the Kree artifacts and Reapers if they’re going to be soundly dealt with by two Inhumans in a single episode? And, if Daisy had the blood all along, why didn’t she pipe up and suggest that they drain her earlier rather than calling down the bloodthirsty Reapers?

Going back to the, “Drain me,” line. What is with the dialogue in this show? “Failed Experiments” was one of the worst offenders so far of using what I call “Jedwhedonisms.” These are bits of dialogue that deny the established personality of a character and foist Jed Whedon’s brand of Millennial sass into the mouths of the actors. On top of the less than stellar writing, which I’m used to at this point in the series, the quality of acting has deteriorated noticeably now that Brett Dalton, as the main villain, has been asked to carry the majority of each episode. Dalton is boring to watch. His emotional range seems to be limited to being creepy or vaguely British. I’m saying it right now, if Dalton returns for Season Four then I won’t.

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.