This week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “The Singularity,” featured the apparent end of HYDRA and a long-awaited hookup. Daisy and Hive continued to recruit muscle for their war against humanity, introducing to the Inhuman cause Alisha Whitley–a female version of Multiple Man–and James–based on Marvel comics character J.T. James or Hellfire. So for those who may have missed all this …
“The Singularity” – The Recap
We rejoin the action after last week’s tense cliffhanger in classic Agents of SHIELD fashion–no one is dead, it was all just a fake-out. “The Singularity” opens on Mac and May meandering purposefully through the ruined base discussing their next steps. Through May (Ming-Na Wen) and Mac’s (Henry Simmons) somewhat halting dialogue in this scene, the viewer learns that Rodriguez and Guittierez have already been dropped off at The Cocoon for their own protection from Hive. May and Mac discuss Daisy’s strength, remarking that if she had wanted to kill her teammates then she could’ve. May thinks that Daisy’s actions show that she didn’t want to kill anyone but that she doesn’t want anyone to follow her either. The idea of leaving Daisy alone doesn’t sit well with Mac, though, who wants to do right by his partner. Coulson, suffering from a leg injury sustained during the base’s cave-in, orders everyone to board Zephyr One and, after a pep talk about protecting their own, May performs a nauseating takeoff through the broken hangar doors.
Meanwhile, Hive and Daisy take a walk down memory lane, remembering the peculiarities of the man who was Grant Ward. Daisy claims that Hive is nothing like Ward and that his presence alone makes her feel complete. Hive describes Coulson as a driven man and ponders whether or not he’ll come to Daisy’s rescue. The two then go off on a tangent about Daisy’s past and identity, Hive explaining there’s no need to hold anything back: they are now one entity. He explains that he has no need of an army. Once everyone has a common goal, i.e. making Earth a suitable home for Inhumans, there will be no need for war.
Back on Zephyr One, Fitz, Simmons, Lincoln, and Coulson discuss the nature of Daisy’s brainwashing by Hive. They describe it as an addictive infection that floods the host’s brain with dopamine, making the infected immune to icers. So, since they can’t stun Daisy with an icer, Simmons suggests consulting with Dr. Holden Radcliffe, an expert on parasitic organisms, who may be able to cure Daisy. Simmons also explains that Radcliffe is a transhuman, someone interested in transcending their need for a human body by way of technological enhancements. Coulson orders Simmons, Fitz, and Mac to locate Radcliffe who is somewhere in Romania.
Before they leave to find Radcliffe, Fitz and Simmons engage in an awkward public discussion about the consequences of taking their relationship to the next level. May demands that Simmons take a sidearm and remember her training–now that’s safe sex. As Mac, Fitz, and Simmons leave Zephyr One in a Quinjet, Coulson gets a call from Talbot who hints that something very big involving HYDRA is going on. Coulson tells Talbot that all of SHIELD is otherwise engaged and won’t be able to assist, cutting Talbot off after telling him that the ATCU has all the resources they’ll need to succeed in their mission. An awkward transition later, Coulson tells May that he fears that Hive and Daisy will recruit Alisha Whitley next.
In Romania, Fitz, Simmons, and Mac have tracked Dr. Radcliffe down at a transhumanist nightclub/black market of sorts and intend to entice him into meeting with them by offering him a new pair of cybernetic eyeballs. They hope that Radcliffe will agree to help them cure Daisy after they make the exchange but the three agree to meet back at their safehouse no matter what happens. Fitz and Simmons enter the nightclub and Mac keeps an eye on them via Fitz’s glasses, which broadcast a live feed of what Fitz sees.
Back on Zephyr One, Coulson demands that Lincoln wear a nano-thermite “murder vest”–maybe modeled after the Stark Heat Vest shown in Season One of Marvel’s Agent Carter— if he wants to participate in questioning Alisha Whitley about Hive and Daisy. Lincoln and May both voice some resistance to Coulson’s plan but he eventually convinces them both that they need a fallback should Lincoln be turned.
Later, May and Coulson have a heated argument about what to do if Daisy shows up while they’re questioning Whitley. Coulson says that they’ll kill Hive and rescue Daisy but May wants to know what she’ll be asked to do should Daisy offer resistance. Coulson tells May not to kill her and accuses May of being too quick on the trigger. Upset, she calls Coulson out for being willing to sacrifice Lincoln but not Daisy, saying that she’ll do his dirty work but reminding him that his hands aren’t clean.
Coulson, May, and Lincoln’s mission to question Alisha goes pretty poorly. It turns out that she’s already been turned by Hive. A May-Whitley/Lincoln-Whitley rumble ensues. Lincoln manages to grab hold of one of the Whitleys. He threatens to kill her but is beaten to the punch by the other Whitley who shoots her double in the head. After murdering her copy, Whitley turns the gun on an incapacitated May but is killed by Coulson before she can pull the trigger. The original Whitley, it turns out, is already with Hive, controlling her doubles from James’s trailer in South Dakota.
At James’s trailer, Hive demands that James give him the companion piece to the Kree Orb. James refuses so Daisy exposes him to terrigen mist. After transitioning into an Inhuman and being brainwashed by Hive, James is more than willing to reveal the location of the companion piece to the Kree Orb. After some ex-Quake-vation by Daisy, the three unearth the companion piece, what Hive describes as the only thing that can destroy him.
Back on Zephyr One, Lincoln can’t understand why Alisha would’ve killed her double since she feels each of her doubles’ deaths: he is sure that she was acting under Hive’s influence. Coulson takes Lincoln out of the field until Simmons can find a cure to Hive’s brainwashing infection. May and Coulson make peace in Zephyr One’s cockpit: Coulson explains that he’s frustrated, apologizing that he hasn’t been totally objective where Daisy is concerned because she’s the closest thing he has to a daughter. A nameless agent rushes in: they’ve located a seismic disturbance in South Dakota.
In the transhumanist nightclub, Fitz and Simmons talk to Radcliffe’s assistant saying that they’re willing to offer him the eyeball upgrade but will only deal directly with him. Radcliffe’s assistant says she’ll see if he’s available. While they wait, Fitz and Simmons turn off their comms system and finally have the private talk about their relationship that they should’ve had in Season One. Fitz analogizes taking the next step in their relationship to crossing the event horizon of a singularity, and once again the two nerds decide to stop thinking about it and “just do.” Their conversation over, Radcliffe’s assistant informs them that he is willing to meet, and a very odd introduction later, Fitz confesses that he and Simmons are with SHIELD. Radcliffe’s assistant jams Mac’s comms system and as Simmons asks for Radcliffe’s help, she gets hauled away by security. Fitz incapacitates a guard, yelling at Simmons to meet at the safehouse, and before any more security can arrive, Fitz starts pleading their case to Radcliffe. Unfortunately, he’s interrupted by a grandiose entrance from Daisy.
When Coulson and May arrive at James’s trailer in South Dakota they find it abandoned with a large hole in the floor where the Kree Orb’s companion object had been buried. May and Coulson find this hole a good hiding place when James’s trailer, rigged to blow, explodes around them. Coulson and May climb out of the debris, a shield-shaped force field projecting from Coulson’s prosthetic hand. As he and May brush off the dust, Coulson gets a call from Talbot.
Simmons runs into Hive who tries to get on her good side by referencing things she and Daniels said to each other on Maveth. He tells her to move on and Simmons responds by shooting him in the gut three times. James and Mac get into a fight and destroy the majority of the transhumanist nightclub. Daisy kidnaps Radcliffe and nearly kills Fitz, threatening to snap his neck if she sees him again. Simmons waits back at the safehouse until Fitz eventually makes it back, and the two geniuses, though they still have lots to talk about, finally do the deed.
Back at the newly fortified base, Coulson and May watch on their viewscreen as Talbot and the ATCU, acting on intelligence provided by Gideon Malick before he died, destroy all known HYDRA installations. Coulson remarks that this should have been a good day.
The final moment, though, was reserved for a peek into what Hive is planning for the season finale. As the group of Inhumans walk down a street with Dr. Radcliffe, Hive describes to them what he did with the late Gideon Malick’s considerable fortune: he bought a town.
“The Singularity” – My Critique
“The Singularity,” as is evidenced by my lengthy recap, involved a lot of different settings and a lot of separate groups of people operating as disparate elements of various subplots. This happens a lot in Agents of SHIELD since it’s by its nature an ensemble show. “The Singularity,” though involved so many different elements that they were difficult to keep track of at times. This lack of cohesion was made more obvious in “The Singularity” by the number and frequency of transitional cuts from one group of characters in one setting to another group in another setting. Some scenes lasted less than a minute, cutting jarringly to something totally different.
Aside from the jarring cuts and oftentimes weak transitions, “The Singularity” wasn’t a bad episode. In terms of developing Hive as a villain, we now know what can destroy him and that’s key information to have on any super-villain. And, I have to admit that, although I think that Fitz and Simmons should’ve gotten there two years ago, their eventual hookup in “The Singularity” was done in a way that seemed organic and was respectful to the characters.
I also think that “The Singularity” made good cannon fodder for the season finale. Things are ramping up now, only two more to go until the two-parter on May 17th. I’ll be there, True Believers, complaining about the utter lack of Arnim Zola.