Powers Are the New Normal: SHIELD’s Back with Speedsters and Space Monsters

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Do you even lift, bro?

The Agents of SHIELD are back baby! And they brought new superheroesnew supervillains and more Marvel references with them!

The episode itself was very series-continuity heavy (as in, new viewers would be lost), and while there wasn’t a lot of character development, they did pack a bunch of characters into the show. Is that a fair trade off? You decide.

The Story Thus Far: Agent Coulson’s team has survived death and the dissolution of their agency, but now that Inhumans are popping up all over the globe, they are racing against Hydra to find them!

The Comic Connections in “Bouncing Back”

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Comic books are cool.

The mid-season premiere opens with a flashforward to “three months from now” (presumably the season finale) when a space ship (or Avengers Quinjet) hurdles seemingly uncontrolled toward the atmosphere. Inside we see floating blood, a distinctive cross necklace, and part of an old school SHIELD uniform (or maybe new school – they wear them all the time in the comics, but in the series they usually wear suits). Dunno what all this is about yet (of course), but crashing space ships are a big deal in the comics. Aside from Superman’s nativity, the Phoenix also appeared when Jean Grey tried to control a crash-landing space shuttle, saving the lives of the X-Men.

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Remember when the “terrorist fist jab” was a thing?

Back to the present, SHIELD Director Phil Coulson and Melinda “The Cavalry” May are checking out the former apartment of Rosalind Price, head of the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (ATCU), flanked by Secret Service agents. There they meet with President Matthew Ellis (whose term is probably up soon), which is odd, because a crime scene doesn’t seem like the most logical place to meet a president, but whatever. It’s acknowledged that SHIELD has technically been agency non grata since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when the agency very publically melted down after an attempted Hydra coup. The president approves of Coulson’s continued work with the non-agency, even if (like the audience) he has no idea how it is getting funded. They agree to maintain an unofficial relationship while the ATCU takes on more of the official duties SHIELD would have handled. Ellis is not a character from the comics, as Marvel usually has the actual sitting president represented in the comics (which, considering Marvel’s sliding timescale, means each prez is in office for a few months). Coulson and May have both transitioned from live action to the comic page, with May getting her own one-shot last year.

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Who are you?

Meanwhile, in Bogotá, Colombia, an Inhuman speedster is stealing guns from cops. To track them down, Daisy “Tremors” Johnson and Joey “doesn’t-have-a-nickname-but-has-Metal-Master-powers” Gutierrez go undercover as Jaqueline Rippon and Angel Perrenoud of the World Health Organization to speak to authorities while Lance Hunter, Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse, and Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie work the field. While WHO is a real-world organization, Marvel had its own version of WHO with the Weird Happenings Organization, which were a none-too-subtle swipe of Doctor Who‘s UNIT (to the point that they were both headed by an Alistair Stewart/Alistaire Stuart). Joey is an original character for the series and Mack is basically an original character, even if he’s named for a comic character); Daisy (who has gone through many names in this series) is based on the character Quake in the comics, just as Bobbi is a superhero (with her own new series), and Lance was kind of the British Nick Fury when first introduced.

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Welcome to Pleasant Hill.

Daisy tells Joey that she “sort of, not really” has family – she’s referring to her dad, Mr. Hyde, who is currently living a peaceful life under a false identity and SHIELD brainwashing. It’s interesting that the solution was so readily suggested in last season’s finale, but is the catalyst for the current Marvel crossover pitting heroes against SHIELD against villains against heroes!

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Hitman should join the JLA.

Hunter notes that all it takes is “one tainted fish taco” to cause a superpowered incident, as last season some Terrigen Crystal infected fish in the ocean, exposing any seafood lover or fish oil user to the Terrigenesis process, turning them into Inhumans if they have Kree-alien influenced DNA. Turns out Hunter tried some of the tainted fish oil, hoping to get X-ray vision. Bobbi didn’t try the fish oil, but she is curious if she’d have powers. In the comics, Mockingbird was originally psychic, then not psychic, then she was again, then she never was, now she may really be. It’s all very confusing.

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Be right back.

Anywho, the speedy woman kidnaps Mack and ties him to a bathroom sink. This is surprisingly not the first time Mack – the tall muscular guy – has been taking out by suspicious characters. Last season Hunter and Bobbi kidnapped him Mack and Bobbi kidnapped Hunter when they (temporarily) betrayed the team; they tied him to a bathroom sink, and now the tables have been turned on Mack [Thanks for the correction Jeff! Even with the link, the info was reversed!]. Turns out the fast lady is Elena Rodriguez, who can run 6 meters in a 30th of a second, but can only travel for on heartbeat, then she snaps back to her point of origin. This rather specific power seems a bit odd in comics, where Yo-Yo Rodriguez is the secretive hero Slingshot, as other characters can run around the world in a second, but it’s very visually interesting for a TV show. She’s been stealing guns from corrupt cops so her cousin Francisco Rodriguez can dump them safely in a river. Mack calls her “Yo-Yo” a few times, though TV Elena is proudly Colombiana while comic Yo-Yo is Puertorriqueña. After the team rescues Mack and captures Elena, Daisy puts Joey in charge of Intake (which we learned way back in “Repairs” is what SHIELD calls interrogating and recruiting superpowered individuals).

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Why isn’t she wearing a hospital gown?

Elena, by the way, wears the same cross seen floating near blood in the flashforward. In the comics, Yo-Yo was only active for a short time before she got seriously injured (though she did recover, with help).

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Seriously, this dude is cool.

Hunter and Bobbi track down Elena’s cousin, but they’re cornered by Col. Victor Ramon of the Bogotá police and his apparently Inhuman partner, an unnamed cop with glowing medusa eyes. Creepy. The crooked cops assassinate Francisco and Bobbi and Hunter hostage. Bobbi claims her team is stopping an alien menace, which is half-right, as Inhumans were created by aliens. He probably isn’t intended to be the same character, but evil glowing-eyes guy seems a lot like Frank “Nur” McGee. Despite having the worst codename ever (seriously), McGee is probably the most bad ass of the Nuhumans popping up in Marvel lately, as he’s an old school, noir detective working for Inhuman royalty.

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Cropped for your safety from Secret Invasion #4.

Elena helps SHIELD save Bobbi and Hunter, and is given some interesting neon bracelets, though what special properties they have beyond regular cuffs is uncertain. Joe melts medusa-eyes officer’s sunglasses to his face (creepy), but then Hydra 6 flies in and deus ex machinas the bad Inhuman cop outta there. Dang, if Hydra could do those kinds of snatch and grabs, why don’t they do them more often? Afterwards, Joey tries to recruit Elena into Daisy’s team of Secret Warriors, but she decides to stay in Colombia (they give her a cool smartwatch to stay in touch). Daisy decides the team can still work if they are stationed around the world – especially since May’s ex (the villain Lash) killed 12 Inhumans this season already – so she encourages Joey to go back to his family too. In the comics, Daisy and Yo-Yo were part of Nick Fury’s secret team of superpowered soldiers (all the sons or daughters of other powered individuals) called the “Secret Warriors.”

Meanwhile, back at SHIELD’s Playground base (which was formerly Agent Carter’s SSR base, though which base, we don’t know yet), tech geeks Fitz and Simmons are awkwardly avoiding bonding after they kissed and Fitz kinda shot Simmons’ ex. Coulson gets a new hand (which Fitz can be seen creating early in the episode), but more than anything he wants to track down the ones responsible for Rosalind’s death. To that end, he has Fitz activate the old memory-jogger machine that Hydra previously used on Coulson (and later on himself, it wasn’t pleasant either time) on the comatose body of Werner von Strucker. In the comics, young Werner was only around for a few issues before he was killed, here he’s not quite dead, but close enough. Freakily, Werner’s first words are “just kill me, just kill me, just kill me,” echoing Coulson’s words in the memory machine, “please let me die, please let me die.”

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And yet they call her that!

Using the password he gleans from Werner, “Perizaad(?) sent me, we went to Princeton together,” Coulson accesses a secret Hydra phone and contacts Gideon Malick, Fury’s old boss and current head of Hydra. As a result, Malick closes some operations, including Gothite Industries, to throw Coulson off the trail. May, who earned the title Cavalry by doing horrible things for the greater good, congradulated Coulson for joining her in the “Cavalry.”

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Gross! Also, totally original!

Malick, meanwhile, has other things to think about. He and his telekinetic Inhuman attack dog Giyera have been monitoring the undead Grant Ward, former SHIELD specialist and Hydra head who is now hosting the ancient entity Hive. As the episode progresses, Ward/Hive (Wive?) asks for more food and more televisions to understand the world around him as he strengthens. As Malick and Giyera begin to doubt he’s anything other than a sick Ward, Hive declares he will make Giyera believe – then releases spores from his hands. In the comics, Hive was apparently created in the modern day by Hydra as yet another attempt at creating the perfect Hydra loyalist. It is a collection of nasty things that can infect others, spreading power and dominance as it does so.

The episode’s stinger has President Ellis informing Coulson that the new ATCU head will be Brig. Gen. Glenn Talbot, who spent most of the last season hunting Coulson, but will now be taking orders from him! In the comics, Talbot was engaged to the woman who became Mrs. Hulk, and he spent years hunting the Hulk until his own hubris killed him. TV Talbot hasn’t met the Hulk or Betsy Ross yet.

Next week: Talbot’s baaaaaack!

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7 comments

  1. In the last sentence you said “TV Talbot hasn’t met the Hulk or Betsy Ross yet.”

    What makes you say that? Was it referenced somewhere in an episode?

  2. In season two, wasn’t it Bobbi and Mack who had Hunter tied up in the loo? Or maybe my memory’s faulty.

    Love the posts – many thanks!

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