Wow. I laughed, I flinched, I smiled heartwarming smiles. That was a good episode. Oh, and it had a bunch of Marvel stuff too!
Dang, that was good – it’s funny how episodes can bounce back and forth between “that was good” to “that was GREAT!”
The Story Thus Far: Inhumans are popping up all over the world, and just as SHIELD Agent Daisy Johnson is trying to save them, Mallick, Ward/Hive, and Hydra are trying to corrupt them. Then there’s Lincoln, who believes Inhumans have a destiny, and Lash, who believes his destiny is to kill Inhumans.
Comic Connections in “Spacetime”
The story opens with a homeless man named Charles “not Charlie” Hinton carving a wooden robin, and business owner Edwin Abbot in Dyker Heights, New York. Charlie’s Inhuman power allows anyone who touches him to see an upcoming death in excruciating detail, and an accidental brush between the two men causes Edwin to foretell his own demise – and know that Daisy Johnson will be there to see it! Monitoring national emergency calls, SHIELD alerts Daisy, who (identified as an ATCU agent) then fulfills the vision by witnessing Abbot’s death, but as she tries to save Charles from Hydra, she gets the future vision whammy. The idea of skin-contact power problems is nothing new (ask Rogue), and future-seeing is a common trope (ask Raina), but it seems Marvel has big plans for a soothsaying Inhuman in the up-coming Civil War II comic, so who knows if there’ll be a connection here or not.
It seems Charles was a well-liked teacher and new father before he ingested some tainted fish oil and became an Inhuman (well, presumably, that was the big McGuffin at the end of last season). Forced to leave his wife and one-year-old daughter Robin behind, he became homeless. Now armed with his vision. Fitz points out that due to dimensional limitations, and the fact that she already observed the outcome, they cannot alter future events. Fitz’s logic seems sound based on our understanding of spacetime, but in the Marvel Multiverse, of which the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just one of an infinite number of verses, that isn’t exactly how it works. See, time is very wibbly wobbly, and if you travel back in time and alter and event, you didn’t erase your existing timeline, you just created a new, branching path. The only confirmed way to alter the flow of time without creating a new timeline is through the use of Doomlocks (guess who invented those). It’s thanks to this temporal uncertainty that Marvel has so many realities, including gone where all the Avengers have beards.
In his speech, Fitz alludes to the famous thought experiment of a 2D universe, immortalized in the short story Flatland, in which flat people struggle to comprehend dimensions they hadn’t even imagined before. Trippy stuff. Unrelated: Marvel has several heroes whose whole shtick is that they are completely flat, including the WWII bad ass named Thin Man, the goofy Great Lakes Avengers member Flatman, and the even lesser known Liberteens member 2-D. Odd, huh?
EDIT Alliterator adds:
Some cool Easter eggs: Charles Howard Hinton was a British mathematician who wrote “scientifictions,” was interested in the fourth dimension, and coined the term “tesseract”; Edwin Abbot Abbot (yes, his middle and last name were the same) was the author of Flatland; and William Rowan Hamilton was an Irish physicist and astronomer who was one of the first who attempted to describe space and time as one and the same: “Time is said to have only one dimension, and space to have three dimensions. … The mathematical quaternion partakes of both these elements; in technical language it may be said to be ‘time plus space’, or ‘space plus time’: and in this sense it has, or at least involves a reference to, four dimensions. And how the One of Time, of Space the Three, Might in the Chain of Symbols girdled be.”
Daisy and the gang (including new guy Agent Doug) practice the death-scenario in the hopes of changing fate, and Coulson adds that they should practice like that for every moment of their lives. This may be a bit of an in-joke, as the cast and crew do run through every fight scene several times before it actually gets filmed.
Back at Hydra, Hive/Ward (Hard?) is dressed like Neo from the Matrix sequels and poses a very direct question to his benefactor Mallick: if you already possess $9.2 billion and control people around the world, what more could you want? He posits, Mallick must want personal power, like Inhumans have, and to that end he has Mallick hostily takeover the Transia Corporation, the company that made advanced nerve interfaces used by Fitz in Coulson’s artificial hand (and he mentions remembering Coulson kill him, which is something that happened to Ward before Hive infected him, so that’s interesting). This is a really cool bit, as “Transia” is the fictional country Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are from in the comics, not Sokovia, so that’s a nice nod. It’s also appropriate that Transia Corp is so technologically advanced, as Transia is home to the Citadel of Science, where the High Evolutionary tries to improve upon evolution.
Killing the board of directors as soon as they sign the company over to Mallick (won’t that raise legal questions?), Hive/Ward has Mallick put on a strength-enhancing exoskeleton to kill the former Transia CEO personally. He does so by squishing his head. There’s something very foreboding about this, even beyond the rather gruesome (for primetime TV) death, as Mallick is a rich old guy who wishes he has superpowers, then uses stolen technology to have enhanced strength and uses it to destroy someone’s head. Reminds me a lot of the comic book version of Iron Monger, who menaced Iron Man long before he was played by The Dude.
Before everything can go down, Dr. Garner, AKA the Inhuman killer Lash, shows up to SHIELD’s secret Playground HQ unannounced. This throws off Coulson’s plan to avoid fate, but Garner does it to say goodbye to his ex-wife May one last time before his transformation is complete, then he hopes Lash can be put to good use by SHIELD somehow. They try using Simmons’ anti-Terrigen vaccine made from Absorbing Man’s blood, but it doesn’t work. Interestingly, while Daisy’s team is trying to change the future, May and Garner talk about how impossible it is to change the past. A lot of time-talk going on this episode. In the comics, SHIELD is very up for the idea of employing monsters as agents, even if various forms of control may be needed to prevent chaos. Notably, at least two incarnations of the Howling Commandos (named for Nick Fury Sr.’s WWII team) have included such diverse members as werewolves, vampires, monkeys, aliens, swamp creatures, mummies, gorillas, and even Groot! Lash would fit right in.
As Daisy leaves, Coulson accidentally calls her “Skye,” her name for the first two seasons of this show; this isn’t a slip-up so much as a sign of concern from Coulson. His worry is well-placed, because as soon as they go radio silent, Coulson learns the undead Ward is on the scene, forcing him to join the away team in action to warn Skye. Interestingly, Ward/Hive tells his men to only kill the “human” members of SHIELD, so there’s some odd Inhuman loyalty there.
In the big battle with Mallick, Charles saves Daisy’s life by giving the Hydra boss a glimpse of somebody’s death, but is fatally injured in the process. Before he dies, Charles asks Skye to protect his daughter, who he fears will become an Inhuman herself one day, and Skye agrees to it. Now, it’s not very clear how closely Skye will watch her – she’s clearly not going to become her guardian, as Robin has a mother. This seems very reminiscent of Wolverine’s adoption of Amiko. While in Japan (accidentally), Wolverine saves a young girl and witnesses her mother die in a giant monster attack (as happens in Tokyo). He agrees to the mother’s dying wish, and offers to look after the girl. She only appears sporadically over the next few decades, but she’s still considered Wolverine’s ward.
Then there’s this cute bit where Simmons holds Fitz’s hand because Skye saw them doing it in her vision. D’awwwww.
As the episode wraps, we learn Mallick, now without his exo-suit, escaped, but that his former henchman Giyera has sworn loyalty to Hive/Ward. More troubling however, is that whatever vision he saw has put a real fear inside Mallick. Some bad death is coming.
Daisy also gets another glimpse of the future, and again we see the Quinjet adrift in space.
Next week: Hive!