Dang, the Terrigen’s really hitting the fan now! Major shake-ups hit the Agents of SHIELD as their greatest foe(s) demonstrate(s) real power. Why do these events seem so familiar to comic book fans?
That was an explosive episode, and definitely a gamechanger in more ways than one, though maybe not in the way fans were hoping. Certainly an underwhelming appearance by the “Secret Warriors,” but there were still plenty of surprises to keep the audience going.
The Story Thus Far: An ancient parasitic Inhuman is living inside the dead(ish) body of SHIELD traitor Grant Ward, and Director Coulson’s team has put themselves in harm’s way trying to stop him (Them? It?) – now it’s up to Agent Daisy Johnson’s Secret Warriors to set things right!
Comic Connections for “The Team”
As Daisy and Lincoln race to pick up the Secret Warriors (hoping the Quinjet has some kind of “secret afterburner”), we see what each Inhuman reserve agent is doing. Near Biscayne Bay in Miami, Joey Gutierrez is on a date, and in Bogotá, Columbia, Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez is practicing her English (in hopes of seeing Mack again, it seems). Romance has to wait however, as the team assembles for the rescue mission. This means the entire Secret Warriors team includes two members from the comics (Daisy and Yo-Yo), and two characters created for TV (Lincoln and Joey). Not a very large team so far, but manageable for story, budget and time reasons (plus the Fantastic Four have made a small team work for years).
Interestingly, two team members speak fluent Spanish. This is neither here nor there, but speaks a lot of the change face of diversity in superhero fiction. It’s too bad Deathlok wasn’t included, but then he wouldn’t fit the whole Inhuman-trend.
With the team together, Daisy gives them a quick pep talk, then jumps out the Quinjet first. It can be assumed they’re all wearing parachutes, but wouldn’t it be great if they busted out the classic SHIELD High Altitude Wing Kite Harness (HAWK Harness, natch) from the comics.
On the ground, it seems the human members of SHIELD weren’t as captured as they last seemed. May is still badly beaten, but they hold their own against Ward’s forces and the Inhumans Giyera and Lucio (all characters created for TV, for the record). The team also manages to lock themselves in a storage room, nearly echoing Fitz’s flight from Ward in season one. It’s interesting to see how various powers and skills have evolved. As threats have become increasingly powered, top fighters like May (or tough guys like Mack) find themselves on the short end of the stick, while characters initially suggested to have very simple or haphazard powers (like Daisy, Joey, and Lincoln), now throw around their powers like experts.
It’s interesting that Hydra is so well-equipped here, and that Hydra’s “Inner Circle” was meeting with Hive last episode – considering, you know, Hydra was “defeated” after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Agents of SHIELD season two was half-devoted to defeating the regrouping Hydra, and Avengers: The Age of Ultron opened with the eponymous superteam taking out the last vestiges of Hydra… but hey, you know what they say: cut off one limb and two more take its place.
The battle goes really well, all things considered, with the team escaping and Malick apprehended, although Joey is somewhat traumatized by his first kill (taking out Lucio), and – as we learn later – Daisy is compromised by Ward/Hive. Speaking of evolved characters, Hive is a powerhouse in the comics, but as said before, only a few years old (as far as Hydra is concerned). His Marvel Cinematic Universe counterpart, called Alveus (which Coulson says translates to “Hive”), is much more along the lines of an Apocalypse-like threat. Apocalypse, or En Sabah Nur, is the big bad centuries-old, body-hopping, mind-controlling, human-killing, god-like boogey man of the mutant sphere, and here, Hive plays much the same role for Inhumans. Both characters take on servants of great power, altering them in body and mind before sending them against their teammates, and both are more interested in shifting the balance of superpower in the world than merely gaining wealth or political power. It will be interesting to see if Hive of the comics is later adapted to meet this much more threatening and scary Inhuman baddie.
As mentioned before, there is an Inhuman who is almost this kind of threat in the comics. Capo was also an early Inhuman king, survives by possessing dead bodies of humans, and wants to rule the Inhumans of the world – but he isn’t the genocidal maniac that Apoc or Hive are, nor does he mind-control others to do his bidding (he usually pays them lots of money). Capo could certainly be developed into a major threat, but he’s more of a vampire-like mafioso than a world-conquering threat at this point.
In SHIELD’s base, the Playground (formerly one of Agent Carter’s SSR bases), Coulson interrogates Malick in Vault D (where Ward was previously kept prisoner). Malick confirms his daughter’s death, and informs Coulson of just how threatening Hive can be. Coulson takes a few notes from Palpatine’s playbook, trying to reach Malick through Malick’s rage and desire for revenge, but Malick was already offering everything Coulson needed.
Malick says Alveus/Hive was “a slave to the Kree,” which was an appropriate origin for something that would become a god. Couple things here. First, this also ties Hive to Apocalypse, as young En Sabah Nur was a slave to Rama-Tut (also known as Kang the Conqueror) before he established himself as a god on Earth. Second, this ties a lot to the Inhuman origins from the comics. The Kree, seeking new ways to defeat their perennial enemies the Skrull, turned early humans into Inhumans (inspired by similar experimentations by the space-god Celestials that turned proto-humans into Eternals), intending to use them as a slave army. After a falling out, the Kree abandoned (and attempted to exterminate) the Inhumans. Interestingly, before departing, the Kree left behind a Slave Engine that would turn all non-Inhuman humans into slaves (ostensibly) for the Inhumans. A lot of slavery going around, is what I’m saying.
He also says a “reckoning” is coming. Neither here nor there, but long-time Marvel writer Dan Slott has long hinted that some major, reality-threatening battle called the Reckoning War would happen in the near future. Still waiting on that one Dan, and looking forward to it!
Other interesting stuff from this interrogation: Coulson is a Christmas-and-Easter Catholic, many devil-legends are based around Hive, and Coulson delivers the beautiful “I’ve met gods. Gods bleed,” line. Obviously the latter is a reference to Loki (who Coulson severely wounded), and the whole “devil” thing further ties Hive to Apocalypse. The Inhumans do have their own scary Inhuman who has become a legend used to frighten children as well. A former Inhuman king who was more-or-less benevolent but possessed insanely powerful abilities and believed his will superior to all others, has had his name removed from all records (it is even physically impossible to say it out loud), and has become known as The Unspoken.
Realizing any of the Inhuman agents could be a threat, Coulson tries to calmly investigate, aided by an extremely trusting Daisy. While it could simply be Hive’s programming, if there is some Daisy in there, it makes sense that, by this point, she would trust Coulson’s cryptic instructions. Naturally things go bad, and all signs point to Lincoln (whom Daisy calls “Sparky,” referencing Mack’s nickname for him) as the culprit. As Daisy (under Hive’s influence) predicted, Lincoln’s naturally violent nature made him seem even guiltier. Keeping things creepy, Lucio’s dead body, infected by Hive’s parasites, is still as warm as a living body, despite being very dead. Also, Malick’s death-vision finally comes true. What’s really interesting here is how closely Daisy’s comments (and for that matter Giyera’s in other episodes) mirrors aspects of Marvel’s Secret Invasion event. During that crossover, hundreds of world leaders and superheroes were replaced by shapeshifting alien Skrulls. Although they seemed genetically (and even psychically) identical to the original individual, once they revealed themselves they would repeat the mantra, “He loves you.” Daisy says “we” care about Lincoln, and while the Skrulls were referring to their god and Daisy is referring to those part of Hive, the similarity is chilling.
By the time all is said and done, Joey and Yo-Yo are exonerated, but Joey has had his fill of spy-work and Yo-Yo no longer trusts Mack (even calling herself “Elena,” instead of Yo-Yo). Lincoln is locked down as a potential spy, but as Daisy reveals herself, she steals the Kree orb from last episode, all of the Terrigen Crystals confiscated from Afterlife, and uses her powers to destroy the Playground. Then she leaves.
Next week: Possessed by Hive, Daisy and Ward are finally a couple and they have Malick’s $960 million to spend. Isn’t that sweet? Go team #skyeward, I guess.