The origin of the Inhumans, seen at last – but can the Agents of SHIELD handle the truth? Eh, probably, but it’s gunna hurt.
Good episode, overall, though it’s a shame the big secret of the machine isn’t something grander. Also, we seem to be losing Inhumans left and right, what’s up with that?
The Story Thus Far: The evil ancient Inhuman Hive has Daisy under his thrall and plans to take over the Earth in the most disgusting way possible, and now it’s a race against time as the human members of the Agents of SHIELD try to take on superhumans fighting for a single cause!
Comic Connections for “Failed Experiments”
We open with a flashback, seeing just how the Kree made Hive the parasite he is today. Interestingly, Hive’s human body (described as “Mayan”) is covered in black body paint with white claw marks – perhaps this is meant to be evocative of Black Panther, hero of Wakanda, but this is likely coincidental. The young hunter actually reminds me of another prehistoric Marvel character – Ulysses Bloodstone. Thousands of years ago, a young warrior encountered a strange, tentacle alien, and after a struggle, the “caveman” (as he’s often described, despite lack of cave) becomes imbued with a cosmically powered gem and becomes an immortal monster-hunter.
The young hunter is captured by Kree Reapers and put through painful experimentation. He is one of the first, if not the first, humans transformed into Inhumans through transfusions involving Kree blood (similar to the GH formula from season one). He is then immediately exposed to Terrigen, transforming him into Hive. Although Hive united Inhumans to drive the Kree from Earth, others feared him, leading to a “civil war” between those who wanted safety with Hive and those who wanted freedom from him. It ended when Hive was kicked off Earth. This is similar-to-but-different-from the origin of Inhumans in comics. The Kree still came to Earth to experiment on early human tribes to create an army to be used in intergalactic war, but the Inhumans still looked human when the Kree left, they were just more advanced and generally stronger and smarter than humans of the day. It wasn’t until much later that the Inhuman scientist-leader Randac discovered the Terrigenesis process (which was part of the original Kree plan).
In the present, Hive has used Mallick’s money and Hydra connections to commandeer Union City, a southern Wyoming mining town that boomed and busted under the manipulations of rich, greedy men, and finally fell apart when water-poisoning drove remaining residents away. Extending this metaphor of powerful individuals manipulating the masses, Hive notes that SHIELD was created to fight wars, and that only billionaires can build iron suits and only the military can create Super Soldiers, and that inequality that keeps power in the hands of a few will lead to unrest and war. Between the “civil war” among the ancient Inhumans, the town being named after the Union, and of course, directly defining Iron Man and Captain America as two major figures in a civil war over security vs. freedom. You’d almost think there was some major event that would lead to war between Cap and Iron Man…
Hive then invites Hydra’s Inner Circle to become the first humans to become Inhumans since the Kree left, and they seem remarkably calm considering all (?) of their bases were taken out by Talbot’s ATCU last episode. Dr. Radcliffe is excited by the prospect of mixing Hive’s genetics with Terrigen to create a new stage for humanity, but the process fails miserably without fresh Kree DNA, forcing Hive to play a card he’d hoped not to use, and call in the Kree. There have been many attempts to turn non-Inhumans into Inhumans over the years, to varying levels of success. Probably the most terrifying was that of the Nazi Frederik Heiden who successfully transformed humans and animals into Terrigen-affected creatures, and made himself like unto a god – until a ragtag group of pseudoscientists took him out.
Back at SHIELD’s Playground, which seems to be in good shape, considering what Daisy did to it, the now cane-using Director Coulson watches hours of security footage looking for his fallen agent. Strangely, dozens of agents seem to use the director’s office during the day without needed to speak with him. Eventually, the facial recognition program Daisy designed spots her in Union City. This leads Coulson to believe Daisy allowed herself to be seen to trap the agents (despite her knowing where their secret base is), and Mack to believe his former partner subconsciously wants to be found so they can save her.
Coulson forms a strike team to take out Hive, and interestingly, we finally get a few more agents with speaking parts. It seems with Daisy in enemy hands, the Inhumans sidelined by necessity, and Bobbi and Lance off preparing to be Most Wanted, we get a chance to meet the nervously excited O’Brien and the sarcastic and self-directed Piper. Neat! They’re armed with various handguns, assault rifles, and Kree-tech-inspired Splinter Bombs that “could turn a small army into pixie dust.” Coincidentally, there’s a little known immortal hero named Pixie that uses dust that temporarily transforms her targets to stone. The more you know.
Back at Union City, we see more of Hive’s Inhumans being themselves. While he has “sway” over them, they aren’t mindless drones. Alisha serves herself drinks at a bar while James (called both “Dundee” and “Ted Kaczynski”) flirts with Daisy (whose face wounds haven’t healed yet, what’s up with that?). For her part, Daisy hopes to convert Lincoln and eventually the rest of the SHIELD crew, but she doesn’t seem as disgusted by James as she did before. In the comics, James constantly antagonized his teammates, but his gruff exterior somehow won over Daisy, who fell for him before things went south.
Once James is alone in the bar, SHIELD’s strike team moves in, although May chooses guile over force. Approaching James (whom Mack still calls “Blowhard”) under the guise of a Hydra loyalist, May learns the 33-year-old Inhuman from Brisborn is Leo, but more importantly, that the “big man” with the “Ziggy Stardust vibe” is in the abandoned mining facility. Having what she came for, May knocks James out. Neither here nor there, but one of Spidey’s first enemies was a mob boss who called himself the Big Man. Just throwin’ that out there.
May apparently needed a few hours to get the info out, because it was daylight when she went in and night when the team regroups. Also, the intel was fairly useless as Hive was actually in an abandoned church with Daisy by this point. However, they do get to see the Kree device in action as it calls down a pair of Kree. Apparently these are the same two that experimented on Hive, having waited in suspended animation for thousands of years for the signal to take him out. That may sound like an oddly inefficient military assignment for Kree soldiers, but it does fit the Kree empire’s modus operandi in the comics. The Kree are led by an immortal conglomerate of the greatest minds in Kree history – the Supreme Intelligence – and he tends to play the long game. He has stationed sentry robots and set plans in motion with the intention of waiting eons to see them in action.
These Kree Reapers can sense nearby Inhumans, and while it sounds like they’re speaking English, there’s probably some sort of universal translator in play. They proceed to take out several Hydra agents and apparently kill Alisha (both a double and the original). Daisy takes on one of the Kree, and after declaring that no one will die under her watch, she breaks his spine and gives him to the doctor so he can bleed to death. The other (called “Papa Smurf” and “Big Blue” by SHIELD) takes on Hive, but after an intense battle (implying Ward’s body has super strength now), Hive just drains the Kree of life. So much for the only way to destroy Hive. By the way, Hive refers to the Kree as “Blue Angels,” the same term Raina’s grandmother used for the Kree.
With the Kree down, Mack makes himself known to Daisy, and she seems oddly confused that she was discovered – maybe it was a subconscious slip after all – but she’s as determined as ever to convert him. Failing that, she very nearly kills Mack, but does seem to hold herself back in time for May to shoot her. This comes after Piper shot a missile at Hive, which just gives him an opportunity to show off his gross take on a healing factor. The SHIELD team evacs using one of the flying elevators they previously used for Inhuman containment, and cut their losses.
Without a living Kree, Hive had to save one of the Kree hearts before the bodies were completely destroyed, and although he was disappointed Daisy didn’t kill her old partner (again, he doesn’t have total control), he is elated when she offers her own GH-infused blood as a possible Kree-blood substitute. Coulson also has GH in his blood, does that mean he could become an Inhuman?
It’s too bad they didn’t try to take Daisy, as Fitz-Simmons need someone infected with Hive to test their cure on. See, they’ve been busy developing antitoxin to counteract Hive’s infection, and Lincoln, being unable to join the away team, offers to be a guinea pig. Simmons feels the procedure has potential but carries great risk, and Fitz is cautiously optimistic, but Coulson orders them not to proceed. Lincoln, a trained doctor, ignores them and injects himself hoping to find a cure for Daisy. Unaware of this at first, Fitz-Simmons playfully banter and talk about her ex-boyfriend Milton, but once Lincoln is down, all joking stops. Lincoln survives, but his immune system has been put through the ringer, and after drilling into Lincoln’s brain, Simmons declared the test a failure. This whole subplot seems reminiscent of the end of the Legacy Virus that affected mutants. A cure was developed, but it would kill the first host; traumatized by his sister’s Legacy Virus death, Colossus injected himself, heroically dying to save mutantkind (I mean, both he and his sister are fine now, but that’s comics for ya).
There was no stinger for this episode as apparently there’s some Marvel movie coming out this weekend.
Next Week: Hellfire gets a chain.