As the Agents deal with the fallout of Civil War, their enemies accidentally recreate the most shameful part of Inhuman history!
Wow. This is the one part of Inhuman lore I never thought we’d see on screen – yet there they are!
SPOILERS for Agents of SHIELD and Captain America: Civil War, naturally.
The Story Thus Far: With Daisy still a “Fallen Agent” controlled by the ancient Inhuman Hive, the team has to find a way to save her – and the planet in the process. Not everyone’s going to make it out of this one alive.
Comic Connections in “Emancipation”
We open with fallout from Captain America: Civil War (READ ABOUT IT HERE!). Steve Rogers and Tony Stark’s public feud over the Sokovia Accords is getting ready to spill over into all aspects of superhuman life. While the movie focused only on how to Accords affected the Avengers, we now learn that – much like the comic book Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA) – the Accords require all superhumans to register with the government, including fingerprints, DNA samples, power analysis, and potential health risks. Presumably they’ll also be “on call” whenever the government needs them to go into action, and be trained in the use of their powers so as not to pose a threat to civilians. There’s a long history of attempted, and government-approved, superhuman registration in the comics (READ ABOUT IT HERE!), but the gist is that everything is well-and-good unless and until someone takes command of superhumans for nefarious purposes.
This happens after Coulson got the bad news about Peggy Carter, who died in her sleep at age 95. The comic book counterpart of Peggy Carter has changed a lot recently, to better match her on-screen iteration, so while Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Peggy founded SHIELD, the Marvel Universe (comics) Peggy was involved with the earliest days of SHIELD. And vice versa, around the same time Winter Soldier was introduced to the comics, it was revealed that Peggy had Alzheimer’s, and she eventually died in her sleep, and so the same is now true for MCU Peggy. All this is very sad, but more so with the news that Agent Carter won’t be getting a season three. With any luck, we’ll see her in flashbacks during Agents of SHIELD season four.
All this comes about as Director Coulson talks to Brig. Gen. Talbot at “gin joint in the middle of no man’s land” filled with boxing imagery. We aren’t told what town the Playground base is in yet, but it seems far from any metropolitan area (when the agents first entered the Playground, we could see what looked like forested hills outside). They go down a elevator hidden in a dining booth and enter Peggy’s old SSR base – one that was off-the-books when the SSR became SHIELD (man, it would’ve been great to see that in Agent Carter season three!). In the comics, Nick Fury Sr. famously entered his main SHIELD base through a barber shop, using a chair that became an elevator (in the MCU, Hydra had this set up in Cuba).
Coulson shows Talbot around the base (for the first time, without a blindfold), and tries to impress upon him the need for secrecy, keeping SHIELD’s Inhumans off of registration lists because, as he puts it, sometimes you need Secret Warriors. The two Inhumans present are generally ambivalent about registration. Yo-Yo, who has little trust for governments, believes that putting her on the list will make her an easier target for others, because at some point lists of individuals will fall into the wrong hands. This is exactly what happened in the comics, as Tony Stark was initially in charge of the registration list, but eventually (through a series of improbable events) Norman “Green Goblin” Osborn becomes the top man. Stark purged most of the data before Osborn took over, but still, the die had been cast, and the dark reigned over the light for a while.
Talbot then turns his attention to Lincoln. It seems Lincoln’s immune system is better, but Coulson’s kept him locked up for everyone’s safety. Daisy, it seems, keeps hacking into SHIELD mainframe just to watch (and eventually communicate) with Lincoln, even as Hive is draining her blood for Kree GH. Coulson intimates that Lincoln is a loose cannon, and Lincoln seems to prove this as he offers to sign registration, if for no other reason, because it will get him out of Coulson’s grasp. The idea of registering to get out of imprisonment was part of the SHRA from the beginning, as many villains who sided with Iron Man’s side were given pardons for past crimes, and more signed up when Osborn took over.
Next, Talbot visits Lash – or Rasta-Hulk, as Talbot calls him. Lash spent a lot of this season killing Inhumans left and right, but much like his comic book counterpart, he focused on those who did not “deserve” to become Inhuman, allowing others like Lincoln or Daisy to live. Talbot suggests putting Lash in a gel-matrix cube – that’s the suspended animation Rosalyn Price put Inhumans in while she was in charge of the ATCU.
Coulson then tells Talbot about Hive’s known powers, and the fact that he’s apparently influenced various interpretations of the devil over the past 2,000 years. They also show him pictures of the planet Maveth, where they found Hive, and about the “nightmare scenario” that could allow Hive to take over the world. What’s fun about a comic book universe is that everything is true. That is to say, all religions are based on real gods and demons that exist (even contradictory ones) and all religions have been “inspired by” god-like and demon-like characters. So the Greek gods are real, but the Eternals have also been mistaken for the Greek gods, that sort of thing. There’s been numerous real versions of the devil, and numerous characters who have claimed to inspire devil legends in Marvel, the most infamous of the latter being Nightcrawler’s father (who was actually pretty cool in X-Men: First Class).
Speaking of Hive, the villain has been moving from place to place avoiding SHIELD (but he’s been nice enough not to attack the Playground, despite knowing where it is) and is currently holed up in an abandoned mall. He lures some of the anti-superhuman Watchdogs into a trap (in which James finally gets his trademark hellfire chain!), then uses them for Dr. Radcliffe’s Alpha Test, but something goes wrong. Instead of turning them into proper Inhumans, they become what Radcliffe (and later Fitz) call “Primitives.” Wow. The darkest part of Inhumans lore actually made it to the MCU: those are Alpha Primitives, the artificially grown slave race used by the Inhumans for thousands of years (READ ABOUT INHUMANS HERE!). Alpha Primitives have gone in and out of favor with various Inhuman leaders over the centuries (for obvious reasons) and are currently trying to create something of their own subculture (but this is difficult due to their artificially inhibited mental capacity). By creating a gas that can turn normal humans into Alpha Primitives, Dr. Radcliffe inadvertently created Xerogen, a Terrigen variant created by the Kree to enslave the non-Inhuman, human population.
While all this is going on, Swayzy Daisy (as Talbot calls her) helps Lincoln McGuyver his way out of SHIELD’s Playground. He preps QJ-6 for take-off, then seemingly escapes, which annoys Talbot, until he learns this was all part of May’s plan (approved by Coulson) to trick Daisy into to sending Lash straight to Hive. Talbot jokes about the Inhumans having silly names, but having an “Inhuman name” is part of most Inhumans coming-of-age rites, which is why so many have names that match their abilities.
We find out that Lash can not only neutralize Hive’s spores, but purify the infected Daisy as well. Unfortunately, before he can be of further help, James blasts Lash through the heart. Lash of the comics is certainly durable enough to withstand such an attack (or at least heal afterwards), but he also hasn’t been shown to be nearly as beneficial. Lash’s energy manipulation powers are mainly used offensively, though he does try to help train and protect young Inhumans (who agree to join his cult).
With Daisy free and on her way back to SHIELD (with a nasty case of Hive withdrawal), we learn the Watchdogs previously stole a working missile, something Hive now has access to, which could allow him to spread the Xerogen gas over much of the world. Creepy.
On the upside, Yo-Yo gives her rosary to Mack to encourage his faith – and this means she is unlikely to be the one who dies next episode, since we know her rosary is present in the disaster, but she no longer has to be with it – so let’s hope it isn’t Mack who goes!
Next Week: Who will die?!