Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of Agents of SHIELD here.
Agents of SHIELD returned from a long hiatus with a very enjoyable episode and a more direct fulfillment of its “Secret Warriors” promise.
The emotional fallout of the midseason finale was present in “Bouncing Back”, though it wasn’t as prominent as I would have expected. The main plot kept our heroes too busy to allow us to dwell on the events of the last episode for too long. This is good, since we viewers have had 3 months to process the information, and having the protagonists go through that routine would have made for a slower episode than a return from hiatus is expected to be. But it also led to an episode that was high on action, but somewhat low on meaty emotional material.
We got glimpses of Coulson acting as his new, darker self, going so far as to mentally torture Werner Von Strucker in order to get closer to Gideon Malick. This paid off in their short phone conversation which made it clear that the battle between SHIELD and this latest incarnation of Hydra is far from over, and more personal than ever.
We also got a brief look at Fitz and Simmons’s post-Maveth state, with the former wrestling with guilt over killing Will (even though it wasn’t actually Will) and the latter ready to move on and hoping to return to the way things were. It was a nice scene for both characters, though perhaps a short step back for FitzSimmons as a potential couple after that kiss a few episodes ago.
Aside from that, the bulk of the episode dealt with a new Inhuman, Elena Rodriguez, aka Yo-Yo. It was a nice twist to introduce her as an antagonist only to reveal that she was well-intentioned and made for a great ally. The action sequences featuring her speed/slingshot powers were great and showed off some neat special effects. Ultimately, what I liked most about it was having the Secret Warriors story arc take center stage this week, as Daisy, Joey, and Yo-Yo working together gave us a taste of that, and we saw Daisy actively trying to recruit an Inhuman—and Hydra recruiting one themselves. The only weird part about it was the way Daisy sent them off at the end. Elena I get, but Joey and Lincoln? Are the Secret Warriors already getting benched? Or is this just an in-between-episodes thing?
On the bad guys side of things, Ward may be dead, but Hive lives. We saw too little of Hive to judge completely, but Brett Dalton gave a suitably creepy performance, and Powers Boothe also communicated Malick’s mild apprehension and fear of the creature well.
Finally, that opening scene set 3 months from now, though a bit gimmicky, definitely raised some eyebrows. It’s an ambitious scenario they’ve set up, and the way they telegraphed certain details (like the cross) leads me to believe it’s not entirely what it seems. I look forward to seeing it pay off.
Oh, and I loved having President Ellis appear again in “Bouncing Back”. Not only did it reinforce the connection between Agents of SHIELD and the Marvel films (with Ellis having played a major role in Iron Man 3), but it also helped clarify SHIELD’s status within the U.S. government.
Rating: 4/5 (Great)
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