Week of June 4, 2023:

Emancipation (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s3 e20) released May 10, 2016 (where to watch)
Absolution (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s3 e21) released May 17, 2016
Scott Hardie | September 17, 2023

Emancipation: The show's heart isn't in its MCU movie crossovers any more, but I don't really blame it for that. For one thing, movie release dates change often, making it hell on a show like this to plan a season's worth of stories that might have to change at the last minute. For another, the show has inevitably developed its own stories that it would rather tell, and the film connections came to feel distracting instead of exciting. It would be nice if the show really explored the effects of the Sokovia Accords on "enhanced" people around the world, but if it's not up to devoting a whole season to that, I'm totally fine with a couple of passing references in dialogue. The Peggy Carter tribute was nice, too; she appeared on this series and still mattered to S.H.I.E.L.D. even if the MCU seems to have run out of use for her.

The show's heart also isn't in Lash any more, a lion who entered the series with a roar but who goes out with a whimper. If the writers are not going to play with their toys, it's best to put them away for good, but still, it felt like the character's final contribution could have amounted to more than this. I'd have preferred to see Lash really wreak havoc on Hive's operation on par with the physical violence that he once seemed capable of committing. Still, Lincoln Campbell's plan to get Hive free while deceiving most of S.H.I.E.L.D. was fun to watch play out, even if his loyalty was never in doubt. (5/10)

Absolution: Kelly and I watched the underwhelming "Academy" web-series that led up to this season finale, and it was neat to spot the show's "winners" as guest stars. Too bad they wound up turned into "Primitives." I'd like to see the show do more with the Primitives conceptually -- surely there's some body horror worth exploring from their perspective? or some thematic poetry in turning Watchdogs into them? -- but it's just not that kind of show.

That said, if the show's going to focus solely on action, at least it delivers. The Matrix-inspired fight between Daisy Johnson and Hive was a lot of fun, and it was clear that Chloe Bennet and Brett Dalton (and their stunt doubles) worked very hard to pull it off. I also enjoyed the tension in the infiltration scene; using the Quinjet as a submarine is a wild idea and so entertaining that I'll let its complete impracticality slide. I also really liked the idea of trapping Hive with a device that makes him cycle rapidly through the many personalities and sets of memories stuck in his head; it's another good moment for Brett Dalton, and also just a fun way to capitalize on Hive's nature. At one point, Hive says that he'll finally show his enemies rage, but I'm still waiting to see it; the character's total lack of excitement about anything is an unfortunate drain on the show's momentum. (8/10)

Erik Bates | November 4, 2023

I'm bored with Hive, and to that end, I was really hoping Lash would have just ended it all there, and they could have spent the season finale... I don't know doing literally anything else. It's funny, because I could have sworn that Hive said the only thing that could stop him was the device under Hellfire's mobile home.

Also, Hellfire is just Ghost Rider without a bike, right?

Turns out, apparently, Lash is also something that could stop him, and if they hadn't gone all Beauty and the Beast with his character's choices in the end, he could have completely wrecked shop on Hive's operation.

Also, Radcliffe is a HORRIBLE scientists. How did he not learn his lesson to not try to change ALL your test subjects at once?!

So this new batch of inhumans that he was able to create is just... ugly, dumb, strong guys? That Hive saw this as a success shifted my perspective on his motivations. He wants minions. Followers. People he can control. I don't know that an inhuman utopia was ever necessarily in his plans, but my picture was at leasat more of a world ruled by inhumans. Now, I'm not so sure that's the case.

Erik Bates | November 5, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | November 5, 2023
This comment contains spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Reveal it.

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