TV Recap: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ‘Laws of Nature’

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Laws of Nature Plot Summary:

With Terrigen bleeding throughout the global ecosystem, Inhumans are popping up at random. It’s now up to S.H.I.E.L.D. to pick up any of these new superhumans before people get hurt. However, with new threats popping up, Coulson (Clark Gregg) is having a tough time. Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) is also dedicating all his energy to find out what happened to Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge).

Last season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended on quite a cliffhanger. After spending much of Season 2 focusing on how important it is to bring new Inhumans in one by one, Terrigen ended up being released into the ocean completely by accident. Transitioning Skye (Chloe Bennett) into her new superpowered identity Daisy (and that’s what we’ll call her from now on) was enough to cover all of Season 2 and that was with just one person. Now the door’s open for people to start freaking out in droves which can lead to endless amounts of destruction. It’s all pretty crazy! Yet “pretty crazy” is exactly made S.H.I.E.L.D. a better show in Season 1, and kept that quality going throughout Season 2. Season 3? It starts off this new batch of episodes in a completely bonkers manner, and we shouldn’t have it any other way.

Cast of Agents of SHIELD Season 3
(l to r) Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Chloe Bennet as Agent Daisy Johnson, Clark Gregg as Director Phil Coulson, Nick Blood as Agent Lance Hunter, Adrianne Palicki as Agent Bobbi Morse, Henry Simmons as Agent Alphonso “Mack” MacKenzie and Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell. Photo Credit: ABC/Kurt Iswarienkio

“Laws of Nature” did not miss a beat. The opening sequence has a man named Joe (Juan Pablo Raba) melting vehicles and terrifying people because fish oil pills gave him superpowers. He’s absolutely losing his mind because of this too, which is exactly what you’d expect from someone who spent decades building a normal life for himself. What this segment did is set the right tone for what we can expect over the next few months. Terrigenesis will now go unchecked, and complete chaos is exactly what will ensue. Inhumans like Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) may want to be normal but their heritage prevents that from ever happening. This right here gives S.H.I.E.L.D. a very exciting reason to keep existing other than the looming threat of Hydra. With the world on the brink (and a global Terrigen spread happening in 17 months), S.H.I.E.L.D. is there to fight mass hysteria.

They’re not alone either! Enter Rosalind Price, played excellently by Constance Zimmer (who’s now “That Woman” to me after seeing her on Newsroom and House of Cards). Price was set up as a possible villain at the start, but it’s quickly revealed to be a misunderstanding between her and Coulson in one of the episode’s best twists. Zimmer and Gregg seriously had some awesome banter going on there in the subway. Hopefully we can get some more going with that pairing. Zimmer’s true role is actually the head of the US government approved Advanced Threat Containment Unit. The ATCU’s goal is preventing superpowered people from running amok, and while them and S.H.I.E.L.D. agree to keep Inhumans off the streets, both will likely execute that differently.

ATCU is bound to be a recurring force throughout this season, and it actually gives a pretty solid indication about where the MCU is going. This group wasn’t formed solely because of the Inhuman rise. It was created in response to everything. New York being attacked (The Avengers), S.H.I.E.L.D. becoming Hydra (The Winter Soldier), Sokovia falling apart (Age of Ultron), etc. Even the Pym Particle disaster from Ant-Man is mentioned by Coulson. The US government is deeply unsettled but all these devastating events and the ATCU is their way of stepping in. Clearly, the next evolution is the Accords we know will go into place with next year’s Civil War. What we’re watching right now is the groundwork, and it’s only a matter of time before other countries follow suit. All this will lead to Cap and Iron Man fighting, but that’s for another day.

Photo CreditL ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Photo CreditL ABC/Kelsey McNeal

There’s apparently a brand new threat on the street too. Once Coulson and Price realize neither of them are killing the Inhumans, some crazy blue dude with spikes attacks Lincoln, Daisy, and Mac (Henry Simmons). He’s like a porcupine on alien steroids. Jury’s out on whether or not this thing is an Inhuman, he does have crazy superpowers after all, but I’m betting on him being a Kree. We already had a Kree hunt Daisy last season when Lady Sif came into town. It’s hardly a surprise that another would come to Earth in a dedicated effort to wipe them all out. This new bad looked really cool and is the exact type of insane villain that S.H.I.E.L.D. should invest in now. Hydra may be good for a brawl, and the ATCU will cause problems, but nothing beats a bonafide superpowered enemy to fight superpowered heroes.

Fitz’s b-story was really great too, primarily because it was the best Fitz material we’ve ever seen. Apparently all his brain issues are gone and now he has no problem being a superspy. The guy even goes to Iraq by himself, handles a hostage situation pretty effortlessly, and leaves with exactly what he wanted. Clearly the off-season turned the previously meek scientist into a badass. As if to sell that point home, the night ends with him shotgunning his way to the monolith to go nuts on it for taking Simmons. It doesn’t go anywhere, of course, but it was intense watching him completely lose his mind.

Separate from all of this, Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood) spent the entire episode acting like they were having relationship troubles. Again. I was about to roll my eyes out of my head, but then it turns out Hunter really wanted to marry Bobbi for the second time. Good to see them actually wanting to put their relationship back on track, however, it’s clear all that was done to stretch their story a bit more. We learn at the end that Hunter is actually going on a personal mission to find Ward (Brett Dalton) to get revenge, and this was to prolong that discussion. Pretty pointless honestly. It would have been much more interesting to watch them talk this over intermittently then continue with the same material we’ve already seen too much of. Revenge is cool! Possible relationship troubles is not.

“Laws of Nature” ends with the revelation that Simmons is on some distant planet, likely proving the monolith is kind of portal. Is it Kree related? Probably. It was a good cliffhanger to end the episode on though. Really, a lot about this premiere was strong. The action scenes were more exciting with the Inhuman twist. The new threats, from the ATCU to possible Kree porcupine, were introduced with just enough detail to get us invested. Despite Bobbi and Hunter needing some work, Fitz’s personal story really knocked it out of the park. I consider it a compliment that I didn’t even realize May was missing until Coulson pointed it out. This team has become so interesting that they don’t expressly need one of the show’s best characters to keep the momentum going. Hopefully this season as a whole can maintain that too. If so, Season 3 could be our best yet.

Rating: 9/10

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Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor. Every Saturday afternoon you can read his video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.
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