Chaos Theory Plot:
Andrew Garner’s (Blair Underwood) darkest secret has been laid bare in front of his ex-wife Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen). May attempts to resolve the situation on her own, but when Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) comes to the same conclusion, it becomes a race to save Garner’s life. Meanwhile, Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) discovers deeply personal materials in Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) phone.
“Among Us Hide…” provided an incredible set up for “Chaos Theory.” The revelation that Garner is secretly Lash was a huge one, and it has major ramifications for everyone on the team. Garner was an integral part in Daisy’s (Chloe Bennet) Inhuman recovery program. Both Daisy and Simmons had vented to him their deepest concerns over current events. Coulson (Clark Gregg) even trusted Garner enough to share extremely sensitive information. Of course, none of this held a candle to May, who had her world shattered by learning her ex is a monstrous Inhuman. This is after they had a deeply personal, and probably life changing, heart to heart about their future in Maui. Despite how connected Garner was to everyone else, May’s response to his revelation was truly what everyone wanted to see.
Fortunately “Chaos Theory” absolutely knocked this out of the park. We first see May hot on the heels of learning what Werner saw and she expectedly has trouble processing it all. Wen’s facial expressions masterfully conveyed every emotion a bombshell like this would cause: fear, confusion, pain, anger, sadness, etc. There is a distinct gravity to the news she only recently discovered. When Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) confirmed that Lash was being hunted, the panic washing over May was proof she also still cared. Her former husband is a threat to himself and those around him, and she wants to personally make sure he’s able to get out of this nightmare in one piece. Her mission to do that was gripping, emotional, and ultimately very tragic, as May ended up accepting that murder was the only way this could end. Garner’s Inhuman DNA saved his life, but it’s clear May had crossed a line. Daisy did too, who is with May in agreeing that Rosalind (Constance Zimmer) might be onto something with putting Inhumans into stasis.
Blair Underwood, who is usually a side-character for our main cast to work through, was excellent as he took center stage. What better way to learn about Lash than to see his motivations first hand? Andrew accidentally going through Terrigenesis was as confusing for him as you’d expect, and the man that walked out was definitely not the same man who opened Jiaying’s book. This new one had a hunger, and killing other Inhumans was the only way to actually satiate it. Later, he tries to sell Coulson on the thought that Lash was only hunting the really dangerous ones. We know that’s not necessarily true but he was likely trying to get Coulson to back off. A lot of the episode was him trying to do that with May too. The last person Garner wants to harm is her, but she’s also the one who, after the Bahrain incident, would have the hardest time dealing with an Inhuman. His explanations fell on deaf ears with her, though she was clearly still able to connect with him despite his form.
The special effects were definitely on point in several keys scenes. I failed to mention last week, but the CGI Lash that Garner becomes looks incredible, and that version was definitely used pretty frequently. Lincoln attacking Lash was great too with him forming some crazy ball of lightning in his hands. I like how Lincoln’s abilities seemingly grow each episode and he’s gone from a guy who can make people float to a straight up Dark Jedi. The same can be said for Daisy. We really haven’t received many scenes with her using her powers, so the ones we do get are always really special. This time she even learned that she can make people float on vibrations alone. Could we actually reach a point where Daisy can use her powers as propulsion for flying? That would be cool.
On the side of the Lash story was the continued focus on Coulson and Rosalind. These two have really grown into an interesting pair, and “Chaos Theory” confirmed the romantic undertones that have popped up as of late. Even before this though they were an exciting duo. Both clearly were great at espionage and their conflicts were always a battle of wits instead of brawn. They both want the same thing, but have different ways of going about it. This rubbed certain people the wrong way, specifically Daisy, but there’s no doubting that the partnership between the ATCU and S.H.I.E.L.D. can be mutually beneficial. I’ve really loved the deeper focus into who Rosalind is as well.
The end episode reveal that Rosalind is really working for Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) seriously disappointed me though. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a history of double crossing and undercover agents, so when Rosalind was introduced as the head of a brand new taskforce, “I AM HYDRA” was practically written on her forehead. Yet despite working from the very bottom, Rosalind really became a character we can care for over the past episodes. She’s dedicated to her cause, desperately willing to help people, and can give the legitimacy Coulson needs to get S.H.I.E.L.D. back in good graces. She even planned to bring Coulson to the President to talk about the world’s future with enhanced people (big hint to Civil War). All of this contributed to us actually liking this brand new addition to the cast. Revealing she’s Hydra is not only unrelentingly predictable, it completely undercuts all the personal growth she made. I cared about her before because she really seemed like a helpful person to our heroes. Now I just want her taken out.
It’s surprising they even found time to squeeze in some more Fitz-Simmons material, but it’s great that they did. This episode had them bring their relationship to a seemingly new but unknown level. When Simmons asks Fitz to pull the data off her phone, he comes across all her messages and pictures from her time on the planet. He gets to witness the exact moment Simmons was convinced she would die of either starvation or dehydration, which moves the man to tears. This is Simmons at her most open and she basically confirmed her mutual romantic feelings towards her best friend. Fitz tries to pass this off as her rambling from a broken mental state, but Simmons is quick to reject the notion. If there ever was a time for them to kiss, it would have been then, but they instead choose to watch the sunset, which is still really powerful. It’s a new day, and with that comes a potentially new relationship. Of course, the wrinkle here is Fitz might have made a breakthrough in the hunt for Will.
Lastly, Bobbi and Hunter (Nick Blood) were essentially afterthoughts. It was inevitable that we would get some follow up with them after all the hubbub with Bobbi entering a mission again. Their reunion was justifiably brief too. We know the two love each other and it’s completely unnecessary to watch them bicker about killing Ward, so it was nice for them to a enter a mutual agreement Ward is way too dangerous for either of them, and if they keeping trying to force this issue, it might backfire spectacularly.
“Chaos Theory” handled the Lash fallout very well. Both Wen and Underwood were in top form as they worked through the worst relationship trouble anyone could ever have. Every single emotion was conveyed masterfully through their deeply personal discussions, all ending with May making the ultimate decision. Fitz-Simmons might have entered the next level with their pairing too with Fitz making some big discoveries. Coulson and Rosalind received some serious movement with their pairing, but that’s all undercut with the very predictable “reveal” that Rosalind is Hydra. The show can really do better than having every character under the same damn evil organization.