Over the back half of its third season, Agents of SHIELD has been filling us on Hive’s plan little by little, as we’ve seen him control Inhumans and destroy the villainous powerhouse that was Gideon Malick. However, with Season 3’s two-hour finale next week, the Marvel series finally unveiled what the god-like Inhuman’s endgame is and how he plans to carry it out, cementing Hive as the most dangerous and deadly threat the the SHIELD team has ever gone up against. If he’s able to launch a warhead and create millions of other Inhumans that he’s able to control (like he did with the Watchdogs in this episode), how could Coulson, Daisy, and the rest of the group ever stop him?
Even though that reveal about Hive and the warhead comes near the end of “Emancipation,” his power and fierceness loom over the entire episode, creating a sense of menace and dread that has been greatly missed on Agents of SHIELD over the past season. Ever since Daisy turned on the team three weeks back at the end of “The Team,” the stakes have been raised. It was a very real possibility that Daisy could also be recruiting Lincoln to her and Hive’s cause, all while Coulson and Co. remained clueless; everything that the series has done over the paste couple of weeks, by showing us Daisy’s dedication to Hive and Lincoln’s determination to bring her back, made it believable, and it also ensured that the twist, with Lash boarding the Quinjet instead of Lincoln, worked as well as it did.
“Emancipation” tips its hand a little by giving us our first glimpse of Lash in weeks early on in the episode, as Coulson shows Talbot around the secret base. It’s pretty clear that once he reappears that he’ll be used somehow in the fight against Hive; however, what I didn’t expect was that the two would clash so soon, or that Lash’s battle against Hive would actually lead to a moment of redemption for Andrew, as he saves Daisy and clears her mind of the evil Inhuman’s influence before being killed by Hellfire. Does rescuing Daisy from Hive completely absolve Andrew/Lash of all the murders he committed? No, not at all, but it’s a well-earned and well-executed goodbye to his character, particularly the emotional shot of May next to his body.
But Andrew’s death is just one of many emotional moments throughout “Emancipation,” which does a very nice job of keeping things grounded amidst all the crazy sci-fi drama. Mack and Elena’s conversations about faith and her giving him the cross (which we’ve seen in Daisy’s vision) continue to develop their friendship in a compelling way and also guarantee that Mack won’t be the one dying next week (Agents of SHIELD isn’t the most subtle show, but it’s not going to be that on-the-nose about next week’s death). However, perhaps the most heartbreaking moment of the hour is when a weak, sick-looking Daisy finally returns to SHIELD, to her family, and can barely look at them after what she’s done, a single tear coming down from her eye. No matter who dies next week, what Hive did to Daisy could be his most damaging blow to the team; we’ll have to see how they all interact with her next week and if she’s able to forgive herself for not only working with Hive but for supplying him with what he needs to create more Inhumans.
Overall, “Emancipation” was another solid hour of Agents of SHIELD that did a terrific job of setting the stage for next week’s action-packed finale. How will Coulson and the team defeat Hive? I have no idea, but what’s more interesting to me is what and who it will cost them and if they’ll all be to deal with this loss when it’s all said and done. Next week’s going to be pretty dark, guys, and I can’t wait.
- I should probably mention that this is the first episode of Agents of SHIELD that takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War. However, while the Sokovia Accords are mentioned throughout the hour, as Talbot arrives and tries to convince the Inhuman members of the team to register, they seem like such a small problem compared to what’s going on with Hive. Plus, screw those Accords. Just like Coulson, I’m on Team Cap.
- I will say, though, that I really did love that the show mentioned and honored Peggy Carter, whose death in Civil War still bums me out, although not as much as the fact that we probably aren’t getting a third season of Agent Carter.
- I always appreciate it when Agents of SHIELD remembers Daisy’s hacking skills instead of just focusing on her Inhuman abilities. Her tech wizardry was pretty essential to the plot tonight, as she helped Lincoln escape, even though we learned that it all staged by him, Coulson, and May.
- One thing I need explained to me: how was Lash able to break Daisy away from Hive’s mind control like that? What power did he have that allowed him to do such a thing?
- I may not like Hellfire, but I can’t deny that his whip was anything but awesome.
- Fitz and Simmons flirting, even when they get interrupted (like they do by May in tonight’s episode), always puts a smile on my face. I just love those two together.
- Talbot delivered so many memorable lines throughout this episode, but my two favorites had to be when he referred to Lash as “Rasta-Hulk” and when he asked “Who in tarnation names these things?”
- So for next week’s big death, my money is on one of these three characters: Lincoln, Fitz, or Simmons. Personally, I’d be okay with saying goodbye to Lincoln, but if Fitz or Simmons is killed off now just as they’ve now officially started dating, I’ll be pretty livid.
Episode Rating: 8/10
What did everyone else think about tonight’s episode of Agents of SHIELD? Are you excited for next week’s season finale? Who do you think will die? Comment below and let us know.
[Photo credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC]