With that ‘Agent Carter‘ nonsense finally behind us, Marvel’s superior ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ returned from its winter break this week. It has been a few months since the show’s last episode, which means that some catching up is in order.
As we last left things, Director Coulson killed Grant Ward and rescued Fitz from the alien planet Maveth. Unfortunately, the ancient evil Inhuman possessed Ward’s body and followed them through the portal back to Earth.
The new episode, called ‘Bouncing Back’, opens with a bizarre non-sequitur flash-forward to three months in the future, where a spaceship explodes in Earth orbit. The ship appears to be empty, aside from a crucifix necklace floating in zero gravity. We’ll see that crucifix again later, but neither the scene nor the spaceship will be revisited or explained in this episode. I feel like it was probably meant to come back around again at the end of the episode, but something must have got cut for time. It’s kind of awkward.
We then return to the present day. In Bogotá, Colombia, a group of police are ambushed by a seemingly invisible force. Although none are harmed, all of their guns are stolen. Afterwards, we see that the guns were collected by a woman wearing a crucifix just like the one in the spaceship.
Back in Washington, D.C., Coulson meets with the President of the United States (William Sadler), who tells him that heads of state from all over the world are nervous about the Inhuman situation and are demanding action. Coulson assures him that S.H.I.E.L.D. is already taking action. The President informs him that although the government cannot yet publicly reinstate S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization will have his full support. For the time being, the ATCU will remain the government’s official response to the Inhuman problem, but will secretly report to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson will call the shots. As such, the President needs to appoint a new head of the ATCU to replace Rosalind Price and be the public face of the agency. When Coulson asks about Gideon Malick, the President tells him that his hands are tied. Malick is too powerful and wields influence at all levels of government, both domestically and internationally. Coulson will need to find a way to bring him down without involving the President.
When S.H.I.E.L.D. receives word of the presumed Inhuman incident in Colombia, a team consisting of Daisy, Mack, Bobbi, Lance and Joey (the guy with the Magneto-like power to manipulate metal) jets down to Bogotá to liaise with the local police and investigate the matter. Daisy reviews security camera footage of the theft and notices a vaguely person-shaped blur only visible on a single frame. She concludes that the perpetrator must be a speedster capable of running faster than the human eye can see.
While checking out the crime scene, Mack spots a suspicious woman watching him. Although he tries not to startle her, she quickly steals his gun, knocks him unconscious, and drives off with him in the back of a truck.
At S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Lincoln tells Coulson that Inhuman powers are not random. Each Inhuman’s ability fills a specific evolutionary need.
With no other leads on how to find Gideon Malick, Coulson has the comatose Werner von Strucker brought to the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. He plans to use the TAHITI machine to scan his brain. Having had direct experience with that, Coulson knows exactly how terrible the option is, but he feels he has no other choice.
In his secret underground evil lair, Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) meets with his great Inhuman god now riding around in Grant Ward’s body. He’s weak (possessing a corpse will do that to you) and hungry.
Mack wakes up handcuffed to a bathroom sink. He hears the speedster woman talking in Spanish to an accomplice in the next room. After the man leaves, Mack tries to talk to the woman. Unfortunately, she doesn’t speak any English and his Spanish is rudimentary. What he manages to get out of her is that she considers her power a gift from God. Mack tries to escape but she subdues him. In the process, he learns that the way her ability works is that after she rushes forward in one direction, she snaps back to where she started like a yo-yo.
Daisy tracks Mack to the apartment. She, Bobbi and Lance storm the place and trick the yo-yo woman into running into a force field, which knocks her out. They take her prisoner and free Mack.
After putting her in a containment unit designed to hold her, Daisy does some research and identifies the woman as one Elena Rodriguez. The man Mack saw her talking to was her cousin. Neither of them had any criminal history prior to her developing powers. Mack doesn’t think Elena is evil. Using Joey (who speaks Spanish) as an interpreter, he questions her. Elena says that God gave her this power to save her city. She and her cousin stole the guns not to use them, but to throw them away, because the local police are all corrupt and abusive.
Elena’s story checks out when Bobbi and Lance track down her cousin and find him tossing the guns into a river. Before they can bring him in, they’re interrupted by a pair of dirty cops, one of whom is an Inhuman (not named in the episode that I noticed, but apparently he’s called Lucio) with the power to paralyze anyone by taking off his sunglasses and looking at them. Lucio quickly overtakes Bobbi and Lance, then murders Elena’s cousin.
Mack lets Elena out of her cell. They agree to work together to take down the evil cops and rescue Mack’s friends. While making plans, Elena explains her power in a little more detail. She can only run as far as she can get in one heartbeat, then springs back to her original position. That doesn’t give her power much range, but can still be pretty useful.
In fact, when they launch their raid on the police station, Elena handily disarms and restrains most of the bad cops before they know what hit them. Although Lucio is able to paralyze her, Joey takes him out by melting his sunglasses onto his face.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Werner goes into the TAHITI machine and gets stuck in a mental loop reliving his torture at the hands of Malick. All he can do is beg to be allowed to die over and over. Lincoln has to snap him out of it by giving him a targeted electro-shock. Eventually, Coulson learns Werner’s protocol for contacting Malick using a secret phone in a fake storefront. Coulson goes there and calls Malick. Fitz traces the call as it bounces off HYDRA relays all around the world. Coulson gloats that he’ll now be able to take out a number of Malick’s businesses and cripple his finances. (I’ll be honest, I don’t really follow how any of this makes sense.) In any case, Malick isn’t intimidated. He considers this a minor setback and hangs up.
In Bogotá, just as the S.H.I.E.L.D.ies prepare to transport Lucio back to headquarters for containment, a HYDRA helicopter swoops in and grabs him up. Mack tries to recruit Elena to join S.H.I.E.L.D. but she says she’s needed in her home city, where she can do the most good. Mack confers with Coulson and agrees to let Elena stay in Bogotá as their local field agent. In fact, this gives Daisy the idea to let Joey and Lincoln return to their normal lives as well. Rather than centralize all operations, the team will spread out.
Coulson gets a new robo-hand that looks more like natural flesh and supposedly has some nifty new features.
Malick’s businesses take a financial downturn, but he now has a new Inhuman for his army. However, he expresses some doubt in his new Inhuman lord, who wasn’t even able to kill Coulson on Maveth. To demonstrate his strengthening power, the Ward Inhuman turns to Malick’s henchman Mr. Giyera (Mark Dacascos) and blows sand at him or something. We’re not allowed to see what happens next.
The episode closes with the President announcing that the new head of the ATCU will be General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar). Coulson worries that Talbot’s contentious relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. will be a problem.
Oh, also, somewhere in the middle of all this, Simmons and Fitz agree to try to start their relationship over, and Daisy kisses Lincoln.
This is generally a pretty strong episode. However, it feels very haphazardly constructed, with the unexplained spaceship at the beginning and the weak cliffhanger about Ward and Mr. Giyera at the end. (Is that really supposed to be something we care about?) The plotting about Coulson attacking Malick financially also really doesn’t make much sense at all. Even so, I’m glad to have the show back and I’m interested to see where the storylines lead.
I never expected the spaceship thing to pay off in this episode. I immediately assumed that whatever happened there was a tease for the finale, like the pink teddy bear on Breaking Bad.
That’s exactly what I assumed as well.