Actor Brett Dalton is simply not pulling off the evil-invincible-alien-god thing on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, is he? This week, he adopts a weird accent I don’t recall him having in other episodes for no particular reason. (I guess he just wants to sound more “foreign” or something.) Although I think the show has generally been on an upswing the last couple of episodes, his performance drags the series down every time I see him.
In other respects, episode ‘The Singularity’ isn’t quite as terrific as last week, but it does a good job of building off that momentum.
S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters is in recovery mode since Daisy revealed herself to be infected by Hive and rocked the place with an earthquake. Fortunately, no one died, though Coulson has a broken leg and the hangar doors to the landing pad are stuck only halfway open. Coulson surmises that Daisy still has some of her original personality and didn’t want to hurt anyone, just incapacitate them and prevent them from following her. Simmons quickly tests the remaining Inhumans in the base and gives them the all-clear. None are infected. She equates Daisy’s current state to being addicted to Ward/Hive. She also says that whatever the Hive infection does to its hosts, it prevents icer guns from working on them. That will make taking them down non-lethally much harder.
May manages to get Zephyr One out of the hangar by pulling a ridiculous stunt and lifting off sideways. I’m pretty sure physics would prevent that from working, but we’ll go with it. Coulson, May and a team go after Daisy. Meanwhile, Simmons, Fitz and Mack break off for a side mission to track down a scientist named Dr. Radcliffe whose research might hold the key to stopping the Hive infection. This Radcliffe guy is a disgraced “transhumanist” from a cult of nutters who try to force human evolution through cybernetic enhancements.
Coulson believes that Hive will next try to recruit/infect Alisha, the girl who can make multiple clones of herself. She’s been recovering at home from an injury since her last mission. Lincoln insists that he be the one to make contact with her, but Coulson is wary of letting him in the field lest he be infected as well. He consents only on the condition that Lincoln must wear a vest lined with explosives. May will hold the trigger, and has orders to blow him up if he goes bad. Lincoln calls this a “murder vest” and is angry at being made to wear it. May doesn’t like the idea either and gets upset at Coulson for once again making her do his dirty work.
When they arrive in Romania, Fitz and Simmons go undercover as geneticists who’ve developed cybernetic eyes they want to sell to Dr. Radcliffe. Mack outfits Fitz with a pair of glasses with a hidden camera. Radcliffe operates out of a trendy nightclub filled with hipster cyborgs. As they wait for his bouncer henchwoman to convey their offer to Radcliffe, Simmons and Fitz get to talking about their relationship and how it’s probably time they had sex.
Lincoln finds Alisha in a parking garage and tries to bring her in, but she’s already infected and splits in two to attack him. Lincoln grabs one clone and threatens to harm her unless the other surrenders, but she instead shoots the captive in the head. Lincoln is shocked by this, because the real Alisha feels the pain every time her clones die. Coulson comes in behind and takes out the second clone. The original is with Hive.
Daisy brings Hive to James, the Australian mercenary from a couple episodes ago. Hives says that the Kree sphere thingamajig had a second component that he wants. James doesn’t like the looks of Hive and plays dumb, so Daisy breaks open a Terrigen crystal in front of him. He cocoons and emerges shortly later with atomic fire that he can’t control glowing from his hands. Hive immediately infects him and brings the fire under control. James confesses that he buried the other Kree device under his trailer. Daisy uses her telekinetic power to dig it up. When she asks Hive what it is, he says that it’s the only thing that can destroy him. (Probably not a good idea to admit something like that.)
Their mission a failure, Coulson pulls Lincoln from the field. When sensors on Zephyr One detect seismic activity in South Dakota, he knows exactly where Daisy must be.
Radcliffe’s henchwoman brings Fitz and Simmons down a private elevator to a secret underground laboratory, where she orders them to implant their cybernetic device into a patient strapped to an operating table with a cloth covering all of his face except one eye. Simmons notices something odd about the eye and stabs the man directly in it with a syringe. He sits up, removes it, and introduces himself as Dr. Radcliffe. His eye was already a prosthetic, and this was a test. (Whether he actually expected them to take out his eye or not, I can’t figure out. The point of the test eludes me. For that matter, I don’t think he ever even asked them what their invention does before telling them to implant it.)
Coulson and May arrive at James’ trailer too late. Hive, Daisy and James have already cleared out. Coulson finds the big hole in the ground and reasons that something must have been dug up from there. Suddenly, he spots a bomb. He grabs May and jumps into the hole. The bomb goes off but May and Coulson survive because he conveniently had a forcefield shield built into his robo-hand.
Simmons and Fitz admit to Radcliffe that they’re with S.H.I.E.L.D. (which he distrusts) and appeal to him to help them. Radcliffe’s goons split them up and haul Fitz away. Before anything else can happen, Daisy busts into the room and Hive captures Simmons.
Mack races into the club to rescue his teammates and has to fight James, who quips the whole time about supervillain nicknames he ought to call himself.
Daisy finds Fitz, picks him up and strangles him with her powers, and tells him to stop trying to save her. She doesn’t want to be saved. This is her only warning, and the next time she sees him, she’ll have to kill him.
Hive reveals to Simmons that he has all of her dead boyfriend Will’s memories, and tries to coerce her by speaking to her as Will. He claims that, “We don’t want to hurt you, any of you.” (Funny about that bomb in James’ trailer, then.) Simmons is having none of it. Declaring that Will is dead, she pulls a gun that May gave her earlier (and which Radcliffe’s people never bothered to pat her down for?) and shoots Ward/Hive three times in the gut. It won’t kill him, but she feels good doing it.
Back aboard Zephyr One, Coulson and May watch on a viewscreen as Gen. Talbot leads a massive military operation called “Operation Decap.” It seems that, before he was murdered, Gideon Malick was so disillusioned with Hive that he gave up enough useful intel to take down the entire HYDRA infrastructure. At the end, Talbot announces that, “The head has been cut.”
Simmons and Mack retreat back to their designated rendezvous location in their hotel room. Simmons panics when Fitz doesn’t immediately follow them, but he shows up eventually, gives her a passionate kiss, and sexes her up (after Mack leaves the room, of course!).
Hive, Daisy and James (who’s still toying with nicknames) are next seen walking down a small town street (presumably back in America) with Dr. Radcliffe. Hive tells Radcliffe that it’s his intention to “redefine humanity” by recreating the original Kree experiment that created the Inhumans in the first place. Radcliffe finds this very compatible with his own interests in human evolution. Hive brings the group to a stop in front of a house and tells Radcliffe that this will be their new testing ground. Daisy asks if he bought the house, to which Hive replies that no, he bought the whole town. I guess that’s what he did with Malick’s money.
I guess this episode is meant to formally bring an end to HYDRA as a powerful international conspiracy, but it seems odd to me that such a momentous development would happen entirely off-camera. (These guys were the antagonists in two ‘Captain America’ movies, after all.) The new army Hive is building will no longer be HYDRA, per se. It will also presumably be much smaller in scope, at least at first. That feels like a decision borne of budgetary considerations for the show, which is disappointing, but perhaps it will play out differently than I imagine.
As I said in the intro, I’m growing more annoyed with Brett Dalton playing Hive the more I see of him. I could tolerate him as Grant Ward (even if I never bought into him being quite the badass the show played him up as), but this is just beyond his abilities as an actor.
Those issues aside, this is a solid enough episode. The plotting is interesting and the Fitz/Simmons relationship stuff is adorable.