‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ bites off more than it can chew this week with a storyline that may have seemed ambitious during the writing stages, but plays as embarrassingly cheesy in execution.
In a prologue set during the prehistory of mankind, a primitive jungle warrior hears an object crash down from the sky. He runs to see what it is and gets captured by blue-skinned Kree aliens, who perform terrible experiments on him. This was the creation of Hive, as he tells the story to Daisy in the modern day. Since that day he became Inhuman, he has retained every memory of every host that has ever contained him.
With the HYDRA organization destroyed by a major military operation, Hive gathers the handful of remaining leaders and promises to reward them for their loyalty. Unfortunately, the reward is that they’ll be the first guinea pigs in his attempt to recreate the Kree experiment that created him. That sounds like a pretty crappy prize to me.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Fitz and Simmons toil away at their own experiment, to create an anti-toxin to stop the Hive infection in Inhumans. They’ve gotten nowhere so far, because they need an uninfected Inhuman to test it on, and there are few of those around anymore. Lincoln, who’s been antsy ever since Coulson benched him, volunteers.
Coulson and Mack locate Daisy in a small town in Wyoming using facial recognition software. Coulson reasons that this must be a trap. Daisy programmed that software and wouldn’t let herself be detected so easily unless she did it on purpose. Mack believes that some part of her, perhaps subconsciously, wants to be rescued. Coulson orders Mack and May and lead a team of never-before-seen Redshirts on a targeted strike to assassinate Hive. If they happen to find Daisy and she comes along willingly, that will be fine, but it’s not the primary objective.
This seems like a terrible plan. If Coulson believes it’s a trap, why send a team directly into it? He already knows from previous encounters that Hive can’t be killed with conventional weapons, and the anti-toxin isn’t ready yet. Everything about this screams “pointless suicide mission.”
Hive’s new human scientist, Dr. Radcliffe, is very cocky and believes he can turn the HYDRA volunteers into Inhumans. Sadly, when he pumps them full of his magic cocktail, it results in much screaming and melting and death. Hive is displeased. Radcliffe blames the failure on not having the right materials. He says that the only way the experiment will work now is if he can get some DNA from a living Kree. He thought he could make do with the watered-down Kree genes from an Inhuman, but that clearly wasn’t sufficient. He’ll need the real thing.
Jemma doesn’t want to test the anti-toxin on Lincoln because she thinks it’s too dangerous. For one thing, it will completely shut down his entire immune system. Lincoln insists that the risk is worth taking, and Fitz takes his side. Coulson, however, trusts Jemma’s judgment and orders them to stand down.
In Wyoming, Daisy and James hang out at a bar discussing S.H.I.E.L.D. Daisy still has sympathy for her old friends and wants to find a way to make them understand that Hive is good and she’s doing the right thing. James would just as soon kill them all.
Lincoln defies Coulson’s order and injects himself with the anti-toxin anyway. He immediately loses control of his electrical power and fries all the computers in the lab, then collapses. Jemma rushes to help by injecting him with an antidote for the anti-toxin, but Lincoln refuses to take it. He wants to see this through.
May, Mack and their team arrive in Wyoming and infiltrate the town. After Daisy leaves the bar and May sees that James is alone in there, she walks right in pretending to be a HYDRA security contractor. Arrogant James flirts with her, shows off his powers, and talks too much.
Hive tells Daisy that she needs to forsake S.H.I.E.L.D., but she has a better idea. She wants to “save” her friends by making them into Inhumans.
May tricks James into revealing that Hive is in an old abandoned mine. She promptly knocks him unconscious and relays the info to Mack, who takes the team into the mine with weapons hot. Instead of Hive, what they find is a weird device made from the Kree sphere and other doodad that James gave to Hive. It appears to be transmitting a signal. This sure seems like an obvious trap and Mack looks like a goner.
Hive tells Daisy that the Kree objects essentially form a fancy radio to attract the Kree. It was to be used to call for reinforcements to clean up the mess in case the Inhuman experiment got out of control (which it did, but nobody used the radio until now). Hive has activated it now in order to lure some Kree to him so he can get their DNA.
As if on cue, an object shrieks down from the sky and crashes into the town. Two blue-skinned Kree warriors strut out of the impact crater.
Daisy asks how they could have gotten here so quickly from the Kree homeworld. Hive further explains that these aren’t regular Kree, but “Reapers,” which are essentially the baddest of badass Kree warriors. They never returned home. They stayed in stasis in Earth orbit for millennia, forever on-call until they were needed. Their sole objective is to eliminate any and all Inhumans. Hive wants Daisy to capture one alive for him.
Alisha is the first to encounter the Kree. She splits off a clone and attacks one of the Reapers, but is quickly defeated. I’m unclear whether he kills the original Alisha or if they’re both clones.
Mack and his team escape from the mine and meet back up with May. Coulson orders them to observe the situation from a safe distance and see what develops. Ideally, the Kree will kill Hive and resolve the matter without S.H.I.E.L.D. involvement. Mack feels responsible for Daisy and can’t abandon her, so he defies orders and goes looking for her.
Using her telekinesis, Daisy overpowers one Kree warrior and crushes its spine. She leaves it, still alive, with Dr. Radcliffe, who says it will take about an hour to extract enough blood with the DNA he needs.
The second Kree goes directly for Hive, who waits for it in a church. May and the Redshirts get close enough to watch.
Mack finds Daisy and asks her to come back with him. She enthusiastically tells him her wonderful plan to turn him into an Inhuman like her. Mack isn’t down with that. He realizes that Coulson was right and she’s too far under Hive’s spell. He lays down his gun to show Daisy that he doesn’t want to hurt her, but it becomes clear to both of them that neither can save the other.
Mack tosses a splinter bomb that destroys the Kree before Radcliffe is done with it. A furious Daisy knocks him backwards with her telekinesis and proceeds to pummel the hell out of him. He refuses to fight back, even though her powerful blows are definitely harming him.
Hive taunts the other Kree in the church and eventually disintegrates it with his magic sand. With that hope gone, May opens fire on Hive, to no effect. One of the Redshirts shoots an RPG at him, which blows off a chunk of his shoulder. Hive barely reacts, and heals up instantly. Realizing that they’re woefully unprepared and ill-equipped, May orders a retreat.
Seeing Daisy beat on Mack, May shoots her off him. A S.H.I.E.L.D. evac pod lands near them, and May and the Redshirts drag the wounded Mack into it. The pod launches, leaving Daisy (who’s still alive) behind to stay with Hive.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Mack concedes to Coulson that he was right about Daisy. In even worse news, Jemma tells Lincoln that the anti-toxin didn’t work. The tests she ran on him show that it’s ineffective at stopping the Hive infection. He took the drug, and compromised his own immune system, for nothing.
Radcliffe informs Hive that he didn’t get nearly enough blood out of the Kree. Hive blames Daisy for being weak and letting her friend get close enough to destroy the Kree. She swears that she’s finished with S.H.I.E.L.D. and her old friends are dead to her. She’s now fully on-board with Hive’s plan. In fact, she tells him that she has actual Kree blood inside her (from when Coulson used it to save her life), and offers to let herself be drained so that Radcliffe can complete the experiment.
The plotting of this episode has a pretty serious problem in that Coulson’s plan to assassinate Hive is entirely half-assed. He should have known it would fail. Nothing about it is thought-out at all.
The even bigger issue with the episode is the Kree, which are intensely lame. The race are played up as the most intimidating badasses in the universe, but what we get are a couple of slightly-larger-than-average bodybuilders in Blue Man Group body paint wearing silly costumes left over from a Conan the Barbarian movie. For such fearsome warriors, they’re both taken down fairly easily.
The Kree appeared on-screen previously in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movie. I don’t recall them being quite so pathetic there. Is that just the difference between feature film and television budgets and resources? I’m not sure that entirely explains it. Whatever the reason, their appearance in this episode is eye-rolling.
And how do they speak English? The Reapers have been in stasis since before the language even existed. For that matter, one of them actually says the phrase “Inhuman scum.” When was the name “Inhuman” coined? I thought that was something the race called themselves long after they were created.
I feel like the writers didn’t put a whole lot of effort into this episode before the cameras started rolling.