Agents of SHIELD comes back for its new season with “Laws of Nature,” and it kicks off with a bang. The Terrigen contamination we saw last season is making itself known, and people are randomly finding their dormant Inhuman gene jumped into action. What quickly becomes apparent is that SHIELD isn’t the only group interested in these newly powered people.
They introduce a new “Inhuman,” a man who goes by Joey, who has a really bizarre power that effects metal. Joey is being hunted by whoever the new players are, but is rescued by a field team of Mac, Hunter, and Skye, now going by Daisy and in full control of her powers. That was nice to see, and I’m glad they didn’t drag out the “I have powers and don’t know how to use them” story they were doing with her last season.
Joey also serves as the introduction for a few new things. SHIELD has developed a new toy– a white metal box that drops from the sky and adapts to people’s powers. The new Inhuman either steps inside, or possibly is put in there after being beaten if need be, and it flies off. To me, it looks like the Wonka-vator from the end of the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka movie. The box then meets up with the team’s new ride. The aircraft is much larger than the Bus, that they lost last season, but not quite as big as the famed SHIELD helicarrier. After the fight is over, Coulson lingers, hidden in the crowd, getting pictures of the leader of whoever this new team is. While Joey’s confusion about his powers made sense, he seemed to not know what SHIELD is. Considering the events of Avengers, Age of Ultron, and Winter Soldier, that seems unlikely.
Joey next meets Bobbi Morse, who is being tapped for lab work in the wake of Simmons’ disappearance at the end of last season. Bobbi explains a bit more about what’s happening. Joey is at first freaked out by how much she knows about him, and she responds with, “I looked at your Facebook page.” That’s nice reminder about privacy in the digital age. Bobbi and Hunter, for whatever reason, are apparently not speaking, and this is making Mac uneasy.
Daisy/Skye explains the premise of the new season to Joey- a small segment of the population has the Inhuman gene, and their powers are being kicked off by contaminated fish oil, at least at first. For a while, whenever Marvel couldn’t come up with an origin for a new super, they were a mutant. Now it’s Inhumans. This is likely because this was a recent ongoing plot in the comics, Marvel has an Inhumans movie coming out eventually, and Fox has the movie rights for the X-Men characters and concepts, including super-powered mutants.
Hunter and Coulson compare notes about their shadowy new adversary. Hunter is convinced it’s not Hydra. Coulson, meanwhile, has gotten some information on the woman running the group. She has many aliases and has worked at several different government groups. I suspect she’s going to be this season’s recurring antagonist, like the “other” SHIELD was last season.
Fitz finally gets a really good sequence. He hasn’t accepted Simmons’ disappearance, and is working on it by himself. He’s still not an action hero, and they don’t try to make him one, which I applaud. He is, however, a technical genius/inventor, and very driven. His dealings with some criminals provide some more action for the episode.
Thing go badly for SHIELD as they split off into different teams. Mac and Daisy try to recruit Lincoln, the energy powered Inhuman from last season, to help them. He was very good at helping people adjust to suddenly having powers, and that’s what they need. Their meeting goes badly, both because Lincoln refuses to help and because they get attacked.
Hunter and Coulson try to confront the mystery woman and walk right into a trap. Sloppy for two such experienced agents. Coulson and the woman, who for now goes by Rosalyn, spar about secrets. What gradually emerges is that, while they both have differing agendas for the newly empowered Inhumans, there’s a third party out there outright killing them. Remember when I said Team Daisy was attacked? Guess who! Coulson and Hunter eventually escape, angering Rosalyn, who seems to be a stand in for the “Mutants must be captured,” crowd in the X-Men books.
There’s a Presidential address later in the show that is really well done. Not only does it spell out what SHIELD is up against, and name Ros’ new group (ACTU- Advanced Threat Containment Unit), but it does some great world building. The speech mentions the events of Avengers, Age of Ultron, and Winter Soldier in a way that makes perfect sense and once again ties the show into the larger MCU. Later, Coulson makes an offhand reference to what happened in Ant-Man, again in a way that fit nicely and wasn’t forced.
The episode ends with Fitz screaming out his frustration, punching the Obelisk that made Simmons vanish. Last season he was hallucinating and recovering from traumatic injury, now he’s got an obsession. Fitz can’t catch a break. Nor can Simmons, when we get a hint about where she ended up.
What I liked: The President’s speech was really nicely done, tying in to the various movies. The whole ACTU thing also sounds to me like it’s going to be run up to next year’s Civil War, the third Captain America movie. The new plane looks really cool. I like that Daisy has her powers under control, and that Coulson is having trouble with her name change. There’s also a very grim trophy on Coulson’s wall.
What I didn’t: They seem to be largely ignoring that both Mac and Morse were essentially traitors last season. Lincoln’s new identity requires a lot of skills, knowledge, and documentation. We saw no hints of any of that last season that I recall. And while I know she’s coming back, I miss May.
I thought this was a good season opener, and I’m looking forward to seeing how all this develops. I’ll give this episode a 3.5 out of 5.