‘Agents of SHIELD’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 3, Episode 18: ‘The Singularity’
Welcome back to another Agents of S.O.M.E.T.H.I.N.G., where Comics Alliance’s Special Agents Chris Haley and Ziah Grace debrief you on all the things to like and complain about in this week’s episode of Disney’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Ziah is on vacation this week, so we've conscripted a ringer from the Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow recaps to provide cover.
This week, the Agents of SHIELD try to clean up the ol’ HQ, Fitz and Simmons go on a pseudo-date, and Lincoln gets a new vest! “The Singularity” was directed by Garry A. Brown and written by Lauren LeFranc.
Chris: Now normally, this is the part where we start talking about to what degree we didn’t care for the week’s episode, but Special Agent Ziah is on assignment in an undisclosed location in the field this week, so I’ve had to deputize a new agent to help out with this mission. Please welcome my Arrow associate, Matt Wilson!
Matt: Hi everyone! This is my first-ever episode of AoS and I was very confused!
Chris: There’s plenty of that to go around with this show, so don’t feel too bad. Outside of being confused, what’d you think?
Matt: Well, I have a lot more experience with the DC CW-verse shows, where the dramatic beats play out...very differently. I was actually kind of shocked by how fast-moving this show is, and how it metes out reveals and surprises. While not all of it was great, I do have to say that stuff like the “You have cyber-eyes to sell us? Then perform surgery to prove they work!” was at least pretty exciting.
Chris: Haha, yeah, we’ll get to that bit especially in a second, but this was a pretty good episode as far as AoS episodes go. They’ve been on a little bit of a streak lately. A “not totally awful” streak. It’s a backhanded compliment, but it’s still a compliment! So, let’s see if we can get you up to speed, what were your big questions about just what was going on?
Matt: Well, let me tell you what I’m pretty sure I got and we can go from there. Daisy is the lead character of the show and usually a hero, but she’s being mind-controlled/persuaded by an Inhuman leader named Hive who took over some dead guy’s body and working against SHIELD. Is that on track?
Chris: I’m hesitant to call her the lead character.
Matt: It seemed like all the focus was on her, though. In the scenes she wasn’t in, everyone was asking, “Where’s Daisy?” or saying, “We gotta find Daisy!”
Chris: Yeah, that was more a product of the fact that last episode was her “shocking” betrayal of the team, but I think it’s safe to call her one of the leads, so yeah, you’re pretty much on track. The dead guy’s body Hive has taken over is Grant Ward, who was a SHIELD agent that was actually a HYDRA agent that had become friends and then enemies with the regulars once the big HYDRA-has-infiltrated-SHIELD reveal happened thanks to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Matt: Okay, I didn’t pick the HYDRA stuff up. I just picked up that he had history with Simmons.
Chris: Yeah, he had history with most of the team as Ward, but Hive has also inhabited other host bodies over the hundreds of years it has been alive, and one of those bodies was an astronaut named Will that Simmons was stuck on an alien planet with for months. It sounds a little crazy when I type it all out.
Matt: So much weird stuff happens on this show. I’d love a full-episode recap like the one they did at the start of a Pretty Little Liars season. I haven’t seen any Pretty Little Liars, really, but that recap episode hits every crazy story beat and it’s whiplash-inducing.
Anyway, a little aside: How weird is it that the villains on Arrow and the bad guy on this are called Hive? It’s a Hive renaissance in superhero TV over here.
Chris: Doing three comic shows a week, I’ve noticed a lot of weird coincidental similarities. I have to assume their coincidental at least. For instance, there was a week where both Supergirl and AoS featured normal people getting Elysium power-suits to fight the show’s super-powered female lead.
Matt: Something in the water, I guess. As for what else I picked up, there’s a guy named Lincoln that Director Coulson wouldn’t mind killing, and Agent May is kind of not cool with that.
Chris: Which makes no sense because she hates him. There’s a long running… I guess you could call it a joke, but it’s not really a joke in that we’re not kidding, that Lincoln is the absolute worst and we hate him and love seeing him get hurt. Here, enjoy this gif!
He’s Daisy’s boyfriend and he’s kind of generally terrible, but this episode actually made me feel the slightest twinge of sympathy for him and how he’s treated by everyone else on the show. It’s a shame Ziah couldn’t be here to see it. As someone that’s coming in fresh, what’d you think of him?
Matt: I kinda felt bad for him. Without seeing any of his history, it felt like his “friends” were dumping on him for no reason. He got thrown into a terrible situation and his boss was basically telling him, “Hey, it’s cool if you die, here’s a bomb vest that I control.” And then he had to fight... is she like, Multiple Woman? A lot of the Inhumans are basically X-Men, I gathered.
Chris: Yeah, I only started watching this show this season and this is the first time I’ve seen her, but from what I gathered she has three duplicates (or dupes, as Mr. Madrox calls them). But they’re all dead now, so I don’t know if she’s just pointless now or what. Feel free to let me know what the deal is, dear readers!
Everyone loves Daisy, and my theory is that people only kind of tolerate Lincoln as the boyfriend, but now that she’s not around, they were all taking it out on him.
Matt: Chloe Bennet is kind of undeniably the best actor on the show, at least in this episode. The scene that opened the episode, with Agent May and Mack, was kinda stilted and stiff to the point that I was bemoaning having to watch this thing. I really like Ming-Na Wen, but the scenes of bureaucratic nonsense are tedium incarnate.
Chris: Be very glad you’re not here every week then.
Matt: The one that really got me, like, made me almost flip out, was the destruction of HYDRA being told through a scene where Coulson and May just watch stuff on screens. Like... that’s it? That’s how HYDRA goes away?
Chris: Well, I could maybe give them kind of a pass on that because they’ve been dealing with HYDRA for so long that it was really tedious already, and so them setting that up as a whimper instead of a bang kind of thing to show how their concern for their “family” completely overshadowed it was… okay, I guess. I know exactly what you mean though.
Matt: Like, there were big, multi-million dollar movies about HYDRA. And then if you go see Civil War, are they gonna be like, “Oh yeah, HYDRA's gone because Coulson gave some orders while watching TV”?
Chris: I promise if you’d been watching this, you’d be ready for HYDRA to be gone too. Also, I think people that just watch the movies have already assumed that The Avengers have mopped up what’s left of HYDRA after Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron. I think that’s why they let AoS do this the week before Civil War comes out to make sure there was some definitive “this is why no one mentions HYDRA” backstory.
Matt: Fair enough. So the other Inhuman guy, the Australian dude who’s basically Gambit but can’t be called Gambit so he spends a long time coming up with other names: What’s his deal? They called him a “new” Inhuman. How can an Inhuman be “new”?
Chris: Because he was an Inhuman that hadn’t been activated by the Terrigen Mist yet. He didn’t have his powers yet. When Daisy threw that smoke bomb at him, that was actually a crystal with Terrigen Mist in it that triggers them to go into a cocoon and then come out with powers.
Matt: Okay, I wanted to get into this. So these Inhumans are like mutants, but they’re triggered into action like comics Inhumans with Kree Terrigen Mist? Hive’s big plan at the end of the episode was a huge mist release, so I guess he’s like the Inhuman version of Magneto in the first X-Men movie?
Chris: Your guess is as good as mine there. There’s been a lot of Inhuman focus this season, but most of the explanations and backstory were in the last season, so what you’re saying sounds right, but I couldn’t say for certain. I know there was something with Terrigen in fish oil pills that triggered more of the Inhuman population. I think. Man, it feels like this season has been going on for years.
How did you get from that last scene that Hive’s plan is to do a mass misting? Did I miss something?
Matt: Well, they kidnapped human-enhancement-expert Dr. Radcliffe (played by Scottish character actor extraordinaire John Hannah) and brought him to the town Hive took over. Hive says he’s going to “recreate the same Kree experiment that was done to me.” I assumed that was a big misting, but I may have been assuming too much. He did say he was going to reshape humanity, so it’s something big.
Chris: I think Hive actually bought the town, which I guess is a thing you can do if you have enough money, because the last episode ended with him talking about wanting to spend a bunch of money on something. I think you’re absolutely right about his plan though. I guess my brain must have just been thinking about some other aspect of the story at that point. Probably about Fitz and Simmons finally getting down to business and it being comparable to an epic bunch of science jargon. Fitz clearly has a very high opinion of his love making skills.
Matt: That whole thing was weird. I guess I appreciate that they managed to get some romance into this show about massive threats to humankind, but all the talk about passing the event horizon and love being like a singularity made me want to crawl under a rock. Just because these people are scientists doesn’t mean they have to relate every single thing in their lives to science stuff. They can talk like people. “They won’t understand love unless they relate it to astrophysics!” someone probably said. Get out of here with that mess.
Chris: Yeah, they’re cute though. They’re never going to get to be happy together, so I’ll let it slide. This show is determined to make sure they don’t get to be happy together.
Matt: The situation they were thrown into, where they were assigned to go find Radcliffe, didn’t make a ton of sense to me, partially because I never really grasped how Radcliffe was going to pull Daisy out of Hive’s thrall with his weird fake eyes and other implants. That said, again, the thing where they’re presented with surprise surgery was a nice little twist.
Chris: Surprise is putting it mildly. We’re not allowed to use the kind of language I used when she straight up jammed that needle into his eye, but holy socks was that startling. Ziah and I have been keeping track of how the show has been sneaking in these kind of borderline horror movie shots over the last several episodes, and this one was definitely one for the books. Also, this is the part of our review where Ziah would probably compare it to a movie, so feel free if you’ve got anything.
Matt: Un Chien Andalou, the Salvador Dali movie that is referenced in Pixies’ classic song “Debaser”? It has an eye injury.
Chris: It sure does. If you don’t know what he’s talking about do not look it up. Matt, I also want to applaud you for a perfect Ziah-style reference.
Matt: One thing did kind of throw me about the whole needle-to-the-eye thing, though. So that was Dr. Radcliffe himself in the seat, and he was testing Fitz and Simmons to know if they’d recognize a fake eye. Okay. But what if they just launched into the surgery and started cutting at his eyelids or whatever? What was he going to do about that? Just jump up and start saying, “Stop, you idiots”?
Chris: Haha, that’s certainly what I’d like to assume. To jump back to your earlier question, Fitz and Simmons’ theory is that Hive is a type of parasite and Dr. Radcliffe is the only one they think that can find a way to strip the parasite out of people that it’s infected.
Matt: Okay, yeah, they referred to him as a “parasite” a few times. But Daisy told Fitz pretty clearly that she was making her own decisions. That’s a big mystery, right, whether she’s being controlled or doing this of her own volition?
Chris: Well, it could be, but they had F&S explicitly say that the parasite gets in your brain and just throws a dopamine party as it’s influencing you, so you think being a part of it just makes you happier than you’ve ever been and therefore you think you’re doing what you want. That was my read on it at least. Then they had Multiple Woman kill two of her selves, which Lincoln said she would never do without being controlled, so that all adds up to mind control to me.
I think they’re also trying to play with the idea of addiction here. I’d be shocked if, whenever Daisy gets cured of Hive’s influence, they don’t do at least one episode comparing her missing how that felt to a drug addiction. I’m calling it now, dear readers!
Matt: What’s the over/under on them referring to Hive as “H”?
But there were a few other shocking-adjace moments I thought were pretty good: Daisy showing up at Radcliffe’s place when SHIELD thinks she’s going to be in that garage, Simmons using her Chekov’s gun to shoot Hive in the gut (which may be her thinking that May was telling her to shoot someone in the gut instead of using her gut, a nice little subtle thing), even the shootings playing out in the garage with Multiple Woman. Stuff definitely happened in this episode.
Chris: The stuff happening cannot be denied. Speaking of, I have to mention my favorite part of the entire episode. When May and Coulson are in Australian Fire Gambit’s double-wide and see the explosive trap he left and are saved by jumping into the hole Daisy made and covering up with Coulson’s hard-light hologram S.H.I.E.L.D. shield! If this wasn’t a direct reference to the time Captain America got a shield like that, then Mark Waid is probably eating his Legion of Super-Heroes membership card
Matt: Oh, it had to be. I thought for sure that was something Coulson just always had, but then May asked where it came from and I was like, “Oh, no, they just introduced it.”
Chris: All I know is I am going to be furious if he doesn’t have it from now on.
Matt: Okay, I have one more question: What’s the deal with Mack? All he does here is serve as Fitz and Simmons’ handler, and at one point he gawks at the “enhancements” of Radcliffe’s assistant, Anon, like she looks like anything but a pretty lady in a nice dress. He didn’t seem like that much of a character here. Is he more fleshed out in other episodes?
Chris: Oh, for sure. He’s one of more likeable characters on the show. He just had a spotlight episode recently about reconnecting with his younger brother that got mixed up with a group of bad guys and oh my god this is just like Arrow…
Matt: We’re through the looking glass, Chris. All these shows are the same.
Chris: I’ve already had someone point out all the horrifying similarities between Batman v Superman and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation to me, so I’m starting to think that all entertainment is the same.
Matt: It’s like we got those They Live sunglasses. All it took was us watching a different show together. You did have to fight me in an alley for a long time to get me to do this, after all.
Chris: I have come here to chew bubblegum and give these awful shows a hard time… and I’m all outta bubblegum.