Thursday, October 8, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: “Purpose in the Machine” (3x02)

Last week Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s season premiere set the stage for what seems to be an exciting season. How did the second episode live up to the hype? Let’s find out!


In this episode, the team is back together. Sort of.

Gloucestershire, England, 1839

The episode begins in the past, where a bunch of men are having a banquet. The reason for the banquet is that they’re sending off one particular man to go on a journey. Where is he going, you may ask?

He goes into a room that contains the monolith. We hear him shout as the monolith whisks him away. Outside the door, two men discuss how no one has ever returned from the monolith.

Cue opening credits.


Daisy is trying to make headway on the team of Inhumans that Coulson asked her to assemble, but she’s having trouble with it. A lot of red tape is involved, which involves all her team members being given a psych evaluation by Andrew, May’s ex-husband. Daisy wants Joey (Metal Guy from last episode) on the team, but Mack doesn’t since he sees Joey as too volatile. Mack says that the team is essentially down to three now (him, Daisy, and Coulson) and he doesn’t want to lose anyone else.

Suddenly, Hunter and Bobbi run in, announcing that Fitz broke into the room containing the monolith. They manage to get Fitz out and secure the monolith just before it liquefies. Despite the team’s encouragement to move on, Fitz won’t give up on finding Jemma. He notices a fine powder on his fingers… it’s sand. It’s proof. He proceeds to tell us and his team that this sand isn’t ordinary sand--it predates the earth by billions of years. The sand proves that somewhere, Jemma is out there. We already knew this, but it's the first time the team is finding out, and it's glorious.

“A crack in space-time that carried Simmons away…” 

Hey Doctor Who, is that you?

Jemma could be gone from where the monolith took her, and she could be dead, but whatever happened to her, they’re going to find out. Coulson asks Fitz what he needs to accomplish this, and Fitz rattles off a bunch of reasonable items.  Oh, and he says a sandwich would be nice. My adorable baby.

Hunter and Bobbi discuss how Hunter’s going after Ward, and Bobbi wants to go with him, but Hunter doesn’t want her to be in danger.

“Don’t die out there. And Hunter? Make sure he does.”

Speak of the devil, we finally get to see what Ward’s up to. In what I originally thought was a car commercial, Ward drives with his henchman in the passenger seat. He talks about a new, leaner generation of HYDRA. Then he asks, “Where’s the kid?”

Meanwhile, the team has tracked down a lead on the monolith: an alien who has been studying the monolith and things like this for a ton of years. Coulson, Bobbi, and Fitz visit him in prison, and it’s a familiar face--Dr. Elliot Randolph, who helped the team back in season 1 with the Berserker staff. (Ah, the show was so young and happy then.) Even though Elliot, as an Asgardian, is completely capable of breaking out of prison, he’s purposefully staying there in order to lay low. He isn’t open to helping our team at first until Coulson threatens him rather terrifyingly. Elliot says this will be dangerous but breaks out anyway

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Dr. Andrew Garner shows up to do a psych eval of Joey. Daisy meets up with him and tells her how annoyed she is that he hasn’t approved any of her team members yet. She then asks if May is ever coming back. Andrew tells her to ask May herself, and Daisy said that she would… if only she knew where May was.

Thankfully, the audience gets to find out. May is in Sun City, Arizona, golfing with her dad. She’s told him she’s just there to help get him through a hip injury, but her father insists that he thinks something else is going on and something’s not right.

Elliot takes a look at the monolith and says that the way the monolith liquefies isn’t random. Fitz says he’s checked everything, including lunar patterns, and Elliot says maybe the monolith is responding to something from another planet. In a weird twist of events, everyone suddenly understands that the monolith is a portal to another world. (How did they know this?) Elliot agrees to help get Jemma back, but only if they destroy the portal afterwards.

Fitz shows Elliot the parchment that says “death” on it, and it turns out Elliot’s seen it before. He saw it carved in a castle in Gloucestershire. So, off to England our heroes go!

Elliot: “To the plane! … Am I allowed to say that?” 

In other news, we discover that Ward has a plan to kidnap a super rich kid from a yacht. Ward and his team (and a bunch of rats) storm the yacht and manage to successfully kidnap the boy and knock him out.

Our team reaches Gloucestershire, where they indeed do find the word “death” carved in Hebrew into the castle walls. Elliot says in some translations this symbol actually means “death by punishment.”

Coulson: “Here’s another one. This is why I got rid of the S.H.I.E.L.D. logos on all of our vehicles. It’s like screaming for attention.”
Bobbi: “You know… there’s a ginormous eagle symbol on top of our jet.”
Coulson: “Yeah, sometimes I can’t help myself with the cool.” 

Coulson pushes a lever and a secret door opens. The team seems hesitant until Fitz charges in, determined to get to his best friend. Oh, my feels.

Back at HQ, Andrew has decided that Joey isn’t ready, which doesn’t make Daisy too happy. Andrew says that he thinks anyone can be a monster, not just Inhumans. He even thinks there can be monsters on the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, particularly Coulson, who is leading his team through dangerous conditions for Jemma’s life. Okay, didn’t we do enough doubting of Coulson last season?

To his credit, Andrew is also worried about Daisy because so much has changed for her so fast, particularly the fact that she’s become a leader. Daisy explains that she has to do this. When she transformed into an Inhuman, she felt messed up. She wants to show people that they can belong. Andrew brings up the possibility of being a halfway house, but Daisy says that’s what Jiaying already did--Daisy wants to do more than that. She wants the Inhumans to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. and take action to make the world a better place. Oh, Daisy, I’m so proud of you, you precious (In)human being.

In Arizona, May and her dad discuss how much she’s like her mother. He brings out some old photos of her, including some of May ice skating as a young girl. She brings up how hard it would hurt when she fell and hit the ice, which is why she switched to martial arts--padded floors.

May hears a knock and goes on high alert, grabbing a knife from the kitchen. She holds the knife against the visitor’s throat. Who is this visitor? It’s none other than Mr. Lance Hunter, who quips a witty one-liner and grins in that devilishly cute way.

In Gloucestershire, the team walks inside the secret room. They are greeted by electricity… and a contraption connected to a hole in the floor. The hole in the floor is oddly shaped like… you guessed it! The monolith. Coulson contacts Mack and asks him to fly the monolith up to them. (I wonder if S.H.I.E.L.D. jets are abnormally faster than regular jets? They must be.)

Ward and his henchman have successfully kidnapped the rich kid, and they’ve transported him to a super shady location. See, the thing is that Ward needs money to rebuild HYDRA, so what better way to do so than torturing bank passwords out of a scared rich kid? Well, that’s exactly what they do. Ward tells his henchman to do whatever it takes to get them out of him.

In Arizona, Hunter is telling May about his plan to take down Ward and tries to convince her to join him. May refuses, saying she needs to take care of her dad. Hunter continues to try to talk her into it, but May says she’s out. Hunter backs off but leaves with one last line about how she’ll never be truly out until she stops looking over her shoulder. And next time, he says rather chillingly, it won’t be him at the door.

In England, Mack and Daisy arrive with the monolith. They lower it into the hole in the floor and turn on the contraption. The room shakes. Fitz screams for more light and sends a flare through the portal. Daisy looks dazed as blood comes from her nostrils. The contraption breaks and Daisy passes out. Coulson tries to get her to wake up, calling her “Skye” repeatedly. (Oh, my heart.) Also, I’m calling it now; when they get the portal again, Fitz is going to jump straight through.

Ward’s henchman, Kebo, is still torturing the rich kid when suddenly the rich kid fights back. He gets Kebo on the ground and beats him several times in anger, asking if Kebo even knows who he is. Ward appears from the shadows and says that this kid is Werner von Strucker, son of Baron von Strucker, notorious member of HYDRA and famed comic book character. It soon becomes clear that Ward wants this boy for much more than just his money.

May and her dad sit down to have a heart-to-heart, where May reveals that all she wants is a normal life. She’s burnt out on S.H.I.E.L.D. and wants to have a break. Her dad says that while May remembers how much it hurt when she hit the ice, he remembers how quickly she’d get back up.

Ward and Werner (let’s make a “villainous broship” name for them--Werd? Warner? Warder?) walk through Ward’s warehouse. Werner says he wants to kill Ward, but he seems slightly interested in what Ward has to say. His dad never showed him much about HYDRA and then died meaninglessly. The camera shows us a HYDRA symbol painted on the wall--Ward says that this HYDRA will be stronger than before.

In England, the team realizes that the weird shape of the secret room actually produces a subsonic energy that opens the portal. So instead of wasting time fixing the contraption, Daisy says she can produce the frequency needed. It’s dangerous, and she could die. However, if this works, they can send a probe through to see the other side.

Daisy focuses her powers on the monolith and the portal opens. Fitz secures himself to a cable and then JUMPS THROUGH THE PORTAL.


He lands on the planet, caught in a storm of whirling sand and overall blue-ness. Immediately he shouts Jemma’s name, over and over again.

And suddenly we hear it. “Fitz!”

Fitzsimmons crawl across the difficult landscape, pushing against the wind. They grab onto each other’s hands.

On earth, Daisy struggles to keep the portal open as Mack and Bobbi try to stabilize the cable holding Fitz. Coulson tells them to pull Fitz back.

This is not okay. I’m so emotional.

Before they can pull him back, the monolith EXPLODES, leaving a bunch of rocky rubble. Fitz surfaces, alive and gasping. And next to him is… JEMMA.

Exhausted from the effort, Daisy collapses and Mack runs to her side.

“You did good, Tremors. You did good.”

Do I sense a ship?

In the rubble, Fitzsimmons hug, finally reunited.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, the medical team says that Fitzsimmons return unscathed. Fitz explains that Jemma wouldn’t have been able to find him, if not for the fact that she saw the flare.

Dr. Elliot Randolph says he’s glad the portal is destroyed. Coulson tells him about the Inhumans, and Elliot cryptically says that it’s been a long time since he heard that word.

Andrew calls May to tell her that Simmons is safe. He says they’d be overjoyed to have May back at HQ, but May says no. In the background, she and Hunter are preparing to go after Ward.

Jemma is back on earth, sleeping, when she suddenly bolts upward, holding a pointy stick. She looks positively terrified--what the heck happened to her? She crawls out of bed and next to Fitz on the floor, where she lays her head in his lap and tries to go back to sleep. Shippers everywhere go wild.

In the post-credits scene, Andrew is at college talking to some students when another student approaches him, face obscured. He asks about the psychology class. Andrew says that most people study psychology in order to understand their family. The camera pans out to show Werner von Strucker’s face as he smiles and says his family is very messed up. Cue end credits.

In short, this episode wrecked my feels. Though I didn’t expect them to bring back Jemma so soon, I’m actually glad they didn't drag it out. It’s clear that her time on the blue planet has really affected her, and I look forward to seeing how that unfolds. I loved seeing a deeper side of May. Several parts of this episode made me laugh out loud, especially the parts with Elliot. I thought this episode was very tightly- and well-written. I enjoyed it more than last week, and I’m looking forward to seeing where all these plot lines lead.

Have you seen "Purpose in the Machine"? What did you think of it?


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