Season Three of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw some exciting new developments within the series, thanks in part to the continued introduction of super powered InHumans, and the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s own super hero team, The Secret Warrior.
Here we attempt to pick out the five episodes that stood out from the pack…
3×20 – ‘Emancipation’
Sometimes the show ties into the events of the movies, and most of the time these little nods to what’s happening in the cinemas aren’t done particularly well. The first season tie in to Thor: The Dark World being both a particularly poor episode, and hardly a tie in at all. However, ‘Emancipation’ is possibly the best one to date.
With the Sakovia Accords coming into effect during the events of Captain America: Civil War the S.H.I.E.L.D. team finds themselves butting heads with the government as their own powered agents must register. Whilst the film concentrated purely on the Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes more of an inspiration from the comics, showing how the Accords effects all people with abilities.
The episode also brings to a head the small story arc of Daisy (Chloe Bennett) being under the influence of Hive (Brett Dalton). Whilst it was never believable that she was always going to be a villain and the team would get her back, the way that they do so here is not only creative, but really well put together.
After having Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) going back and forth over whether he was really S.H.I.E.L.D. material for most of the season it was completely believable that he would willingly break out of containment to go an join Daisy. The twist that he was acting the whole time, and was now a dedicated agent felt pretty well earned, and even led to a seriously cool showdown.
Expecting Lincoln to come out of the stolen Quinjet, Hive instead comes face to face with Lash (Matthew Willig), the hulking InHuman killer. The fight between these two heavyweights is thrilling to watch. The series has built both characters up as major threats, so to see them face off against each other is such an exciting moment. Whilst Lash sadly dies during this encounter, the fact that he is able to free Daisy of her influence is the silver lining to his death.
3×15 – ‘Spacetime’
Can our heroes forge their own path against a set future, or are things predetermined? ‘Spacetime’ is a particularly dark and sad episode in an otherwise fairly lighthearted show that puts the characters in a tough spot as they try to change a vision of the future and save an innocent man’s life.
We’ve already seen examples of InHumans being able to see the future before with Raina (Ruth Negga) in season two, but this episode really shines a light on the concept, and asks if the heroes can fight against one of these visions to change the outcome.
The fight training with May (Ming-Na Wen) is great, and the idea of using the vision to rehearse a future fight is a really fun idea that I can’t really remember seeing elsewhere before. But, as anyone who has ever seen a similar story in sci-fi/fantasy before will know, May isn’t able to go instead of Daisy as the universe throws problems in the team’s path to make sure that the vision plays out as expected.
The whole concept of whether or not the future can be changed may only feature in a single episode here, but will be a major plot point in the fifth season of the series, and features characters and plot-lines set up here. It’s not just the fifth season that benefits from this episode, however, as Daisy also receives a vision of the season finale, where a member of the team will die. Having seen here that the team failed to change the future it makes the idea that one of our heroes is destined to die a very scary concept.
3×09 – ‘Closure’
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) has always been portrayed as a man who loves being an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., he loves spy history, enjoys saving the world, and generally seems to always be having something of a good time even when things aren’t going too well, always happy to hand out a funny one-liner. So to see Coulson essentially lose his shit and go on a revenge mission is absolutely chilling.
The relationship between Coulson and Ros (Constance Zimmer) was one of the more fun things to watch during the early half of the season, seeing these two people who are well seasoned in espionage and the world of secrets realise that they’re not only allies, but become lovers, was kind of sweet. The opening scene of the episode is still one of the most shocking in the series. Whilst getting ready to eat, and discussing their next move against Hydra, Ros is shot in the throat by Ward using a sniper rifle and dies. It’s so sudden and unexpected that I was expecting it to be a dream sequence Coulson was having, but no, Ros is killed out of nowhere.
The rage that overtakes Coulson the rest of the episode is genuinely scary, as he’s a man who never normally gives into his anger like that, and it means that the Ward story will finally come to a head. After back and forth over how bad Ward really is, whether it’s a product of his upbringing or if he’s just evil things are put to bed as there’s no way he can come back from this. He murdered the woman Coulson loved, so now he’s going to die.
Despite cramming a good amount of plot development into the episode with Ward and Malick (Powers Boothe) finally opening the portal to Maveth, the episode moves with a hell of a pace, and never loses energy. Plus, the final shot of Coulson diving out of a plane, falling through an open castle roof and into the portal is a phenomenal shot to end the episode on.
3×10 – ‘Maveth’
Continuing on from ‘Closure’ the mid-season finale sees Coulson chase Ward through the portal to the alien planet Maveth, intent on getting revenge before Ward is able to find the mysterious creature that Hydra worships. The return to Maveth feels well earned, and the fact that there are three parties there with their own agenda, Coulson for revenge, Ward for power, and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) in order to save Will (Dillon Casey) meant that there was enough to keep people walking across a blue desert entertaining.
Whilst Coulson and Fitz deal with the situation in space (something that most people would never have expected when the show began) the rest of the team assault the Hydra controlled castle, bringing together the Secret Warriors for the first time. It’s great to see this fledgling team in action, and has some great moments. Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) melting bullets was very cool, and Lincoln’s speech about understanding that everyone is scared about going into combat being undercut by a deadpan May saying ‘I’m not’ is some great comedic timing, and very true to her character.
This episode also saw Mack (Henry Simmons) set up in a big way as he took command of the situation, and was even willing to sacrifice himself to save Coulson and Fitz. With Mack’s future character development focusing a lot on how good of a leader, and how decent a man, he is, this is really the beginning of this story for him.
The heart of this episode, however, is on Maveth, and it finally brings to a close Wards story. The moment that Coulson kills him feels earned, as there’s no way the character could ever be redeemed. The fact that Coulson uses his robotic hand to crush his chest is particularly brutal, but has a certain sense of symmetry as Ward broke Coulson’s heart when he killed Ros.
The reveal that Will died getting Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) home is a really sad moment, especially as Fitz gets to spend so much of the episode getting to know him. For a character that is only in two episodes of the season the audience becomes really well attached to him, and his death is actually effective.
However, the deaths of both of these men become connected, as the final scene of the episode shows Ward, possessed by the creature that was controlling Will, back on Earth, very dead looking. The decision to kill Ward but keep Brett Dalton on the show as a super-powered monster was an interesting one, and made for an exciting mid-season closer.
3×05 – ‘4,722 Hours’
Despite having Simmons back for a few episodes after being trapped on an alien planet for months the audience knew very little of her experiences there, except that it had led to a lot of trauma for her. ‘4,722 Hours’ not only goes backwards in time to show her experiences, but makes the bold choice to set the whole thing on the alien planet with Simmons, and only features Fitz as the only other regular cast member in the final moments.
Despite the potential of having a lone character stranded on their own be slow or dull this episode never feels anything other than exciting. Perhaps it’s because it’s the first time the series has fully embraced space and gone full-on sci-fi, but a large part of it is down to the acting talent of Elizabeth Henstridge. We know Simmons is going to be okay, but she draws you in so well that there are moments of tension where you fear for her safety.
The introduction of Will makes a lot of sense. Simmons probably would have come back a lot crazier than she did if she was on her own the whole time, so his presence helps to keep her grounded and the events less traumatic for her. It also gives her a good reason to want to go back to Maveth.
The biggest thing that Will brings to the table, however, is a sense of horror. Not because of who he is or what he does, but the stories he has of what he’s been through, and the ghostly creature that stalks the surface of the planet, killing anyone it finds.
This creature proves to be one of the best things of the episode, and it’s appearances are genuinely creepy, perhaps the scariest the series has ever been. It’s a testament to how well put together these scenes are that knowing Simmons is okay it’s still terrifying to see her confronted by the ghostly, zombie-like astronaut.
One of the biggest jobs of this episode, it seems, is to further keep Fitz and Simmons apart, maintaining the ‘will they wont they’ of their romantic relationship. Where in some shows it feels force when two characters are kept apart, and situations feel contrived, the fact that Simmons was trapped on another planet, thought that she would never return to earth, and had only a man for company, it’s not too surprising that she became romantically involved with him.
‘4,722 Hours’ is a hugely important episode in the Fitz/Simmons love story, it fills in an important narrative gap, sets up a lot of the drive for the first half of the season, and showcases how brilliant of an actor Henstridge is. A stand out episode that still remains one of the best the series has produced.
What are your favourite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 episodes? Let us know!