Another week, another “just fine” Season 3 episode that makes for a good watch but continues to feel like we’re running out of time to arrive somewhere more interesting by the finale, with the broader Inhumans storyline once again being waylaid for a chance at using the surprise-superpower gimmick as a way to get back into the monster of the week business that made so much of Season 1 so tiresome. Still, the idea this time is a novel one and the episode itself has some above-average direction, so call it a win.
The “Inhuman of The Week” this time around is a homeless guy with a variation on the DEAD ZONE power: He touches you, and you both get a premonition of witnessing someone’s death. That feels a little bit specific, sure, but trying reasoning out how Peter Parker got only those specific vague abilities of a spider sometime – spider’s don’t even have a “sense,” they know what’s coming because they’ve got lots of eyes and crazy-sensitive body hair.
But whatever. Circumstances contrive that Daisy and company show up to try and stop HYDRA from collecting the guy, only to not simply lose him to the bad guys but for Daisy to get hit with a premonition that appears to depict (among other things) Lincoln getting a beat-down, Fitz/Simmons standing inexplicably in a snowfall, Coulson shooting her – possibly to death – and May somehow not being involved in any of this.
This sets up the interesting part of the episode, wherein the Agents try to change the future by using Daisy’s vision to pre-plan their strategy (up to an including leaving the should-be participants off the mission entirely) while Fitz argues that it’s impossible by way of fourth-dimensional thinking. It’s a time-killer, as the first half of “change the future” stories often are (no prizes for guessing that May ends up not going after all because Lash business comes up) but the execution is charming in that low-tech AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. kind of way and it does set up a nifty-looking one-take fight scene for Chloe Bennett.
Also, a “of the week” stories go, the situation for the homeless Inhuman is pretty affecting: A suburban dad whose life has been completely ruined by his ability and is running away from accidentally giving his loved ones (or anyone) unwanted death-visions. For a change, it even makes sense for HYDRA to be spending resources to acquire him, since Hive/Ward finds an immediate practical use for his powers – and the fact that a final touch from Daisy gives her a slightly longer vision of the “bloody spaceship” dream from the beginning of this half of the season certainly makes things (theoretically) interesting.
The B-story, though (C-story is May and Andrew finally having it out as he prepares to transform into Lash for what he’s pretty sure will be the last time) is sort of a snooze: Hive/Ward makes Mallick buy a company that makes powered-armor, mostly so we can get fun scenes of Powers Boothe throwing people and things around wearing what sort-of looks like a 90s X-Files prop; but it very clearly all about setting things up for Mallick (who got a death-vision of his own) to have a “What have I done?” moment between now and the finale. Also, everyone is now on the same page re: “Hive is running HYDRA and looks like Ward now,” so that should speed things along.
One thing to note: The TERMINATOR exchange between Lincoln and Coulson (“I’ve actually never seen the original.” “…You’re fired.”) was cute, and it’s interesting to see two episodes in a row based on establishing rapport between these two characters. Yes, the writers seem to be in “try out new pairings” mode lately (see also: May and Simmons, sure to be exacerbated now that Lash is on ice and the “cure” might be a thing.)
NEXT WEEK: Somehow, Daniel Whitehall is back for “Paradise Lost,” which is also supposedly going to give us some backstory on Mallick presumably related to whatever he saw in his vision. It also looks like we’ll get a look at what Hive “really” looks like, so put me down for hoping for another big rubbery monster to wrestle with Lash at some point.