Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. picked right up where it left off with the first episode of the season. There is a lot going on as Fitz continues to look for Simmons, Ward is streamlining Hydra, and Agent Mae is searching for herself. With that, let’s take a look at the episode and then I’ll share my two cents. No, I’m not Danie. I’m stepping in this week and you will have to suffer through my review. Fear not though, she will be back next week! Alright, let’s take a look at this episode.
Purpose in the Machine begins in 1839 Gloucestershire, England. A group of noblemen are grabbing round rocks out of a bag. All of them are black, save one. The man who grabs the white one will apparently be going on a journey. The other men equip him and then send the nervous man through a door, which they lock after her enters. On the other side of the door is a Monolith. Within moments, screams can be heard from outside the door and one gentleman comments that no one has ever returned.
Fast forward to the present day to find Daisy and Mack debating Joey’s possibilities as a team member. Daisy is convinced he is a possibility and voices frustration at the length of time it is taking to build a team when Mack says that Dr. Garner will be assessing him. They are interrupted as Bobbi and Lance charge into the room with news that Fitz is inside the containment area for the Monolith.
The team arrives and pulls Fitz out of the Monolith with Mack shutting it just before it liquifies again. Coulson arrives and is less than pleased. Fitz is convinced they missed something and as he rubs his fingers, he finds what he is looking for… proof. With renewed hope, he runs out of the room.
Fitz stands in front of a giant screen and explains that what they are dealing with is impossible sand. It is impossible because it is a billion years older than the Earth itself. The conclusion is reached that it must have come from the other side of the portal. The other side of the portal where Simmons has now been residing for months. The team makes this realization along with the realization that Simmons might have met her end at the other place. The team is instantly united and behind Fitz as a plan comes together to find Simmons. Fitz gives a grocery list of what he needs for this new mission to Coulson. Coulson also lets Bobbi know that he knows she has been covering for Fitz. Finally, Coulson also sends Lance off on a secret mission.
As everyone prepares to depart for their respective missions, the discussion is Ward, Hydra, and Bobbi’s recovery. Coulson asks Bobbi if she’d like to go flying. It’s time to go find Dr. Randolph, an Asgardian who has been hiding on Earth. Lance heads off on his secret mission.
A man is clinging onto the hood of a car for dear life. The car weaves in and out of pillars with people standing unflinchingly next to them. Formerly agent Ward is driving the car. He talks about how Hydra has grown weak and needs to be rebuilt the right way, the strong way. When the car finally stops and the man rolls to the ground Ward gives him a chance to prove his worth by telling where a kid is.
Coulson and crew arrive to a jail cell where Dr. Randolph is laying low. Dr. Randolph is more interested in staying where he is than helping Coulson… until Coulson threatens him with exposure to the ATCU. With a change of heart, Dr. Randolph rips the cell door open and the mission moves forward.
Andrew Garner arrives at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base and is greeted by Daisy who promptly tries to butter him up in hopes of a favorable assessment. The conversation doesn’t go overly well for Daisy. He is a psychologist after all. Daisy asks about May and is told she should ask May herself… Daisy said she would if she knew where she was.
It turns out that May is with her father on a driving range in Arizona. Her father who is questioning why May is now the daughter of the year after her trip with Andrew.
Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base Dr. Randolph inspects the Monolith with skepticism until he sees it liquify and reform. The game has changed and suddenly he is interested but with one condition: the Monolith is destroyed at the end of this escapade. As they all come together to search for Simmons, Dr. Randolph is shown a parchment paper with the Hebrew symbol for death on it. They think the Monolith could be Kree. Fitz also shares the history of the Monolith up until it disappeared in the 19th century. It turns out that Dr. Randolph had something to add there as he had seen the symbol carved into a castle in Gloucestershire. With that, it is off to England.
On a lovely bay, Ward and Kebo watch a young man on a boat during what appears to be a party. Ward says that this young man needs to see the world for what it really is and that he could open a lot of doors for them. Moments later, rats are released all over the boat which clears it of the guests. Ward boards at the same time and clears the boat of the young man’s bodyguards and then also knocks him out.
In Gloucestershire Coulson and the team have arrived at the castle. Dr. Randolph remembers that he was there for a costume party but had also gotten distracted. The team finds the Hebrew writing on the wall and Dr. Randolph amends the translation. It actually means “Death by Punishment.” Coulson finds another place with a signal and pushes a stone in the wall, opening a secret passage through which they all enter.
Daisy and Garner talk after the assessment of Joey. Garner says that Joey needs time. Daisy is worried about running out of time. Garner warns that desperation leads to mistakes. He uses Fitz opening a portal to save one life as an example of a desperate mistake. He tells Daisy that she is growing into a leader and that he understands her need to create a team of Scret Warriors. Daisy says it is all about giving them a place to belong and a place to make a difference as they team with S.H.I.E.L.D.
In Arizona May is making her father a salad. Her father brings out a box of memories, some of which go back to her ice skating days. A shadow passes by the window. May grabs a knife and goes to the door. She quickly opens the door and puts a knife to the throat of Lance.
In the castle Coulson’s team finds a circular laboratory at the end of the secret passage. Fitz starts flipping on switches. Lights turn on and soon water is heard moving. A hole opens in the floor that appears to be able to accommodate the Monolith. Fitz is convinced the laboratory is for controlling the Monolith.
In another room far away, the young man from the boat awakens to find himself with Ward and Kebo. Ward explains that he is taking everything from him and everything in the future must be earned. With that, he leaves Kebo with the instruction to get passwords from the young man by any means necessary.
Lance chats with May about how he found her. In searching for leads on Hydra, he discovered that May was also pursuing the same leads. He attempts to recruit her for his mission to take out Ward. She turns him down. Lance continues to press the case saying that Ward could be pursuing those close to her. When she still turns him down, he leaves her with his cover information should she change her mind. He leaves reminding her that that she will never really be out of the game if she is still looking over her shoulder.
In the castle, the Monolith is lowered down into place. Mack and Daisy arrive and Daisy fills Coulson in on what Garner had to say about him. . . which was less than positive. Mack and Fitz get to work on the machine and soon gears are turning, the room is shaking, and the Monolith liquifies. A flare is thrown into the Monolith but it just disappears. Daisy soon begins to feel distressed and blood comes from her nose. The machinery soon falls apart and Daisy appears to pass out. Once she is awoken, she tells of a pulsing sound that caused her pain. Nobody else heard the sound. Fitz says that the room is a portal that is meant to lock the Monolith open and enable travel to the other side. However, the machine must be repaired first. Mack comments on how difficult this will be.
Kebo is attempting to beat information out of the young man. He finally has enough and stabs Kebo with a pen and then begins beating him with a telephone. Ward walks back into the room at this point. Ward tells the young man that he is Werner Von Strucker, son of Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker. Ward also tells the young man that he has earned a drink… and tacos.
May’s father asks her if she is hiding from some unfinished business. May says she just wants to live a normal life. Her father says that is pretty much impossible if one is hiding a gun in their golf bag. He also says that while May remember falling down on the hard ice while ice skating, he remembers how quickly she always got back up. He said his daughter always got back up.
Werner Von Strucker threatens Ward and says he should have him killed. Ward says never to threaten to kill someone but just do it. He continues on to tell him that Hydra is fractured and needs to be rebuilt. Ward says it needs to be rebuilt the right way. Werner says that his father never let him see that world. Ward replies that it is his world now.
As Fitz and Mack try to put the machine back together, they realize that the room really is a resonance chamber for sound. It is basically a big speaker. Daisy realizes that she can replicate the sound she heard earlier with her powers. She also realizes that she can only do this for a short time before it’ll hurt her again. Bobbi prepares a probe so they can see on the other side and Coulson stresses caution to Daisy. Dr. Randolph isn’t entirely sure what is going on and voices his confusion. Daisy replies by using her powers to open the Monolith. With the Monolith open, instead of Bobbi sending the probe through, Fitz dives into the liquified Monolith.
On the other side Fitz lands in a sandstorm. The atmosphere has a blue hue to it as Fitz desperately calls out for Simmons. Back at the castle Daisy struggles to maintain the frequency. Fitz hears Simmons calling back and they struggle towards each other in the storm. As their fingers grasp at each other Coulson instructs Mack and Bobbi to pull Fitz back. They are running out of time. As Fitz gets pulled back towards the Monolith their fingers slip apart. Fitz desperately tries again to clasp Simmons’ hand. An explosion occurs and the Monolith turns into a bits of rock and dust. As the team peers down into the hole that once held the Monolith, Fitz appears from underneath the debris… with Simmons.
Back on the plane Simmons is recovering. Coulson comments that the flare is what led Simmons to the location where Fitz came through. In fact, he says they would never have found her if it weren’t for that. Dr. Randolph asks about Daisy and what she is. Coulson tells him that she is an Inhuman. Dr. Randolph says that is a term he hasn’t heard in a very long time.
Andrew calls May and informs him that they have retrieved Simmons. He invites her to come visit and see Simmons. May says she is glad that Simmons is safe and ends the call. She tells Lance that Simmons has been saved. Lance suggests beers.
Simmons bolts up in bed suddenly awake with a sharp object in her hand in a defensive position. Clearly something in her dreams have frightened her. She looks around and sees Fitz sitting next to her bed fast asleep. She lies down with her head on his lap.
A student asks Warner if he can enroll in his class. Warner replies that it is ok if he doesn’t make the makeup work. As he signs the paper he makes a comment about how people always take his class for the same reason… a messed up family. Werner Von Strucker confirms that he has a messed up family.
My Two Cents
When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does things right, it nails it. This felt like it belonged in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was a pleasure to review for Danie. I will do my best though and she’ll be back next week!
This episode was all about connections both from a storyline standpoint and also physically. The first connection surrounded the history of the Monolith. It also turned out to be a connection with Dr. Randolph. When I first saw the opening scene I was a little thrown off before I realized what was going on as I really wasn’t ready for another storyline to be added into the mix. However within moments it became clear what was going on. Then as the episode progressed and it turned out that Dr. Randolph had been to the castle as before, it all came together and created a nice overall story for the history of the Monolith in this episode.
A second big connection was the introduction by Ward of Werner Von Strucker. Talk about a great way to continue the story and legacy of Hydra. Right after Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker is killed in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel introduces his son. He is ruthless and his final scene with Andrew Garner was was chilling. It definitely had me wondering if Garner will survive the season.
Inhumans are clearly going to be a bigger part of the future of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Daisy would like that future to already be happening as she eagerly awaits for Garner to approve someone to the program, as opposed to more observation and assessment. However, what was interesting about this episode wasn’t just the hope for more Secret Warriors (think there will be a stand alone show for them at some point?) by Daisy. It was also the Inhuman connection to the Monolith. The Monolith was created by the Kree to wipe the Inhumans out. Although it seems like we have seen the destruction of the Monolith, I really do have to wonder if there is more to this story still.
I should also note that there was a side storyline of Agent May searching for herself. There is quite a bit of internal conflict between staying away from the action and also recognizing it won’t stay away from her. The appearance of Lance with a new mission only adds to this conflict inside. Seeing the relationship with her dad in this episode was a nice addition, even if this particular storyline was a bit predictable. While this was something that needed to be addressed, I think it could have probably been done better. I’m curious to see where Lance and May end up this season and if they both survive as well. I have my predictions but I think I’ll keep them to myself at this point.
Finally there is Fitz, the true hero of this episode. He is 150% devoted to finding his beloved Jemma Simmons. His tenacity is incredible as he will not give up for anything. I did have to wonder during the first half of this episode if this was going to be another heartbreaking episode, and at points it was. However, I found myself incredible pleased with the resolution. I feel like Marvel gave the fans of Fitz-Simmons exactly what they wanted. The flip side? What’s next? Where will this go? What heartache will be thrown at them next? It seems like that is a fairly common tool that is utilized by the writing team now… mess with Fitz-Simmons. Let’s see how they do it next. For now though, they deserve kudos because this storyline definitely was an emotional roller coaster.
Purpose in the Machine was exactly what I want from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was connected, confident, and full of heart. I hope that this season continues on with the strength that the first two episodes have shown. It is a very solid start for a show that has had some ups and downs. I can’t wait for next week and to see what is next!
What did you think of Purpose in the Machine?