Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Purpose in the Machine” Review

Give Fitz an inch and he’ll take the team a mile. That is what the creative forces behind this week’s episode reminded us of by focusing the bulk of the episode on Fitz’s crusade to save Simmons from the end of whatever universe she was transported to by the Monolith: Fitz is the Machine, and saving Simmons is his purpose.

When I say ‘the bulk of the episode’, it was probably only a third. It carried the show largely due to the reintroduction of Asgardian Elliot Randolph (the always wonderful Peter McNicol), and having the majority of Coulson’s team involved in that storyline gave it additional weight. They would not have been there, however, without the unrelenting genius and heart of Fitz recognizing a few grains of sand were not of this earth and giving them all hope that Simmons was still out there waiting for them to save her. Blending history and mythology with more than a little of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and just a touch of “The Goonies” made for an earnest, engaging and truly suspenseful adventure. The fact that (SPOILERS AHEAD!!!) the team was able to open the portal long enough for Fitz to jump through, find Simmons in less than a minute and bring her back to our plain before Daisy annihilated the Monolith was all dumb luck barely mattered. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, couldn’t breathe while staring at the pile of Kree rubble, felt my heart start beating again when Fitz and Simmons both emerged from the ashes – and I guarantee I wasn’t the only one.

Side note: even if it means they were doing their job, SCREW THE CREATIVE TEAM FOR PUTTING ME THROUGH THAT EMOTIONALLY DRAINING THREE MINUTES!

…ahem…

Elsewhere in the episode we see Ward and company actively recruiting for their new spin on HYDRA, starting with Baron von Strucker’s entitled offspring Werner. We also see Hunter trying to recruit May in his war against Ward for the damage inflicted on the love of his life Bobbie last season, in the process interrupting James Hong dropping serious knowledge as “Milly’s” father. The interweaving of Fitz’s story with these is handled deftly enough that we get to see a true end to last season with the return of Simmons mixed with Ward’s rise as the big bad for this season (or at least A big bad). The only disconnect I have with this episode is that it highlights what has been one of the show’s biggest weaknesses: the “team” is always in peril. When was the last time we saw everyone under Coulson’s charge acting towards the same goal with no ulterior motives? Have we ever? I’m not saying this has to be like The Avengers all coming together to stop Loki or Ultron, but I would really like to see the various skills and talents of each S.H.I.E.L.D. agent getting put to use while they work as a unit. There can still be infighting and butting of heads – that dynamic has worked for The Avengers twice – but it needs to be because everyone is trying to find the best way to defeat Lash/Hydra/Ward/tapioca together, as one.

Perhaps Ward, with his new HYDRA focused solely on the decimation of his former teammates , will provide that opportunity before the Inhuman storyline takes center stage again.

Aaron Spratte
I Talk A LOT

Aaron Spratte

Aaron likes strong characters, snappy dialogue, sad-bastard romantics, and any story that is genuinely scary or unnerving. For these reasons amongst others, he is a huge fan of Doctor Who (no, I’m not an “old” fan but a fan is a fan so suck it!), Spiderman, WWE, and anything occurring within or adjacent to the Whedonverse. He grew up with Freddy, Jason and Michael and considers them the Holy Trinity of Terror for the Modern Era (loves Freddy the most - snappy dialogue and all, y’know?) but has much, MUCH love for the original Triumvirate at Universal and all of the sequels they spawned. Except Son of Dracula.

Todd doesn’t like anything and doesn’t care what you think about it.
SPRATTE IS A SPAZ AND LIKES EVERYTHING BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS AWESOOOOME! Spratte also REALLLLY likes coffee. And Mountain Dew. And he mourns for the generations that will never fully understand the experience of watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Aaron has a degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Northern Colorado and likes to spend his free time writing the occasional sad bastard play. Because, like Whedon and Moffet, your tears give him strength.
Aaron Spratte
I Talk A LOT

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