This week’s episode was another excellent example of why Agents of Shield has ascended to the upper echelon of comic book TV shows. Two seasons ago the Lash reveal would have been dragged out an agonizing 4-5 episodes and likely another 2-3 before an actual confrontation.
Befitting the series’ faster, more immediate pacing by the end of the episode, not only does the team know the truth and confront him, but the emotional toll hits harder than even Ward’s betrayal. This was a killer episode in a season that’s increasingly becoming packed with quality action and heartfelt character development.
A lot of the credit goes to episode writer Lauren LeFranc, who instead of taking the easy route and having Andrew/Lash be a remorseless killer, makes this confrontation the most heartbreaking of the series. Both Ward and Jiaying were irredeemably evil. Andrew, however, is a lot more grey.
The episode starts out with a flashback of Andrew and May on vacation. May is at peace and is ready to quit SHIELD to give their relationship another try.
Present day, Coulson convinced Daisy to show Rosalind around. Coulson is accompanying Rosalind to a meeting with the president about Inhumans and Rosalind getting to know one beyond the typical threat situation could help human/Inhumans relations.
This resulted in a strong scene as Rosalind laid into Daisy for naively thinking all the Inhumans are like her and there aren’t more threats like Lash. Both have valid points and I’m actually looking forward to more of these Inhuman ethic discussions.
Following up on her conversation with Werner Von Strucker, May tracks down Andrew’s schedule and finds he’s meeting with Joey, the new Inhuman introduced in the premiere. We got a glimpse of Andrew’s inner struggle as his instincts were to murder Joey, but he resisted.
May arrives in time to prevent a potential murder having SHIELD agents take Joey away, but Andrew uses an Icer to knock her out. By this time, Lincoln reached out to Mack confiding that Lash infiltrated SHIELD. To his credit, Mack didn’t blow him off and after checking files, he tells Coulson that Andrew has to be Lash and they home in on May’s tracker.
Blair Underwood was especially strong tonight. You could buy his confusion and conflict as he tried to explain to May how he became this killer.
Upon returning from their vacation, Andrew looked over Jiaying’s files. Among them was a booby trapped book that released Terrigen Mist, which Andrew knew changed him if not outwardly. Soon tracking down Inhumans became a priority, but fearful of what he was becoming, he initiated the split with May.
Coulson arrives with Daisy, Mack, Lincoln and Rosalind with ATCU backup, but he confronts Andrew alone. Coulson’s always been a situation-defusing presence more than a problem-starter, which was especially meaningful here.
Coulson sincerely wanted to help his friend, a sentiment shared by Daisy, who remembered how vital Andrew’s help was in her recovery. There was no turning back with Ward, but Andrew represented a possibility of redemption as he was convinced he was only killing the “bad” Inhumans.
That’s a pretty ingenious angle that I’m glad the show touched upon. As the S.H.I.E.L.D. shrink, Andrew considers himself a good judge of people and as the self-appointed Inhuman executioner, he has the power to remove threats from the board at will.
The MVP of tonight’s episode undoubtedly was Ming-Na Wen. With the Ward betrayal, May was the only team member who was focused enough to get past their emotions to take Ward down.
Here we saw a reversal as May was the one feeling the brunt of the emotional kick to the gut the hardest. It made her comment to Andrew while they were on vacation that she felt she didn’t deserve happiness to be all the more tragic.
Lincoln proved the wildcard, triggering Lash’s transformation leading to the death of several ATCU agents and nearly Rosalind before Daisy discovers a new use of her powers to cushion her fall.
Eventually May is able to get Lash alone and she calms him down enough to revert to Andrew and without hesitation shoots him into the Inhuman containment cell. The kicker? She didn’t know if he’d survive the shooting. Lash was taken down a bit too easily considering he’d battled Daisy and Lincoln to a standstill previously, but I’ll chalk that up to losing the element of surprise in this battle.
My bigger complaint with the episode was the token appearances from Fitz/Simmons and Bobbi and Hunter. For such a big operation, you’d figure they’d be on standby and providing operation assistance remotely, but they don’t have enough to do to really warrant checking in on them.
Accepting Rosalind’s offer, Andrew/Lash is getting put into the ATCU stasis gel and Coulson takes her up on a drink. Ward meets with Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) on strategy when Gideon gets a phone call … from Rosalind, who just finished spending the night with Coulson.
I kinda liked the potential of a Coulson/Rosalind pairing so this reveal was a bit disappointing. SHIELD getting betrayed by people they trust is close to becoming an overused plot point so I hope there’s more to this than what initially appears.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The tragic turn of May and Andrew’s relationship was handled beautifully even if the battle with Lash wasn’t the all-out action spectacle it should have been considering the combatants.