That question has become even more pertinent in the last couple of weeks. This half-season has thus far been an unfocussed mess – the worst the show has been since its disastrously bad first season. It seems, though, that we’ve turned something of a corner. Last week’s episode was a genuinely solid hour of television and this week’s episode continues that trend. The mission this time is two fold with May, Coulson, and Lincoln trying to track down other Inhumans on their radar before Daisy and Hive can get to them, while Fitz/Simmons infiltrate a club of transhumanists in an attempt to contact a scientist who may have invented a way to inoculate against Hive’s parasitic influence.
It’s the Fitz/Simmons story that really takes the lead this week, and the setting for this story is neat. I really like the idea that in this world of Iron Man armor, megalomaniacal robots, cyborg assassins, and Star Wars-level prosthetic limbs, some of this technology has managed to trickle down to people outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. This club isn’t just pursuing the ideal of transhumanism in theory, but are already actively practicing it, with a whole slew of cybernetic and bioglogical enhancements invisible to the naked eye. I only wish this was something the show had taken time to set up earlier, but this approach to world building is par for the course with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Why waste time creating setups that you can pay off later when you can just introduce an element immediately before it becomes relevant? It’s a utilitarian approach, but it also feels more than a little lackadaisical. But whatever, the idea still works as both a cool detail of the Marvel universe and as a narrative device to compare humans of today to the Kree who performed the experiments that birthed the Inhumans in the first place.
What doesn’t work is the Fitz/Simmons romance subplot that this whole plot line winds up being a vehicle for. The pairing of these two was inevitable since so much of what this show does feels calculated to appeal to the shippers, but I am so profoundly turned off by this romance because what’s supposed to function as the adorable geek couple comes off as ugly. The problem ultimately comes down to Fitz, who has become such an interminable wiener, and his courtship with Simmons reeks of that prototypical mens’ rights activist ‘nice guy’ schtick. We’re meant to be swooning over this pairing, but I’m just sitting there uncomfortably wondering what kind of foul things Fitz will start posting to Twitter when Simmons dumps him for someone who’s not a total putz.