The Good: Moments of performance?
The Bad: Dull plot, No real character development, Some poor special effects, Some awful deliveries of bad lines
The Basics: Outside the brief Lash subplot, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. almost completely strikes out with "Spacetime."
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a number of plot balls it has been juggling. Given how many characters it has to service, it is pretty amazing that anything happens in any single episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Despite that, the core of the third season of the show has been the Inhumans as a rising threat and the menace posed to them by the Inhuman Lash. Once Lash's mundane identity was revealed, the main conflict with him has been pushed to the back burner. Lacking Lash, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has refocused on HYDRA and the Inhumans as a political threat. "Spacetime" brings Lash back into the narrative. Lash returns in an episode that, ironically, features a clairvoyant.
"Spacetime" is not a direct follow-up to "Watchdogs" (reviewed here!), but it does follow up on the Simmons and May subplot from the prior episode. The bulk of the episode, however, explores how the Marvel Cinematic Universe views time and time travel. "Spacetime" treats visions of the future as set in stone when a clairvoyant is encountered and viewers sit through the episode to see whether or not everything Daisy is shown in a vision of the future will actually come to pass or if the vision can be prevented.
Opening with a vagrant, Charles, being asked to leave the alley he stays in, he accidentally touches Edwin Abbott, who is paralyzed with a vision. He calls out for Daisy Johnson and soon S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the scene. When Daisy touches Charles, she is granted a vision of the future. At HYDRA's lair, the parasite infected Grant Ward interrogates Gideon Malick about his goals. Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Daisy explains her vision and to try to prevent what she saw from happening, Coulson assigns May to the mission. Stuck in the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Daisy tries to figure out how to find Charles Hinton and understand his powers. According to Hinton's ex-wife, Hinton is an actual clairvoyant, who touches people and sees visions of death.
After Malick makes a hostile takeover of the company that makes Coulson's prosthetic hand, the Hive-infected Ward liquidates the Board. Malick tries out the company's exoskeleton suit and Hive goads him into killing the former CEO. To try to change the future, May trains with her fellow agents to use Daisy's foreknowledge to get through an upcoming battle with the speed she will need. May is about to head to Transia when Dr. Garner walks in. Coulson alters his battle plan when Garner is convinced his next transition to Lash will be his last. When Fitz and Simmons tap into Transia's closed circuit feed, they realize that Ward has returned and they theorize that it is not Ward and Daisy is walking into something worse than she expects.
Brett Dalton does a surprisingly good job with his performance in "Spacetime." Dalton manages to emote and lisp out most of his lines in a way that makes his new character distinctly different from Grant Ward. The transition is subtle, but hearing the difference in his voice helps sell the new character better than his new stride and outfit that looks like it is straight out of The Matrix.
Lincoln Campbell continues to be fleshed out in "Spacetime." Unfortunately, his attachment to Daisy continues to be somewhat generic. His threat to Coulson is delivered flatly by Luke Mitchell and the line is especially stale. Malick is similarly weakened by "Spacetime;" until now he has been a fairly strong leader and yet Hive goads him into killing. Even May is dumbed down when Coulson makes demands about her mental health. In fact, the writing in "Spacetime" is troublingly off - Coulson slips and calls Daisy "Skye" and there's no clear reason for that, especially this late after her adopting her birthname.
"Spacetime" features surprisingly bad special effects for the show as well. When the CEO sees the future, the effect is very off. The skin dissolve looks like an effect atop real people and the meld is not at all smooth or realistic.
Unfortunately, "Spacetime" is predictable in a lot of ways for those who love genre shows. We've seen innumerable works where there is a prophecy or vision and the episode belabors whether or not that future can be changed. Virtually every one of these episodes involves how the prophecy comes true "from a certain point of view." "Spacetime" offers no real surprises or shifts in that paradigm, much to the distress of seasoned viewers.
For other works with Lola Glaudini, please visit my reviews of:
NYPD Blue - Season Five
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the third season here!
For other Marvel movie, television season and episode reviews, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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