Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Failed Experiments" Makes Science Fiction Coolness For Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

The Good: Engaging character moments, Well-performed, Good (if straightforward) plot
The Bad: Wonky science at the end, Simplistic plot
The Basics: The Kree return to Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in "Failed Experiments," which ends up as a solid episode of the show!

One of the exciting things about Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is seeing how the executive producers manage to tie the show into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has, since its inception, been involved with cleaning up after problems left from various films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with the last few outings, the show has actually led into the blockbuster films. "Failed Experiments" is the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode that immediately precedes Captain America: Civil War.

"Failed Experiments" continues where "The Singularity" (reviewed here!) left off. HYDRA was destroyed and Hive was in possession of Dr. Holden Radcliffe, an expert in parasitic organisms who had the potential to create a vaccine against Hive's influence. The episode also offers the most on-screen alien interaction of the series so far.

Opening in ancient times, a human is out hunting when he encounters two Kree Reapers. They capture him, experiment upon him, and make him into an Inhuman . . . Hive. In the present, Hive threatens to experiment upon the three remaining heads of HYDRA the same way, while May keeps Campbell locked down at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base to keep him safe and away from Hive's influence. Fitz and Simmons debate the toxin they have developed to free Daisy from Hive's influence when Campbell volunteers to test the toxin. When Coulson finds Daisy in the town Hive has bought in Wisconsin, he assigns Mack to go kill Hive. Hive is using Dr. Radcliffe to continue the Kree experiment and, in the process, he liquefies the HYDRA leaders.

Not taking no for an answer, Campbell injects himself with the vaccine against Hive's influence, which leaves him weakened. May interrogates James at Hive's town, while Hive tries to turn Daisy against S.H.I.E.L.D. Hive has activated the Kree device to lure live Kree to Earth in order to give Radcliffe the cellular material he needs for his experiments. Hive assigns Daisy to recover the Kree alive and when she comes into the field, Mack abandons the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to try to rescue her.

"Failed Experiments" is an interesting conceptual crossover with the blockbusters for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Captain America: Civil War explores a deep, philosophical conflict with real-world political consequences, "Failed Experiments" pushes Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the fantastic realms of science fiction more akin to the comic book roots of the series than where it has been for most of its tenure. Outside Guardians Of The Galaxy (reviewed here!), "Failed Experiments" might well have the most on-screen Kree of any work thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Daisy and Mack continue to develop their relationship in interesting ways. Daisy, despite being under the influence of the Hive parasites, makes a pretty compelling speech on how she was initially lost and trading S.H.I.E.L.D. for Hive was just a lateral move. Mack shows an incredible level of character in appealing to Daisy's humanity. Despite all of the superhuman aspects of the plot in "Failed Experiments," the high points of the episode involve the interactions between Daisy and Mack.

"Failed Experiments" manages to keep the momentum of the Fitz and Simmons romantic relationship going. While they have moved forward in their relationship, the still have conflicts and disagreements with one another and "Failed Experiments" has the often-goofy characters acting surprisingly maturely.

Dr. Radcliffe explodes into Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a surprisingly interesting guest starring character. Radcliffe's failed experiment leads to a face-off between Radcliffe and Hive and Radcliffe holds his on screen. John Hannah makes the potentially unimpressive guest character substantive and in "Failed Experiments," he is the one to watch!

Unfortunately, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. pushes into remarkably familiar territory with "Failed Experiments." "Failed Experiments" puts the third season on a course for exactly where the second season of the show ended. Daisy's mother wanted to transform the world for Inhumans and Hive has the exact same goal.

As well, the science of "Failed Experiments" is ridiculous in the episode's final moments. Daisy resolves to give Hive what he wants . . . from her. In the first season, Daisy was healed using Kree blood. There has been nothing in the series to suggest that after their resurrections, Coulson and/or Daisy started to manufacture Kree blood in their bodies. In other words, Daisy's assertion at the climax of "Failed Experiments" that she has Kree blood in her after two years is absolutely ridiculous.

Despite where the episode ends, "Failed Experiments" is solidly performed, interestingly character-filled and generally well-structured.

[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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