Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.1: “Laws of Nature” Review

NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are present in this review



After a bumpy first season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really hit its stride in Season Two. A large part of this was due to the show being utilized as the vector in which Marvel Comics’ alien-mutated human strain, the Inhumans were introduced into the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe, and subsequently positioned as a replacement for the mutants and X-Men, whose film rights currently sit at 20th Century Fox, preventing them from showing up in the MCU, or even so much as the term, “Mutant.” This, paired with the improved, more engaging storylines that utilized the Inhumans as a wonderful springboard to increase both the scale and excitement of the series, led to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally achieving its potential last season, and finally feeling like it was leading the charge in its own way for the MCU, rather than simply riding the coattails of big screen movie releases like Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

So, how did Season Three start off then? Well, the Inhuman problem has only gotten bigger, after Skye inadvertently knocked a big supply of Terrigen into the ocean, which made its way into seafood sundries, and ended up triggering latent abilities in Inhumans across the world. Oh, and Skye isn’t Skye anymore. She’s now fully embraced her true name as Marvel heroine, Daisy Johnson/Quake, although she only goes by, “Daisy” at this point. Coulson even makes an effective jab at one point, stating that even now, he can never remember that Skye is now Daisy. It no doubt mirrors something that fans of the series will have to get used to.

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Fortunately, “Laws of Nature” hasn’t lost a step after the superb Season Two either. The Season Three premiere continues to spring off of the Inhumans extremely well, even with Jiaying being toast, and Lincoln now trying to live his life as an ordinary medical doctor. The episode kicks off with a terrified Inhuman named Joey, who has the ability to melt things from at least a short distance (probably inspired by Iron Man’s foe, The Melter, though this character has yet to be portrayed in the MCU proper, outside of a brief One-Shot comic), running around in a panic, and attracting the attention of some nasty soldier-type goons. Fortunately, they’re knocked out by Daisy, who manages to get Joey to safety, albeit also in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, which he can’t leave.

Joey is a good character with which to introduce the terrified local populace. His conversations with Daisy are actually quite emotional, and seeing Daisy take on sort of a comforting, almost motherly figure is very satisfying to see. She’s basically being a better version of her mother, which makes her feel like she’s matured quite a lot since the start of this series back in 2013. The small peeks into Joey’s personal life work well too, seeing just how much Inhuman abilities upend your existence, and just how much S.H.I.E.L.D. would have their hands full in trying to keep all of these unfortunate people under control. Sure, some of this is reminiscent of Fox’s X-Men movies, naturally, but those movies didn’t have the advantage of a governing body like S.H.I.E.L.D. to provide a new perspective on the mutation drama.

We also see Coulson dealing with the fallout of losing part of his arm during the Season Two finale, now using a bionic implant of sorts. The line where he says he lost his right arm too because of the disappearance of May (who isn’t seen at all this episode) is actually pretty powerful, showing that S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t just moving on as if nothing happened, after the big Inhuman attack by Jiaying’s faction during the Season Two finale. There are losses and scars, and Coulson is the one bearing them physically, making him a nice device to really illustrate how nothing will be the same again, now that the Inhumans are no longer contained.

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Bobbi is also confined to a lab, which feels a bit odd, though again, it makes sense, considering how the end of Season Two left her in pretty rough shape. Her tension with Hunter has once again reached a trying point, and the two are again having difficulty communicating. They discuss leaving again, or perhaps the eventuality of it, since Hunter is desperate to hunt down and exact vengeance on Ward (teasing the plans for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off, Most Wanted, which is now moving ahead again), but it’s not long before Hunter is taken along with Coulson to pursue the apparent leader of the soldiers, a nameless woman who goes by many aliases.

The woman is eventually cornered in a train, though she apparently anticipated the grab, and thus, she and Coulson have a tense discussion. The woman picks the name, “Rosalind” (could she be another mysterious Marvel face like Skye/Daisy was?), and she and Coulson immediately display an engaging, playful banter, as they struggle for the upper hand. The truth comes out however that Rosalind’s forces are actually employed by the U.S. Government, and President Ellis (hey, remember him from Iron Man 3?), who are a force called the ATCU, designed to hunt down and take out Inhumans for want of public safety. Looks like the cat is really out of the bag for the Inhumans, and naturally, the U.S. presidency of the MCU wasted no time declaring them a threat to national security!

Meanwhile, Daisy and Mack try to talk Lincoln into rejoining the cause to help Inhumans, though Lincoln isn’t having any of it. His hand is forced however when a big Inhuman baddie called Lash (a recent addition to the Marvel Comics Universe that is already making his way into the MCU) shows up and begins blasting up the hospital. Daisy and Lincoln try to team up to contain the baddie, with Daisy eventually using her abilities to collapse the floor from under him. Unfortunately, he gets away, but damn, did Lash ever make an entrance to the series here! He’s already a destructive beast that is certainly not to be messed with, and he wants Lincoln’s head! That can’t be good!

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As much as the Inhuman drama was once again a big highlight however, Fitz also had a fantastic storyline in this premiere, where we see him desperately seeking answers to how to get Simmons out of The Monolith, after it devoured her at the end of the Season Two finale. Fitz chases a new lead to Morocco, where we see him come face-to-face with a dangerous terrorist group, and actually get out unscathed! Now left with nothing to lose, Fitz has become a lot tougher, smarter and more uncompromising. He’s another character who has matured a lot since the start of the series, and it’s awesome to see him use his intelligence in such devious, almost reckless ways.

Iain de Castecker was a real highlight actor during this premiere as well. He captures a lot of pain and determination in Fitz, even when everyone else has written off Simmons as being dead and gone. The bulk of the episode before the epilogue even ends off with Fitz screaming in anguish and hitting The Monolith, demanding that it do something, rather than sit there, mocking him. It’s a heart-wrenching moment, and one that sees Fitz come apart in a fit of frustration that’s probably years in the making. Fitz has had to put up with more abuse than almost anyone else on this series, and seeing him unravel was undeniably tragic. As with the start of Season Two, Fitz’s intelligence can’t help him now, and his hesitation and cowardice with telling Simmons how he really felt has cost him dearly. Now, he has nothing left to do but scream and lament…

Fortunately, the epilogue does show that Simmons is alive, though she’s stranded in a mysterious alien world, and appears to be being pursued by… Something. The episode ends with Simmons trying to catch her breath and get her bearings, lost in what could very well be the other side of the universe. Hey, maybe we’ll get a nod to Guardians of the Galaxy with her! You never know.

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Speaking of, this episode made some great references to recent events in the MCU, on the movie end. Once again, the incident in Sokovia from Avengers: Age of Ultron was used as a catalyst to persecute super-powered people, and it begs the question of whether the rise of Inhumans may end up playing some part in the Superhuman Registration Act that will no doubt be a huge part of next year’s Marvel Studios blockbuster movie, Captain America: Civil War. That would be a very neat way to finally have the MCU’s movies referencing the TV shows, and not just the TV shows referencing the movies. Coulson also had a cool interaction with Fitz, where he reminded Fitz of a theory he had about Simmons possibly being shrunk and lost in the Quantum Realm, inspired by the, “Pym Technologies Incident.” Obviously, this is an acknowledgement of Ant-Man, the events of which are something that Fitz clearly did some research on. It also continues to tease the Quantum Realm likely playing a part in next year’s other MCU movie release, Doctor Strange. Might the events with Simmons help lay some of the groundwork for Doctor Strange later this season?

Regardless, “Laws of Nature” is a very satisfying season premiere for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it proves that Season Two wasn’t a fluke at this point. The series is continuing to capitalize well on the Inhumans, and with teases of the Secret Warriors joining the series soon, it looks like things are only going to get better for Season Three!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicked off Season Three on a great note, continuing to build well on the introduction of the Inhumans to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and showing just how much the world is changing with a whole race of super-powered people coming out of the shadows on a global scale!
Great Inhuman material all around
Coulson and Rosalind's tense meeting
Fitz's agony and refusal to abandon Simmons
No May for now