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TV Review: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.11 “Bouncing Back”
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Agents Of Shield Season 3 Episode 11 Cover

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Season 3 Episode 11: “Bouncing Back”
Directed by Ron Underwood
Written by Monica Owusu-Breen
Created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen
Starring Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Nick Blood, Adrianne Palicki, Henry Simmons, Luke Mitchell, Juan Pablo Raba, Spencer Treat Clark, Powers Boothe, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, William Sadler, Mark Dacascos
ABC
Air Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 9pm

Coulson (Clark Gregg) has changed. Mack (Henry Simmons) has changed. Fitz (Iain DeCaestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) have changed. “Bouncing Back,” Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mid-season return is all about change.

Coulson is on a mission to find Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe), and he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Meanwhile, when a Columbian police precinct is attacked and its weapons cache stolen, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and the gang are on call to find the Inhuman responsible. Inhumans are continuing to pop up everywhere, and Daisy really wants to form her Secret Warriors. Could this be her chance?

Let’s start by analyzing Coulson. I’m not saying that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t dealt with the grey areas of human morality in the past, but tonight’s episode made me feel like I was watching the early stages of Rick Grimes’ “Ricktatorship” on The Walking Dead. Director Coulson, still reeling from the loss of Rosalind and his fight with Ward (Brett Dalton) during the mid-season finale, forces Fitz and Simmons — and eventually Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) and his Inhuman abilities — to wake up Werner Von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark) from his coma in order to find out where Malick is hiding.

Stimulating Von Strucker’s brain, Coulson gains intel on an undisclosed location that holds a phone Von Strucker had used to call Malick. Coulson calls Malick and tracks all of the locations the phone is connected to, though Malick doesn’t seem to be worried. I wonder why? Probably because on his side, he now has the beastly sand creature that inhabits Ward’s body, as well as a growing army of Inhumans.

But more on that later. For now, let’s get back to Coulson. I mean, the guy is a mess. There is a darkness in his soul that isn’t letting up. It’s clear his view is now “the ends justify the means,” but is this the Coulson we all know and love? Would the Phil Coulson of yesteryear use such harsh methods as waking up a comatose man (even if the person wasn’t necessarily a stand-up human being to begin with) just for information? Change is happening, and this is only the beginning.

You know who else is changing? Mack. This guy has been the poster boy of prejudice on this show for quite some time, and Inhumans are the ones who’ve been putting the sour look on his face. Even his own friend, Daisy, whom he knows and trusts, he seems to have only been tolerating as of late. And the attitude remains when he’s kidnapped by Elena (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), a woman who can run extremely fast for as long as one heartbeat — the same woman who just stole an entire police armory.

But as the episode continues on, Elena reveals her belief that God has gifted her with this power, and she’s using it to stop the corruption within the police force. Well, Elena might be right, because the police have an Inhuman of their own, one who can turn his victims into stone by revealing his eyes. For the sake of this review, we’ll call him Medusa-Man. When Medusa-Man uses his powers on Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood), the rest of Daisy’s makeshift Secret Warriors — including Elena, whom Mack is beginning to trust — swoop in for the rescue. But before they’re able to leave with Medusa-Man in custody, he’s swept up by a Hydra jet: another Inhuman to add to Malick’s collection. By the end of this episode, Mack has learned to admire an Inhuman (possible in a romantic way?), because of a shared “faith,” something I don’t think we knew Mack had until now.

Back at the base, once all the big events of the episode have simmered down, Simmons tells Fitz that she misses him — that there’s a chasm between them. Simmons wants to change that; she wants to start over from where they first began. In a nice show of humility and, quite frankly, a sense of hope that we haven’t seen with these two characters in almost two seasons, Simmons sticks out her hand and re-introduces herself, to which Fitz happily obliges.

“Bouncing Back” was a good addition to an already strong season and a fitting return after such a long break. With recent news that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been renewed for a fourth season, I’m very curious to see where the rest of season three leads us. Both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra seem to be preparing for war, with Inhumans as the weapon of choice on either side; but with a leader like Coulson who seems quite vulnerable right now and headed down a very dark path, will S.H.I.E.L.D. actually be able to win the war?

S.H.I.E.L.D.ed Observations:

– Fitz is still upset about having to kill Will, but Coulson reassures him that sometimes you have to do the hard thing to get the job done. This is the first “Coulson’s not happy and going downhill fast” sign we get in this episode. And the shocked look on Fitz’ face after Coulson says this, says a lot about continuous change.

– Daisy, wishing that Elena would stay to be a part of her team, knows that she can’t make her. So in good spirit, she also lets Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) leave too (though they’re given wrist watches for communication purposes, so we’ll be sure to see them again in the future). But the main take-away from this scene is that in explaining her reasoning for letting them leave to Mack, she says, “Let’s hope the director is sure.” The use of the word “director” instead of “Coulson” is very telling of their strained relationship, and of how much of the team sees him these days.

– Coulson tells May he doesn’t know what happened to him on the planet. May replies, “I do. You’ve joined the cavalry.” Hmm…cold hearted? Check. Getting the job done at any cost? Check.

– Ward looks disgusting as the Hydra beast. Not scary. Just disgusting.

– The president wants Talbot to be the new head of the very public ATCU (Rosalind’s old position) and for him to report to Coulson, the head of the very Black Ops, S.H.I.E.L.D. I like it.

Videos

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3×11 Extended Promo “Bouncing Back”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3×11 Sneak Peek “Bouncing Back”

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