Episode 2, Purpose in the Machine kicks off right where the premiere left off, and keeps up the breakneck pace. After an open that shows old English dudes sending some poor sap into a room…with our monolith. Mostly so one of them can tell us “no one ever returns!”. But we know our Simmons is still out there! Back at SHIELD HQ, there’s some talk to get everyone up to date on the state of the Secret Warriors and team SHIELD itself which is to say numbers are down. Amazing that these new Inhumans are all pretty freaked out. Or dead. That talk stops when they notice Fitz freaking out on the monolith. They pull him away and slam the case shut just in time for the thing to go liquid again…reacting to Daisy.
We also see Ward rebuilding HYDRA, cutting away the weak and soft heads so stronger ones can take their places. He hunts down a young man…who turns out to be Werner von Strucker! I didn’t see that coming, and I’m interested to see what they do with it. He gets placed in Dr. Garner’s Psych class by Ward. Garner, for his part, is helping Daisy and Mack evaluate the Inhumans after May went to ground. Garner gets Daisy to open up just a bit, about how she wants to build a home for her people.
Fitz discovers proof that the monolith is a portal through space, when it leaves behind alien sand after going liquid. Coulson recruits “Professor Randolph”, the Asgardian the team encountered in Season one to help them open the portal. Peter MacNicol is hilarious as the unassuming but powerful deserter, who studied portals like this as he’s afraid of getting snatched back through one. He’s able to give the team a location where the monolith must’ve been, and they find a room designed to vibrate it open. How convenient that they have a team member who can vibrate stuff when the machinery breaks, eh? Daisy opens the portal, and Fitz dives through (of COURSE, did no one there see this coming, really??). Simmons has thankfully headed towards the portal site thanks to a flare they shot through the first time, and Fitz spots her. It gets intense as Fitz tries to reach her and hold her while they pull him back in. The monolith shatters, we see Fitz under the shredded remains…and then Simmons! I was shocked they got her back this early in the season, but it was a great moment.
The remaining plot (boy, they are spinning a lot of plates) involves the missing May joining Hunter on his mission to kill Ward. Unremarkable except for the interplay between May and her dad, played by the always wonderful James Hong (Po’s dad in the Kung Fu Panda movies, pretty much everywhere else they need an older male Asian actor with humor chops).
The high entertainment value continued this week, but there are still plenty of questions left to answer despite Simmons’ return.
- What planet was she on? Hala? It looked more like a moon to me, and her getting stranded there reminded me a bit of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes episode where the Avengers get stuck on Hala and are attacked by strange creatures.
- Werner’s giant H belt buckle is just great.
- As is the team noting the SHIELD logo being plastered on everything may have not been the best idea. Heh.
- In the comics, Strucker had other children, Andrea and Andreas the Fenris twins. They had powers but I doubt they want to bring them in right now. This episode seems to be bringing the team slowly back together, but they preview for next week seems to show a ‘betrayal’ as Daisy tries to help Lincoln, on the run after being outed as an ‘alien’ in last week’s episode.
- With a manhunt episode and the return of the ATCU, I don’t see things slowing down. On to Civil War!