Between "Devils You Know" and "4,722 Hours," "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has prompted a few interesting questions and expounded on others: Is Dr. Andrew Garner going to be okay? Who is Lash? And what the heck was that thing attacking Simmons and Will?! CBR combs back over the clues offered so far this season and takes a few educated guesses as to where we're headed.
Where in the Universe is Jemma Simmons?
This first one is a doozy. In "4,722 Hours," the show finally revealed where Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) has been and how she survived her interplanetary ordeal. It took a few weeks, but she eventually discovered she wasn't alone in that barren wasteland of a planet: an astronaut from a failed NASA mission, Will Daniels (Dillon Casey), had survived there all along. But Simmons and Daniels aren't the only ones surviving on the planet. A horrifying monster -- who they both refer to only as It -- also inhabits the world, hellbent on destroying anything in Its path.
So what is It? Excellent question. Cosmic Marvel is huge and proves itself to have a treasure trove of interesting creatures who could potentially match this description (or be adapted to). However, for the sake of brevity, I've narrowed it down to two creatures: Ego the Living Planet and Dire Wraiths.
I'm not too sold on Ego the Living Planet, as that's out there even for Cosmic Marvel, but it's worth exploring nonetheless. Ego is exactly what he sounds like; he first appeared in a "Thor" comic, which means he's fair game for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ego is not only sentient but can control his own mass, which means he can appear as a paradise (something the NASA team's geologist deduced had once existed here) or as a barren wasteland. Additionally, he is a bit moody and tends to absorb unsuspecting travelers. If he meets any resistance in his absorption, "antibodies" destroy the problem. It's possible the creature Simmons and Will face is a manifestation of this antibody, that the sandstorms are products of Ego's mood and the canyon's apparent widening of itself part of that. It's a very credible theory.
While a bit obscure, the Dire Wraiths fall more in line with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s" vision. The Dire Wraiths are carnivorous shapeshifters, able to change their form as well as gain their victims' memories by consuming their brains. While their resting forms are lobster-like, their transitory forms are cloudy and vaguely human, just like the creature Simmons encounters, and they turn to dust when they die. They are adept at both magic and science, harnessing these abilities through the help of the darkforce (which was, coincidentally, named in the first season episode "The Only Light in Darkness"). Following a failed invasion of a planet called Galador, where they encountered Rom the Spaceknight -- a bold young Galadorian who was the first to volunteer to undergo a dangerous transformation to become a cyborg in order to defend his home -- the Dire Wraiths flee into space, scattering themselves across the universe, even sparking an attempted invasion of Earth. Some settle on a planet called Wraithworld, which circles a black sun and thrives in darkness -- just like the world Simmons finds herself on.
What's more, a sect of the Dire Wraiths are Inhuman. In the comics, it's revealed that humans aren't the only species the Kree experimented on, and the "Inhuman" Dire Wraiths count themselves among the humans, the Badoons and the Kymellians this way. This would bring Simmons' extraterrestrial adventure full circle with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s" Inhuman storyline. If there are extraterrestrial Inhumans like the Dire Wraiths, that might explain why the Asgardian Elliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol) recognized the term back in the second episode.
But here's the rub: the Dire Wraiths are offshoots of the Skrulls, who are currently owned by Fox with their "Fantastic Four" rights. Media rights are a tricky thing, though, so it's unclear whether or not the Dire Wraiths would fall under Fox's purview.
"Devils You Know" spent a big bulk of its time following S.H.I.E.L.D. as they hunted down Lash (Matthew Willig). From the explosive opener to the rather big reveal toward the end, we've learned more about the character in this one episode than we have over the past three, so let's gather some facts: Lash is tied to the Inhumans, he feels a sense of responsibility to wipe the NuHumans out and -- this is new -- he's part shapeshifter.
Lash is a relative newcomer to comics, introduced in the Charles Soule-written "Inhuman,: so the character doesn't have much of an established history there; what we know so far is that he's an Inhuman zealot who believes Terrigen should only be bestowed upon the worthy. "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s" Lash seems to behaving the same way, telling one Mr. Dwight Frye, "I'm not merciful. I'm necessary." However, that doesn't necessarily mean he is pursuing Inhumans because he thinks they're unworthy.
The episode seems to want you to believe Rosalind Price's assistant, Banks, is Lash. Before Daisy and Mack head off with the A.T.C.U., Price whispered conspiratorially in Banks' ear and he then goes on ahead of the van. He has fervently expressed his dislike of the Inhuman "alien threats" and voluntarily shown lethal force against them. It's the obvious choice, so it's likely a red herring. Plus, Lash always seems to appear at the scene moments before Coulson and his team do, even when the A.T.C.U. has no idea about S.H.I.E.L.D.'s movements (so they say, at any rate). So who is it?
Dr. Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood). Yeah, that's right. Mr. May. I can't claim the idea as my own -- it has surfaced all across social media since the episode aired -- but let me do a quick roundup of the facts. First, Garner isn't dead. The camera angle deliberately didn't show him below the waist during his confrontation with Werner von Strucker (Spencer Clark) and then didn't reveal his face when you see the body on the floor just before the Mini-Mart goes up in flames. It's a classic move: unless you see the character is dead, he isn't. What's more, Werner books it out of the Mini-Mart by himself and absolutely terrified. A man who was able to beat up Ward's second-in-command and was raised by a Hydra commander probably doesn't scare easy. You know what is scary? When the allegedly helpless man you've been assigned to kill transforms into a hulking monster and whips out a superpower you didn't know he had. If Garner survived, he had to take out all of the henchmen, and a transformation into Lash is sure to help.
Additionally, Garner has inside information from S.H.I.E.L.D., particularly on the Inhuman cases. This would enable him to know where and when S.H.I.E.L.D. is making the drop on NuHumans. In "Devils You Know," he expresses his frustration to Coulson that he wasn't let in on Alicia's mission -- and, notably, this is one of the rare instances S.H.I.E.L.D. beat Lash to an Inhuman case, which means Garner would have learned about it when the mission was in progress and thus had to interrupt Alicia's warning.
There's also the case of Garner's breakup with May. May has made it clear she didn't break things off with him. From her terse conversation with him, May makes it sound like he broke it off with the classic "it's not you, it's me" line. If Garner is Lash, this may explain why he believes it best to break things off with May, so that she isn't associated with him or any of his extracurriculars -- or placed in harm's way, as it's unclear if the Lash transformation is a conscious decision or more of the Hulk variety.
Inevitably, we need to discuss Garner's philosophy. He is, from what we've seen, one of the Good Guys, helping Daisy and other NuHumans after they get their abilities. However, Garner has made his concerns clear: the NuHumans are dangerous, if only because they don't know how to control their abilities, and he hasn't cleared any of them for work in the field. If Garner makes a conscious decision to become Lash, then -- in a twisted way -- he could see himself as helping by stopped Inhuman incidents before they have a chance to happen (a la "Minority Report," if you will). This would also explain why Lash doesn't kill Daisy, even though he has the chance; he knows from experience that Daisy has a handle on her powers and actively uses them to protect.
Now that we've hit the big items, let's talk about Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer). The first episode made it clear "Rosalind Price" is simply one name in a long list of aliases she's used across the board. Price is an accomplished spy with an incredibly impressive resume; plus, her confident swagger and efficiency make her a pretty even match for Coulson, who has also been at the espionage game for a long time. My best guess? Price is the MCU's La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine.
In terms of the MCU, Coulson has pretty much assumed Nick Fury's role. In addition to becoming Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson has also been the one to forge a deep bond with Daisy Johnson; in the comics, it was Fury who trained Quake. It makes sense, then, that the Contessa would go toe-to-toe with Coulson rather than Fury.
Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine is a slippery character. She was an established S.H.I.E.L.D. agent for decades, rising up through the organization's leadership before going dark in Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli's "Secret Warriors" run. In fact, she was one of the only women to both take Fury by surprise and earn his respect. She and Fury have carried a torch for each other since, with a very on-off relationship despite her more nefarious affiliations. With the sizzling chemistry between Constance Zimmer and Clark Gregg and Price's savvy know-how, it seems like "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is headed in a similar direction with the two characters. She certainly seems to enchant Coulson, no matter how much she frustrates him.
This Week's Devils...
- If It is a Dire Wraith, does that put Will Daniels on the path to becoming a human Rom the Spaceknight? Or is Will not telling the whole truth? There might be more to Will than meets the eye.
- The show consistently refers to the Monolith's victims as "sacrifices." Ominous!