Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: Lifeline

A whole lot happened in Episode 2 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s third season, and I’m not sure how I feel about it now that it has.

The main thrust of the hour involved the investigation of the Kree stone that took Simmons, picking up right after Fitz’s attempted beat-down of, then breakdown beside, the monolith. They still have little to go on, save for the discovery of some “impossible,” out-of-this-world sand inside the rock’s crannies.

Coulson enlists the help of Professor Elliott Randolph, an Asgardian who has been on this planet for “centuries” and thus may have insight into the potential portal’s workings. Upon being freed (or freeing himself) from his confines, Randolph sees the ancient parchment on which the Hebrew word for “death (by punishment)” is written. He has seen it once before, on the walls of a castle in Gloucestershire, England circa 1853.

Randolph accompanies Coulson, Fitz, Mack and Daisy as they revisit that location, where they discover a distinctly shaped chamber in the center of which is a pit just the right size to fit the monolith. Judging by the levers, switches, doohickeys and what not nearby, they divine that the room was used to control the portal. Coulson thus has the monolith airlifted to the castle and deposited inside the well, after which they flip on the levers, switches, whatchamacallits and such, effectively switching the stone into splishy-sploshy liquid form. While Daisy has a number done on her by the vibration frequency used to affect the monolith, Fitz has the presence of mind to shoot a flare into the goo before it firms back up — a brilliant move I would not appreciate until later.

Though the old-timey machinery is fried by the try-out, Daisy offers to recreate the vibration herself, even to her own detriment. As she does so, Fitz switches out a camera they were going to lower into the portal and instead throws his tethered self in, emerging on the other side on the strange planet we last saw Jemma. Fitz frantically calls out for Jemma, until she responds back, having been drawn to the portal site by the aforementioned flare. Fitz and Simmons can just barely reach one another, their hands grasping at and letting slip of each other, when time runs out and Coulson makes the call to reel Fitz back in. And just as Mack does so, the whole contraption goes kablooey, the monolith itself exploding into pulverized crumbs. But beneath the tar-colored rubble, we see Fitz emerge… with Jemma in his arms.

Jemma is hospitalized on the Bus, where Fitz sits by her bedside, all as well as could possibly have been imagined 24 hours earlier — save for the nightmares Jemma seems to be having, waking up ready to stab someone/thing. But really, is that it, are we done with the strange planet? Or will whatever Jemma endured during her time there come into play, necessitating a return visit? Or is SHIELD not a space-based series? Discuss.

Elsewhere in the episode….

While Andrew arrived on the Bus to shoot down the latest of Daisy’s Secret Warrior candidates, Joey, we learn that May has been getting her Tiger Woods on while visiting her father in Arizona, after her rekindling with the ex apparently fizzled. Hunter tracks May down (Sun City has a teeny-tiny Asian population, apparently) and beseeches her to help him put Ward “six feet under the ground, at least,” but she holds firm with her decision to seek a “normal life, away from S.H.I.E.L.D.” One pep talk from pop later, though, and May is locked and loaded and ready to hunt some HYDRA.

Ward meanwhile tracks down Baron Wolfgang von Strucker’s son, Alexander, whom he ultimately wins over to the “new” organization and promptly “plants” among Andrew’s students.

What did you think of Season 3, Episode 2, “Purpose in the Machine”?

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38 Comments
  1. Katy says:

    We have to remember that Simmons was on that planet alone for 6 months I think we will see the repercussions from that, its obvious she has PTSD, who knows if she has powers (it only turned into liquid on its own when Skye or Elliott was around it. Or if it traumatized her enough to hate aliens or inhumans effectively making her either a Hydra fan or a fan of this newer “bad guy agency” that Constance Zimmer is heading up.

    • John NYC says:

      Given the shown history of sending people there through the stone over centuries and her waking up, weapon in hand (was that an old rapier tip?) it’s possible while she was alone, having no friends or teammates, but she wasn’t the only human on the planet…. Repercussions and changes for her for sure. She survived “death by punishment” for a very long time. Maybe the lab mouse found she could grow big teeth?

  2. stacy says:

    So happy! Ecstatic that the storyline wasn’t dragged out for longer than this. FitzSimmons maybe get one episode per season with them in the primary plot and this was gripping…literally…my couch as indentations to prove it. What made you unsure of the episode, Matt?

  3. Sheldon W. says:

    How great was James Hong as May’s dad? THAT great! What inspired casting!

  4. TvPeong says:

    Remember when we didn’t know or care who was who in FitzSimmons, now they are the heart of the show.

  5. Hipper says:

    So much alien/space talk already… glad we didn’t have to dwell in that for that long. Dare I say it, the Ward stuff is an actual relief since it’s less about the supernatural (so far). But then, it’s Ward. So, boo.

  6. Lariet50 says:

    So sick of Ward! I hope Hunter and May do kill him soon. Love Brett Dalton, but that character is done.

    • Paul says:

      I wouldn’t bet on an early exit for him. It appears they’re setting him up as the leader of a reformed Hydra. Which makes sense in the context of the organization’s comic book roots; it never really dies, just suffers periodic setbacks.

  7. laurelnev says:

    MAN O MAN! What a great ep! Where do we start? Simmons is back! YAY! And how completely and totally sweet too! Fitz passing through the dimensions to bring back his BFFTrueLove! But she’s quite obviously a different Simmons, not to say that I blame her. Just sorry it took PTSD to see her cuddle up with Fitz!

    And Ward is back too, with his own little mini-me, ready to repeat the apprenticeship cycle. And he’s sending him after Andrew first. Probably not a good idea considering…

    Save the BEST for last: MAY IS BACK!!! And she’s teaming up with Hunter to take out Ward! What is he thinking targeting her beloved ex in any way? I cannot WAIT to see how they take him down! As much of a scumbag he is, he sure adds something in the way of a waspy enemy that I’ve missed. Hope they just maim him really badly, rather than kill him off too soon.

    Looks like it’s going to be another kick ass season! I just hope Bobbi rehabs pretty soon, because Lab Gal Bobbie is getting kind of boring. Let’s not sideline the human heroes too much while building the inhuman storyline.

  8. Allison says:

    I am so exhausted with Ward and Hydra and now we have to deal with Baron Wolfgang von Strucker’s son *smacks desk* Ugh, enough already, geez. The son at one point in the episode looked like he had black pupil less eyes and I thought great, just great he’ll definitely be sticking around for a while and sure enough by episode’s end, his wicked self had enrolled in Andrew’s class…sigh…Well, anyway, at least May is back and so is Jemma so I will just take the good with the bad. I am not thrilled about it, but heroes need a villain and Ward is definitely that so if nothing else he’s good at that. I am sure that whatever Jemma experienced will play out interestingly in the episodes to come and that will more than make up for the appearance of the spawn of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. Aside from that, I enjoyed the episodes so far and look forward to the rest of the season.

  9. James D says:

    Loved it. This show continues to improve every week I love all the different subplots at work. I figured they would dangle Simmons a little while longer but I’m so glad they didn’t now we get to see the fall out which I’m sure will be considerable. Next week looks super intense. I can’t wait.

  10. blah says:

    This very much felt like a housekeeping episode where they got the band back together. In a lot of ways it was like an early season game of thrones episode due to its massively split focus between 3-4 separate stories, that never really felt adequately addressed.

    If Episode 1 was an improved version of everything that worked in S1. then this episode was a reminder of most things that didn’t. (Ward training someone/giving speeches. PTSD Gunshy May. Fitzsimmons in life threatening situations. Daisy/Skye having her role in the group analyzed and eventually saving the day.) Hunter being out with may also took away much of the sense of humor that AoS relies upon at its best.

  11. DarkDefender says:

    I thought this episode was awesome.
    Fitz Simmons –> all the feels
    #FailHYDRA

  12. Steve F. says:

    May’s dad is Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China! (Yes, I know it’s James Han, but that’s how I always see him.) And Strucker’s kid looked familiar… then when I saw that he was played by Spencer Treat Clark (the kid from Gladiator), it clicked. This week’s AOS sure had the guest stars…

    Simmons is back – and man, why didn’t we see who was following her *cough*Lockjaw*cough*? Yes, that scene where she curled up next to Fitz was heartbreaking.

    No mention that Prof. Randolph was the Asgardian from way back in Season 1? His “To the plane!” line had me laughing like crazy.

    Great episode! Keep it up!

    • LaLa says:

      That’s who he is! I was like, Who is this kid? I know I’ve seen him before. Gladiator. Thanks. That was gonna haunt me.

  13. oh they are 100% going to go back to the planet/space – if only by flashbacks if not more

  14. Ben says:

    Liked it mostly. The CGI hangar was pretty bad. I don’t like scientist Bobby. It seems pretty forced.
    Loved they brought back the cranky asgardian.
    Glad to see ward kick ass. Not bc I liked him though. He was constantly referred to as “the best since Romanov.” Yet he’s pretty much got his ass ki ked for two seasons. A bad guy isn’t intimidating if all they do is lose.

    The quips are funny but they bring me out of the show. It worked on Buffy/Angel but I don’t think it works here. It’s why I liked S2 more S1- they got away from the one-liners.

    Sounds like lots of complaining gg but I actually really liked it.

    Oh, I liked Fitz bringing her back. They built it up like he’d get to her and they’d pull him back w/o her. I thought it was setting something up. Something that would be dragged out. I’m glad I was wrong. I like the faster pace.

    I do wonder if that’s really her. W/ this show it could be an alien, a shape-shifter, or anything else. She could be brainwashed. I’m intrigued.

  15. Kim R says:

    Great episode. I have been a fan from the beginning.I don’t know anything about the comic book world so I just enjoy each development as it comes. Perhaps that helps me not be too critical. I love Coulson. His voice is perfect, just who I would want to hear if I needed to be told everything will be alright. :). I am very much looking forward to the next episode!

    • smartysenior says:

      Me too. I don’t know anything about the comic book stuff and this isn’t my normal type of genre that I watch. But I’ve been a fan of this from the beginning and loved this episode too.

  16. mike says:

    So glad she’s back. the downside of course is now we’ll have months, if not years of will they/wont they crap. When they said an Asgardian would be helping, I had hopes of someone more…Thor-like. Or Even Sif-like. If there was any actor in the entirety of the industry who is less Asgardian like as Pete..i have no idea who.

    • John NYC says:

      Less is the schtick. Remember even on (in?) Asgard there were servants and other staff…. yet even they can casually rip a prison cell door off it’s hinges without even blinking.

  17. Tate H. says:

    All roads lead to Kree. The monolith was Kree and took Simmons to Kree planet. Inhumans have Kree DNA activated by Terragin Crystals. The solution to Inhumans is where Simmons went. She has the answer and we’re going back, no question.

  18. sladewilson says:

    Where to start? Come on, we all know that Simmons was on Kree. Here’s where it gets interesting to me – could this be the start of introducing the Royal Family (Black Bolt, Medusa, Lockjaw, Crystal, etc.)? Oh I hope so. I’d also like to see Mack use his tech knowledge more. I have to agree with many – if Ward is the big bad this year, fine – either cross him over to the Mockingbird spinoff or kill him outright. Enough is enough already. I like Dalton but this is really just going nowhere. And please don’t kill Andrew!!!! And is this the intro of Baron Strucker 2.0? Just in time for CA: Civil War? (As a comic fan, I always thought the little punk was vastly overrated). I felt for May, esp. since you can tell that Andrew really wants his wife back and she truly loves the man. I’m mad we didn’t see her in that bikini though…. :-) Now lets get Lincoln on board so he can help Simmons with her PTSD. And finally have Daisy start doing some serious recruiting for the Secret Warriors….

  19. peterwdawson says:

    On the one hand the big cliffhanger from last season was fully resolved in two episodes, but the repercussions of the incident will probably be felt for a while. Probably focus on the Inhuman hunt for a few episodes before they really get into it again.

  20. kirads09 says:

    So happy that Simmons was rescued. But yes, she will have a ton to deal with throughout.
    Some of the most golden moments were the snappy dialogue between Son of Coul and Randolph. May just needs to get back to doing what she does best.
    And ruthless Ward. A bit unsure of his true endgame at this point.

  21. Christina says:

    Such a good episode. Loved almost every minute of it! Fitzsimmons is back, and I couldn’t be happier!

  22. Coal says:

    Brilliant. I love shows with big casts and know what to do with them. Also AOS serves as a great advertisement for character development.

  23. Laura says:

    Amazing Episode! Brought me to tears near the end, so glad Simmons is back!

  24. So Happy says:

    Hip hip hooray! Fitz and Simmons are back together. I know it will take Simmons time to adjust but she’s back. Happy to see May and Ward also.
    Cannot wait to see what happens next week! ♡

    • JohnnNYC says:

      And it appears BOTH lab mice have grown some teeth.

      The rest of the team might have to do some adjusting with that. Lol

  25. grys03 says:

    Loved it! The May/dad/Hunter subplot was nicely handled. The flashback to ye olde England was a nice touch. Liked the Asgardian touch. Would like to think that a team will eventually explore whatever world Simmons ended up on (Kree or otherwise). Absolutely loving evil Ward compared to good Ward from the first season – but am getting tired of the Ward is so good at everything that he is planning to take over the world type rubbish.
    Would like to see more exploration of Coulsen’s new hand – maybe inter-changeable hands: weapon/electrical gizmo/strength etc. The description of Bobbi as “that amazon woman” was very cool. Missed the inhuman Luke character though not his angst at being an inhuman.

  26. I might have missed something, but the last I remembered at the end of Season 2, Fitz was still a mental mess. Now he’s back? Did that extra few months between seasons fix him? Because no one on the show seems to think it’s weird that he’s all better.

  27. Al says:

    I agree with what a lot of people here posted.