“This can’t be easy”
Was it just me, or was ‘Bouncing Back’ an underwhelming start to the second half of ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Season 3? After a lacklustre mid-season finale, ‘AoS’ needed something special to regain the footing it lost after ‘Closure.’ This episode, unfortunately, was not it. It was by the numbers ‘AoS.’ Everything was executed satisfactorily, but proceedings felt perfunctory. Of course, it was watchable, but never anything more than that.
The flash-forward beginning was unnecessary .The fleeting glance of a spaceship (?) felt like an attempt to capture ‘Breaking Bad’s’ flash-forward (the teddy bear) without success. It immediately took me out of the show and made me question its purpose. Three months in the future? Had SHIELD discovered an Inhuman who could time travel? Who was in the spaceship? Too many questions that weren’t answered by the end of the episode. Breaking Bad established the flash-forward at the beginning of Season 2, so that we were prepared for it and understood why it was there. ‘AoS’s flash-forward came out of nowhere, merely another question to answer among the myriad of questions already raised by ‘AoS.’
“How can I help you? What do you need?”
Coulson met President Ellis in Rosalind’s room for a chat about Inhumans and SHIELD. Basically, Ellis passed the buck on. He allowed SHIELD to exist, but not officially…and said that he couldn’t do anything about Malik because Gideon had stakes in the economy of every country on earth. Oh, come on Ellis! You’re the most powerful man on the planet! Obama managed to get (a bastardised version) of his Healthcare plan through Congress, surely Ellis could put out arrest warrant for Malik? Ellis’ cameo (he was in Iron Man 3) didn’t achieve anything apart from remind us that ‘AoS’ is part of the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The central story took place in Bogata, a setting that only served to remind us that ‘AoS’ takes place on a global scale. There wasn’t any other reason for Bogata to be in the episode! We saw Elena Rodriguez, an Inhuman who could ‘slingshot’ back to her original position at the speed of light. She was fighting against the police, who were stockpiling weaponry to deal with the Inhumans. However, the Colombian police had an Inhuman on their side, a guy who could paralyse people by taking off his sunglasses. So if the police already had Inhumans on their side, then why would they need defence against Inhumans? Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention…
“Maybe you’re not supposed to get over it”
I’m being overly negative about ‘Bouncing Back.’ There was much to like about it, such as Hunter’s constant quips (although their sheer volume can be irritating) to the SHIELD Inhumans using their powers as part of a team. I’m sure we will see more of the latter (and executed with a bigger portion of the show’s budget!). The interplay between Mac and Elena throughout the episode, through mutual dislike to a mutual respect, was a nice little dual-character arc. Once again, Fitz and Simmons tugged at the heartstrings as they agreed to start from the beginning (Simmons’ ‘I miss you’ was lovely!). And the actor behind Ward has found his true calling…as a reanimated corpse!
There was nothing wrong with the episode. It delivered everything one would expect from ‘AoS.’ But it did so without panache. Characters and plots went through the motions. The Colombian setting added nothing to the show, and neither did the cameo of President Ellis. I feared that ‘AoS’ was ploughing through its plotlines so quickly that it would run out of steam. I hope it hasn’t, but ‘Bouncing Back’ felt like an episode that didn’t know where it was going.
VERDICT: 6/10. ‘Bouncing Back’ was an above-average episode of ‘AoS. There was nothing right or wrong about it, it was just there!