Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “The Singularity”:

Change was in the cards after last week’s big “The Team” twist, and with so few Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes left in Season 3, it stood to reason that “The Singularity” would require a lot of readjustment and setup for that final push. That definitely seemed to be the case here tonight, even if a lot of notable events and set pieces unfolded, between the aftermath of Daisy’s attack or the final showdowns at the Neolution transhuman club; it all felt a little disorganized.

Daisy switching sides understandably pulls the most focus, and “The Singularity” had a mixed approach to handling that transition. On the one hand, there’s plenty there still recognizably Daisy, between Coulson noting that she spared killing anyone, her reasserting the Daisy name to Ward/Hive, or sharing her vision with Fitz as a warning to stay away. The possession seems likened to a drug rush, twisted to fit Daisy’s inner need for a family, but frayed emotions like those don’t wrap together so neatly as the hour attempts.

S.H.I.E.L.D. shield puns, though? GOLD.

More than that, the dynamic between Daisy and an Inhuman Apocalypse wearing her ex-love interest/mortal enemy’s skin never quite settles anywhere comfortable, in spite of their meta-awareness of what each figure represented to the other. Brett Dalton hasn’t quite figured out what to do with the Hive characterization either, beyond a stilted posture and lower intonation, working better as a catalyst for our heroes than an actual character in his own right. If nothing else, “The Singularity” at least offered a clearer look at his endgame, hoping Dr. Radcliffe (always-welcome Spartacus star John Hannah) can recreate the Kree experiment that made him, and giving his flock an entire town to use as their own Petri dish.

Which, to be fair, isn’t far from Los Angeles anyway.

Infiltrating Radcliffe’s “transhumanist” club also made for a uniquely strange culture to explore, in that any of its figureheads could make an intriguing regular addition to the series, though it seemed at least odd that “The Singularity” insisted on shoving that focus aside for the growing complexity of Fitz and Simmons’ relationship. It’s fair to say that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has fan voices on either side of that ship, and the duo’s small moments of awkward banter remain as adorable as ever, even if feels a little odd to concentrate on the sexual aspect mid-mission, and this late in the season at that.

Better moments arrived with the climax itself, to see Fitz standing up to Radcliffe’s men in an effort to recruit him, or Ward’s portrayal of Will putting every color of Elizabeth Henstridge’s devastation on display, and in that sense, Fitz and Simmons’ closing embrace felt much more earned.

But for the love of god, man. Knock.

The connective tissue around those two major threads all felt a bit scattered, particularly in Coulson, May and Lincoln’s attempt to rescue the criminally-uninteresting* Alisha, or the insane emphasis on Coulson placing a suicide vest on Lincoln to keep him from harm. The idea seems to have been to place May and Coulson at odds (rather than anything to do with Lincoln), and sketch out the difference between May’s compromised pursuit of Andrew and Coulson’s treatment of Skye as a surrogate daughter, but in practice, the concept felt extremely awkward.

*The same could mostly be said of James, in that we haven’t had the chance to see any colors beyond general jerkiness, before his immediate turn to one of Hive’s new minions. His power seems awfully Gambit-like, and the obsession with devising a name made for a fun recurring gag, but the best moment of the entire thread came with Coulson getting his own Captain America-style holo-shield.

Hive’s endgame definitely seems to be in a ripe position, and I’d guess that Talbot’s offscreen takedown of remaining Hydra locales had more to do with clearing the table for Season 4 than anything else, but the overall execution tonight felt more than a bit wonky.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Hive’s plans are coming dangerously close to the point of someone at least mentioning the Avengers, no? At the very least, wouldn’t he or Daisy need some idea of how to tackle that obstacle to world domination?
  • Odder still, was that Lincoln’s murder-vest actually looked like a solid costume for the character.
  • Not that I’m fully aware of what a “geneticist” does, but should Radcliffe have assumed Fitz or Simmons were capable of actually performing surgery?
  • Is Coulson’s shield the first instance of actual forcefield tech, and not just movement-based holographics? Shut up, I’m a nerd.
  • I think we’re meant to see Fitz and Simmons’ coupling as pure catharsis, though the odd arrangement of Fitz and Simmons’ return, coupled with Simmons’ mysteriously cold hands have me at least a little suspicious.
  • Is all the makeup budget going into Lash, that we can’t add some more colorful design to Ward’s crew? How does Grimm pull this off each week?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return on May 3 with “Failed Experiments,” airing at 9:00 P.M. on ABC.

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