‘Purpose in the Machine’
Last week’s season opener introduced many new story elements to the show and I questioned how long it would be before they started to deal with these threads. Judging from this episode the show has learned from last season’s mistakes, dealing with the mystery of where Simmons is and how they will get her back.
The first episode of the season presented a Fitz on the hunt for Jemma, with him seemingly the only team member who believed she was still alive. This week Fitz finds new evidence that The Monolith actually is a portal and not just a death machine. This compels the team to track down Professor Randolph, an Asgardian scientist introduced in the first season, to help them understand how the portal works, which leads them to a castle that previously housed The Monolith. Peter MacNicol returns to the role, but apart from one scene explaining why he chooses to stay in a prison cell his appearance is slight. I actually forgot he was there during the later scenes in the castle and it feels like he could have just pointed the team in its direction. When the team discover an ancient laboratory used to perform experiments on The Monolith things get much more interesting, as it becomes clear that they can use this device to open a portal to wherever Jemma is.
Fitz gets a chance to continue his reckless streak, jumping through the portal at the earliest possibility in a rash attempt to save Simmons. His reunion with Jemma is very sweet and it definitely feels earned that he’s the one who saves her.
While this is going on Ward continues to recruit members to his new HYDRA, in the most insane way possible. He believes that every member should have to earn their place like he did, which seemingly means torturing every candidate he doesn’t like. The scene of him driving around an obstacle course made up of his underlings is a strange one to watch. Ward does get one of the more exciting scenes of the episode though, as he fights his way onto the yacht of Strucker’s son. The fight scenes of this show have come a long way since the bland skirmishes seen in the first season, with Ward making great use of the environment around him.May makes her return to the show this week, attempting to live a quieter life away from spy work. Hunter arrives to pull her into his search for Ward, knowing that she hates him as much as he does. Ward’s plan involves infiltrating HYDRA from the ground up but you have to wonder how May will fit into these plans. For now it’s great to have her back and hopefully she will be kicking butt soon.
‘Purpose in the Machine’ continues to lay the groundwork for the season ahead. Hunter begins his mission to track down and kill Ward, just as Ward begins to strengthen the new HYDRA. Jemma comes back from the other world emotionally scarred and it may be sometime before she is back to her old self. It will be interesting to see the mystery of where she was develop over the course of the season.