Episode 302 “Nature of the Machine” Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delivers another solid episode that sets up quite a few questions: What is Ward doing with his efforts to rebuild Hydra? Why even bother? Now that May’s walkabout seems to be done, are she and Hunter going to walk into a trap? What will happen […]
This episode is all about consequences. And pride. And how too much of one can bring the other.
So, this week there are two artifacts, and it’s interesting to see the team dynamic shift as Artie swaps the partners around. Sending Myka with Steve, he tells Pete to keep an eye on Claudia. This vision of her crashing down on him with a dagger must really have him spooked. Because she’s his prize student. And he just can’t fathom a situation where she would turn on him.
Pete and Claudia are off to fetch a bag of marbles from Hugo (Rene Auberjonois), who’s been showing off to his nephew in the hopes the youngling will want to learn the ways of the Force and become a
Jedi Warehouse Agent. Only these aren’t just any marbles. They’re Bobby Fisher’s marbles, and they allow the holder to become super-focused. The “downside” to this artifact is that it causes rage, paranoia, and eventually death.
Hugo’s pride in his time at the warehouse gets Brady into the thick of it, as he and his friends use the marbles to win at the intercollegiate competition at his school. But as Pete and Claudia work with Hugo to fetch all the marbles, things go from bad to worse as one of them ends up in the hands of the principal — who’s facing budget cuts, a board of directors that has it in for him… and so he’s going to teach them all a lesson with a little Jonathan Crane death-smoke chemistry in the basement.
The other artifact with consequences is in New Orleans, where Myka and Steve have to figure out just how a lot of mentally troubled patients are suddenly untroubled. Tracing everyone’s movement back to a jazz club, they find
Josh Ethan (Being Human‘s Sam Huntington) becoming a pretty solid jazz trumpet player after getting his hands on a cigarette case that allows him to absorb emotional pain from others. So they get cured really quickly without actually going through the healing process, and Ethan’s dying from the exposure.
io9 has a good analysis of this episode being about ego, and I’d echo that, but it’s more than just that. This is about having a place in the world. This is about being a person that matters. Hugo wants to still be relevant, and he wants his nephew to be proud of him. He wants to matter to Brady. The school principal wants to be important, he wants to matter to the school board. Ethan wants his position as a famous musician. He wants to matter to the music industry.
We also get more on the season arc, with Claudia clearly suffering trauma through Steve’s exposure to Ethan. As Steve’s “life force” (for lack of a better term) gets sucked into Ethan, Claudia feels the effects, and Steve slips in front of Myka, making her aware of the connection. So now Steve has a choice to make — keep the secret from Claudia or allow the metronome to stop.
And you’ll have to re-watch it, but in the opening scene, Claudia and Steve are playing cards, and she says something about knowing the cards in Steve’s hand. Subtle, but it’s there. So not only is there a physical thing, but look for the mental connection to come to the fore sometime soon, too.
Claudia and Artie are going to eventually face the consequences of their actions, and I don’t think it’s any accident that they happen in the same season. Somehow the connection between Claudster and Jinxy are going to fold into the terrible awesome evil that
Data Brother Adrian is predicting for Kivas Fajo Artie.
And pride plays into that story as well. Adrian’s pride is hurt by the fact that Artie broke into his place, stole the astrolabe and ruined years of work. So the revenge card is in play now. Just how powerful is this Brotherhood? Do they have someone on the inside? It would certainly appear so, as the marbles were supposed to be already in storage at the warehouse. Hugo got them in the mail. From whom?
Only the Shadow knows…
Next week: Claudia rocks a Dana Scully ‘do!