Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3, Episode 2 “Purpose In The Machine” Review


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 2 Recap (Spoilers)

“Purpose In The Machine” wasn’t billed as the second part of a two-part premiere but it could have been, which after the mysterious cold open set in 1839 England, picked up where last episode left off with Fitz banging on the alien monolith.

One of the first things that stood out to me is the urgency of this episode. Part of it was the musical score which would fit perfectly in a number of spy movies and partly how the characters are in a constant state of motion. Even a simple dialogue scene would have the agents rushing from one location to another. Another reason for the quick paced feeling is that the premiere set the ground work so that this episode could hit the ground running.

I bring this all up because the show in the past has been criticized, mostly in the first season, for being too stagnant and stretching out mysteries for too long. A 22 episode season is a marathon. There are bound to be some fillers here and there, but “Purpose In The Machine” was anything but a filler. It had a clear end goal: bring Simmons back.

Like the beginning of last season Simmons starts off separated from the team but is quickly brought back into the fold.  A little too quickly this time because I was hoping to get more answers on where and what this alien planet is. I don’t think this will be the end of the alien planet story line, it’s possible, the show can flash back to how Simmons survived for so long, assuming that time passed at a similar rate. The way she woke up with a shiv in her hand is a sign she wasn’t alone over there and that her extraterrestrial experience is obviously troubling her.


The premiere’s pre-credit scene that had Simmons digging up sand left me perplexed until the sand help Fitz figure things out. Fitz had another solid episode. I have to admit he was kind of crazy for jumping into the well as much as it was Fitz being a hero. I guess he would rather die trying to save Simmons than to come so close only to lose her again. It’s kind of brings things back 180 degrees when you recall in F.Z.Z.T., Fitz wasn’t yet the man of action to jump out of the plane to rescue Simmons.

Elsewhere, May’s return was lackluster. While I appreciate the writers giving her an internal dilemma, something that she can’t easily fight her way to a solution, it didn’t emotionally resonate. Another reason is that I haven’t rewatched the Season 2 finale so I can’t recall why she would want to live a normal life outside of S.H.I.E.L.D., as if that will ever happen. What makes more sense is that she wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to join Hunter and get revenge on Ward; that’s the May that we all know and adore. 

Ward’s story line was a lot more entertaining. However, at times it feels like the writers are now going overboard in trying to say, Hey look, Ward is not boring anymore. Ward has always had his own agenda, even when he was a double agent so I’m thinking there’s more to his plan than rebuilding Hydra. Ward grooming a kid villain in Werner von Strucker could be an interesting angle if played right.


I enjoyed that the central conflict wasn’t driven by a villain of the week, instead it was a race to solve the mystery behind the monolith. Some familiar faces were added to the mix and it’s always nice when the show draws upon its own characters that they’ve previously introduced. The rise of the InHumans and Secret Warriors didn’t factor much, but I liked the inventive use of Daisy’s powers to activate the monolith. The writers will need to keep finding new ways to show off the superpowers. 

“Purpose In The Machine” is an enjoyable hour which had a good mix of adventure and humour. I can understand some complaints about the episode rushing Simmon’s rescue but I would think the show is planting the seeds on this alien planet with the intention of revisiting it at some point.

Last but not least, thanks to you for reading! I won’t be doing recaps for every episode this season, although I hope to check in on the mid-season finale.

Did this episode move too fast or are you happy Simmons is already back? Did you enjoy May’s story?


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