In season three of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” Coulson and the team were put to the test. They contended with and eliminated the last remains of HYDRA, and faced off with an intense Inhuman enemy. They also said goodbye to a few familiar faces. With everything that happened, some characters rose to the occasion while others may not have been as strong. Here are the rankings following the third season.
Beware of spoilers!
Giyera never appeared in any of the weekly rankings, and that’s because there honestly wasn’t much to him. He starts off as one of Malick’s top HYDRA operatives. He is immediately revealed to be an Inhuman with telekinetic powers, which was a result of HYDRA’s experiments with Terrigen mist. After Hive is rescued from Maveth, Giyera is infected with his parasites, and leaves Malick to follow him. Although his motivations are clear and his powers were cool, Giyera was a very underdeveloped character. He merely comes off as a henchman. The fact that sometimes he only had two or three lines of dialogue in some episodes didn’t help this. Ultimately, he is outsmarted and killed by Fitz in the finale. While he will be remembered for his visually appealing abilities, viewers may not remember much else about him.
18. James “Hellfire”
James also didn’t show up in any other rankings because he was in the same situation that Giyera was in. He came into the season later, and is introduced as a scorned, former resident of Afterlife. Lincoln and Daisy first visit him to ask for information on Hive. After they offer him Terrigen Crystals (which would unlock his powers), he gives them the Kree Orb. Unfortunately, they trick him, and leave with the orb and the crystals. Sometime later, Daisy returns to see him, but this time, she is under Hive’s control. During this meeting, she activates his powers, and Hive puts him under his control. As a result of the transformation, he now has fire-based powers, and refers to himself as “Hellfire.” From this point, he serves as a member of Hive’s Inhuman army. With this, he falls into the henchman category like Giyera. Although he did provide some funny one-liners, he was not fleshed out enough. When we last see him, he is knocked out by May after attacking Lincoln. On a positive note, he is still alive. This could leave the door open for him being cured, and possibly joining the Secret Warriors. Only time will tell.
17. Holden Radcliffe
Dr. Radcliffe also didn’t show up until the tail end of the season. He is shown to be a brilliant and eccentric scientist with a passion for Transhumanism. He is sought out by FitzSimmons who believe that he can help them find a cure for Daisy’s parasitic infection. But, before he can do anything, he is kidnapped by Daisy. He is soon forced to recreate the experiment that turned Hive into an Inhuman. However, the only thing that he is able to create with this process are primitives ( the members of the Watch Dogs). After weeks of being held against his will, he is saved by SHIELD when they try to deactivate the missile. When Absolution takes place and SHIELD HQ is filled with primitives, he helps by informing them of their poor eyesight. After the battle, he is cleared of all charges, and he mentions to his A.I., Aida, that today is her “birthday.” We then get a brief glimpse of a female silhouette behind a glass wall. Radcliffe’s presence was meaningful, but it still felt too small. But, judging by his last scene with Aida, it seems that his biggest role could be on the horizon.
16. Glenn Talbot
Talbot also made a return this season. On the orders of President Ellis, he is made the new head of the ACTU after Rosalind’s death. This leads to an awkward working relationship between him and Coulson. On their first joint assignment, they attend an Inhuman summit in Taiwan. During the summit, he and Gideon Malick accuse Coulson of being a traitor and the director of HYDRA. After he is betrayed by Malick, he later explains to Coulson that his son is being held by HYDRA. The two eventually escape imprisonment, and rescue his son which leads to a fresh start between him and Coulson. Following this, he shows up sporadically, and notably even tries to get SHIELD to register their Inhuman agents under the Sokovia Accords. Despite his inconsistent appearances, Talbot was enjoyable to watch. We got to see a little more depth added to him, and he is no longer a (major) nuisance to Coulson. With both of their organizations now working together, it is almost guaranteed that we’ll see him pop up again.
15. Joey Gutierrez
Joey is one of the new Inhumans that the team discovers. He underwent Terrigenesis after consuming a fish oil pill. He soon gained the power to melt metal objects. He is initially afraid of his powers, but with training and encouragement from Daisy, he gradually gains more experience in using them. He would prove to be a valuable ally, and helped the team in their attack on the HYDRA castle. Later, he also helped to recruit Elena to the team. His finest moment would come when he and the Secret Warriors finally came together to rescue the team, who had been trapped by HYDRA. But, this success did not last long due to Daisy’s betrayal and him being suspected as a traitor before she is discovered. After this, he leaves SHIELD, and is not seen anymore. Joey’s biggest strength was his growth. He starts out as an inexperienced novice, but soon develops into a confident hero. His character moments with some of his fellow Inhumans were also a plus. The only real problem is that he suddenly disappears, and is not heard from again. At this point, his future is unclear, but because SHIELD still knows where he is, it’s extremely possible that he’ll return at some point.
14. Elena “YoYo” Rodriguez
As I briefly mentioned, Elena is another one of the new Inhumans that is recruited. After undergoing her transformation, she gains enhanced speed. The team first encounters her while they are on a mission in Columbia, where she is stealing weapons from the corrupt police force. They are eventually able to capture her and take her to the base for questioning. While at the base, she connects with both Joey (who translates for her) and Mack (who she previously captured). She and Mack slowly forge a connection through their religious faith. Before she returns home, she helps the them attack the police station. She comes back in top form to help the Secret Warriors save the team, but leaves again when she is suspected of being infected by Hive. This also puts a strain on her friendship with Mack. She returns again near the end of the season, and stays with SHIELD through the final battle with Hive. During the ordeal, she takes a few bullets for Mack who later saves her by using a blowtorch. Elena was definitely one of the more exciting new characters this year. Not only were her powers cool, but it was also entertaining to see her interact with the others. Her scenes with Mack were particularly sweet. She is injured, but alive by the end of the battle. She’ll probably return in some capacity, and this is absolutely not a bad thing.
13. Rosalind Price
Coulson finally met his match in Rosalind Price. She comes on to the scene as the head of the newly-formed ATCU which is meant to deal with Inhumans. She first crosses paths with SHIELD when they pick up Joey before her team can. She and Coulson soon begin hunting each other which, leads to an ambush on a train. Eventually, the two form a truce between their two groups. As time goes on, the two become closer, and see that they relate to each other in terms of their positions. They also acknowledge their mutual fears of losing their humanity while doing their jobs. In time, they start a romantic relationship. Things quickly turn sour when she reveals that she gets weekly reports from Malick, who she did not know was HYDRA. She immediately breaks ties with him, but not long after this, she is assassinated by Ward while she and Coulson are having dinner. All in all, Rosalind was a solid character. She had an intriguing backstory and a significant part to play in the overall story arc. Her moments with Coulson were particularly memorable especially their discussions on humanity. Some might argue that she could be seen as a plot device to further Coulson’s development, but this does not take away from the fact that she was a multifaceted and entertaining character.
12. Andrew “Lash” Garner
Dr. Garner came back to the show as well, but this time, he was hiding a deadly secret. Coulson brings him back in to psychologically assess Joey and any other potential candidates for the Secret Warriors. He later assesses Simmons when she returns from Maveth. At the same time, he gets a new student, Alexander Braun (Werner Von Strucker). Some time later, Werner and some HYDRA thugs try to attack him to get to May. But, we later learn from an injured Von Strucker tells May that Andrew transformed into a creature that the team knows as “Lash.” In flashbacks, we learn that while he and May were taking time off, he underwent Terrigenesis after opening one of Jiaying’s booby trapped manuscripts. As Lash, he gets the urge to hunt down and kill Inhumans including Lincoln. We also discover that he will gradually become Lash permanently. After the team discovers this, he is confronted and trapped by May. In the midseason finale, Simmons finds and frees him from containment. He later returns to SHIELD willingly when he is about to transform for the last time. He and his ex-wife share one last heartfelt conversation before he changes for good. But as Lash, he had one more part to play as he later took on Hive, and cleansed Daisy of the parasites. He is the killed by James, and leaves May to mourn him. It was fascinating to see Garner’s transition from a level-headed doctor into a person who was focused on killing others. Although he made a lot of mistakes, he managed to redeem himself in the end. Because of this and his close relationship with May, Garner will likely be remembered by viewers.
11. Gideon Malick
Malick was one of the new villains on the block. You might remember his brief appearance in “Marvel’s The Avengers” as a member of the World Security Council. Here, he is shown to actually be a veteran member of HYDRA. After initially seeing Ward as a threat to his plans, he soon takes him under his wing. Through Malick, Ward (and viewers) learn that HYDRA’s history actually goes further then the 1940’s, and that their true purpose is to bring back an ancient Inhuman from Maveth. This ultimately turns out to be Hive. Once he arrives on Earth in Ward’s body, Malick does what he can to serve him. In return, he grants him power with an experimental exoskeleton, but during this time, he has a vision after touching Charles. In it, he sees his death which he assumes is at Hive’s hands. Little by little, he loses Giyera to the powerful Inhuman. He also maintains his fears for his life when he returns home to his daughter, Stephanie who is hosting Hive. Malick’s background is also explained, and his family is shown to have served HYDRA’s cause for generations. We also see how he used his father’s talisman to avoid being chosen to go to Maveth. Hive exposes this to Stephanie, and reveals that his late brother, Nathaniel was one of his former hosts. To make up for this deception, Hive kills Stephanie. He is later captured by SHIELD, and with everything that has happened, he renounces HYDRA and divulges their locations. Finally, he is killed by an infected Daisy in his holding cell. Malick was not only a strong villain, but he was also a very fleshed out character in general. He was subtly imposing, and deserves a lot of credit for his strong convictions. And because of what transpires, you can understand why he changes loyalties. With all this said, he leaves the show as one of the best antagonists that its had.
10. Lincoln Campbell
Lincoln’s journey this year was very up and down to say the least, and it ended on a very bittersweet note. At the beginning of the season, he has put his Inhuman past behind him, and is living a quiet life as a doctor. This changes after a visit from Daisy, Mack, and Lash which forces him to go on the run. After weeks of being pursued by the ATCU and Lash, he finally teams with SHIELD when he discovers that Lash is someone within the organization. When it is discovered to be Dr. Garner, he attempts to kill him, which brings out a more aggressive side to him. Lincoln’s lack of self-control was a consistent factor this season. Nevertheless, Coulson agrees to give him a shot. Through different missions, he proved to be an invaluable agent especially as a member of the Secret Warriors. As time went on, he and Daisy began a true relationship which was strained by his anger issues and her siding with Hive. They later reconcile when she is cured. After an encounter with Charles, Daisy confided to him that she saw a vision of an agent dying. In the finale, Daisy planned to sacrifice herself by riding with Hive’s warhead in the quinjet. But, Lincoln blasted her out and ultimately gave his life. Before he dies, he shares one last conversation with her, and even finds some common ground with Hive before they both die. As I said before, Lincoln’s role was somewhat shaky. Sometimes he was a bit too emotional which caused him to come off as annoying. Still, he had a number of nice moments throughout. In the end, he was given the exit of a true hero, which will definitely resonate with many fans.
9. Lance Hunter
Following his first season on the show, Hunter came back, and was still his pessimistic and witty self. He is shown to have integrated into the team well, and is initially seen accompanying Daisy and Mack to Seattle to rescue Joey. He is also avoiding Bobbi because she rejected his marriage proposal. Of course, the two later make up and rekindle their romance. Hunter is ultimately able to convince May to return to SHIELD after he offers her the chance to go after Ward with him. This starts a unique relationship between the two. It starts smoothly, but then it takes a turn when Hunter’s animosity for Ward causes Andrew to be attacked. But, in time, the two come to understand and respect each other. Throughout the season, Hunter has a few notable exploits. In one episode, he even competes in a fight club to infiltrate HYDRA. As expected, he continued to serve as a major source of comic relief. The main downside to Hunter is that there were several times where he stayed in the background. As you probably know, Hunter exits the season early. After being implicated in the near assassination of the Russian Prime Minister, the two disavow themselves from SHIELD to protect the team. And in one of the most moving scenes in the show’s history, the team sends them off with a “spy’s goodbye.” Although he wasn’t perfect, Hunter was a strong addition to the series. He added humor through his one-liners and heart through his relationship with Bobbi. The two were supposed to headline the proposed “Marvel’s Most Wanted,” but because the network has passed on it, his future is unclear. Even though it would be difficult, it would be nice to see him brought back in some way.
8. Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse
When we last saw her, Bobbi reeling from her torture at the hands of Ward and Kara. Because of the immense injuries she suffered, she is still in recovery, and is somewhat hesitant to get back into the field. While undergoing rehabilitation, she assists Fitz in the lab due to Jemma’s absence. As mentioned, she is also avoiding Hunter since she reject his marriage proposal, but the two later patch things up. Things start off very slowly for Morse, but she comes back in a big way when May recruits her for a mission in Lisbon. After her return to field work, she gets back to being her old self. Some of her most notable missions include kidnapping Thomas Ward (Grant’s younger brother) and of course, her last mission in Russia. During the Russia assignment, all of her talents were on display including her fighting ability and her undercover skills. As mentioned, she and Hunter decide to resign from SHIELD after this mission to keep the agency’s resurgence a secret. They were then given a “spy’s goodbye” which led to a particularly touching moment between her and Mack. Despite having a slow start, Bobbi was still enjoyable to watch, and ultimately went out on a high note. Like Hunter, it’s hard to predict what’s next for her due to their spin-off being passed on. Having them rejoin the team would not be an easy task, but one can always hope.
7. Jemma Simmons
Simmons was the biggest question mark coming out of season two as she was sucked into the Monolith in the finale. Early on, it is shown that it transported her to an alien planet known as Maveth. Although, she was rescued in the second episode, it’s not until a few weeks later that we actually find out what happened to her there. While on the planet, she had to fight for survival and fend for herself. It was refreshing to see a more desperate and unrefined side to her, and she gets a lot of credit for actually making it on her own for so long. She also met and had a brief fling with a long lost astronaut named Will, who later sacrificed himself so that she could escape. When she returns to Earth, she tells Fitz about her experiences (including Will), and wants to go back to save him. At this point, she doesn’t know that he was killed. After the Maveth arc ends, she resumes her usual activities in the lab with Fitz. What was really exciting to see is that the two of them finally commit to a relationship, and even make love for the first time. Their new couple dynamic was definitely a highlight this year. Despite these good things, there were many episodes where she was in the background with a very reduced presence especially during the latter half of the season. Still, we did get to see some personal growth from her as well as a few surprising moments. Now that she’s had these experiences and development, one can only wonder how she’ll use them going forward.
6. Leo Fitz
Fitz really became a breakout character in the second season, and he continued to shine for most of this one. As expected, he has been spending most of his time finding ways to bring Jemma back. After being told by Coulson to let her go, he had a memorable scene where he repeatedly struck the Monolith and screamed at it for answers. Not long after this, he is able to rescue her with the help of Dr. Randolph, Daisy, Coulson, and others. With her back, he helps her readjust to everything. She explains to him what occurred on the planet, and what happened between her and Will. Despite her unfaithfulness, Fitz still promises to help her save him. Unfortunately, when he gets to Maveth, Will is dead, and his body is being used by Hive. It’s also worth mentioning that Fitz was the only person to witness Coulson kill Ward. During the second half of the season, Fitz’s role slows down a bit. He does have a few key outings such as when he and Jemma try to recruit Dr. Radcliffe. But, like Simmons, he also has a lot of appearance in which his role is small. As a whole, Fitz was still fun to watch. But, in some way, you just can’t help but feeling like he could have contributed a little more especially following such a great year. But, there’s always next season.
5. Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie
One character that had a significantly expanded role this year was Mack. He has now become a full-time field agent as well as being the one in charge of alien artifacts. He and Daisy are now partners, and have become quite close. Throughout the season, he participates in numerous missions like rescuing Joey and helping FitzSimmons recruit Dr. Radcliffe. In one instance, Coulson even made him acting director. Apart from his work as an agent, audiences also learned more about his personal background including his younger brother Ruben, and his religious beliefs. After the team finds and recruits Elena Rodriguez, he forms a strong bond with her. It’s also worth mentioning that he took a lot of physical pain for the team as well. With all of these newly added elements, Mack really changed as a character. He also had some memorable scenes. The scene where he confronts Daisy while she is infected is arguably one of the season’s best. For a little while, it looked as though he might be the one to risk his life to save the team. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case. Mack was definitely one of the biggest surprises coming out of season 3, and he now has a lot of upside. Let’s just hope that things keeping moving smoothly for him.
4. Grant Ward (Hive)
I don’t think anyone could have predicted how things were going to play out for Ward, but it absolutely made for some good storytelling. After losing nearly everything, he was bent on rebuilding HYDRA. In the process of doing so, he got on Gideon Malick’s radar. After initially being at odds, the two join forces. By this point, Ward was at the top of his game, and has completely become a ruthless killer. This was solidified even further after he killed Rosalind. With Malick’s guidance, he soon set his sights on rescuing the Inhuman from Maveth. He would do so, but not in the way he intended. At Maveth, he would finally meet his end after being killed by Coulson. But in a twist, the parasite took over his body, and returned to Earth. As a result, Hive was now the owner of Grant Ward’s body. Hive proved to be on a level of ruthlessness that even surpassed Ward’s. For instance, he killed “innocents” to heal his damaged body, and used his powers to mentally manipulate people. His two most significant acts were arguably his murdering Stephanie Malick and turning Daisy to his side. Not only is he deadlier than Ward, but he more intimidating than him. Despite having his body, his demeanor and presence are more menacing. He hoped to transform most of the human race into Inhumans, but the plan was ultimately stopped by Lincoln. In his final moments, Hive made a strange peace with Lincoln as he accepted something that he had never experienced: death. Grant Ward/Hive represented a concept that we have never seen on the show. We got to see one character (that we’ve known for a while) transform into a totally different one. Because of this, we received two compelling villains. One of which may be the best that the series has had so far. Although Ward may have been one of the most despised characters, there is no doubt that people are still going to miss him in some way.
3. Melinda May
May is the same tough agent she’s always been, but this time, she provided a vital element to the team. When she is first seen, she is still taking time off. She and Andrew are shown to be spending intimate time together until he suddenly became distant. After her father is injured in an accident, she goes to take care of him at his home in Arizona. It was during this time that Hunter arrived to convince her to join him in hunting down Ward. After agreeing to do so, the two embark on a personal mission to bring him down. After finally getting an opportunity, things take a turn when Hunter’s recklessness causes Andrew to get attacked. Following this, she officially returns to SHIELD, and she also held bad feelings against Hunter. She later forgives him (in her own way). Of course, the biggest part of her characterization was the revelation that Andrew was Lash. After a tense confrontation with him, she shot him in the chest, and knocked him into the containment unit. This story arc would later wrap up when he returned to SHIELD willingly before he transformed for the last time. In addition to all this, May had to deal with Lash’s death after he was killed by James. With this, the last bit of Dr. Garner was gone for good. May did a lot in the field, and had some significant action scenes as a result. For the first time, there was also some real tension between her and Coulson about what he required of her. Most importantly, May served as the voice of reason throughout the season especially after Daisy was infected by Hive. While others were emotionally compromised about saving her, May kept everyone focused on the main mission: stopping Hive. She was no present during the finale’s six month time jump, but like the others, we can assume that she will be in a totally different position the next time we see her.
2. Phil Coulson
In the midst of all the chaos that occurred, SHIELD needed its director to be calm and in control, and Coulson did so very well. After losing his arm, he now has a cybernetic one. When we first find him, he is doing his best to deal with the Inhuman outbreak by locating them as they appear. However, his plans are somewhat complicated by the presence of the ATCU. He soon begins researching them especially their leader, Rosalind. The two eventually meet, and agree to work together. In time, they find common ground through their positions as directors and the costs that they can have. And for the first time since Audrey (the cellist), Coulson is in a serious relationship. While all this is happening, he also has to contend with Ward and HYDRA. Things come to a head when Ward assassinates Rosalind right in front of Coulson. This serves as the final straw as he makes it his mission to put an end to Ward. While on Maveth, he does just that. This was a major development in his characterization as that was a line that he never wanted to cross, and it represents his struggle to hold on to his humanity. In dealing with Hive, Coulson continued to show the same kind of drive and determination. But, he was personally compromised after Daisy was turned. But at the end of the day, Coulson handled things well in the face of adversity, and like many others, he received some great development. In the closing minutes of the finale, audiences learned that he is no longer the director of SHIELD. Right now, we can only speculate how this happened and what it means for him in the future.
1. Daisy “Quake” Johnson
As you’ve read, a number of characters went through a lot this year, but none of them went through more than Daisy. Things started off extremely well for her. She is now adept at using her abilities, and is now working to form the Secret Warriors. Through her efforts, the team found new recruits in Joey and Elena, and she also served as a mentor to them. In her personal life, she and Lincoln were also trying to sort out their feelings for each other, and she also led him to join SHIELD. She and her fellow Inhumans would have their chance to shine when they had to rescue the team, and they do so in an excellent fashion. Unfortunately, during the mission, she was infected by Hive, and she turned on the team. While under his control, we saw a different side of Daisy. Not only was she more open about her feelings, but she was not afraid to unleash the full extent of her powers which was evidenced by her murdering Malick. After a few weeks, she is finally saved by Lash who cleanses her. But, this leaves her with immense feelings of withdrawal. She also feels guilt over her actions. She eventually ends up feeling more guilt when Lincoln sacrifices herself for the team. She of course saw this in a vision, but thought that she should be the one to die. In the epilogue set six months later, Daisy has apparently left SHIELD, and is now saving people on her own. She has also kept her promise to watch over Charles’ daughter. To say that this was an eventful year for Daisy would be an understatement. She experienced joy, pain, success, heartbreak, and a host of other things, and still managed to come through for the team when it mattered. It’s very likely that she’ll return to SHIELD at some point, but with all the drama that we’ve seen here, a lot will probably have to occur before that can happen.
Overall, this season featured some strong development and really allowed for each character to evolve in new ways. We already know that the status quo will be vastly different this fall, and this will undoubtedly lead to more intriguing and dangerous situations for Coulson and the team.