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?

About Sidekick Reviews

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on October 7, 2015, in Comics, Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Television, TV Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This episode did move a bit fast but I was okay with that. I wanted Simmons back with the team and having her stranded for several episodes could have been boring. I do hope they provide flash backs since I see that as a more interesting way to show what happened to her there. Agree May’s return was a bit of a dud. I was more excited she was teamed up with Hunter than that she was back.
    Two episodes with different locations was good to see as well. I hope it becomes more frequent. Not that it needs to happen every time, but something that makes the show more interesting. Fitz rocked again. I love how they are treating his character. The Ward scenes felt a bit like filler to me since it was so unconnected with the main storyline. But it will be interesting to see where the writers are taking things.
    Season two was so strong and I’m looking forward to seeing how this season plays out.

    • That’s a good point that having Simmons stranded could be boring after several episodes. I’m curious what she was running away from and flashbacks would be a great way to answer those questions without slowing down the pace. Overall, I liked the pace too and I trust that the writers will explain what happened to Simmons over the next couple of episodes. Good to hear I’m not alone about May’s return, much better that she’s teaming up with Hunter now. I really liked the England location, in general I like the adventure aspect of exploring this old building with secret rooms & machine. I said out loud “Oh Fitz!” when he jumped into the well lol. An awesome moment, I just feared for his safety when he came out the other end. Yeah, Ward’s scenes felt like the writers giving him something to do, I mean I know he’s rebuilding Hydra, but like you said it’s not connected to the main story line at this point. I’m pretty happy with the start of this season so far, should be a good one!

  2. Hi, Sidekick:

    Very good critique. Well executed and defended!

    I’m glad Simmons has been rescued. A ballsy Fitz is kind of nice. A role slowly, subtly evolved into. My has always been a self denying Drama Queen, who has to be sweet talked and coaxed back into a game she has never left.

    Still trying to figure out Skye/Daisy’s powers. Is she a powered down Sue Storm. Or someone even more powerful down the road? Especially as she is assembling the InHumas annnd starts administrating. Grant is too clever by half. And his arrogance and tunnel vision will be his undoing a few seasons from now.

    Overall, a decent enough episode with still more questions than answers. Which is what good Sci~Fi is all about!

    • Hello jackdeth!

      Great to hear from you! I think you’re on to May, it reminds me of the pilot where Coulson had to coax her back to returning to the field. I guess she was going back to old habits lol.

      I’m not familiar with the comics but I hear Daisy is super powerful and also known as Quake. I think on the show she’s just starting to realize the potential of her powers. Haha, yeah Grant Ward really likes his own reflection.

      What I like about the start of this season is that it’s already set up to explore the Inhumans, secret warriors, and that alien planet is a mystery too. Good sci-fi indeed!

  3. Cool recap man, when i read your reviews you always happen to pick up on things I didn’t and that why they’re fun to read. I think we have similar views on a good few things. While May’s domestic life wasn’t too interesting, I did like learning a bit more about her from her father and she looked great in that golf outfit. I believe the reason May left from what I read somewhere online is mainly due to all the drama she had to deal with SHIELD vs SHIELD, but more so being lied to by Coulson and her former hubby (and possibly what happened with her and Andrew during their getaway as well?). I hope Ward gets to waste more guys and become more like Garrett in terms of being manipulative, cruel and evil, but also aggressive and in the thick of the action too.

    • Thanks man, I also enjoy your reviews too and learning about stuff I haven’t thought of. I guess with May the writers were trying to show another side to her. Seeing how a person interacts with their parents might tell us something more about them. Plus she rocks the golf outfit for sure lol! That’s good insight on why May left and yeah I think her vacation with former hubby didn’t work out is another big reason. Maybe also losing Simmons added to the pressure. If Ward gets an army of people to do his dirty work it could get crazy and like you said he should be in the thick of the action too. I wonder what’ll happen when May & Hunter track him down. Should be good stuff!

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