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How Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is setting up Captain America: Civil War

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel/ABC

There are spoilers for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in this post.

Captain America: Civil War — Marvel's next big blockbuster — is still about six months (five months, 25 days) away, but that isn't stopping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from laying a foundation for it. Tuesday's episode, "Chaos Theory," was solid — the action scenes were fun, and there was a bit more superhero excitement than usual — but the most fascinating part was seeing how the show is already incorporating the premise of Civil War.

Conceived by writer Mark Millar, Civil War is a story about how government and security function in a world that bends to the will of superheroes. It comes down to the question of how you keep superheroes in check and non-superheroes safe while preserving everyone's rights. Some heroes see the necessity of some kind of regulation (namely, a registration process), while others feel that regulation would encroach upon their freedom. In the comic books, and in the upcoming movie, this difference of opinion causes a schism within the Avengers.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. used its current Inhuman storyline to sow the seeds of that idea.

Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer) believes the Inhumans should be put into a state of stasis (similar to a medically induced coma), while Daisy/Skye/Quake (Chloe Bennet) thinks it's inhumane that they're being treated more like objects and experiments than humans. Both perspectives make sense, and both have their drawbacks. But everything comes down to how much faith you have in humanity.

"For every Daisy Johnson, there's a Lash," Price coldly tells Daisy, bringing this point home.

This political and philosophical story isn't as flashy as the return of Lash in last week's episode, but it's more powerful. It lends weight and relevance to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s third season, but also to Price and Daisy's relationship. The two have been at odds, but their relationship has skewed more toward "daughter hates dad's new girlfriend," because of Coulson's (Clark Gregg) relationship with Price, than it has toward "two women with vastly different political beliefs."

By the end of "Chaos Theory," S.H.I.E.L.D. still hasn't arrived at an obvious answer to how to deal with the Inhumans. Rather, the episode served to identify Price as a realist, Daisy as an optimist, and everyone else — including the audience — at some other point along that spectrum.