Season 3 Episode 17: The Team

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has so many twists and double-crosses this week that you’d almost swear it was a Shonda Rhimes show. I’m hyperventilating. Did that really just happen?! If this episode is any indication of the caliber of the finale, were in for a ride of epic proportions. Ok, let’s get to this weeks review and apologies for presenting this one out of sequence – it was just too important to pass up, but I promise I’ll catch up on the outstanding episodes ASAP.

With Coulson and the S.H.I.E.L.D. command team trapped aboard Zephyr One as it was hijacked by Giyera and piloted to a HYDRA base, Daisy and Lincoln are left to rescue them. Using a quinjet, they fly around the world to pick up the members of Daisy’s “Secret Warriors Initiative,” which sounds pretty cool and impressive until you realize that it actually only consists of two other people: Joey (the guy who can manipulate metal) and Elena (the speedster who can spring back and forth faster than the eye can see). Elena has (conveniently) been practicing her English enough to carry a conversation now. Joey seems reluctant to get involved and put himself in danger, especially when Daisy makes them all HALO jump out of the jet – something neither he nor Elena has ever done before.

Starting a new chapter in your life is always difficult, and joining a team of Inhumans has to be hella difficult. Good thing Yo-Yo and Joey have each other. They commiserate in rapid-fire Spanish, just before taking the plunge out of the jet. Two newbies, becoming friends is very heartwarming; the conversations in Spanish make them that much better. Especially since not one other “agent” there understands the language. It becomes their thing and anchors them to each other.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Giyera leaves the plane and reports to Ward. A HYDRA team storms the plane to flush out the S.H.I.E.L.D.ies, who hold them off with a gunfight and then lock themselves into a storage room. (How the hell big is this plane?) May was injured in the last episode and is in pretty bad shape, but Simmons is able to stabilize her. Fitz works on MacGyvering a chlorine gas weapon using supplies in the room.

The warriors arrive and split up. Lincoln finds Malick (all of a sudden Lincoln seems like a pretty epic fighter to be honest!), Daisy finds the plane, Yoyo finds the team, and Melty Man… does… something? That really could have been clearer. Anyways, the team leaves on the plane with Malick, only to find that the Inhuman I call Secrets In Their Eyes is hiding on the plane. He eye freezes Lincoln but Melty stabs him with a pipe. This is his first “kill” and he’s rightfully NOT a happy camper about it. As it takes off and leaves the HYDRA base, Ward isn’t too concerned. He tells Giyera, “Now we have one on the inside.” That sounds ominous. Is he talking about Malick, or does he have a mole in S.H.I.E.L.D. now or is Eye guy not really dead?

Completely ignoring the conflict of interest, Coulson interrogates Malick, the man responsible for having Rosalind killed. Protocol is different from organization to organization, but this can’t be okay no matter what. Coulson is still so damn bitter about Rosalind. This may sound cold-hearted, but can we get past this? It’s been some time, they didn’t date very long, he got his revenge on Ward; let’s stop bringing up the dead lady! Anywho, Malick tells Coulson about the death of his daughter – remember that time that Hive killed Malick’s daugher by creepy alien tongue kissing her? – Malick reveals how Hive works and he says that he made a terrible mistake in bringing the Inhuman parasite (whose official name is Alveus, which supposedly translates as “Hive”) to Earth. He explains that Ward/Alveus/Hive murdered his daughter and says, “It is a god, just not ours.” Malick warns Coulson that the Inhumans will all worship Hive, who has the ability to control the mind of any Inhuman. He also suggests that some of Coulson’s own people may have already turned. Coulson isn’t sure if Malick is just playing him, but the seeds of doubt quickly grow in his mind. He asks Mack to quietly lock down the base and instructs Fitz and Simmons to work on making a test to see if anyone is under Hive’s spell.

Daisy immediately suspects that something is up and that Coulson is hiding something from her. She doesn’t like being left out of the loop. Elena also gets very agitated about being stuck in the base, and Joey disappears for a while. Mack watches all of them (plus Lincoln) on surveillance but doesn’t feel very good about it. Meanwhile, Fitz-Simmons discover the infection in Secrets In Their Eyes and cause the power to go out so the doors will lock for good. They find Malick’s door open with him dead inside laying next to a bomb which goes off and destroys all of the evidence.

At this point, nobody trusts anybody. Coulson and Mack try to round up the Inhumans, but Daisy is adamant that they’re being railroaded. She barricades the four of them into a room, where they even argue amongst themselves, each accusing the others of being traitors. They all take turns accusing each other of being infected and killing Malick, until Daisy tells them they need to stick together. She leads them out via a secret elevator, straight into a containment room, with Coulson waiting. Damn, Daisy, you turncoat. Coulson announces who the infected person is: Lincoln; they found the orb in his locker and they know he’s stolen before. Not only that, he’s been infected since the mission at Transia, and Daisy buys it. Lincoln denies it all and loses his temper on his team, leaving Daisy to take him down. Why would Coulson think he’d been turned at Transia? It’s not like whoever was infected would admit to seeing Hive; but wait, Lincoln did. The wonkiness of the events leading up to it certainly make clear the purpose of the last few episodes. If you thought that Daisy and Lincoln’s relationship was a bit ham-fisted, you’re not wrong, as it was clearly rushed in order to make this misdirection more shocking and emotionally resonant. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t quite spark the way the writers had hoped, and as such the reveal was a little predictable.

FitzSimmons try to figure out how to help Secret Warriors, but have no real way of doing that outside the lab. So basically, they’re hanging out and mackin’ on each other. They’re worried about Hive, but Fitz says they’ll take care of him. Stuck in that dirty room, they finally have their moment, so they commence to kissing. About bloody time (pardon my french … only been 3 seasons of waiting for them to hook up!)

Coulson breaks the news to Daisy that he’s benching the Secret Warriors, because they can’t be near Hive; they’ll have to stay in quarantine. Daisy is understandably disappointed, but tells him they’ll be stronger next time. No fight at all, Daisy? She escapes quarantine to go see Lincoln. Everyone knows she designed the security protocols, why wouldn’t they alter them if she’s locked up, too? Lincoln maintains he didn’t betray the team. Not to worry, boo, Daisy is there to let him out so they can runaway together. Lincoln doesn’t want to leave because he’ll be proven innocent. Then it hits him: Daisy is the infected. She’s sick, no she’s happier than she’s ever been. She describes the infection as a bond. Lord, she sounds like one of Jasmine’s followers on BtVS. Yep, she killed Malick. Lincoln is equal parts disbelief and bitterness as he realizes she his past against him. Damn, she’s like a combination of Jasmine plus Raven from The 100. She can’t convince him to go, so she leaves, taking the orb and a fair number of crystals with her. It’s not enough she’s a lying liar who lies, on her way out, she disables the locking mechanism so no one can escape and destroys the base.

The last 10 minutes of the episode is the big reveal, as usual, with a pretty big change at the end that should be interesting to see where the final episode of the season goes. There’s still the eventual tie-in with Captain America: Civil War too to deal with.

I’m sad to see Powers Boothe exit the series. Malick was a great character and brought a lot of much-needed menace to the villain side of the equation. (I still don’t care for Brett Dalton as the new Big Bad.) That disappointment aside, this is a pretty terrific episode with lots of suspenseful twists and turns. Daisy being under Hive’s control means that, in a sense, Ward will finally get her as he always wanted. That dynamic should be interesting to watch play out. The episode is one of the better for the season, here’s hoping it keeps it up.

Among Us Hide – Season 3 Episode 6

Right missed a couple of these over the past little while so let’s try to get caught up as quick as we can shall we?  If you recall from the previous episode (Devils you Know & not 4,722 as while that was an excellent episode, it doesn’t (yet) do anything for the underlying story), May and Bobbi had managed to track down Strucker and while they weren’t in time to stop his beating, May managed to hear that Andrew might not be dead after all.  In fact, Andrew it  turns out is the Inhuman – Lash that Daisy has been searching for.  Turned out, he was the one who set the building ablaze. The worse part is Skye (Chloe Bennet) is right. The inhuman, Lash, they are hunting can indeed transform into human. To blend into the crowd, the beast becomes Garner.  May is in disbelief with the shocking revelation about her ex-husband.

I like giving credit where credit is due, and I can safely say that as someone who has been a fan and viewer since season 1, tonight’s game-changing reveal was on par with the great “Ward is Hydra” turn of 2014. I didn’t see it coming, and maybe I’m alone in that. But when a show can blindside me completely with a narrative that is interesting and unsuspecting, I have to give it props.

agents-of-shield-02Before we get to those big moments, though, let’s start with something important: Andrew Garner is alive. Not only that, he’s alive enough to talk and give May and Coulson the rundown on what happened when Werner von Strucker tried to kill him. He tells them about the men who followed him, who Coulson correctly calls out as being HYDRA. Turns out that Coulson had his own S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tailing Garner, which is how he got lucky: The agents gave him time to find cover, but just barely. (The way this scene was shot, with May watching the medics work on her husband, was incredibly reminiscent of Black Widow, Cap, and Maria Hill watching a dying Nick Fury in Winter Solider…at least for me.)

May’s still pissed at Hunter for putting Garner’s life in danger, and her anger’s not unwarranted. Unsurprisingly, Coulson pulls Hunter off the assignment while May puts herself on, because now she’s going after Ward, hell or high water. At least there’s one positive thing that comes out of Garner’s near-death experience: May’s back. I mean, really back. She’s got the Hunter “out for blood” thing going and takes it to the next level by “recruiting” Bobbi to help her in the way only S.H.I.E.L.D. agents can: by forcing her into a sparring session. Bobbi and Melinda make an amazing team, because they’re both total badasses, but watching Melinda mentor Bobbi and encourage her to see her pain and suffering as “experience” that makes her stronger is pure gold. And that’s an example of good therapy, that makes you more capable instead of making you doubt yourself—as Bobbi proves at the end, when she uses her “experience” to take down Ward’s right-hand man. As much as I enjoyed Scientist Bobbi Morse, I cannot express how happy I am to see my favorite character back in the field, kicking butt, and being an active part of the team again. (And those fight scenes in this week’s episode just proved that. Give me an entire episode of Bobbi and May undercover, please.)

It makes sense that Lash was someone with inside knowledge, and this may even explain why Andrew was so opposed to letting Inhumans go out into the field—since he’s apparently got a lot of issues with his own kind and sees it as a vital mission to hunt them all down and perforate them.

A Most wanted (Inhu)Man – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (S3E3)

The president’s ATCU (Advanced Threat Containment Unit) begins hunting down inhumans across the country. Meanwhile, Simmons begins her rehabilitation after her extended stay on the alien world.

While the title for “A Wanted (Inhu)man” referred to Lincoln, and his story was solid, the episode’s most notable content dealt with Simmons, as she was back, but hardly back to her usual self.

Elizabeth Henstridge was terrific here, as Simmons seemed on edge and often almost in pain from being around, well, nearly everything. Mundane things like a cell phone ringing got under her skin and Henstridge did an excellent job showing her trying to put on the best face she could, but struggling so much underneath. It was touching seeing Fitz trying so hard (yes, I it was “Aww”-worthy how he had held that restaurant reservation for them, hoping she’d return), but he just couldn’t help her – at least not yet.

Cover from Inhumans trade paperback (2001).
Cover from Inhumans trade paperback (2001). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Most Wanted (Inhu)Man starts off pretty fast-paced. We meet back with Lincoln, who is being chased by a small military squadron. They pursue him through the woods until he escapes after creating a blinding wall of sparks via some steel towers. He continues throughout the episode in a similar fashion, having to give the slip from the ATCU using his powers. Eventually, he seeks refuge with his old friend, John, but he ends up turning Lincoln in after seeing a news report falsely exposing him as a fugitive. Though it was a bit silly (and cliché) to do the “close confident sees news report about friend and freaks out without trying to get explanation” route. However, the fact that Roebuck’s character actually died from his heart attack, despite Lincoln trying to use his powers as a defibrillator – and that Lincoln didn’t redeem himself to his friend or anyone else by saving him – was effective.

 Superpowers should theoretically make a person more interesting, but the Inhuman characters on Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. are the blandest members of the cast. The writers of this series have struggled to give Chloe Bennet a character that brings out the charisma she shows in her public appearances, and while Skye/Daisy has gone through a significant transformation, it’s not one that highlights Bennet’s natural charm.  Right now, Daisy’s entire life is dedicated to S.H.I.E.L.D. and rescuing Inhumans, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a glimpse of what she does outside of work. What is her personal life like? Does she wish she could just be a regular woman in her early ’20s, trying to find her way in the world without alien powers and government organizations at her back? Now that she has control over her superpowers, does she ever have any fun with them?
While Daisy attempts to convince Lincoln to come along, Coulson meets with Rosalind Price. He’s attempting to find the reason her task force is hunting inhumans, particularly Lincoln. While her response is inconclusive, Coulson’s focus shifts when he informs her that he’s aware she knows about Daisy, who happens to also be on her hit list. Realizing neither side will get anywhere if they keep attacking each other, instead of focusing on the bigger struggle at hand, Coulson suggests a temporary partnership with Price.Lance Hunter
May finally decides to team up with Hunter in their mutual pursuit of Grant Ward. They make their way to Boston to meet with an old friend of Hunter’s who is in league with a mysterious arms dealer, suspected to be the new Hydra. It was a lot of fun seeing Hunter and May teamed up and on their own, trying to get Hunter infiltrated with Hydra. As a big Spartacus fan, I loved seeing Dan Feuerriegel as Hunter’s kinda/sorta buddy, “Spud”, they needed to cozy up to in order to get close to Hydra – a comic highlight of both the episode and the show in general was when Hunter and Spud got drunk and their slurred, thick accented dialogue – that May was struggling with – was subtitled. After a few rousing rounds of lager, Hunter agrees to fight his way up the pecking order…literally.  It’s a painful episode for Hunter, but it’s a great one for Nick Blood, who gets to goof off when he’s not being beaten to a bloody pulp.  Blood plays up the comedy even when Hunter’s getting pummeled, giving the character an endearing scrappiness as he fights a much larger, stronger opponent. May also finds herself in an uneven fight against three imposing men, but she’s far from scrappy. She’s ruthless as she quickly takes out her three would-be attackers, and gets the best line of the night as she walks away from the fallen bodies:
“How about I do you a favor and not tell anyone that a tiny little Asian woman kicked your ass.” 
Somehow managing to withstand a pretty hefty beating, he finally decides to go by Hydra’s rules to play as dirty as possible, pulls out his knuckle dusters, and reigns in his victory. Barely able to keep himself upright, he’s taken to finally face the man he set out to kill.
When Bobbi finds Simmons still analyzing the fragments of the Monolith, she tries telling her its been completely disabled and she has nothing to fear anymore. Much to Bobbi’s surprise, Simmons tells her she’s not afraid of being sent back, but for some reason, actually needs to go back.
Meanwhile, despite their differences, we got some more amusing banter between Coulson and Rosalind (them I feel chemistry between) and her “eyes up here!” as he eyeballed her car was a very funny bit.

I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and their inability to show people with powers. While season one and two had a dearth of special-effects this season already has kicked off with a bang.  Of course effects by themselves generally aren’t enough you also need to have the underlying story to tie everything together and while it’s perhaps a bit early in the year to comment on the overall story arc currently my hopes are quite high.

If you recall at the end of last season the Terrigen mist had been put into the earths ecosystem when it fell into the ocean. The effects of that are now being felt with multiple people with powers popping up all over the world. Our story actually starts with someone that seems to have an ability to melt metal and while he is initially being hunted by an unnamed group of soldiers Skye or as she now calls herself Daisy come to his rescue and with Mac they transport him into the new bus.  This new vehicle seems to be a scaled up Quinjet so I assume it also has similar cloaking capabilities too.

When our gang try to track down the people that seemingly are hunting down Inhumans around the land they discover that the leader of the group has had a host of different governmental responsibilities all around the world. Coulson and the Scooby gang come up with a plan to capture her or at least confront her, however she’s able to flip that’s on its head fairly quickly and easily demonstrating that she is absolutely more than what she seems.  While their initial conversation fences around why each of them are there, they quickly come to the realization that the people that are killing the Inhumans must be somebody else and perhaps they should be on the same side.  However, before they join teams both of them receive an alarm informing them of another attack in progress.

While this is going on Daisy continues to try and speak to the metal melting guy and persuade him of who and what they are and the fact that they are the good guys but she quickly comes to the realization that the best person for this job is actually Lincoln. As her own trainer and person that integrated her into the Inhuman society he is absolutely more skilled at this sort of action than she is and while they have previously tried to bring him on board he had rejected them initially.  When Daisy and Mac appear at the hospital where Lincoln is working they try to persuade him once again to join up with them however they are here confronted by another powered character that quickly attacks them.  Lash (who has appeared in the Inhuman comic books) is seemingly the killer of all of the people. His power seems capable of absorbing the powers of other Inhumans.  When both Lincoln and Daisy attack him, he is momentarily stopped but is able to to overcome this and continues to confront them. He seems to have no restrictions on his abilities as Mac even pumped a full clip into him and was unable to put him down.  He was only defeated when Daisy managed to knock out the floor under his feet.

Fitz meanwhile continues his search for a solution to Simmons disappearance and while he seems to make some progress, unfortunately it is nothing more than a red herring and he is persuaded by Coulson to “let it go”.

Overall a really good first episode and one that I enjoyed thoroughly. The fact that Colson is managing with an artificial hand while still searching for a cure for his existing hand, the whole change in leadership in tone of the organization where people are filling in slots of others that have been lost. Mac for example seeming to really own the relationship with the powers and Bobbi taking over for Simmons now that she’s disappeared very very good. The new director or leader of the alternative agency seems a little bit to well-informed however which is a bit annoying and while HYDRA and grant ward have yet to make their appearance I’m sure they too will soon show up.

However perhaps the best and in and best portrayed part of the show for me is the character Lash itself.  In the comics he was primarily responsible for culling those Inhumans that he judged unsuitable for the powers they wielded – basically he acted as the judge, jury and executioner and while you’d definitely question his criteria as he seems to have included Lincoln and Daisy on this list, he seems to be fulfilling similar a objective here and at the current time it looks like there isn’t too much that can stop him.

It’s strange but Afterlife felt so much like a return to old friends that it was uncanny!  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it seemed silly how they keep on removing foes and friends at such a reckless pace but in Afterlife they actually seemed to bring some of them back!  We had Raina (or Porcupine head as I like to call her – I do have to say that the makeup job with her is pretty amazing … this isn’t the good old days of Star Trek for sure as it’s very difficult to “see” Raina under all the quills), Cal (Skye’s dad), Deathlok (looking way, way better costume wise in comparison to season one … I’d be quite interested in seeing a Deathlok inspired show/movie as he was always a character that I really liked in comic book form) and in a really surprising twist – Skye’s mother (Jiaying)!

I have to be honest, that one did take me by surprise as I really didn’t see her coming back to life!  Perhaps (dare I hope) that my previous complaints about Whitehalls death were also premature?  I mean he’s not the best villain (that sounds a bit idiosyncratic I think?) but considering the fear that he was held in by all and sundry, his death was a little bit anticlimactic I thought?

Unconscious for two days after Gordon rescued her, Skye wakes up nearly naked with acupuncture needles all over her body, the first step in the treatment that will help her adjust to the rapid evolution her body is undergoing. We also had a major new face – Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) who functions as Skye’s “transitioner” and helps her adjust to her new home and it is assumed in some way to her new powers.  He also has been transformed by terrigenisis and as it comes out during the course of the episode, we learn that Skye did it “old school” using a Kree temple and a diviner which people haven’t done for thousands of years … details aren’t really provided on how it is done now, simply that people are selected from the “descendants” that have the special gene and are then transformed.  So as you can see, while some questions are answered, we’re still left with a bunch more.  Lincoln’s power is actually quite cool (although he’s definitely NOT in the same game as Skye from the point of view of power levels) as he seems to be able to control static electricity and is able to help use it to heal & in limited ways overcome gravity.

Introducing Inhuman elements now is absolutely essential given the limitations on mutants in the MCU, however while we’re exposed to a fancy chinese botanical garden … there really isn’t anything unbelievable or “inhuman” about Skye’s new home.  While its obvious that the appearance is intended to create an atmosphere of tranquility that will ease the transition for those that are transformed by the Terrigen mist, it lacks a strong visual character. There’s a distinct Chinese influence, but it would be nice to see the design team push a little further and find ways to incorporate elements that are more unconventional and alien.

Continuing from our SHIELD vs “REAL” SHIELD storyline, Coulson and Hunter remain on the run and come up with a daring plan to steal a Quinjet which will give them a lot more flexibility.  Coulson – the master of the obvious – basically tells the REAL SHIELD where they are (the cabin the woods where they hid Skye) and offers himself up as bait.  May meanwhile is a prisoner of Gonzales who while still playing an irascible uncle comes across as also a bit more sympathetic as he gradually shows that perhaps there is a case to be made against Coulson and his use of powered people.  The surprise return of Deathlok as Coulson’s backup unfortunately only served to make Gonzales’ case stronger, but his inclusion of May into the board was actually a really nice touch as it showed he was trying to be as unbiased as possible.  What I really liked about Gonzalez though was his statements about loyalty and his utter belief that it’s SHIELD, not Coulson (or anyone else) that the team should be committed to above all else. Whether you think he’s right or wrong, that belief is one that is understandable as far his motivations go and it’s clear that he is willing to stick with his convictions when he actually lets Fitz go.

Talking about Fitz though … one team that has returned with a welcome bang is good old FitzSimmons – it was so good to see them back working together when they managed to “trick” Bobbi and Mac with Fury’s toolbox.

  • First Jemma sets the plan in motion. She lies to Bobbi, telling her It’s not a tech solution. It’s a lab solution.
  • Next, Fitz figures out what Jemma is doing. She’s scanning the surface dimensions… why would she do that? You can see his realisation that she is scanning it so she can print an identical looking 3D model.
  • Then comes the most Fitzsimmonsy conversation ever. So much subtext. I saw everything Jemma. Did you really want me to find out like this?
  • Well I was hoping you would so that we can work together on this. Do you have any idea how valuable the information inside this could be? You need to help me get it out. Get things back to normal.
  • Things can never go back to normal. Can’t you see that can’t any of you see what you’ve done you’ve destroyed a mans life for what. Because of fear? Well I don’t believe in fear. I believe in trust. And I’m shocked that you would do this you knew it would drive me away you may as well have packed my bags yourself. You want me to leave, don’t you Jemma.
  • If we work for SHIELD we have a DUTY to carry out our responsibilities. So perhaps it’s best if you do.

This was just completely awesome – they completely pulled the wool over Mac and Bobbi and Fitz is now on his way to join up with Coulson and Hunter.  Considering how easily Simmons disabled Bobbi in last weeks episode you’d think that she’d have learned her lesson and would stop underestimating her, but it obvious that Bobbi believes herself to be a “superior” spy to my favorite couple on the show.

Overall a really solid episode and while we didn’t have too much progression with any of the deeper mysteries it was not a filler episode and stuff actually happened!  While there’s considerable forward movement with Skye, the Gonzales/Coulson conflict lags this week. There’s the aforementioned sequence with Deathlok that spotlights the sweet new upgrades Mike Peterson has gotten since we last saw him, but not much else is especially memorable.

Its hard to believe that after last weeks episode, they will be able to keep the momentum going in Agents of Shield … but they’ve succeeded admirably!  While there are a few “wobbles” along the way, the mid-season finale ended with an appropriate cliffhanger and is an episode that will definitely keep me coming back to find out what happens next … not to mention the number of things that it actually did reveal – Daisy Johnson & The Inhumans plus enough death and destruction to even keep the Hulk happy!

As a really quick recap from the last episode, Ward has captured Skye and Raina and is taking them to Whitehall.  Whitehall has told Agent 33 to shoot down the Bus & Mack has been killed/transformed by the underground city.

Episode Recap

OK, lets start with the Quinjets attacking the Bus shall we?  May knows that despite Wards promise, HYDRA will not let them survive so as soon as Ward takes Raina and Skye off, she runs to the cockpit to get the Bus out of harms way.  Diving to the cloud deck (by the way, funny scene with the twins (triplets??) here) May and Tripp manage to evade the HYDRA forces by ejecting some camouflage debris which their missiles impact with.

[note: this is one of the wobbles I mentioned earlier … why was Tripp screaming as he pressed some buttons to engage the cloak?  seems a bit over the top?  also, why would HYDRA not search harder for the team – lets be honest 4 smoke clouds floating in the sky, hardly amount to much debris for a plane the size of the Bus?!]

City

At the city, Tripp and Fitz/Simmons are emplacing mechanical detonators to destroy the city.  Once again Howling Commando tech (big promotion in this for the upcoming Agent Carter series of course!) saves the day, as this old school tech won’t be impacted by any electromagnetic interactions that the city might be throwing off.  The team is obviously somewhat concerned with whats happened to Mack and speculate that he might not be dead, but instead he might have been converted by the city – something like a zombie ant – and the city is now controlling him!

Skye

Ward has taken Skye to her dad & what can you say?  While Kyle MacLachlan has only had a handful of appearances on the show, he’s easily a standout performer and one that emotes the roles to a greater degree than almost anyone else.  He is as crazy as they come, but at the same time he can make you empathize with him and his pain … of course a minute later you are scared spitless when he reverts back into a homicidal maniac!

Skye and her dad talk and while he admits to being a monster, he tries to explain and justify it but while doing so, he starts to lose control and scares Skye.  He explains that while he is here in the HYDRA base, he’s not actually working for HYDRA but is using them to find Skye and now that they have, he can kill Whitehall (not sure if you remember, but last weeks episode, we saw Whitehall torture and kill an immortal women – turns out this was Skye’s mother and Cal knows that Whitehall had her killed).  Skye’s dad says he’s sorry and goes out to kill Whitehall.

But

Whitehall knows that Cal is Skye’s dad and questions Ward on why he brought her also when his mission to the Bus was to capture Raina.  Realizing that Skye too can touch the Diviner, Whitehall tells Skye that he will enjoy finding out how she is able to do what she does & knocks out Skye’s dad.  He also tells Ward that he will enjoy making him “comply”.

When Skye’s dad wakes up, he finds that Whitehall has implanted a transmitter on him that knocks him down but before Whitehall can continue threatening Skye, Coulson and May appear and start to attack the HYDRA forces.  Skye’s dad manages to get the transmitter off his neck and kills the guard holding Ward and Skye captive, before he once again leaves to kill Whitehall.  Unfortunately before he is able to get his hands on Whitehall … Coulson appears and shoots him dead!

OK – officially at the 1/2 way point now … like I said lots already happened but no where near the real earth shattering stuff still to come!

[note: is Whitehall really dead?  Considering he was the “big bad” of the season, he seemed to go awful quick?  Potential here for a clone or LMD or something like that??  Would be curious to see if he’s really out of the picture]

On to the 2nd 1/2

OK now that Coulson has killed the big bad, Skye’s dad has a major freak out on Coulson and starts to pound on him … hard.  Meanwhile, Ward has managed to escape his bonds and frees Skye.  As he’s scouting the lay of the land … Skye … shoots him!!

Bloody hell, that one actually really did take me by surprise.  I wasn’t expecting that at all and sad to say … I’m glad she did it.  It actually shows that she’s living up to her words and while I’m curious to see what happens in the future, this was well done.

While Ward is bleeding in the hallway, Skye rush’s to Coulson’s defense and manages to get her dad away from him.  Skye’s dad says he’s sorry and leaves and tells her that she will come to him in the future after telling Skye her real name is Daisy.

[note: this is the first real confirmation that Skye is actually Daisy Johnson the Inhuman known as Quake and her father is the supervillian Mister Hyde]

Syye says she will go to find the obelisk, but it turns out that Raina has managed to carry it into the tunnels where she meets Mack, who’s obviously not dead.  Telling him to take her to “the place” she heads out into the darkness.  Skye quickly realizing what Raina has done, goes into the city looking for followed fairly shortly thereafter by Coulson.

When May tells Trip, Fitz and Simmons that Skye and Coulson are now in city, Tripp quickly goes back in and disarms all of the bombs he’d just finished arming and follows Skye into the chamber where she has managed to track down and confront Raina.

When Raina places the Diviner on the obelisk, it opens up and is all crystalline inside (looks a lot like Superman’s fortress of solitude to be honest!).  Activating, the Diviner encases both Skye and Raina in some sort of chrysalis, but Tripp looks unharmed.  Unfortunately when the crystal shards on the Diviner shatter Tripp is hit by one and is immediately turned to stone.

Tripp is dead. … I’m not sure how I feel about this to be honest.  He’s not one of the main characters and I’m still not really invested in him, but he’s been around for a while and I really thought that Mack had bought it, but with the bait-and-switch they’ve pulled, it looks like Mack is going to be here for at least a little while longer.  The way he died though … kind of lame to be honest … would have been better if he’d gone in the episode where they were searching for the lost city. This one, he was just following Skye around and was kind of incidental.

Skye however breaks out of her chrysalis and sees Tripp crumbling to dust in front of her.  She seems … powerful.  Everything is shaking and Skye looks like a hero come to Earth.  Raina however … while we know she was encased, we don’t really know what has happened to her – there was a small flash of something that looked like porcupine quills but I could have been mistaken.  I guess we’ll need to wait till March to find out more!

or will we?

Like all good cliffhangers, we can’t be left with just one … it seems that after all this time, there is another Obelisk & there’s someone new … A Man with no eyes … he seems to know all about the Obelisks though as he picks up the phone and tells someone else that there is now “another”.

Closing

It looks like instead of Agents of SHIELD being an also ran and addendum to the movies, its now taking the lead with the introduction of the Inhumans.  While no-one specifically mentions them by name Marvel Comics long ago introduced the concept of the blue crystals brought to the Earth by the Kree that transformed Neanderthal man into something more by encasing them in cocoons.

This means that SHIELD is finally doing what I wanted them to do in the first place (I’ll take full credit for this by the way) & is helping to drive the Marvel Universe forward instead of just reacting to things.  Not only are they now leading the way, they have also with this episode opened up the possibility of a whole host of super powered beings being introduced and hopefully appearing in future episodes of SHIELD.

Last weeks episode of Shield didn’t really give us any great shocks or surprises did it?  I mean we all knew that Skye was Daisy Johnson (Quake) … we all knew that Raina was something different, something new and we all knew that Tripp was dead.  What we didn’t know however was how the team would react to these changes.  To the death of a friend and colleague, to the transformation of a friend … well I think we have those answers at least now.

Have we got all of our answers?  No, not by any stretch of the imagination and like all good TV we’ve probably got even more questions than we did before.

  • I mean what is Raina now?
  • Who is the Nightcrawler-esque jumper that we saw save her?
  • What is the secret that Bobbi is hiding and is
  • HYDRA out of the picture or will they be back?

This one episode by itself opened up a raft of different questions that we need answers to and the ones I’ve mentioned are probably just the tip of the iceberg!  One thing that was done quite excellently however was the introduction of our new “powers” for this latter half of the season.

I mean, by this point its been well publicized that due to the deal Marvel crafted with FOX they are unable to use the XMEN or any of the other Mutants or mutant characters in the MCU – one would hope that they’d be able to do something similar to what they’ve recently done with Sony and it’s Marvel property (Spiderman) so that we can eventually get the mutants into the MCU – and as such they’ve needed to go a different route to introduce a host of different characters with powers – namely the Inhumans.

What we didn’t know however is how were these characters going to be introduced to us?  Would it be something off the cuff said in passing or would it be something completely different, something a lot more ominous and frightening?

aosWell in last week’s episode we got our answer to that question at least and it was nothing less than perfect!  It was appropriate to the conversation, it made sense to the story and it gave us an idea of how different these new characters are going to be.

We got a chance to see how Simmons feels about people with powers in this new world order but more importantly we got a chance to understand what someone going through such a change would act and feel like.

One other thing we saw though?  We saw true friendship – love, caring and devotion that you only see in families and to be honest isn’t that what our core group of agents in this show are?  They go that extra mile for each other and will do anything to help each other succeed.

While the changes to Skye are still in the very early stages and she has no real control over her powers, the one thing that we know for sure is that while she might be Inhuman she still has human connections and it is these connections that will help her to gain a handle on her powers and survive.

While the first half of AOS might have been all about HYDRA and the events subsequent to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I expect that HYDRA is going to take up significantly less screen time in this latter half of season two as they explore the ramifications of the changes to Skye and who and what she is now.

Filler

Hmmm – I have to be honest I was really looking forward to this episode as unlike some other reviewers I really enjoyed last weeks one and Lady Sif is always badass and cool – however I have to be honest … I was somewhat disappointed as this episode felt like nothing more than a filler.  I mean the whole “reveal” thing of Skye could have been done last week and while the Kree explanation was OK … it was also somewhat unnecessary I felt?  I might be being too judgmental however, so lets go through the recap and see what we all feel like by the end.

Recap

We start with Lady Sif coming out of the surf in black leather looking for “kava” (I actually thought she said coffee the first time I heard it!) and it seems she’s lost her memory.  From this we see May (Ming-Na Wen) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) doing some hard core fighting at HQ but Skye is holding back … while May thinks it has something to do with Tripp’s death, we all know that in reality she’s worried about what might happen if she loses control.  Fitz appears to further reinforce this to us and you can see that May is wondering a little bit about what is going on.

Hunter and Bobbi are having some “relaxation” time together and Hunter tells Bobbi that Coulson has offered him a permanent position on the team.  Coulson meanwhile also offers Mac a more robust (field) role where he can better utilize his strengths.  Mac states that he is not a huge fan of violence, but it seems Coulson is able to persuade him.

The team travel to Portugal where Lady Sif is waiting for Kava.  However Coulson informs her that he isn’t Kava but rather a friend that can help.  (There are some cute sequences where they play upon Lady Sif’s memory loss – i.e. May mentions Thor and Sif smiles, “but doesn’t know the reason why” and her education in regards to things she learnt as a child, knowledge which she still retains.)  She is suffering from amnesia so Coulson gets out his digital photos of all the good times they had together, ever the fanboy. She trusts him even though he is not kava but he is going to help her figure this out. Skye finds a video on Twitter of Lady Sif in a pretty epic boardwalk brawl with a man who is able to hold his own against her. He is wielding some sort of small hammer like tool and he uses this to zap her in the chest. She strikes him with her sword and some liquid shoots out along with sparks before he throws her into the water. If she travelled across the universe to find this guy he must be dangerous.

We then jump to the strange man who managed to beat Lady Sif and see him in a hospital demanding access to their supplies.  When the nurse tries to dissuade him, he zaps her also with the device and turns blue.  The team meanwhile make their way to the pier where the fight took place and with some investigation manage to track him down to the hospital where Bobbi and Skye confront him.  Bobbi fights against him but is beaten quite soundly, leaving Skye on her own.  As she holds a gun on him, the whole room starts to shake and the gun literally falls apart in her hands (quite cool how this happens I have to say) but before anything else happens a shelf falls on her knocking her out and the man escapes.

The team then all gather back together and determine that the man is a Kree.  Lady Sif states that a Kree on Earth is up to no good.  Skye and Fitz meet to discuss what happened and she indicates that she wants to tell Coulson, but Fitz tells her to wait till they know more.  Hunter walks in on their private conversation but its not clear how much he’s actually heard.  Talking about secret conversations, Bobbi and Mac are having their own conversation too where they’re discussing bringing Hunter onboard with their secret plans, but Mac is adamant that doing so is not an option.  It’s very much stated that while their plans aren’t meant to harm SHIELD they also have nothing to do with HYDRA and that “after they pull the trigger” they hope to be friends with SHIELD again.  It’s all a little bit too cloak and dagger and feels forced to be honest.

The team realize that the Kree is in a town in Portugal called Chaves (keys in English) and this is where Whitehall first found the obelisk in 1944.  Skye states that she’d prefer to sit out the fight and while her stated reason is that she feels “banged up” after her previous encounter, both Sif and May look a little suspicious and wonder what is really going on.

The team manage to capture the Kree with an electronic net and take him back to the bus where they interrogate him.  He informs them that he’s actually there to help and his name is Vin-Tak and his truncheon can also restore memories.  He manages to get his hands on it and immediately restores Sif’s memories and then explains that the Kree used terrigenesis on a multitude of planets to obtain soldiers in a war that they were losing.  While it didn’t work on most planets, on Earth it did and created abominations.  When Vin-Tak saw that the program had started again he came to Earth to immediately put a stop to it as the current Kree empire would start the program again, enslaving humans to do their bidding.  When the team looks at the crate that Vin-Tak had removed from the cave they see that there are enough diviners to create an army and while we know one has been destroyed, there are five remaining.

Vin-Tak says we have to find the diviners and destroy the abominations that were created immediately. They talk about the event that changed Raina and when Vin-Tak and Sif learn that Skye witnessed it they are suspicious. Scared Skye starts to rumble the room a bit and again nobody notices which is really odd I’d like to think someone would at least take note that the room was starting to tremble again. The drama escalates and Skye goes full on quake, the enter HQ shakes and Coulson turns to her and says, “Skye..what is doing this?” He knows the answer and the look on his face was torturous sadness he knows how badly this is going to turn out for her. Skye tells him it is her and she shatters the windows behind her but May and Coulson are immediately at her side, guns pointed at Lady Sif and VinTak.

Sif and Vin-Tak immediately want to take Skye away, but the team manage to distract them long enough to allow Skye to escape.  Fitz manages to knock down Vin-Tak with a big gun and Bobbi then uses his own truncheon on him to erase his memory neutralizing him.  Meanwhile Lady Sif has managed to break into the cell where Skye is hiding but she shoots herself with one of the icers making Sif realize that she isn’t evil. Coulson finds them and explains that Skye would rather harm herself than bring harm to any of them and that she can be trusted with her powers.

Lady Sif and Vin-Tak are transported back to Asgard and its assumed Vin-Tak will be returned to his home world sans memory (quite a pity as he was only trying to do the right thing, but now he will not only not know that, he won’t remember anything else either!).  Lady Sif explains to Coulson that Asgard is significantly more advanced than Earth in terms of Science (glad how they state its science and not magic) and sometimes there are some things you just can’t control.  Coulson makes the point of stating that the city is underwater so even though there are more diviners out there, they can’t be used (why can’t they be used under water?)

At HQ everyone is cleaning up and they all attack Fitz for not telling them.  Mac states that they need to be protected from Skye which she overhears.  Skye then proceeds to lock herself in the bus and resigns herself to isolation for the moment.  Later we see Mac working on something when Hunter confronts him about the whole secret with Bobbi thing.  Mac manages to get him into a choke hold and knocks him out.

Review & Questions

This episode was all about revelations; but beyond Lady Sif and Skye, the team is also coming to terms with finding out who ‘each other’ are. Sure there’s fears about what Skye really is; but there is also continuing discord between Fitz and Simmons. We also have the whole Mac/Bobbi/Hunter love triangle really coming to the fore in this episode.

  • Vin-Tak doesn’t seem based on a specific comic book Kree, but his name follows general Kree naming conventions (i.e. Mar-Vell, Yon-Rogg, et al) and the idea that Kree would have violent subfactions is well established. Vinny’s weapon is also reminiscent of Ronan’s Universal Weapon (that hammer-thing from the GotG movie) but his seek-out-and-capture mission makes him seem like a Pursuer (unlike Ronan, who is an Accuser).
  • When Sif initially says she’s looking for ‘Carva’, some could have thought this meant Carva Tessara, a brief Centaurian character in the comics. Of course we learn in the episode that “Carva” is actually the Kree word for “Keys”, which then bring us to “Chaves” which is the Portuguese/Old Spanish word for “Keys”.
  • The stunning icer guns are back; but this time Simmons has increased the concentration of Dendrotoxins, which could be very dangerous and unhealthy for the targets. Sadly, Simmons sees this as necessary for the Inhumans.
  • Showing Skye’s powers shatter a gun help to show that Skye’s powers aren’t geomancy or power over earthquake; but rather shockwaves and vibrations themselves.
  • Despite not knowing who Thor is, Lady Sif still smiles at the mention of his name. This is a reference to their occasional romance in the comics as well as the romance fans have been wanting in the films as well.
  • When Lady Sif warned Coulson ‘There are tides in the universe that you cannot swim against”, you might have remembered the Season One group “The Rising Tide” for whom Skye used to work for. Could this group see an actual return or was this just a simple Easter Egg of Skye’s past in reference to her future?
  • How do you slow down a Kree? Simple, use Coulson’s Destroyer Gun
  • This episode also marks our first confirmation on the Kree’s home world of Hala

OK so if you’ve stayed with me till now – what do you think?  Was there anything earth shattering presented in this episode or was it a simple filler as I’ve stated at the start?  I really don’t think we learnt anything new or at least nothing of significance and while it seems like lots happened, it all revolved around a revelation that could have been done in the previous episode.

Somewhat like old home week, the gang is finally all back together.  Skye has returned and with Ward’s inclusion last week our original cast of characters is now all together back on the boat … one thing that needs to be said though is that WOW have they changed.  Skye once a bit of a loner is now truly at home with her teammates, Fitz and Simmons with their on again / off again relationship/friendship (who knows what ship) are still just as confused – perhaps even more so and May … once the mother of the group to Coulson‘s dad is now possibly considering a divorce!

The elephant though … well that’s Ward really isn’t it?  Who he has become and what he’s done to those he considered his friends … this was his opportunity to really apologize and perhaps start working towards that redemption he seems to so desperately need.  The team (including us) would never give it to him – his actions go definitely beyond the pail, but unfortunately Ward’s apology really shows a lack of maturity and a true understanding of the pain and anguish that he has caused his supposed friends.

When Mack apologized to Hunter – it was meaningful … you could see the tears in his eyes (I know this was acting, but it was believable) but perhaps most importantly he said the right words:

I still believe in what I do, but I never meant for you to get hurt and I’m sorry for that and I’ll try to make it up to you in any way that I can.

Ward by contrast however blames all of his actions on how he was brought up, the abuses he suffered at the hands of his family etc… he refuses to take any ownership for his actions and his sociopathic tendencies and while it seems he’s trying to do the right thing by Kara (Agent 33) he’s unable to translate these actions into the necessary changes he’d need to make in himself.  While Ward seems to desperately want to be a hero again – he cannot redeem himself, truly redeem himself until he acknowledges and atones for his previous actions and shows true remorse.  Right now his only regrets seem to be that he and the team had “good times”

Whereas Captain America: The Winter Soldier had S.H.I.E.L.D being impacted greatly by the events of that movie and us literally being caught blindsided, this time S.H.I.E.L.D is providing us with some foreshadowing by way of Raina and her gifts and while I personally wasn’t that impressed with this (I’ll explain more later) it was to be expected.

Episode Recap

OK lets get down to the nitty gritty as there was quite a bit of stuff that happened in this episode including a tie in for the the upcoming Avengers Movie also (as previously mentioned).

*** Spoilers below ***

With the return of Cal and Skye to the Afterlife, Cal literally explodes (verbally) and lets the cat out of the bag in regards to Skye’s parentage.  If you recall from a previous episode Jianying wanted to keep this secret so I’m sure this is going to come back and bite her quite badly.  Skye wants to immediately attempt a rescue of Lincoln, but when Gordon initially attempts to do so himself he is accosted by Hydra agents and almost captured.  With Raina’s “influence” based on her visions, Skye has herself teleported to the bus prior to Coulson and the rest of the gang initiating their rescue attempt.

Coulson as just mentioned has managed to persuade Gonzales of the value of conducting a rescue operation to recover Mike Peterson (Deathlok) and also the unnamed powered individual (Lincoln) that H.Y.D.R.A is experimenting on.  While his apparent surrender to Gonzales at the end of the previous episode might have put him into Gonzales’ “power” it is quite apparent that Coulson can literally run circles around him.  His comments to Hill that Gonzales has a committee that actually vote on decisions shows the true derision that he feels for Gonzales.  The sad fact is that a leader is someone willing to make those difficult decisions and deal with the consequences of them both positive and negative and unfortunately as much as I like the Edward James Olmos – Gonzales is not a leader.  He is not the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.  OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now and get back to the recap! 🙂

Coulson gathers together the rest of the gang and with Skye’s return to the bus thanks to Gordon, they set off on an apparent suicide mission to infiltrate the H.Y.D.R.A base.  When H.Y.D.R.A detects the bus even thought is cloaked and fires two missiles apparently destroying it … our thoughts immediately go to the team … well, no, not really – we all knew they were fine didn’t we?  Anyways, it turns out that they were in a quinjet inside the bus and they actually used the wreckage of the bus as camouflage to sneak down.  Bakshi it seems has continued to keep them informed and they well knew the capabilities of the base prior to planning their assault.  Once they are able to obtain ingress to the base they actually meet up with Bakshi and split up into three separate teams with Skye/Ward and Bakshi on the rescue team.  While Skye initially uses her powers (which she seems to be gaining control of exponentially) to disable some H.Y.D.R.A agents, she really kicks ass in an action sequence that is up there with the May vs. May fight from Face my Enemy.  Kevin Tancharoen has directed several episodes this season, and once again he really raised the bar for action on this series when he staged an intricate sequence showing what Skye is capable of not just with a weapon but also with her body and the surroundings.  I can’t really speak highly enough if this sequence and I definitely want to see more of Skye kicking butt not just with her powers, but also good old fashioned hand-to-hand as this episode shows she’s definitely got the goods and the abilities to allow her to hold her own.

Coulson meanwhile leads Fitz and May on a separate mission to disable the anti-aircraft defenses that H.Y.D.R.A has in place so that S.H.I.E.L.D can send in some jets to destroy the base.  While Fitz is hacking the defenses however, Coulson seems to have another reason for being there – rescuing Deathlok and Lincoln it seems is simply a cover and a way for him to access the base.  In a similar sequence to what we saw with the Widow and the Captain from Winter Soldier, Coulson manages to obtain access to some information while May holds of the attacking H.Y.D.R.A agents.  May however is less than pleased at learning of this subterfuge and continues to push Coulson to come clean with her on all of the different secrets he’s holding very close to his chest.

Simmons similarly however had her own reasons for deciding to join the rescue attempt and while her attempt on Wards life fails she does kill Bakshi.  While I can understand Simmons’ need to avenge herself on Ward, I really feel that she is becoming more and more unhinged herself and if she’s not careful could end up just as damaged as he is!  Jemma is not a killer. I think she’s falling apart so quickly she doesn’t know how to stop it. So much hurt, pain… She can’t deal with it alone. That’s why I really hope she confesses everything to Fitz (including Bankshi’s death and I’m afraid of how is he going to react).

Returning to the base, Coulson hands over the cube but not before letting slip that Fury is still alive.  While Gonzales’ might think Coulson isn’t the Director, a phone call from Agent Hill demonstrates quite clearly that there are many others who believe the opposite.  While speaking to Hill, Coulson provides her with the information that he’d stolen from H.Y.D.R.A – the location of Loki’s scepter – and also informs her that they need to call the Avengers again.

Review

From the point of view of tying up a bunch of loose ends this episode absolutely delivered and I know I’m probably in the minority in my one gripe, but since this is my post I can state it anyways!  While I absolutely was expecting the fact that they’d somehow allude to the upcoming movie in S.H.I.E.L.D I hate the fact that they had to do it.  I know that they (the MCU) are all interconnected and I loved what changed in S.H.I.E.L.D after the events of Winter Soldier, but this “plug” for Age of Ultron felt like nothing more than that … an attempt to get more bums in seats.  Winter Soldier took me by surprise and the whole S.H.I.E.L.D v.s. H.Y.D.R.A impact along with the changes to some beloved characters … that was good storytelling.  This – well we’ve all seen the trailers for weeks if not months with Ultron … we know that these are the metal men that Raina is referring to and unfortunately as much as I enjoy Raina’s character and her thorny new look, her clairvoyance feels too much like a convenient plot device to put certain pieces in place.  The impact just isn’t there for these pronouncements which is really sad as the last 5 minutes of the episode removed some of the awesomeness that I felt in the rest of the episode.  I absolutely know and realize that the whole MCU is interconnected – I honestly do get that – maybe its just Raina.  It’s probably just me. 🙂

Coulson has kept the secret of the Theta Protocol close to the vest as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., refusing to reveal what it means even to Agent Melinda May (Ming Na Wen). In “The Dirty Half Dozen” Coulson finally lets slip what this protocol entails while speaking to Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders): the Avengers as mentioned below and while I wasn’t too keen on how this was tied into the show, I am very curious to see what happens next week post Ultron and how that impacts S.H.I.E.L.D and the team.  While Ward is absolutely not redeemed (thankfully), the question is of course is his actions on/for Kara as genuine as he is making them out to be, or is he still playing another con, this time with her inside S.H.I.E.L.D?

By this point you’ve probably already seen the trailers for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron.  If not you can find one of them at this link.  Something else that might interest you however is an overall cinematic for the MCU as presented in the video below.  I found it quite interesting and hopefully you will too!

The long awaited … wait a second, that’s actually not really true is it?  I know that there was some mystery about why May has/was (been) called the CAVALRY, but in reality it didn’t really matter (at least not in my opinion).  While some mysteries NEED to be answered, others can stay as mysteries as they add a little something to the character.  Now I’d like to think that the writers had planned the whole reveal out, right from the beginning where May’s “origins” are linked back to Skye but unfortunately that almost seemed forced. I know that the MCU cannot utilize mutants to explain away powered individuals but by tying this episode into the current Inhuman story arc, they have taken away from all of the others that have been shown to have powers in earlier episodes.  Last year at about this time, the show completely transformed itself with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the grand reveal of H.Y.D.R.A – conversely this year, while the show has been enjoyable, its also been dragging a little bit as they seem to be doing too much talking and not enough growing.  Unfortunately this weeks episode was really nothing more than a long and extended flash back to May which is a real pity as having a two year mystery about someone’s origins is not really interesting.

One could assume that the upcoming release of Avengers: Age of Ultron will have another bombshell to drop on our favorite team of unpowered (well not counting Skye) crime fighters – perhaps the return of our favorite patch-eyed Director to command of S.H.I.E.L.D?  Would this be how the underlying story between Gonzalez and Coulson gets resolved perhaps?

S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second season has been much more consistent than its first in terms of quality, and it’s done a relatively fine job of introducing secrets and paying them off in quick fashion (for example: Skye already knows that Jiaying is her mother), but it’s hard to ignore the feeling something is missing.  I’ve complained several times already about the (too soon) removal of H.Y.D.R.A and the take over by the “Real” S.H.I.E.L.D was also very anticlimactic considering the buildup.  While Gonzalez is being portrayed as nothing more than a patriot we love Coulson and while it is shocking to find out that he’s got another operation on the go – something called Theta Protocol – I‘m sure you continue to trust him as do I and this will all be explained away in a positive manner.  With Ward and his role in H.Y.D.R.A – well that was a shock I’ve still not gotten over … it truly was a genuine surprise.  Coulson though … he’s a goodie!

The opening sequence featured Blair Underwood as May’s husband, which was a nice surprise. I mentioned in my review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 13, that he was the best part of that episode. Ming-Na did a wonderful job of portraying a pre-Bahrain Agent May. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we learned what damaged her, but did it have to take so damn long?  Her separation from Blair Underwood was somewhat explained – I know perhaps I’m a bit insensitive, but he is a psychologist so you’d think that he’d be able to explain to her and make her see that the problem wasn’t with her?  After all, if you think about it, Fury did when he had her spy on Coulson while pretending to join her team.  Unfortunately I really think that while they emphasized May’s fighting skills the actual storyline and interaction between May and the “transformed” child + mother was nothing more than a way to tie her storyline into the underlying Inhuman storyline.  It felt forced.  You could see that May was traumatized – this was played out extremely well however so I do need to give her absolute credit for this.  Perhaps her distress at the title was in how inapt it really is as the only reason she was able to disable so many others was because of the use the little girl (Katya) put them to as she was literally dropping them right and left.

The more interesting stuff took place at “Afterlife” between Skye and her mother. Jiaying put a positive spin on Skye’s power and made her move mountains, literally, which was kind of fun. Perhaps even cooler however was her more subtle manipulation of the glasses to literally get them to sing.

While it was absolutely expected it was still nice to hear that she had made an “exception” to train Skye and her explanation on why it needed to be kept a secret made sense (Jiaying fears that some folks might draw parallels between Skye and Katya, therefore she can’t have people knowing the real nature of her relationship to Skye) – it didn’t however have to be tied into May’s role as the “Cavalry” as I feel like S.H.I.E.L.D. is diminishing the importance of that day in May’s life by also making it about Skye.  Is it too much to ask that May’s backstory be about May?

Lincoln: You know it’s really impressive for Jiaying to take anyone under her wing.
Skye: Yeah?
Lincoln: Yeah.
Skye: I like her. I just… I can’t… What’s her role here?
Lincoln: Her role is, in charge. So really she must like you.
Skye: If she’s in charge, how often does she train people?
Lincoln: Since I’ve been here… let me see… never.

Continuing with our Inhuman friends though we do learn one other key thing that will definitely play out in the future … Raina’s power – or at least one of them – is prophecy.  While we all know that the Inhumans story arc is a long one with S.H.I.E.L.D (after all the movie is years away) this gift is sure to be a very important direction for the show and I’m really glad that they are moving Raina’s character forward.  I’ve never really liked her – she’s always been too amoral and only in it for herself, but her transformation to Porcupine girl was also really cruel and I know I started to feel somewhat sorry for her!  The family dinner where Lincoln realized Raina was actually seeing the future was awkward, but Skye behaved herself and everyone enjoyed the moment. Kyle MacLachlan was wonderful as always as Cal, and it was nice to see him smile, although I’m sure you were also expecting the other shoe to drop just like I was?  One thing I do have to wonder though … if the secret of Skye’s parentage must be kept … should Lincoln have been allowed to see them?

The episode concluded with our neophyte James bond wannabe, Fitz hiding in a bathroom after opening Fury’s toolbox.  Always the genius he’s managed to get it working and has figured out a way to contact Coulson and Hunter – yay – the gang is getting back together!