Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 episode 10 review: What They Become

Spoilers and revelations ahead in James' review of the last Agents Of SHIELD episode for this year...

This review contains spoilers.

2.10 What They Become

Last week I speculated that the title of the mid-season finale might suggest a latent Inhuman becoming inactive. I was wrong. It in fact suggested TWO of them!

That’s right. Skye and Raina are both Inhumans, and their powers have now been awakened. This is a big deal for Agents Of SHIELD, not least because it finally, FINALLY, after 30 @#%&ing episodes has a genuine super-powered character in the cast.

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Now, after practically begging for closer ties to the Marvel Universe, this episode delivered them in spades. I’ve gone into the details elsewhere, but if you’re at all familiar with Marvel comics canon, you’ll know that Skye’s Father is Mr. Hyde, Skye is Quake, and she and Raina are both Inhumans. That’s a lot to take in, and I’m not even sure how I feel about it.

Introducing Inhumans into the MCU is a good way to allow the show to deal more easily with superpowered individuals in a way that doesn’t force them to spend an entire episode doing an origin story, but it’s also the sort of thing that might dominate the narrative from now on – especially since there’s an Inhumans movie coming. And let’s not forget that they still haven’t actually used the word on the show, suggesting that we might end up limping towards a revelation that the bulk of the audience has already figured out.

Still, this series has had a fast pace, so maybe they’ll hit the ground running when they come back after their, er, several-month break. Maybe Agent Carter will fill in some of these gaps, maybe it won’t, but either way there are dangling plot threads which won’t be picked up for some time. In particular, whatever Bobbi and Mack were up to.

Speaking of which, it seems like it’s a bad time to be a black guy on Agents Of SHIELD. Although Mack wasn’t as dead as he initially looked, his future is uncertain. We last saw him slumped on the ground in a post-zombie state. Meanwhile, Triplett is quite literally dust. I know in an ideal world we’d be post-racial enough that we didn’t have to worry about this, but if you’re killing off both black characters in one episode, you have to wonder if it isn’t poor judgement. If nothing else, Trip and Mack were two of the least stereotypical characters on the team, not having them around means more time for people like prissy Brit, sexy ass-kicker and impossibly cool middle-aged guy in suit. Or maybe those archetypes haven’t been explored enough.

Anyway. One thing this episode definitely deserves praise for is finally bringing some of its long-running plots to a close. Skye meeting her father, learning who she is, all that stuff was done well and believably. Agent Ward is finally coming into his own as an antagonist, although I’m not especially keen on keeping Agent 33 (Fake May) around, because she badly lacks her own identity. Wrapping up the lingering stuff about the alien formula and the writing was also good, even if it doesn’t really seem to be the natural end-point of Coulson discovering that SHIELD can bring the dead back to life. The only thing that I wanted to see, but didn’t, was Skye’s father turning into Hyde, and I suspect they’re saving that for a point in the season where they’ve got more of an effects budget.

At least there’s now an implied plot for the second half of the series too: it appears that it’ll be SHIELD dealing with Inhumans, which is more the sort of thing I’d hoped they’d be doing from day one. I’ve had optimism about this series burn me before, but after a finale like this which jumps into the Marvel mythos with both feet, it surely has to continue in this vein, right?

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But now, as we break for a few months, I’m interested to know what people who weren’t up on their comics trivia thought of this episode. Did any of it make sense? Was there any tension in the mysteries and their reveals, or did you feel like questions were being answered with more questions? I find it hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t read the comics feeling at all satisfied by the knowledge that Skye’s name was Daisy or who her father was – at least, not until they’d looked it up online – but maybe I’m wrong.

Still, it’s a few months until we get any follow-up on this episode, so perhaps it’s good that they left us some stuff to chew over. See you in January for Agent Carter?

Read James’ review of the previous episode, Ye Who Enter Here, here.

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