This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
The past few weeks on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD there have been two disparate storylines. While both have been compelling, it kind of seemed like the series split into two entirely different narratives. One dealt with the struggle for the control of SHIELD between Gonzales and Coulson and the other was Skye learning about her powers and the world of the Inhumans. Well, this week, the two plotlines slammed together in grandly entertaining fashion as the history of the Inhumans was revealed to have had a profound impact on the lives of one of the show’s signature SHIELD agents.
When we first met our agents in last year’s pilot episode, Agent May instantly stood out as a fascinating character. She was called “The Cavalry” by her fellow agents and clearly there was a story behind the nickname. There were hints dropped about Bahrain and the act of heroism she committed one fateful day, but that’s all there was. May almost became the Wolverine of the group, a character defined by a lack of history.
This week, all questions were answered. We got to see Agent May when she was just Melinda May, a loving wife, a passionate, hopeful mother, and a woman who took her job as a SHIELD agent very seriously but not to the point where she was the almost robotic operative fans have come to know and love.
We know there was a tragedy behind Melinda’s past, but little did we know that the tragedy was so deeply connected to the Inhumans. Before we get to that, let’s talk Skye and her experience with the Inhumans. This week, in a beautifully executed scene, Skye found out that Jiaying was indeed her long lost mother and the newest Inhuman finally had a biological parental figure to embrace. It was a moving scene that spotlighted Skye’s rejection filled past and gave viewers an emotional catharsis. It kind of felt like it was the end of Skye the runaway hacker child and the beginning of Skye the superhuman.
Of course, nothing on this show goes off without a hitch and Jiaying made Skye promise never to reveal their familial connection. It seems that there once was another mother whose daughter became exposed to Terrigen in defiance of Inhuman law. This Inhuman little girl went on a rampage in Bahrain and ended up killing many people. Only a brave SHIELD agent was able to bring down the little girl.
That’s right; the incident in Bahrain that caused May to lose her emotions was a result of a mad Inhuman child. It was utterly fascinating how May’s past impacted the Inhuman culture and in relation, how the Inhumans’ past impacted May’s life. It caused her divorce, her giving up her career as a field operative, and the loss of her hope for security and family.
Now, May is working with Gonzales’ SHIELD and she had some disturbing things regarding Coulson revealed to her. For instance, it was discovered that Coulson was secretly working on upgrades to Deathlok while building some sort of facility that seemed to be planned as a place to train metahumans. He also kept all this from May and Simmons and has been harboring secrets of his own…secrets contained in Nick Fury’s treasure chest that Fitz just so happened to open at the end of this episode.
Paralleling Skye’s journey this week was Raina who still has not accepted her transformation into a porcupine woman. It was more of the same for Raina who has gone all emo since morphing into Sonic the Hedgehog but this episode did establish an interesting new bond with the eyeless Reader who knows all too well what it was like to be exposed to Terrigen and become something monstrous.
As Raina and Reader were explored, the revelations about Jiaying really made the Inhumans plot much more fascinating. Her stitched together features, her love for Skye, her loyalty to her mad husband all added up to make Jiaying a fascinating character. She was a perfect doorway to fans not familiar with the concept of the Inhumans and the scene where she taught Skye to use her quake powers to move a mountain was truly epic
Not much progress was made on the SHIELD vs. SHIELD plot this week beyond the revelations of Coulson’s machinations. It seemed that Mack and Morse were trying to show May why Coulson’s actions have been so suspicious as of late. Mack and Morse believe that they are truly heroes in their own narrative and they did a good job in convincing May, not to mention the viewer, that Coulson has something truly shadowy going on. But we just know too darn much about dear Phil dating back to the first Iron Man movie to believe that our favorite agent has gone rogue. Don’t we?
Between the world building done with the Inhumans and the tragedies of May’s past, this was one hell of an episode. That statement takes particular import as it seemed like nothing Agents of SHIELD could have done to keep pace with the sheer perfection that is Netflix’s Daredevil. But Agents of SHIELD was a home run this week and I can’t wait to see how the stories of SHIELD and the Inhumans link up as we barrel towards the end of the second season.
– Could the project Coulson was working on be the Avengers Academy which got its comic book start around the start of the Civil War?
– Did I mention Daredevil is transcendentally awesome? Just the fact that Agents of SHIELD now exists in the same world as Daredevil makes it that much better.
– A nice name drop of Alexander Pierce and his list of super human threats during the flashback. A nice backpedal foreshadowing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
– Marvel is starting to market Avengers: Age of Ultron with future episodes of Agents of SHIELD. I hope we get to see some kind of connection to the new Avengers film in a future episode. A killer A.I. would probably be a game changer in the spy game, no?