Don’t call them the Masters of Evil, because Calvin Zabo’s team of enhanced super criminals didn’t provide much of a threat to the Agents of SHIELD at all. Still, there were some other quieter moments of this week’s episode that got us jazzed.
First off, let’s start with Zabo and his crew of villainy. Man, this team of ne’er–do–wells couldn’t have been more generic if they tried, but at least it was really good to see Calvin Zabo back in action, as Kyle MacLachlan really just chewed all the scenery within sight. MacLachlan has perfected his barely in control rage beast shtick for Zabo, and the results are awesome.
In the comics, Zabo has always kind of been a one-note character with a few notable story arcs (most recently in Jeff Parker’s criminally underrated run on Thunderbolts), but Agents of SHIELD has turned him into a truly memorable villain with some deep motivations. Zabo has a tragic past and is very much a Magneto type of baddie. A shadowy government organization murdered his beloved wife and now another shadowy organization holds the fate of his beloved daughter Daisy in their hands. It’s hard for the barely balanced Zabo to make the distinction between the altruistic SHIELD led by Phil Coulson and the vile HYDRA formerly led by Whitehall.
So, Zabo‘s darkness is understandable and he really has excelled as SHIELD’s main adversary (other than Ward, of course). Not so relatable was the crew that Zabo gathers, a group of generic clunkers that wouldn’t have made the Newsboy Legion break a sweat.
First, we had some skinny computer hacker guy named Wendell Levi; second, we had some stubby dude with super strength named Francis Noche. Not exactly, the Red Skull and Doctor Doom there. In addition to these z-list jerk-offs, we had some chick in desperate need of a manicure named Karla Faye Gideon who was played by Sopranos alum Drea de Matteo, and holy crap were de Matteo’s talents wasted on this dud of a character. De Matteo spent the whole episode looking tired and bored before being taken out by Agent Morse (at least it was a cool fight scene). I mean, Gideon’s powers were metal fingernails. That’s like having super hard elbows or something. Finally, this group of all star ass-hairs was rounded out by Angar the Screamer who at least had the decency to actually be from the comics. But why bother doing Angar if you aren’t really going to do Angar?
Forgive my geek entitlement, but if he ain’t wearing a fur vest and rocking a porn ‘stache, it just ain’t Angar. And I don’t care if you do give him a Bane mask. Not Angar. At least they could have let de Matteo play Screaming Mimi or something, so you could have had a TV tribute to the great Angar/Screaming Mimi team of years past that only me and my Den of Geek editor, Mike Cecchini, remember.
Anyway, so yeah, these guys sucked despite Zabo being awesome, and Coulson and company took them down rather easily. But the victory came with a price.
The meat of the episode focused on Skye struggling to control her newfound quake powers. Coulson and Agent May even brought in an expert in the field of super human psychology, May’s ex-husband Dr. Andrew Garner, played by the always-awesome Blair Underwood. Through Garner, we not only got to journey deep into the mind of the ultra powered but oh-so vulnerable Skye, we also got a look into May’s mysterious past. There was definitely some palpable chemistry between Garner and May, and I hope the good doctor will appear again.
Garner looked like he was getting to Skye and helping her control her power, until the episode’s climax where Skye tried to hold her powers back and ended up basically shattering her wrists. This was a very effective moment that showed the dangers of this kind of metahumans ability. It showcased just how much damage Skye could do to herself and others, and beats the heck out of having really sharp cuticles.
As ineffective as Zabo’s crew was, and how paint by numbers the final battle with these morts also tended to be, the shocking reappearance of Reader, who ‘ported into the battle and saved Zabo from SHIELD, counterbalanced the episode’s suckage when it came to villains. The episode’s stinger saw Reader bringing Zabo to whomever it is that the eyeless Inhuman is working for. It’s way too early into this whole Inhumans thing to be introduced to Black Bolt or any member of the Royal Family? Isn’t it?
Yeah, we got to see Agent Morse take down Adriana La Cerva quicker than Silvio Dante did after she turned rat on Chrissie, but that wasn’t all Mockingbird was up to this week. Morse’s poor estranged husband, Agent Hunter, was cuffed to Agent Mack’s sink. This was a result of last week’s episode where Hunter discovered that Mack and Morse were harboring a secret. In this hour, his ex-wife and his best pal had to make sure that their allegiance stayed a secret. It was revealed that Mack and Morse were working for an organization trying to infiltrate SHIELD and surprisingly, that organization was none other than SHIELD itself. Well, that’s quite the cliffhanger, huh?
So despite the single worst super villain team up in history, there was enough going on in Agents of SHIELD between May’s past, Zabo’s profound awesomeness, Mack and Morse’s intrigue, and the continuation of the arrival of the Inhumans to the cinematic Marvel Universe to keep us happy.
Angar the Screamer first appeared in Daredevil #100 (1973) and was created by Howard the Duck mastermind Steve Gerber, the great Gene Colan, and John Tartaglione. Angar being used un-ironically like he was used this week on Agents of SHIELD is just a waste of everyone’s time. Especially if he is going to be taken down in five seconds after Zabo and company made the effort to bust him out of prison. In the comics, Angar had the power to cause LSD like hallucinations with his voice, because the ‘70s.
A woman named Karla Faye Gideon first appeared in Daredevil: Redemption #1 (2005), and was created by David Hine and Michael Gaydos. In her comic appearances, Gideon was a minor character in Redemption and barely made a blip on the Marvel radar. She certainly didn’t have powers if you can call a bad manicure powers. One wonders how and why an actress with the skills of Drea de Matteo was wasted in this role, and why Gideon was chosen as a name for the character. In the comics, Gideon was an abused wife, so maybe Marvel wanted to find someone to fill the abused wife angle, as it was revealed she got the killer nails to protect herself from her husband? Either way, I can think of a ton and half other Marvel characters de Matteo could have played, alas.
Garner mentioned bringing in a colleague to help Skye’s case. Doc Sampson, mayhaps?