This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Well, another season of Agents of SHIELD has come and gone and again we are left with a mixed bag. One thing is for sure; this week’s double episode sure was loaded with plots, sub-plots, cliffhangers, climaxes, beginnings, and endings. Some were great, some were kind of in the middle, and some didn’t work at all, but I will say one thing, it sure was ambitious and left Agents of SHIELD in an interesting place as we begin the wait for next season.
The Inhumans are a good a place to start as any because most of the action centered on Jiaying’s plan to bring down SHIELD and spread her Terrigen contagion into the human population. Now, the way the series has dealt with the Inhumans has been a little inconsistent. Most of the members of the Inhumans introduced so far have been a bit, shall we say, generic, but the idea of the Inhumans, a mysterious and hidden race of super beings was played very well.
I absolutely love Jiaying as the Inhuman version of Magneto, a tortured member of a race of super humans bent on revenge, but I don’t know, the Inhumans are supposed to be more-over the top? Monstrous? With teleporting dogs, goat legged warriors, and fish men, the Inhumans have always been about variety. But the TV Inhumans are all kind of X-Men riffs what with the teleporting guy, the electric guy, the healing girl, and the multiple girl.
I guess we can chalk it all up to a TV budget (not really, The Flash had a super gorilla) and move on. What the Inhumans lacked in imagination they made up for in character growth because I think Jiaying trumped Ward as the series’ best villain. She was so broken by the actions of HYDRA she was willing to crush anyone that got in the way of her inflicting her pain on the human race.
We had a rather gripping confrontation between the Inhumans and SHIELD. The climactic battle would have probably been better if the show fleshed out a few more Inhumans. When the Inhuman was a familiar one like Gordon or Lincoln the action all felt very high stakes, but when the Inhuman was tacked on, like with multiplying girl or the martial arts guy, it was rather emotionless. By the time the whole battle ended, Gordon was killed by Fitz (in a really awesome scene that had huge consequences that we will discuss in a bit), Lincoln turned to the side of the angels (‘cause I guess Skye will need a love interest next season), and we had a catharsis regarding Skye’s family.
Along the way we also saw May become humanized, Fitz and Simmons admit their feelings for each other (FINALLY!), Mack take a stand, Bobbi Morse undergo unthinkable torture before sacrificing her body to save Hunter, Ward play the wild card and suffer an incredible loss, and Coulson lose an arm. Plus, we got to witness the death of Raina in a scene that drove home just how evil Jiaying truly was. Raina has become such a part of the fabric of this series; it will be strange to have her not play a part in things as they move forward.
Wait, what? Did I say Coulson lost an arm?
Yeah, during the battle with Gordon, after Fitz impaled the eyeless teleporting Inhuman, one of the Terrigen crystals was about to fall to the ground and shatter, something that would have killed Fitz and Mack. But Coulson selflessly caught the crystal, exposing himself to its properties and was turned to stone. Or he would have been if Mack didn’t slice Coulson’s arm off with an axe (that’s two Marvel characters to lose in arm in the past few weeks what with Ulysses Klaw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. What is this, Star Wars?).
I guess we will have a radically transformed Coulson next season, perhaps with a bionic arm? Or a gun arm? Gun arms always rule. I’m thinking a Deathlok prosthetic, myself.
Anyway, Gordon wasn’t the only Inhuman to perish as we also bid farewell to Jiaying who proved to be a cold blooded vampiric killer. Remember, Jiaying had the power of rapid healing; she even survived being dissected by HYDRA and Whitehall. But these abilities were not innate. No, Jiaying had to drain the life force of others in order to heal herself and she tried to do just that to her own daughter, an action that put her very high up on the repellant Marvel villain list. Cal, Skye’s father stepped in, and in a very poorly filmed sequence, kind of gently broke Jiaying’s back. I think. It was all very stilted and awkward and did not play well at all.
Sadly, that wasn’t the only moment concerning Cal that was incredibly awkward as this week; we finally got to witness Cal’s transformation. Yes, we got to see the complete transformation into Mr. Hyde, a villain that I wouldn’t exactly call iconic, but an old Marvel villain who does have a certain cache.
How did this classic villain translate to live action? Um…not very well.
It was really Kyle MacLachlan with his hair mussed up acting weird and walking like a constipated monkey. It is always fun to see Kyle MacLachlan chew some scenery, but this was really over the top almost to the point of poorly executed farce. Couple all that with him slowly hugging Jiaying to death (and why can’t she heal?), it was not a well executed end to Cal’s prolonged character arc. Although I did like the idea of SHIELD mind wiping Cal and turning him into a suburban veterinarian. I would watch the shit out of a Mr. Hyde, Animal MD show.
Some better moments of the season finale involved Bobbi Morse and Hunter. May and Hunter came to rescue Bobbi but Ward set a trap for them, setting up a huge gun that will shoot anyone that came through the door. Of course, Hunter was going to walk into the room when Bobbi selflessly placed herself between the gun and Hunter. All of a sudden, all the lies and drama between the two didn’t matter at all, not in the face of Bobbi’s willingness to take a bullet for her husband.
That would have been an awesome beginning to the Hunter and Morse show Marvel was trying to sell to ABC execs, but alas, it was not to be. Bobbi lived and I guess we will see the continuation of their love in Agents of SHIELD season 3.
Ward and Agent 33 weren’t as lucky. When May and Hunter came to Bobbi’s rescue, the masked 33 posed as May. Through the manipulation of the real May, Ward was convinced that 33 was Agent May and Ward emptied a clip into his lover, providing some awesome poetic justice for 33 and Ward, a couple that hurt so many. Now Ward truly had nothing, so when he met with a group of former HYDRA agents at the end of the episode, you know shit just got real. Looks like HYDRA isn’t so dead after all.
So we ended with a humanized May taking time off to be with her ex-husband, Morse and Hunter on the same page romantically (a bullet will do that), Fitz and Simmons ready to realize their love, Mack back with Coulson’s crew, Ward as a new head of HYDRA, Cal spaying dogs, and Coulson and Skye ready to form a new unit of SHIELD, a unit that will be made up of powered individuals, a unit that will be hidden from the world.
A unit that one could really consider a team of Secret Avengers.
Nicely done Marvel, nicely done.
But you know we had to end things with a cliffhanger. Just as Fitz finally asked Simmons to dinner to kick off their long awaited romance, that mysterious alien artifact that Gonzales brought to SHIELD grabbed Simmons and pulled her into parts unknown. Now, that should kick off a summer’s worth of speculation. So let us discuss that and anything else that tickles your fancy about this season of Agents of SHIELD and we will see you in the Fall, true believers!
– The alien artifact kind of looks like a Venom symbiote at times. But it isn’t.
– If Marvel wanted to increase ratings, they should just change the name of the show to The Secret Avengers. But it won’t.
– It’s ironic that Raina was killed this episode as the Girl in the Flowered Dress turned Sonic the Precog just made her comic book debut in a cameo in the pages of Inhuman Annual #1.