This review contains spoilers for this episode and Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
If there’s one truth that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has proved in recent weeks, it’s that at some stage, we’ll have to stop referring to its stronger episodes as rare highlights and instead admit that Marvel flagship show has actually become an all-round entertaining show in its own right.
This revelation occurred to me while watching Scars, the sort-of penultimate season 2 episode before next week’s two-part finale. As with any show, there are a few niggles in the episode (Ward’s reappearance seemed a little shoehorned-in during an episode that had stronger focuses elsewhere) but there was so much to like, which indicates that season 2 as a whole could well go down as a great chapter in the Marvel universe.
Speaking of which, Scars’ connections to the wider world of the Marvel movies worked fantastically this week. Although there was a moment near the start (when the cast were looking at Ultron-induced wreckage on TV) that gave me flashbacks to that naff Thor: The Dark World tie-in, the script was soon finding very interesting ways to draw parallels with Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
The biggest highlight from the stellar script (penned by Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc, who also teamed-up for the excellent One Door Closes a few weeks back) was arguably the canny comparison that Gonzales drew between Coulson and Tony Stark – if a man is defined by the shifty projects he doesn’t tell anyone about, while hiding behind a cloak of charm, excrement can most certainly be expected to hit nearby fans as a result.
While some namedrops in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. lore have been less-than-brilliant and more like knowing winks down the camera than necessary plot points, this one seemed like a genuine discussion that would go on inside a spy organisation in the days after the destruction of an entire city by a man-made murder-bot built by one of their former associates.
Showing the red tape behind peacekeeping in the ever-more-weird world of the MCU has often been a struggle for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it didn’t seem like a problem at all this week. If anything, it was actually one of the best parts of the episode. The inclusion of Patton Oswalt is always welcome, too, and he was on fine lanyard-distributing form this week, as well as providing some nice closure on the Theta Protocol front.
In fact, it was a strong week for supporting cast members and guest stars all across the board (with the exception of the underused Ward, as mentioned earlier): Lance was gifted with hilarious moments (the doodling scene and his Moby Dick-referencing remark in particular), Bobbi was discussing her thoughts about quitting, Mac was actually quitting (presumably to return later), Lincoln was brooding in the background, Raina was manipulating everyone (or was she?), Cal was loosing his cool and, best of all, we had that game-changing scene between Gonzales and Jiaying.
These two (always handled well by Edward James Olmos and Dichen Lachman respectively) finally got to step out of their characters’ comfort zones this week, revealing some incorrectness in our prior readings of both characters. Gonzales making a sweet gesture, only to be attacked by Jiaying? We genuinely didn’t see that switcheroo coming, and as a result we haven’t got much of a clue about what to expect next week.
Is Gonzales dead or will he emerge Inhuman (his crumbly hand suggests the former)? Will Skye’s new-found family survive the episode? Was Raina telling the truth, then? How is Ward meant to factor in at all? With all these questions raised, and two hours left in which to solve them, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has certainly nailed the pre-finale episode. Fingers crossed that a satisfying resolution can be found next week.
One last thought: Patton Oswalt had Star Wars bed linen this week. Does this mean that Star Wars, as we know it, exists in the MCU? If so, when Stark finally crosses paths with Jane Foster, can we expect him to dub her ‘Queen Amidala’ in his typical movie-reference nickname style (see: Reindeer Games, Point Break, Legolas)? One can only hope.
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