This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers
Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 19
So while all of you are taking in Avengers: Infinity War, here I am, at home intrepidly recapping Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Not to worry, I’ll be Infinity Warring tomorrow, but for now, I’m settled in to absorb the latest from elsewhere in the MCU. And you know what, Agents of SHIELD did not disappoint. Because while everyone else gets to see the coming of Thanos, I get to witness the rise of Graviton, and it is pretty freakin’ epic.
So back in season one of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Marvel introduced Doctor Franklin Hall and the element Gravitonium. Marvel fans will tell you that in the comics, Hall becomes the Avengers villain known as Graviton, an ultra-powerful baddie that can control the forces of gravity. Graviton has always been portrayed as a Magneto level threat with power levels that equal the Master of Magnetism but without the compelling character motivations that make Magneto such a great villain. When Franklin Hall was introduced in season on of AoS, it was one of the shows early disappointments. He was a mousy looking scientist who was dispatched quickly and not a grade A super villain powerhouse. The episode did allow the series to introduce Gravitonium which would become oh so important five seasons later, but who could have known that at the time?
But here we are, just about half a decade later and a character resembling the legit Graviton appears. How does it happen? Last week, General Glenn Talbot was freed from General Hale’s control. Talbot tried to kill the young precog Robin, but fortunately, SHIELD intervened and both Talbot and Robin were saved. This week, Talbot feels like he has a lot to make up for. The already injured Talbot did not like being manipulated into being a threat and has a mad on for Hale and her alien compatriots.
And those aliens arrive in a big bad way this week. Yeah, Thanos and his legions arrive as well in some other MCU project that I haven’t seen yet, and I’m sure the Agents of SHIELD alien saga is on a much smaller scale than Infinity War, but don’t let any of that fool you. The aliens on Agents of SHIELD are terrifying! Led by the evil Qovas, Hale’s alien friends are made up of beings called Marauders that can control darkness and disrupt any electric current. The Lighthouse goes into lockdown (thanks to a hilarious Coulson miscue- hey Phil, always wait until the end of the menu!) and SHIELD is trapped with the Marauders in a claustrophobic Giger tribute that will turn your blood to ice. The Marauders are skittering alien terrors that really remind me of the S&M like hunter killer vampires from the late and lamented cult horror TV classic The Strain. SHIELD does its level best to hold of the Marauders, but it looks hopeless, even the combined brains and brawn of Fitz, Simmons, Coulson, May, Deke, Mack, and Yo-Yo, the agents are just overpowered by the Marauders.
Until Talbot does the unthinkable. Talbot, still confused and broken over Hale’s manipulation, willingly steps into the Gravitonium chamber. We saw what happened last week when Ruby Hale dared to merge with Gravitonium, and she only took in a small percentage. This week, Talbot takes 100% of the element and transforms into a very reasonable facsimile of the classic Graviton. Talbot crushes the Marauders and helps SHIELD escape. And now, even with Thanos on Earth (which is kind of sort of referenced in the episode), Talbot might still be the most powerful being on the planet (well, Thanos without his little glove, of course).
While Talbot levels up, Daisy is on a mission of her own. She meets up with Jake Busey (aka Candyman, but Jake Busey is always Jake Busey) who gives her a piece of the old centipede tech (speaking of season one) to help save Coulson. The only issue is that future Yo-Yo told present Yo-Yo that the Earth is broken by the Destroyer of Worlds because SHIELD tries to save Coulson’s life. So while SHIELD and Talbot endeavor to save the world from the alien threat, Daisy might be out and about sealing the planet’s fate.
Another major subplot this week is Yo-Yo’s killing of Ruby. Mack blames Ruby for killing the young HYDRA agent even though Ruby sliced of Yo-Yo’s arms. This leads to a fantastic interaction between May and Yo-Yo where May guides Yo-Yo to own her violent actions and be willing to face the consequences of killing. Over in DC land, The Flash has been trying the same kind of morality play the past two weeks when it comes to heroes killing villains, but SHIELD just nails it with just a few lines of dialogue.
But the main event is Talbot’s ascension into a comic accurate Graviton. From the looks of things, Talbot will even don a near comic accurate uniform next week. That’s pretty darn cool and one wonders if Talbot will be part of the seemingly inevitable event that will lead to the destruction of the world. Thanos Shmanos.
I’m sure I covered this in season one, but considering what happens this week, it bears repeating. Graviton first appeared in Avengers #158 (1977) and was created by Jim Shooter and Sal Buscema. The old school comic book Graviton really does look like Talbot, doesn’t he? As I said before, Graviton always was a grade A powerhouse but never really was written as a character rich with motivation or back story. Well, now he is. Thanks Talbot.