Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: Aftershocks Review

Fair warning: This Agents of SHIELD review is loaded with Marvel thoughts...

I’m still not fully over my Agent Carter withdrawals but I’ll do my best to keep an unbiased opinion as we barrel onwards with season two of Agents of SHIELD. OH GOD, PEGGY! I MISS YOU!

Ahem, last time that will happen, I promise.

Anyway, because of the recently announced Marvel Studios Spider-Man film, the Inhumans film might have been pushed back to July of 2019. But Marvel began the push towards the film in earnest this week with the Inhumans/SHIELD crossover Stan Lee or Roy Thomas never got the chance to write.

We are smack dab at the beginning of the Inhumans arrival into the cinematic Marvel Universe and the results are pretty cool. Yes, the hate and loathing that Skye and Raina experience are analogous to mutants and the X-Men, and it is obvious that the Inhumans will be the X-Men’s thematic stand in, but that’s all big picture stuff, the effectiveness of utilizing the Inhumans can be fully seen in the continued development of Skye (should I call her Daisy, I kind of feel like I should call her Daisy) and Raina.

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In the cinematic Marvel Universe, the only beings that have displayed powers on Earth are the Asgardians and a number of people connected to the Super Soldier project (Captain America and the Hulk), there haven’t really been cases of normal, everyday folk developing meta-human abilities. But that is exactly what’s happening to Raina and Skye.

Now this is where the episode faltered a bit. I’m just not buying Skye keeping her powers secret from Coulson. Yeah, Simmons’ little diatribe about euthanizing Raina if they find her was a bit off-putting to Skye, but I can’t imagine, after all this time, that Skye would keep something like that hidden from Coulson, and even May. It seems like the episode was just trying to drudge up needless drama. Listen, the woman now causes earthquakes, that’s drama enough. There was just a bit too much hysteria abounding considering these are people that might have a few Asgardians on their Skype list.

Raina’s drama was very well handled though as she was finally revealed. Raina now looks like a cross between Shuna Sassi, the Porcupine Woman form Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and a rejected Grimm design.  Raina always dreamed of becoming super human, of being a god. Now, she is trapped in this monstrous form and her ego just couldn’t take it. There was a very telling confrontation between Raina and Skye’ daddy this week as daddy dearest basically told Raina that if she couldn’t accept her new form, to just kill herself. And she tried to do just that, but more on that in a bit.

First let us talk about the next chapter in the war between SHIELD and HYDRA. This week, we got to meet a consortium of HYDRA’s higher ups. Coulson and company were still all pissed at HYDRA, particularly over the death of Tripp, so SHIELD used the captured Bakshi as bait to draw out these HYDRA heads. Well, heads were cut off and I’m sure more will grow back to blah blah, but it was HYDRA itself that took out its own agents when it became clear that they were compromised. I guess this paved the way for some new HYDRA villains. With Whitehall dead, we didn’t really have a big bad at the moment.

But will Agents of SHIELD’s next arch villain come from the world of espionage, as things got very sci-fi tonight. The whole episode was sort of an Inhumans primer. In fact, this week marked the first time the word Inhuman was uttered in a Marvel films project. It was Fitz that did the honors as he stood shocked over the results of a blood scan on Skye. Again, Fitz’s reaction seemed a bit overly hysterical but it did serve as a nice contrast to when he hid the results from his comrades. Again, all the secret keeping seemed kind of pointless and tacked on to add drama as the past season and a half has established that these are people who trust each other implicitly. Oh well, I guess we’ll see how it all plays out, but this week it seemed like most of Coulson’s crew should switch to decaf.

Handled better was the way the episode eased newbie fans into the world of the Inhumans. He was teased in the mid-season finale, but this week, we got a full glimpse and the origin story of our first name Inhuman. Reader was recently introduced in the comic book universe and here we are, watching him in live action. Could that be the quickest transition from page to screen in comic book history? Anyway, Reader certainly captures the proper, otherworldly feel that an Inhumans character should exude and I look forward to learning more about this eyeless, teleporting wonder. The episode’s climax saw Reader saving Raina from armed assailants. Could he be taking her to Attilan. We also got to see Reader as a young boy via flashback to show viewers the time right after he got his powers, a moment that nicely paralleled Riana and Skye’s own struggle with their new forms. 

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Not much Coulson action this week, save for a funny scene in which Coulson and May totally played Bakshi and handed him over to a disguised Agent Hunter. But we did get a few more hints regarding the special mission Agent Morse and Agent Mack are on as it turns out that the little model of Lola that Mack gave Coulson a few episodes back was not just for laughs. It was a spying device that located, as Mack put it, “Fury’s treasure chest.” Now, that’s an interesting wrinkle. Morse also played her ex-husband Hunter who was suspicious of her hidden conspiring with Mack. Morse told Hunter she and Mack were in therapy after being betrayed by friends of theirs that turned out to be HYDRA. This was all a fascinating subplot especially now that this Fury connection is in play.

So we have double agents, Inhumans, characters acting a bit too hysterical for believability and some holes in HYDRA’s high command. Not a bad return by any means but the needless shoe horning in off inter character drama didn’t make me miss Cap’s best girl any less.

Marvel raised the bar with Agent Carter; let’s see if they can reach it. I think they can as the Inhuman stuff does seem damn promising.

Marvel Moments

The name dropping of Baron Von Strucker. I’m sure we will be hearing much more of that name as Age of Ultron gets closer and closer.

The photo of the Howling Commandoes in Tripp’s mom’s house. The whole handling of Tripp’s death was very moving and well done. Connecting him to the world of Marvel’s past was a shrewd move as it really tugs on the heart strings now that he’s gone. Seriously, the wheelbarrow full of Tripp fragments was like a gut punch.

Reader was created by Charles Soule and Ryan Stegman and first appeared in Inhuman #4(2014). He has been a central character of that great series which is an awesome book to read for anyone wanting to learn more about the Inhumans.

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This week not only was the first mention of the word Inhuman but also the first mention of Terrigenesis, the process by which Inhumans gain their powers. 

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3 out of 5