This review contains spoilers
3.13 Parting Shot
Given that Arrow has already sparked off into The Flash, Legends Of Tomorrow, Vixen and – sort of – Supergirl over on the DC side of the fence, it’s no surprise that the folks behind Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. are also looking for further spin-off options. Last season there were ties to Agent Carter season 1, and this time around seeds are being sewn for Marvel’s Most Wanted, a potential spin-off for Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi ‘Mockingbird’ Morse and Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter.
The term ‘backdoor pilot’ doesn’t always sound like a huge amount of fun, but the necessity of nudging Bobbi and Hunter away from the main team actually made for a really fun episode here. It feels like a while since the whole gang have partaken in an international mission, and it was highly enjoyable to see them firing on all cylinders.
And firing, as it turned out, at high-ranking Russian political players. Yikes. The writers had to come up with a reason for S.H.I.E.L.D. to disavow these guys, and you’d struggle to find a more viable motivation for a split than this one. Even in a world where it’s already been established that snazzy sci-fi face masks can be used to completely hide someone’s identity, there have got to be consequences when you’re caught killing Kremlin staff. No matter what the reason was.
At the end, then, we got the ‘spy’s goodbye’, as the S.H.I.E.L.D. team covertly shared a literal parting shot and toasted one another from across a bar. This hit me ‘right in the feels’ as the youths might say these days, even though you’ve got to question the skill level of the Russian spy who didn’t spot any of this going on. Regardless, as the agents all left one by one, S.H.I.E.L.D. poked at my tear glands with more effectiveness than it ever has before. Especially when Mack left, considering that there’s now none of his other season 2-joining buddies left.
Before we got to this effective and affecting conclusion, there was a compelling Russian jaunt of a mission to enjoy. Lance was spouting facts about mushrooms every five seconds, Fitz got some funny lines (“The one about the Amazon?” and “‘I’m pretty sure that’s gonna be a no” both spring to mind), the narrative was doled out via non-linear means, and the new Inhuman threat provided a fun third act ramping up of action.
A guy who can control his shadow should be naff. It sounds so cheesy as a villainous pitch that you could almost imagine Adam West facing off against it in his Bat-suit. But here it works, thanks to some strong special effects, plenty of build-up, and some real stakes in the form of an assassination attempt on the Russian Prime Minister. When everything works this well, it’s easy to forget that you’re watching actors literally punching thin air.
So yes, I liked Parting Shot a lot. From the non-linear opening to the emotional finale, via some decent gags and action scenes, it felt like a very solid episode. There was even time to discuss what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for (not literally), and what it’s like to be a part of this clandestine but close-knit community.
My only worry, at the moment, is how the show will fare while Lance and Bobbi are off the S.H.I.E.L.D. roster. They’re two of the funniest, most engaging characters, and the show could feel dull without them. Time will tell…