Hello and welcome back to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
With the mid season premiere just around the corner, I would like to take this opportunity to refresh the slow-started but action-packed season one of this awesome show!
If you have not seen the midwinter finale, be alert! Spoilers ahead!
“What will I become?”
Back in season one of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the beautiful Raina, (Ruth Negga), asked a question that seemed out of place. No one understood it, it had no context, and it certainly did not seem like the first question she would ask of the elusive Clairvoyant.
As season one continued, it still did not entirely seem like the question had a place in that universe. There were indications that something was different about Raina, and certainly about Skye (Chloe Bennet), and even Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) himself, but still the question was not answered.
Season two began to focus on that question, however, and amidst the madness of writing, the danger of HYDRA, and the skin-crawling creepiness of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), the layers peeled away, revealing purpose, motivation, and understanding. Finally, we were led by the obelisk into that dark room in Puerto Rico as the eager Raina and the driven Skye made contact with what they would become.
The final sequence at the end of the midwinter finale left me gasping. It was breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking, and game-changing.
As I had suspected, the attractive, smart, friendly Antoine Triplett (B.J. Britt) turned out to be a redshirt. All right, he got more screen time than the average redshirt, but still ultimately I noticed early on in season two that his character was often relegated to chatter, background, with little time to step up and really shine.
It has been my experience that when this happens to characters, it means they are likely being written out of the show. (See Chyler Leigh and T.R. Knight in Grey’s Anatomy and Craig Veroni in Stargate Atlantis). I was sad to see Trip go, but his timing is absolutely exquisite.
Skye undergoes this amazing change, receiving this gift she did not even want, and as she is reborn from the cocoon in one of the most beautiful visuals I have seen in the show to date, the first thing she sees is her dear friend crumbling to pieces before her eyes.
Her (re)birth, his death, is something she will have forever linked in her mind. Chloe is stunning in that moment, on the verge of tears, shocked, terrified, even hopeless (but not yet helpless).
It is easily one of my favorite moments of season two. What a send-off for Trip!
Hats off to Chloe Bennet for all the work she has had to do with Skye. She has had to embody a coming of age type story (and origin story) over the course of one and a half years instead of one and a half hours, and she has handled the change brilliantly. From the character perspective, Skye has completed her original character arc by receiving many of the answers she has sought. She joined S.H.I.E.L.D to find out about her parents, then stayed to find out more about who she was.
She certainly got her answers and, in the process, gained herself friends, a family, a purpose, a father (figure, and the one she really wants, I think), a father (real…if a madman), and a stalker. Skye has come a long, long way and now with the revelation of her true identity, things with her are only going to get more intense!
For those of you who really have no idea who the Inhumans are, let me give you a brief paragraph, (and thank you http://marvel.com/universe/Inhumans for the assist.). Inhumans are the result of genetic experimentation on early humans by another, powerful race known as the Kree. We are familiar with the Kree already – the GH-325 serum that formed the basis of Coulson’s T.A.H.I.T.I. project came from one.
We saw it first in season one, episode 14, ‘T.A.H.I.T.I.’. Also, the legend spoken of by Raina in season two, episode nine ‘Ye Who Enter Here’, involves a star falling from the heavens and blue angels coming to change humanity.
That is likely a direct reference to the Kree and their experimentation on humans. The city of Attilan (the city Coulson and so many others were forced to draw) is the main city for the Inhumans, which means we may have a whole hotbed of excitement awaiting in those hallways.
Now, while Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen have said other characters will get more screentime, you cannot just drop a bomb like: “Hello, you are an alien!” and then let the storyline sit. We can certainly expect more Skye/Daisy-centric episodes now in the back half of season two.
With the help of Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Skye has to learn about her abilities, of course, and control them, and learn how to live in a world where she is suddenly different. How will the others perceive her now?
Will she be able to stay away from her father despite his confidence that she will need him to help her? Now that Skye’s questions have been answered, all the avenues of storytelling for her open up.
I know this worries some people as the first half of season two seemed to be so much about Skye as well, though I disagree – I think it was more about the Inhumans in general and the rebuilding after HYDRA. Skye has become a main character, for certain, and now with her father in the picture and her new abilities ready to come out, she is going to become even more of a major player.
The biggest question for season two for me right now is who are the bad guys? We beat HYDRA to the punch, Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond) is dead, and we do not have a ‘Centipede’ equivalent running around. There is always Calvin Zabo, (Kyle MacLachlan), who likely still wants to keep beating up Coulson for stealing his satisfaction.
There’s Raina, who might be heavily upset by her new look (she will always be beautiful to me though). Grant Ward took off with Agent 33. Then you have Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Mack (Henry Simmons) keeping something from everyone. There are plenty of antagonists out there but I am wondering which will take center stage. One thing is for sure: the writers have Plans, so Something Is Coming.
I have to say, another absolute favorite moment of season two would be Skye finally meeting her father, Cal. Call me a rosy-eyed optimist, but I seriously think that was some of the most realistic and intelligent writing for that kind of scene I have ever seen – and the acting on both sides is marvelous! It gets me every time and I have seen the episode at least four times now. There is, to me at least, no question that Cal loves Skye. There is no question as to how important she is to him. The stakes were so high and the tension so thick in their first meeting that I found myself holding my breath.
The moments were alternately agonizing (Cal telling Skye she had to stay), and creepy (Cal touching her shoulder while he hummed the lullaby…well that was kind of sweet too), and sweet (Cal having to start over and stumbling through his introduction.).
Kyle does an impressive job of playing so many emotions all in one second, and the character himself seems to be incredibly conflicted and complicated. Cal, like Raina, is ultimately out for his own personal goal, and he is willing to use anyone to get it. His backing down when Skye held a gun to him was a little surprising to me, but at the same time it made him vulnerable, more likeable, and perhaps even more realistic. He wants his daughter to be happy and to be with him and if she has to do some crazy stuff, let her. After all, he is Doctor Jekyll (or so the rumor goes.).
I completely understood his attacking Coulson and did not actually see it as a ‘bad guy’ act at all. It is a perfectly understandable reaction. Imagine you have held an obsessive hatred of one man for twenty-five years. You have planned how you are going to kill him, imagined it, felt the echo of satisfaction that you know one day will be real. Then, as you are literally walking towards him to enact the revenge you have waited for, someone else shoots him dead. Sorry, Coulson, but I was totally with Cal on that one. No, you could not have known the whole story. But still….twenty-five years of agony just evaporated….Cal had to take it out on someone and you happened to be right there.
I like Cal, there is no secret there. I almost wish he was not already genuinely assumed to be a bad guy. Like Raina, he could be a neutral factor and pull it off with more charm and humor than Grant Ward (who was starting to get outright stalkerish by the end there.).
Grant Ward. Over the last few episodes, Ward has managed to do what I was hoping the writers would let him do, and get out of his cell and back into the real world. From there, the overall question of how he handles life when he has no one to follow definitely began to answer itself. Ward also had his own agenda, and was perfectly capable of following it within the rules he set for himself. It seems now that he is loyal to no one, simply using both S.H.I.E.L.D and HYDRA for one purpose: to re-ingratiate himself with Skye.
Raina outright calling him on it made me chuckle with evil glee, even though at that point it was pretty obvious to everyone what was going on. But things went upside down when Skye pulled a one-eighty and shot him.
He clearly, obviously, and shockingly did not see that coming. Is Ward really so stupid as to believe that Skye would not hurt him after all that has happened? It is totally possible…love makes you blind. Either way he may become even more dangerous now that he has been spurned.
Finally, we get down to the remaining characters of the show. I am sorry to put it that way but a lot of them did seriously take a backseat this half of the season. Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) has been her usual badass self this season, and seeing her laugh and dance and take it personally when her face got taken was all lovely.
Hopefully we will get a little more into her again to round things out. Characters have to wait their turns, understandably so, and not everyone was as quiet as May this season.
Jemma Simmons, (Elizabeth Henstridge), got a good, solid episode to herself, which FitzSimmons fans (as well as everyone else) desperately needed to try and understand why she left the team when Leo Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) needed her most (to use his words.).
While we still do not completely have all of those answers – and in fact what we have is almost contradictory – the dynamic between Fitz and Simmons has changed painfully, (especially with Jemma telling Bobbi she had only ever seen Fitz as a friend….say it isn’t so, please!). Fitz has outright admitted that he needs to work ‘for’ Simmons, not ‘with’ her, and that he is no longer as capable as he was. It seems to me that Fitz is trying to deal in reality and Jemma is not there yet. I could have that backwards, but maybe the second half of the season will get more into it.
Still and all, Fitz has Mack, (who thankfully did not die, at least as a zombie), and Hunter (Nick Blood), and Jemma has…well Jemma does not really have anyone anymore, unless Skye and Bobbi will listen, and frankly both of them are stuck in their own stories at the moment. I hate to view Jemma as an antagonist because she did what she thought was right…it just seems now like it may have been the wrong decision.
The spring premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is this Tuesday, March 3!!
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