MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 2.10: What We Become (mid-season finale review)


Over the last few years, television has seen the advent of the “mid-season finale,” or, as network marketing pronounces it, “MID-SEASON FINALE!!”

In the past this was more commonly known as the “episode before winter hiatus” or, more succinctly, “just another episode.” Well, not anymore! Now it’s as big of a deal as the season finale, and advertised as such. The problem is that the showrunners aren’t always in sync with the marketing peeps, resulting in episodes that don’t live up to the hype because they weren’t designed to. They don’t feature big cliffhangers or game-changing events that make viewers complain (in a good way) about having to wait until springtime to see what happens to their favorite characters.

What They Become, the MID-SEASON FINALE to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., lives up to the hype and then some, as evident by my wife’s two-sentence critique, “We have to wait until March for the next one?! What the @#$%!”

Skye and her comics counterpart Quake.

Skye and her comics counterpart Quake.

This episode contains cliffhangers and game-changers, so there’s no way to review it without SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen it yet, then read no further. If you have seen it, then read on.

What They Become is all about revelations and confirmations. Everything that comics fans have been speculating all season is officially confirmed.

Yes, Skye is really Daisy Johnson, A.K.A. Quake, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/Avenger from the comic books who has seismic powers (hence why the temple was shaking). She’s also the daughter of Dr. Calvin Zabo, A.K.A. supervillain Mr. Hyde. So Kyle MacLachlan’s rage-infused strongman ends up not being a Hulk.


Dr. Zabo…

It’s also confirmed that Skye and Raina are descendants of the Inhumans, the race of super-powered folks who first appeared in the Fantastic Four comics of the 1960s. No one actually utters the name “Inhumans” on the show, but all the hints are there — the alien city is Attilan, the mist that transforms Skye into Quake and Raina into some kind of cat-eyed porcupine is the Terrigen Mist. Also, part of Marvel’s Phase 3 is an Inhumans film.

So not only are we getting the Kree in this Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the Kree-spawned Inhumans as well. Very cool, but I’m still holding out for the copyright-challenged Skrulls.

It’s long been a Whedon tradition to subvert genre expectations, particularly when it comes to character deaths, and that tradition lives on here.

Rather than a customary final act kill after monologuing to the hero, our main villain — Daniel Whitehall — is killed midway through the episode in a non-spectacular manner sans dialog. Coulson does the honors much to the chagrin of Cal who has waited years to do so himself in revenge for what Whitehall did to his wife. Cal blames Phil and the two father figures in Skye’s life duke it out with way too many leg locks.


…and Mr. Hyde.

Also a hallmark of Whedon shows — killing off beloved characters. In this case it’s Agent Triplett. We hardly knew ya, Trip, and that’s the saddest part of the death. Other than sharing his grandpa’s antique S.H.I.E.L.D. tech — including the time bombs in this episode — Trip’s Howling Commando heritage was never explored. B.J. Britt’s performance deserved better.

Aside from a less than convincing rooftop landing of the team’s Quinjet, the special effects are top shelf. This is particularly true in the opening aerial chase between the Bus and several Hydra Quinjets. Two agent Koenigs are brought to life via effects that are less showy, but equally impressive.

Incidentally, what’s with the multiple Patton Oswalts and Ming Na-wens of late? Do they get paid double for pulling double duty? Just curious.

The only effects sore spot is super-powered Skye breaking out of her rocky cocoon. Unlike the Quinjet landing, this appears believable. The fault lies not in the execution, but in the concept. The “windblown hair, clenched fists, feet wide apart, stone fragments bursting in slow-mo” pose is common in superhuman genres. It looks great in Anime and comics, but not so much in live-action where it plays a bit too “comic bookish.”

Ward’s plan to woo Skye by reuniting her with “daddy dearest” goes to hell after she shoots him without hesitation. What happens next has the potential to be an intriguing subplot in the future.

Left for dead, Ward is found by Agent 33 and her Agent May mask who, now that Whitehall is dead, has no idea what to do. She’s a follower without a leader, much like Ward was after the death of Garrett last season. Ward sees himself in 33, a lost lamb, and he takes her under his wing in exchange for saving his life. Will allegiance ambiguous Ward do to her what Garrett did to him? Or will he set her free?

It’ll be interesting to see where this storyline goes, as well as whatever Bobbi is up to with that mysterious flash drive. Too bad we have to wait until March. To quote my wife, “What the @#$%!”

NEXT MISSION: The early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. as explored in the Agent Carter mini-series.


Love the hat. And the Captain America colors.

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One Response to “MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 2.10: What We Become (mid-season finale review)”

  1. Larry-T says:

    I like your review. The one thing I would quibble about is your discussion of Skye breaking out of the cocoon. This is the first explosion of her power with the seismic waves blowing out in all directions and taking the cocoon with them. The expression on her face a few seconds later is a classic “did I do that?” look that is one of the minor touches that makes this series so good.

    It’s too bad we had to lose Trip, but it fits in with the “nothing comes without a price” aesthetic of the show.



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