After devoting a double-length critique to Agent Carter‘s final episode (hopefully final only for now), I’ll now go the opposite direction by devoting one critique to four — count ‘em, FOUR! — full episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Consider it my attempt to break the world record for number of shows recounted in a single article, if such a record exists (and if not then it should). Or think of it as my way of catching up on S.H.I.E.L.D. after falling behind on Carter. (I mentioned that my last Carter review was twice the usual length, right? Right.)
Without further ado, let’s dive back into the espionage exploits of Coulson and company.
Episode 2.11 – AFTERSHOCKS (midseason premiere)
OFFICIAL NETWORK SYNOPSIS
“After discovering an alien city with ties to his resurrection, Coulson and his team destroyed it before the forces of Hydra could claim its secrets, eliminating the villainous Whitehall in the process.
But new threats to the world have arisen, including Skye’s father, Cal, who now seeks retribution against Coulson for stealing his revenge against Whitehall; a disturbing alliance between former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ward and Agent 33; the enigmatic Raina, who struggles with her transformation into something inhuman by the alien Obelisk and seeks vengeance; and Skye, who developed mysterious new powers from the Obelisk but whose lack of experience with her new abilities may threaten the safety of those she loves.
Meanwhile, Bobbi and Mack begin the next phase of a plan which seems to have grave repercussions for Coulson and his team, who are unaware that there’s another mysterious force moving against them. And as Hunter is forced to make the biggest choice of his life, Coulson will find his mission threatened by this SHOCKING endgame.”
A 1980s flashback shows off some quality special effects in depicting an eyeless Inhuman’s teleportation powers. The effects are as good, if not better than, the teleports of Nightcrawler and Azazel in the X-Men films.
In another ‘80s flashback — regarding casting anyway — Fred “Hunter” Dryer plays a Hydra bigwig. If he survives being poisoned, then hopefully maybe next time he’ll bring Dee Dee McCall with him.
The framed photo of the Howling Commandos in Agent Triplett’s grandma’s home is a nice touch, though it also reminds us of how Trip’s full potential was never explored. It would’ve been great to learn more of his family legacy.
When questioned about what she saw in the alien city post-Terrigen transformations, Simmons replies that Raina was “unrecognizable.” No crap! That’s exactly why Simmons shouldn’t have recognized her.
She caught fleeting glimpses of Raina from a distance, in a dark cave, and without knowledge of Raina’s metamorphosis. Oh, one more thing — Raina was also covered in spikey thorns and resembled a mutated cat! Why would Simmons, or anyone for that matter, assume it was Raina? If anything, she should’ve thought Raina was killed by a “mutated cat.”
We didn’t need to see shards of Trip’s stoned face. (Not that kinda stoned, nor that kinda trip.) It was bad enough to see him crumble in the mid-season finale. Trust the audience, showrunners — we feel the emotion of his passing. Showing facial fragments was unnecessary and disrespectful of the deceased.
Episode 2.12 — WHO YOU REALLY ARE
OFFICIAL NETWORK SYNOPSIS
“Coulson and team come to the aid of a confused Lady Sif, who has lost her memory after fighting with a mysterious warrior, whose true mission will send SHOCKWAVES through S.H.I.E.L.D.
Meanwhile, Bobbi and Mack continue to hide their true mission from everyone close to them.”
From “Son of Coul” to “I am a friend of the S.H.I.E.L.D.”, any dialog spoken by Lady Sif was fun to hear. And occasionally profound, such as this parting gift to Coulson:
“There are tides in the universe that you cannot swim against.”
In the midst of Sif’s memory loss, she questions why she smiles upon hearing the name “Thor.” It’s a short but sweet way of keeping her unrequited-love-for-the-Thunder-God subplot alive in the M.C.U.
The Kree warrior wields a device that looks like a mini-version of Ronan’s “Universal Weapon” in Guardians of the Galaxy. The attention to Kree detail does not go unappreciated by at least one fan — moi.
Way too much exposition from the Kree warrior explaining diviners, Terrigen crystals, experiments on humans, an eon-spanning galactic war, etc. It’s important info that the audience needs to know, but there had to have been a better way to get it across then just using talking heads.
It’s great to have Jaimie Alexander back as Lady Sif, though the costume designer’s choice of wardrobe is again disappointing. Not only is she not wearing her traditional armor from the comics with exposed sexy legs, but what armor she does wear is only worn for one scene. The rest of the episode has her in full body black.
If Chris Hemsworth can gratuitously bare his chest for the female viewers of each Thor film, then Alexander can show off her gams for the male viewers. It’s only fair.
It’s surprising how soon that everyone learned of Skye’s powers. It was just last episode that Fitz learned and promised to keep it secret. Now everyone knows. It would’ve been interesting to see the natural bonding that would’ve occurred between the two courtesy of sharing a big secret. Instead it feels like a missed opportunity.
Episode 2.13 — ONE OF US
OFFICIAL NETWORK SYNOPSIS
“Cal seeks revenge on Coulson by assembling a team of super-villains to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. Meanwhile, May calls on renowned Dr. Andrew Garner, her charismatic ex-husband, with a crisis that threatens to tear the team apart.”
The M.C.U.’s first official super-villain team is introduced not on the big screen, but on the small. Sure, they lack costumes and codenames. Yes, their tricked-out evil vehicle is a run-down R.V. And I’m pretty sure their Hall of Doom is a diner, possibly a Norm’s, but hey — every criminal cabal has to start somewhere.
One of the criminals is none other than Angar the Screamer, who first appeared in the pages of Daredevil #100 from 1973. Could this mean he’ll pop up in ol’ hornhead’s NetFlix series? We’ll find out next month. In the meantime, we get to hear Angar wreak vocal havoc when not sporting a Silence of the Lambs-like muzzle such as the one worn by Dr. Fennhoff/Faustus at the end of Agent Carter.
Speaking of silence, I personally can’t wait for the rousing game of “Who Can Be The Quietest” sure to occur after the similarly-powered Black Bolt debuts in phase 3’s Inhumans movie. My money’s on Angar because he’s exactly what his name implies — the Screamer. Black Bolt’s name, on the other hand, is misleading. With a moniker like that, wouldn’t you expect his power to be some kind of, you know, bolt? Of the black variety? Discuss amongst yourselves.
As cool as it is to have a team of super-villains on the loose, I’m not so sure about one of the members being an abused woman who protected herself by permanently attaching razor blades to her fingertips.
Having said that, I could warm up to her if she renames herself Edwina Scissorhands.
Episode 2.14 — LOVE IN THE TIME OF HYDRA
OFFICIAL NETWORK SYNOPSIS
“Coulson and his team are reeling from a SHOCKING REVELATION that leaves them fractured as they must decide what to do with one of their own. Meanwhile, Bobbi and Mack reveal their true allegiance to Hunter, while elsewhere, Ward and Agent 33 embark on a personal mission.”
In an effort to comfort Skye, Coulson reveals that his love for red Chevy Corvette convertibles stems from childhood memories of rebuilding one with his dad (albeit without the hover conversion). It’s cool to learn the origins of Lola. Now we need to know why he named her that.
Since his introduction, U.S. Army General Glenn Talbot has been a no-nonsense stick-up-his-butt hardcase apt to introduce himself as “U.S. Army General Glenn Talbot.” Until now.
In this episode, he’s suddenly portrayed as a buffoon. It’s like what happened to Marcus Brody between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade — he morphed from a scholar into a doofus.
Talbot becomes his own brand of doofus in his first scene by boring a secretary with the finer points of ride-on lawn mowers. That was good for a chuckle and it showed a new side of the tough guy, but then he continued his doofusdom throughout the episode, most uncharacteristically during a tense scene where he almost shoots his own wife thinking she’s secretly Agent 33.
It’s good to see actor Adrian Pasdar flex his comedy muscles, but it feels too out of character for U.S. Army General Glenn Talbot.
And that completes our cornucopia of critiques. I didn’t exactly break the world record, but at least we’re caught up to…
NEXT MISSION: A return to the one-episode/one-review format with One Door Closes, officially synopsized as:
“War comes to Coulson’s doorstep in a way he never anticipated as SHOCKING REVELATIONS are brought to light, and Skye struggles to control her new abilities but will soon make a decision that irrevocably changes her life.”
If A.B.C. marketing continues to use the words “aftershocks”, “shockwaves”, or “shocking revelations”, then eventually the only shocking revelation will be no further use of the words “shocking revelations.”