On the D/L – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Season 2 Episode 10 – “What They Become”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D closes out 2014 with a midseason finale that moves the plot forward in a big way and has severe implications that should ripple through the cinematic universe. Should be obvious by now but please be wary that I’m going to discuss the episode and specifically refer to pretty much every significant part of it so please watch it first.
Before I begin, that opening sequence with some “fancy flying” from May to evade the H.Y.D.R.A jets was awesome. It looked great and was exciting to watch. Probably one of the better effects sequences they’ve had before now.
None of the reveals here were a surprise to me but I’m not really bothered about that. I’ve had a complicated relationship with the notion of Skye’s origins, the city and all the other clues we’ve had thus far. I’ve gone from being sure they would never introduce The Inhumans in this show to believing they were going to do something that was essentially The Inhumans but called something else and finally being positive that it was where it was all heading.
Turns out I was right and it is where they’ve been heading. I’m really glad about this because everything has built up to this nicely and the payoff really worked. It turns out Skye and Raina are Inhumans who hadn’t yet undergone Terrigenesis which explains their lack of powers. Skye’s father is also an inhuman who has undergone Terrigenesis so has full use of his powers. Introducing The Inhumans here is great as it fully validates Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D as part of the cinematic universe and gives it an important role to play in the bigger picture of that universe. It’s something that I wanted for the show very early on.
If that’s not enough it turns out that Skye is actually Daisy Johnson AKA Quake and The Doctor is actually Calvin Zabo aka Mr. Hyde. We have two more significant comic characters in the DNA of this show (maybe 3 depending on Raina) and it’s something I’m conflicted about. On one hand I think it’s great that we have Inhumans and pre-existing ones at that -with a potential future Avenger in Skye’s case- but on the other hand I’m not sure what impact changing Skye into another person will have on things in the long run. They could have created new Inhuman character for the show and forged ahead with no real limitations there but there’s a great potential for this reveal to undermine Skye and what she has become in this show. Admittedly nothing can be taken from the reveal seen here so I’ll just wait and see what they do with it once the show comes back next year.
Getting Cal and his daughter Skye/Daisy -I’m going to keep calling her Skye for now- together has been a long time coming and I will say it was well earned. Kyle McLachlan played this scene really well with a great deal of contact within the character. I liked how his mood was up and down throughout which now makes sense since we know who the guy is. It was clear that he cares about Skye a great deal and doesn’t quite know what to do now that he’s finally faced with her.
I really liked the moment where Cal was robbed of his chance to get his revenge on Dr. Whitehall. It’s something he had been thinking about for decades and needing to see that through has completely poisoned him. In his diseased mind being robbed of that moment by Coulson is completely unforgivable and has probably shifted his boundless rage on Coulson now. Our fearless director had better watch himself in the future.
One thing that bothered me about the portrayal of Cal was that he didn’t actually seem to be all that strong, certainly not as strong as I think Mr. Hyde should be. Maybe he has a further transformation still to go through and we’re at something of a Metapod stage -those of you who have played Pokemon will get that- that will continue to develop over the course of the rest of the season.
Cal and Skye’s scenes together were very unsettling to watch and I think Chloe Bennet handled this really nicely. Emotionally she was dealing with a lot including curiosity about this man she has wanted to find her whole life as well as disgust over it turning out to be someone she considers to be a monster. There was a great conflicted moment later when she couldn’t kill him.
Skye generally had lots of great moments in this episode but my absolute favourite was when Ward freed her and Skye shot him when his back was turned. It was a great burn when she reminded him of what he taught her and subsequently forgot. It’s a fantastic testament to how far Skye has come when Ward underestimates her and she takes full advantage of that. I do wonder why she left him alive though, for reasons other than plot I mean. Him teaming up with Agent 33 is an interesting turn of events though.
The rest of the characters mostly served as backup but they all had their roles to play. For me Trip’s moments were the strongest here. I like that he didn’t hesitate to head back into the hole so that he could save Skye. It shows how much he has bonded with the team and gives him a nice hero moment. His death was something that genuinely upset me though. He is a character I have liked from his first appearance so to see him killed off was quite a shock to see. He did go out like a hero and it was nicely happened but all it has done is remind me that he’s had very little to do this season other than back up others. He will be missed and I hope his death has a big effect on the team.
Going by how affected she was by Mac’s “death”, Bobbi will be the worst affected. Her scenes were among the weakest here. I didn’t buy that she would blame herself so easily. It would be clear that she did what needed to be done and she shouldn’t really be descending into self pity quite like that. She was willing to do what had to be done so she should really have just grieved without the “it’s all my fault” angsty schtick.
Dr. Whitehall’s death was pretty disappointing. He hasn’t yet had the chance to be fully formed as a villain and his exit now feels like something of an anticlimax. He might not actually be dead but if he is then that’s probably not a good thing at this stage. I didn’t expect Coulson to just shoot him no questions asked as that’s pretty unlike him but it seems like he’s becoming a lot more practical in what he feels needs to be done so I think it more or less fits. I’m guessing that Cal will replace him as “the big bad” with Ward serving as a secondary antagonist.
A really exciting episode to round off the year. There were so many payoffs in respect of what had been established prior to this episode and the show is now dripping with potential to play in this new sandbox they have established.
This was very much Skye’s episode with her finding out her true origins and beginning her transformation as a character for the next part of the season. There were many great moments for her including her interaction with her father was well as her really kicking ass in various ways. She has come a long way since season 1 and it’s really shown here.
Using the rest of the characters as backup here was a good choice as the episode really needed the time to devote to Skye’s development given the magnitude of the story. That’s not to say that the others didn’t have some great moments with one particular example coming to mind.
Getting rid of Dr. Whitehall at this point before he feels fully formed is slightly disappointing as he still had plenty of villainous potential. His exit felt like something of an anti-climax as well.
Roll on next year, there’s lots of interesting stuff going on here and I really can’t wait to see where it goes next. The show has changed and absolutely validated itself in the larger context of the universe it inhabits so hopefully it will capitalise on this potential.