On the D/L – Agents of SHIELD
Season 2 Episode 11 – “Aftershocks”
Can you believe it’s been 3 months since Agents of SHIELD went on a break? Of course much of that time was spent showing Agent Carter and letting that miniseries conclude its run but it’s been a long time since we saw Skye burst from that cocoon back in December.
For such an exciting reveal I don’t feel that the show is capitalising on just how world changing this all is. The way that the characters are playing it is pretty smart by keeping Skye in quarantine due to the fact that she was exposed to whatever came out of the obelisk. Makes sense but it’s not really what I wanted to see after dropping the bombshell that is the Inhumans on us at the end of the previous episode. After 3 months it feels like something of an anticlimax.
I also don’t really understand her rationale behind not telling anyone about what happened to her. I get that she might be afraid of what they might do to her after finding out she was in a cocoon but she would tell Coulson at least. Of all the characters he can definitely be trusted not to judge someone who has super powers. Fair enough she doesn’t know she has them yet but it’s been well established that Coulson cares about Skye as a person so it definitely wouldn’t lead to any harsh treatment of her while he’s in charge.
Skye’s reaction to the whole thing was pretty boring overall. I never really got the sense that she felt anything more than mildly annoyed by being stuck in quarantine and spends most of her time crying. She’s mourning the death of her friend sure but I was expecting something more profound in terms of how she would react to what happened to her. If we accept that she feels so alone that she can’t tell anyone about it then why not have it like she’s bursting to talk about it but containing herself or half her pacing around with frustration at being locked up. Anything except the bland melancholy we got here. Skye has always been a passionate person so I really didn’t buy how she was acting here.
One thing that was really well done was her interactions with some of the other characters. Bobbi’s was the most noteworthy. Ever since appearing on the show she has been a friendly face to everyone with a really personable quality to her so it was nicely in keeping with her character when she brought Skye the quarantine survival kit. She also related her personal experience and reminded Skye of what she had just survived. It was a nice moment and could really only have come from Bobbi.
Her conversation with Coulson mostly existed to bring the audience up to date with the aftermath of the event while pointing out what happens next. Foremost on Coulson’s mind is to take down H.Y.D.R.A. since there is now a power vacuum after the death of Whitehall and this is a prime opportunity to take advantage of it with the help of their prisoner. This scene was fine if a little heavy on the exposition but I thought Coulson’s “While H.Y.D.R.A. scrambles, I will crush them!” was a little too melodramatic and felt like a distinctly UnCoulson thing to say. I understand that this is his intention but it seemed a little too over the top.
I thought his plan was a good one from the misdirection that made it look like his team were all slaughtered and allowing Hunter to get close enough to one of the H.Y.D.R.A. heads to kill him but not before a protocol is activated that wipes out the others. It seems that they won’t be too much of a problem for the time being.
This show really does love the misdirections and maybe this one was supposed to be a little too obvious because otherwise it was a little silly with Coulson’s cheesy “You’ll never take me alive” line and Hunter pretending to be working for H.Y.D.R.A. to fool Bakshi into doing exactly what they want to do. Bakshi thinks that Hunter has been paid by the other heads to kill him which gives Mr. Bloom the idea to make sure he kills them first. After that, all Hunter has to do is kill Bloom and then problem apparently solved. It won’t be as simple as that but I liked how cut throat the plan was. Coulson has to make the tough decisions sometimes so I’m glad that he’s willing to do so.
In terms of the team tensions are running really high and they do explode at one point. I liked the argument between all of the characters where Mack was apparently sick of keeping his opinions to himself and called Coulson out on his reckless behaviour. This encouraged everyone to join in with their own views on the subject and it amounted to what seemed like a fairly genuine moment between these characters. Things have been really intense for a while so maybe this was needed. I do like the notion of conflict within the team and the end of the episode heavily suggests that Mack and Bobbi have their own agenda. I don’t think it’ll be working for H.Y.D.R.A. but we shall see.
Another genuine moment came when the team were all sitting around remembering Trip and sharing stories about him. He’s not been around much this season so most of this stuff we haven’t seen but it definitely worked as a scene. I certainly felt like I knew enough about the character to feel confident that what was described is stuff that Trip would do. He will be a loss to the show that’s for sure and I think May summed it up perfectly when she said that Trip was everything Coulson felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. should be.
Fitz was characterised pretty well here with this being one of his “bad days”. He has trouble reassembling the watch that Skye was wearing to collect the bio data stored on it and his issues seem to be causing him lots of frustration. I found it interesting that when discovering Skye’s secret through his own deductive reasoning he chose to protect her until everyone around him has calmed down slightly.
On the other hand Simmons was not handled well here at all. I didn’t buy her aversion to people with super powers becoming so strong practically overnight. She and Trip were close sure but for her to say that Raina should be killed and any knowledge of the alien technology to be destroyed. She even suggested that it was some kind of disease that needed to be eradicated. This all seemed to be plot furthering nonsense to make Skye more apprehensive about telling the truth rather than something Simmons would organically feel. Something tells me we’re going to get an intolerant rant from Simmons about once a week for the foreseeable future coupled with a predictably hostile reaction when she finds out the truth about Skye. I can already see where this is all going and I’m really not a fan so far. I can accept that at least one of the group should be afraid of the concept of super powers but for it to be Simmons makes no sense.
Raina’s story was handled brilliantly here. Watching her try to come to terms with her transformation is something that worked really well. After being promised all her life that she would become something beautiful after she changes and then turning out looking like something feline and covered in thorns is very jarring to her. This makes a lot of sense as she’ll still be full of the human concept of beauty and clouded by her very human way of thinking. She doesn’t yet understand that there are different definitions and has a long way to go before coming to terms with it. It doesn’t help that Skye’s change didn’t affect her appearance so she feels cheated out of what is rightfully hers while Skye has it handed to her with no negative consequences.
The makeup for Raina looked really good. I like the design of her transformation and having a very physical manifestation of becoming an Inhuman should provide a decent contrast to Skye having not changed on a superficial level. If they do it right then there could be some decent drama here.
I like that her reaction was a combination of violent, confused and depressed over what her life has become now and her conversation with Cal helped give some interesting context to that. Cal tells her that she has become exactly what she wanted. He was pretty harsh when he basically tells her to kill herself if she doesn’t like it which she does try to do before being saved by the eyeless teleporter known only as Gordon.
We find out a bit more about Gordon in a flashback which shows him having recently undergone Terrigenesis -referred to by name- in 1983 and being coached to accept the change by Skye’s mother Jiaying. We learn that she’s been looking after people like that for a long time. Her slow aging allows her to hone her skills and become an expert at helping those who are lost and confused. It seems like Gordon has taken on that role now that Jiaying is dead so I’ll be interested to see what becomes of this as far as Raina is concerned.
This episode was pretty all over the place and felt like an anticlimax to have such an earth shattering -literally- cliffhanger last year to follow it up by Skye sitting in a room waiting for a doctor to clear her as safe.
There was something about Skye’s reaction that seemed really false. Skye is a passionate character who never seems to do anything quietly so to see her sedately sitting around in quarantine didn’t seem right to me. I would have thought she’d at least get really frustrated with the situation but she just lay around and waited.
Coulson’s plan to take out the other heads of H.Y.D.R.A. to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the death of Whitehall seemed pretty cold but I liked it. He does have to make tough decisions like that now so it’s good to see that he’s very willing to.
There were some good character moments in here from the argument over Coulson’s leadership to the genuine moment where the team all sat down and discussed their memories of Trip. I like that there’s a lot of complex emotions flying around at the moment and that it’s creating plenty of conflict.
I wasn’t such a fan of Simmons’ characterisation here. Having her be so afraid of people with powers that she suggests wiping them off the face of the earth and considering the alien stuff to be a disease that needs to be eradicated is really extreme and doesn’t suit her at all. This all feels like plot furthering nonsense rather than an organic reaction.
The handling of Raina here was pretty much spot on. Her reaction was a combination of violence, fear and confusion as well as depression. She was always told she’d become something beautiful and to her eyes she has become something hideous. She has a long way to go before accepting it but hopefully with the help of the teleporting Gordon she will learn what it means to be Inhuman and accept it in time.