Hydra’s plan to utilize the Kree temple has been thwarted, but at a price. Raina and Skye were trapped in the artifact’s mist, and because of their unique genetics, were transformed.
Before all that, the true identities of Skye and her father were revealed, Ward was shot in the chest, Mack made psycho, and Bobbi’s secret scheming was alluded to.
We’re left off with a lot of dead people, including Agent Triplet and Hydra’s primary head, Daniel Whitehall.
So, now after a 3 month hiatus:
With a pair of fresh, 2015 eyes, and an ever clearer vision of where the Marvel Universe is headed, it was interesting to come back to Agents of SHIELD compared to the just completed Agent Carter and the upcoming, gritty Daredevil series. It was also interesting to come into this half of season two finding that I hadn’t thought about more than half of these characters since the winter finale aired…
Not to say that I don’t enjoy SHIELD’s ensemble cast while I’m watching it, because I do, but I find the diversity of characters and personalities clashing entertaining. I also recognize that there is so much going on within every episode. I certainly can’t demerit a show that packs itself with characters and plot where other shows barely do so at all, but now it’s reached a point of complete confusion for casual viewers to the point that I feel the SHIELD audience is becoming an exclusive club. Especially now with the inclusion of Inhumans.
On that note, I found this episode’s official introduction to the concept of the Inhumans was brilliant. What makes the Inhumans unique in the Marvel lore goes beyond the fact that their abilities make them outcasts from society. The Inhumans aren’t simply a genetic accident, or a mutation. They were engineered to have abilities, as was discussed earlier in the season by Raina and the Doctor. However, just because these people were gifted with the opportunity to become more than human does not mean their abilities will be adjustable by human means. In the comics lore, this is best exemplified by the destructive power of Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans, whose voice can demolish cities with anything as simple as a whisper, thus he will rarely speak for the sake of protecting Earth and the cosmos.
See, for example, this episodes opening sequence, where the eyeless man from episode 10’s cliffhanger is given a name and origin: Gordon was only a teenager in 1983, and had just undergone his Inhuman transformation, gifted with the ability to teleport in a blink of an eye, but at the cost of being able to blink himself, screaming in terror as his body loses sense of where he is.
Not to mention Raina’s role in the show is now completely shifted, as her new form is revealed to be completely unrecognizable, covered in sharp thorns. Not only does this dent into her vanity expressed through the series, but these thorns of hers hurt, like a lot. This is a physical change of the human body that any normal individual could barely endure, driving Raina to attempt suicide upon the episode’s conclusion.
On Skye’s side of the equation is a familiar kind of drama regarding a character with newfound superpowers: complete terror. As if Skye wasn’t insecure about everything before, she’s terrified of her new abilities that create tremors and earthquakes. This is something that is understandably scary, especially if you somehow feel partially responsible for the death of a teammate.
The show is clearly sailing to uncharted waters, but by the episode’s end I felt that seeing Skye reach the point of outwardly using her “earth shattering” ability is a while away, because within “Aftershocks” we find that Skye was held in quarantine because Simmons nearly begins “witch hunting” for these Inhumans, referring to their condition even so far as a plague. While I know Simmons was hardened in her time infiltrating Hydra, I know her to be more compassionate than this, and found her stance on people with abilities jarring.
Skye’s release from quarantine, however, was due to an assist from Fitz, who understands the specifics of what is happening to Skye’s genetics, and so switches her blood samples to get her released, presumably normal.
While I like the idea of a potential wedge being driven between Fitz and Simmons on such a controversy within the team, I know that I’ve seen plenty of stories of a character with superpowers having to keep their abilities a secret. *cough*Spider-Man*cough*
It’s a bit played out at this point, and while I understand that these stories are an allegory to what some individuals experience (the X-Men were always intended as an equivalent to living as a homosexual, after all), it’s one of the oldest, and frankly most cost effective, ways to tell a story about a young person with unnatural abilities.
So, heres to hoping that Skye’s latest story arc either does something different with the trope, or it segues into a cool reveal sooner rather than later.
In terms of the rest of the episode, it played out great. The loss of Trip was a consistent theme through this episode, and it affects everyone drastically, but differently. Coulson espcially snaps into his harcore leadership role after such a major loss under his watch, and wastes no time taking out the new heads of Hydra before they even have the chance to bud. I have to admit that the fake out of May and Coulson being gunned down was cheesy on its own. At the same time, though, between Hunter pulling a bait and switch on Bakshi, and seeing core Hydra leaders either killing themselves or being shot in the head, the subplot was so, so satisfying. I have to wonder if this signifies the end of an era of Hydra, but my hopes are that more heads shall rise, because the despicable nazi cult sure brings out the most badass moments of SHIELD, both as a team and as a television show.
Bobbi and Mack’s secret plans are going to hatch soon, too, and the end of the episode reveals that they’re after the contents of Nick Fury’s box he gave to Coulson after the season one finale. So whose side are they on? Guess we’ll find out next week on.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 2.11 “Aftershocks” (8/10)