The fallout is just beginning.
What They Say:
Aftershocks – Coulson and the team are faced with the consequences of the war with Hydra as revelations threaten to destroy them.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After quite the break, which was filled with the very fun Agent Carter series, Agents of SHIELD has a lot to accomplish in coming back. On the positive side, there was a lot of interesting things going on at the end with the midseason finale with the obelisk being activated, a little death along the way and a serious change for Skye and Raina, which offers up a chance for the series to be a real contributor to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe with it ushering in the Inhumans, which they’re actually using the name of. On the flip side, it’s been several months since we’ve had the show and getting back into the groove of it can be hard, even more so for some folks that may have found Agent Carter to be a superior show in a lot of ways because of its smaller character focus as opposed to the team angle.
With the cold open here, we get soemthing that the show has seriously needed for awhile with some powers being used, taking us back to 1983 where we get to see Reader when he was a child and learning to use his powers. With his teleportation ability that was gained through terrigenesis, which is said out loud, we learn how it transformed him with the loss of his vision as his eyes are gone and he now has the ability to transport himself like this. Controlling it is the problem though, but he has others trying to help him, which is what became his own mission in the present day to help those new to transformation like he was. There’s some good stuff here that admittedly plays to the old mutant angle, but with the right adjustments to tie into what we know of the Inhumans in how they’ve been updated in the last few years. And all of this ties into Skye, as she doesn’t have the benefit of being prepared in her youth for what’s happened to her.
Skye’s grappling with what she’s feeling to be sure, but she and the rest of the team are coping with the whole Tripp situation with his death in preventing a cataclysm. There’s some decent things going on, with investigation into the underground city with what they can do and how to remove it from existence because of the threat it represents. Mac made it out of quarantine easily enough, which makes sense, but Skye is still in it because of how much she was exposed to. And there’s the added issue of Raina having gone missing, which is frustrating her. There’s something to be said about how she’s reacting to all of this, feeling very responsible, because one does have to factor in her young age overall. But it’s good to see Coulson getting angry and making it clear to them that he’ll make someone pay for all of it.
While that movement gets underway, we get some tantalizing connectivity elsewhere with some of the upper echelon of Hydra talking about what had happened with Whitehall and how to deal with his replacement in that position. The mention of Baron Von Strucker makes it clear that he’s definitely highly placed in all of this and is using a lot of these various Hydra cells in order to distract from his own agenda. While Hydra looks to eliminate SHIELD once and for all, seeing this as an opportunity, we see more of what’s going on back in the city itself. That area is a different kind of danger while the agents make their way around collecting data and figuring out how to blow it up and flood it, but something new is in the mix as we know Raina is slinking around offing them in a brutal fashion as she’s starting to realize what it is that she is now. Which looks to be freaking her out as well.
Though Hydra is looking at all of this as an opportunity, Coulson is as well and making the plan to strike back by using Bakshi as bait is definitely a big risk play. And that risk is definitely causing some tension in the ranks, notably with Mac who is feeling very on the edge after everything that had happened. It’s not a bad plan overall, just that it has them out in the open, but trading Bakshi and aligning with the US military through Talbot to make some coordinated strikes doesn’t sit well with most of the team. What’s fun to see is that when the tension raises in the headquarters, we see how it’s impacting Skye as her vitals are all over the map and there’s a bit of a rumble in the air, which nobody seems to notice but her. We know where it’s going to go, but seeing the small indicators flashing ahead of it does work nicely enough because it hews to the traditional comic book approach to these kinds of realizations about who it is you are as a hero.
Raina’s arc here is starting off in a decent way as she struggles with so much, but she’s also looking to find something more about it all by tracking down the Doctor to get some answers out of him. Her anger is palpable as this is not what she expected to become based on her own beliefs and the stories told to her, especially since she feels pain with everything. But Raina also reveals that Skye survived the transformation, which delights him to no end and gives him a bit of renewed purpose. But now he has to figure out how to get her the help she needs, believing that she’ll come to him eventually for help as he had told her before. His delight is balanced with the sharpness of the reality he pushes on Raina as she’s desperate for help to get all of this fixed, which can’t happen as there’s no way to do that. The Doctor is pretty cold here, but it’s a welcome change from how so many people are written to wanting to help. Here, he just makes it clear that she can either live with it and accept it or simply die.
The show works the two tracks of how Raina and Skye are coping with things as Skye is trying to pretend everything is normal and that what happened didn’t, but it’s becoming a huge psychological strain with the way Simmons is talking about how what happened to Raina could represent a plague that needs to be put down, and then having Fitz in his own cracked way realizing what happened underground and that she caused it pushes her further over the edge. Running that in the back half as we see Raina contemplating throwing herself into traffic to end things really makes it clear just how freaked out those that go through terrigenesis can be after the fact, and that’s with Raina having had some preparation for it. Which all ties us back to the beginning with Gordon/Reader.
The final act does what it can to go a bit big, which has its interesting moments as we see Bakshi and his fellow Hydra member set things into motion to eliminate several other of the leadership faction members in order to ensure their own positions. It’s not what Coulson had hoped for, though we see Hunter and Bobbi working Bakshi enough to take out at last one of the leaders, but it feels like it’s starting to realign things a bit in terms of who is actually in control of Hydra, especially with Von Strucker hiding off in his own project. While that provides for the action component, the more emotional component is in dealing with Skye herself as she has changed drastically and Fitz is helping her to cover for it at the moment since tensions are so high. There’s a really good moment between the two with what he does and how they interact with each other. And naturally, the show ends in a fun note with Raina’s suicide attempt that goes quite awry due to the arrival of Reader to help guide her on her way. That opens a different story to be explored, though if it’s Ennilux, I can’t say I’m thrilled by what may come there.
Agents of SHIELD had a lot to do with its midseason return and it accomplished a lot of things in a pretty good and fun way. THe two main tracks of following Skye and Raina gives us different looks at the fallout from the terrigenesis, though we’ll have a bit of time before things really go into overload with Skye it seems. There’s some good character stuff scattered throughout it as they all cope with the loss of Tripp and the impact he made, and that brings a variety of tensions to the surface. But we also get intrigue bits, from whatever it is that Mac and Bobbi are up to as well as seeing the way Hydra is changing once again. The big part, one that works for me in a way that I hope works better than in the comics, is with Reader as we get a touch of his origin story here that fills in some of what happens to those exposed to the mist, and we see him as an adult in action as well, where his personality already feels better and more interesting. Hopefully it won’t be kept to small plot points until the end of the season and that we get something decent sooner rather than later.