Yes, that’s the lead for this week’s column regarding the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series, as I stand in for regular S.H.I.E.L.D. columnist Glenn Walker, who is currently enjoying a much-deserved holiday aboard the Trisklelion this week.
Now, I know that some of you may shrug your shoulders and utter a hollow “meh”, thinking that the series hasn’t been all that interesting, and that you kind of tuned out at some point last year. The truth is that ever since the three quarter mark of last season, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been in an upward trajectory and this season, specifically, has been absolutely outstanding. It’s almost like it didn’t know what to be at its’ beginning, was then a marketing tool for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and has now finally found it’s own legs.
I repeat: tonight’s episode, I dare say, has been the best one yet.
Follow me after the jump and, with all of the Tuesday night action, intrigue and revelations, I’ll tell you why!
Inhuman Intros & Kirby
There’s a line in the opening scene to tonight’s episode that I have to shine a spotlight on. I think it’s important and if you’re a regular reader of Marvel Comics, you might too.
We open at a wedding reception where the best man begins his speech with something that sounds like “We all want to change and become something greater than we are.” In the context of the scene, he’s talking about the union of marriage, two people, bonded, becoming greater than the individuals they once were.
For Marvel Comics true believers, that line of dialogue could very well allude to a S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline that involves The Inhumans – a race of superhuman characters, good and bad, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in the mid 1960’s.
It’s no secret that Marvel Entertainment and Disney don’t have the rights to “mutant” characters in their film franchises. That honour, it’s said, belongs to Fox due to some legal agreements tied to the X-Men series of films. There’s even been some recent chatter about Disney and Fox cutting a deal to co-mingle franchises in some way. Avengers and X-Men mash-up level chatter.
Still, if that doesn’t happen (a long shot to be sure), Marvel and Disney can still get their cinematic “mutant” fix via The Inhumans, who have similar powers to mutants: human beings that become something more when a Terrigen Mist activates latent Inhuman genes.
It’s a long and convoluted story that is best saved for a day when Glenn Walker can properly explain it. I’m too new to the Marvel Universe to do it justice. Still you can bet that the alien Kree race is involved (more on that later).
Cracked Mirrors & Cracked Minds
What is it with Kyle MacLachlan and cracked mirrors?
Remember his famous “How’s Annie?” final scene in the Twin Peaks series? Well he does it again in tonight’s episode of S.H.I.E.L.D., upset with Raina for not bringing him Skye, his alleged daughter. This time he puts his fist through the mirror, disgusted at his own reflection – where he sees not a father, but instead a monster.
Well, what is he, exactly, other than being entirely awesome in every scene he’s in?
Up until now, the show credits have only called him “The Doctor”. Indeed, he’s an angry, blood-dirtied man in a lab coat, performing a strange and highly un-sanitized surgery in an early scene. He’s temperamental for sure, bordering on psychotic. He’s driven, unusually strong, brilliant and absolutely scary.
Part of the brilliance of S.H.I.E.L.D. these days is the creators ability to get fans speculating as to how storylines will tie into upcoming movies while also discovering characters from Marvel Comics mythology.
Here’s what I’m alluding to: Could Kyle MacLachlan’s “Doctor” character, in fact, be an Inhuman? Moreover, could Kyle MacLachlan’s “Doctor” character, in fact, be Maximus the Mad?
Crazy! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, hit Wikipedia and join me in my insanity.
Jemma Simmons (the hen in the wolf house), meanwhile, is still nervously playing the embedded-within-HYDRA S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, relaying the enemy’s maneuverings to Coulson – all the while under the watchful eye of HYDRA security chief, the cold Bobbi Morse, played by Adrianne Palicki. It must be noted that Palicki has, to a certain degree, crossed the comic book Rubicon. She starred in the atrocious 2011 NBC Wonder Woman pilot via creator David E. Kelley. If you haven’t seen it, consider yourself lucky. It’s that bad. Here, Palicki is outstanding. She kicks serious ass and looks the part doing it. Besides, she’s got a secret or two of her own that she’s hiding and that just fits so nicely inside this fan’s wheelhouse.
To save her own skin through delivering Skye to her intense father, Raina (the girl with the flower dress) attempts to force Coulson’s hand by promising to expose Simmons, an act that will surely find the likable scientist at the mercy of the ruthless Daniel Whitehall, one of the new heads of HYDRA.
In an intense scene, one that counts as perhaps the very best this show has offered, the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director calls Raina’s bluff and the cat gets let out of the bag. With HYDRA security hunting her down, Simmons is saved by none other than Bobbi Morse, who is a HYDRA-embedded S.H.I.E.L.D. agent herself! (Comic book fans know her better as the character called Mockingbird.)
Everything is good with the world again, right? Not so fast!
Maps & Kirby DNA
Simmons might be back with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, but she’s also reunited with a damaged Fitz. The scene is short but moving. I have to admit, my eyes got a little wet. It leaves viewers with no resolution – a storyline to be picked up again in another episode to be sure – but you know all is not well between the two once-close friends. Fitz’s character arc this season has been the most compelling, I’ve found. A real heart-wrencher.
Bobbi Morse, now part of the team as well, is also the hellcat ex-wife of new series regular, Lance Hunter. Sparks are gonna fly, people!
Meanwhile, Coulson comes clean with Skye. Both of them have been injected with some kind of wacky, possibly alien, DNA – which I still contend is Kree DNA in a bet I made last year with Biff Bam Pop’s Editor-in-Chief, Andy Burns. A steak dinner is on the line.
This DNA is causing Coulson to etch strange symbols into his desk and on his office walls. He may be losing his mind. Skye, on the other hand, is completely normal, leading them to believe that the DNA is either behaving differently in her body – or that she’s part alien as well!
For me these symbols look very Kirbyesque, which leads me back to the supposition that we are dealing with a storyline involving The Inhumans. If you follow the comics, you’ll know that the Inhuman race was essentially created by the Kree while experimenting with human DNA. Follow that chain of thought all the way to the next Captain America movie and the third Avengers film – which, it’s thought, should see the cinematic version of the plot of the Civil War series of comic books from a few years ago.
Avengers 3 & Captain America 3 > Skrull > Inhumans > Kree > Steak dinner for #TheBet winning JP.
It all makes sense, doesn’t it?
Glenn Walker will be back from his vacation aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier next week, just in time to give you his thoughts on the world broadcast premiere of the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer that will accompany next week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now that’s reason enough to tune in – this series is just starting to heat up!