And we’re back, after the eight-part “Agent Carter” event, we are back in the present and catching up with “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” When last we saw our heroes, the hidden city had been found, and the Diviner had been activated. People died, and people changed. The Doctor was revealed as Mister Hyde, his daughter Skye as Daisy ‘Quake’ Johnson, and no one has yet uttered the word ‘Inhumans’ …yet. Meet me after the jump, see what they become, and read my thoughts on “Aftershocks.”
Since the beginning of this series one of the main subplot thrusts has been the mystery of how Agent Phil Coulson is still alive. He was murdered by Loki in the first Avengers movie, impaled on the god of mischief’s power staff. Resurrected by Kree technology, procured by S.H.I.E.L.D. to bring an Avenger back to life, Coulson found himself suffering from various difficulties. He had to have his mind tampered with to ensure he wouldn’t remember the procedure, which brought on more problems. Coulson began to uncontrollably carve symbols, in the Kree language, a message that was in fact a map, a map to a hidden ancient alien city.
While this was going on, enemies of S.H.I.E.L.D. were after an ancient Kree artifact called the Diviner, which if activated, would release great power, but only if done within the city. In our last episode, it happened. The Diviner opened up revealing crystals that caused what we know in the comics to be terrigenesis – killing Trip, and transforming Skye and Raina. That of course is the short short version, if you want more details, you can read my reviews of the entire season so far here.
In 1983 we open on a young eyeless boy, teleporting (in a very Nightcrawler way) uncontrollably around a closed room. This is obviously a younger version of the man we saw at the end of the last episode, the one who also had a Diviner and was informed that now there are others. I suggested that he might be Reader, but he’s probably not, and neither is he the other Inhuman named Gordon (AKA Lineage), so this is a completely new character.
Gordon is shown being comforted by a woman who could very well be Skye’s mother, and is, Jiaying. The boy is being watched after being exposed to the mists of terrigenesis, it’s even said out loud, no sign of the I-word yet though. Could these people watching be the Inhumans? She describes the boy Gordon, possibly Reader, as being old enough to understand, but young enough to adapt to what happens. Those who aren’t, it is said are lost.
Back to Normal
Speaking of the lost, we switch to Skye, quarantined behind glass talking to Coulson about what happened. As I said, Triplett is dead, even though it appears they are being very careful with his remains. Skye, and surely some of the others, are viewing what happened as a loss, mostly because of the death of Triplett. Each deals with it in their own way, May training, Fitz and Mack into their work, and Coulson into denial.
Coulson sees this as a victory and not Skye’s fault. Despite Mister Hyde, Ward, Agent 33, and Raina escaping, he sees it differently as Whitehall is dead. To use the metaphor of Hydra, they cut off the head, leaving the organization without a leader. As the next scene shows, Hydra is already planning to fill the slot. A round table of unnamed villainy – a legion of doom, if you will, including a Banker, a Baroness, and a Sheik – decide that whoever destroys S.H.I.E.L.D. gets the spot. Intriguing.
Coulson swears to crush Hydra while they are beheaded, luring them out into the open with Bakshi. We see apparent loyalty switches by Hunter and deaths of May and Coulson. May takes little action, but man oh man, does it rock. It’s all a ploy however. The best line of the show, I-word aside, is when Coulson says of the trick that had May scripted it, no one would say anything. Next best line – “Is every Radio Shack a Hydra outpost?” Perfect.
What I always like about “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” even when it fails as a comic book superhero show, it is always good espionage. Television doesn’t have this kind of adventure any longer. Oh sure, there are spies, but let’s face it, this is old school, and every time this show pulls something like this, my reactions range from a smirk to a fist pump, always a good thing. I hope they keep it up.
As Bakshi is reintroduced to the power vacuum of Hydra’s leadership, it’s as if a monkey wrench has been thrown into the gears. The battle for power takesan ugly spin that kinda reminds me of the plot of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, ya know, “criss cross,” as each of the Hydra leaders off each other, leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. only to recapture Bakshi. It was tricky, and risky, but it worked.
This leaves the only known leader of Hydra to be the Baron Von Strucker, who has been set up to be one of the villains of Avengers: Age of Ultron, having previously been seen holding Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch prisoner in the after-credits sequence of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As with that last movie, it is suspected that this series will be used as an intro, and possibly coda, to the second Avengers in the same way. Let’s hope.
Meanwhile Skye is losing it a little bit. She knows what happened, she knows she’s different, and of course, being trapped in a glass box is never fun, no matter how many soda pops and trashy magazines Mockingbird sneaks in to her. And Fitz is working hard to fix Skye’s watch, which also measured her physical stats. She had her heart going at 300 beats per minute at the time of the temple release, at which point Fitz says, “That’s inhuman.”
Over and above the first mention of the I-word, Simmons is starting to lose her mind a little too, thinking the terrigen transformation a contagion of some kind. Worse than that, it’s coloring her judgment. She’s starting to think any type of metahumanity is a mistake, and that it’s all S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fault. When someone asks about the Avengers, Simmons counters immediately that the Avengers wouldn’t be needed if SH.I.E.L.D. hadn’t messed with alien genetics to begin with. And that’s why Fitz switches Skye’s blood samples to make it seem like she’s normal – their little secret.
No doubt that some of Simmons’ paranoia comes from Raina, who unlike Skye, exposure to the terrigen mists has turned her into something that looks inhuman. Covered in thorns that hurt her as much as she can hurt others with them, she kills a few of Simmons’ teammates before the alien city is flooded and buried forever. On the run, Raina finds Hyde who tells her if she can’t deal with being what she has become, she should stop being.
Just as Raina has decided what she will do, and is about to commit suicide by cop, a force field appears around her and she’s rescued by the adult Gordon, who has apparently mastered his powers since 1983. One can only assume he is from some Inhuman community on Earth and will train her, and show her a place where she won’t be alone in her appearance. Funny, Hyde also mentions taking Skye to a place of ‘others,’ though I doubt they will be quite as nice, just a hunch. Maybe more super-villains are on the way? After all, who else would be friends with Mister Hyde?
There’s other weird stuff going on with our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. besides Simmons getting paranoid and Skye getting ‘quaked.’ Coulson is acting a whole lot more like Nick Fury than usual, with his don’t ask just do command attitude. We’re all missing Trip, but it’s more than that. And even though it was meant as a show for Bakshi, it seems that some of the derision shown when planning the prisoner trade, some of the argument may have been for real. Mack is not himself, and he’s not alone.
One could attribute Mack’s oddness to being temporarily possessed by the alien city, but this seems rooted further back than this. Apparently he and Morse are gunning for Nick Fury’s toolbox which he left in Coulson’s safekeeping. I could see Mack maybe working for the bad guys, but no, not Mockingbird! Or maybe she’s playing double agent, but maybe not. It was revealed in this episode that they are both in the same support group, so they keep secrets. But what kind of support group? Alcohol? Drugs? Or one for out of work betrayed secret agents?
Next: The return of Lady Sif and the dawn of Quake in “Who You Really Are!”