Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “S.O.S.” Review

Posted May 15, 2015 by Kenneth Rodriguez in Nerdy Bits

If you would like to catchup on last week’s episode, you can find that here

So, that was an interesting season finale. A whole lot happened, and I certainly can’t say this show is unwilling to take chances. We also saw some of the best character work all season, with many arcs coming to satisfying conclusions that felt both earned and organic. We certainly saw some interesting setup for season 3, and like I predicted last week, it seems the Inhumans will take a larger role as the central antagonists next year, though not in the organized “Afterlife” we saw before. Many of those players met a violent end, and while their strong presence will be missed, their deaths certainly made sense within the narrative and raised the stakes even higher. There were some fantastic action sequences where you can clearly tell they saved their budget all year to bring out some high quality VFX to remember.

That’s not to say this episode was without fault, however. Some of the Ward stuff was a bit off, and there were some plot contrivances that felt completely unnecessary with Bobbi (I love her, but I know these scenes were only set up as a backdoor pilot for her now shelved show, (shame about that)). Overall, if you ever needed an episode to show you just how far this series has come, its this one’s wacky comic-book zaniness presented mostly seriously, with a bit of a wink thrown in. There’s a lot to get to, so lets get started.

Things aren't going well for Skye

Things aren’t going well for Skye

We see the aftermath of Jiaying’s manipulation of Gonzales, blaming him for her self-inflicted injuries and claiming he was trying to assassinate her as an act of war. In the background, a follower steals a Quinjet and blows up a building, attempting to seem like S.H.I.E.L.D. is attacking. All this chaos causes Skye to doubt if S.H.I.E.L.D. really does exist for peace and ignore May’s pleading. Skye does not back down and attacks May, leading to a great surrogate mother-daughter throwdown that shows us that, as far as Skye has come, May is still much better. Before Skye gets knocked out, she uses her powers to knock May out to escape with Jiaying.

Simmons fills Coulson and the rest of the team on the violent turn to the meeting, and while the council wants to attack, Coulson orders restraint since something seems fishy to him. He orders a retreat. It’s here we find out that this really was all part of Jiaying’s plan, and her injuries aren’t a problem, as she can just suck the life-force out of innocent people to heal herself (huh, so that’s what was keeping her young for so long). While this is happening, Skye asks Raina if her visions have said anything that can help them, but she only speaks of the grand visions she has seen: Skye leading the Inhumans, Jiaying is evil, and that they will never speak to each other again; none of which Skye believes. Jiaying agrees with Skye’s mistrust and believes that the only way to protect the people of Afterlife is to take S.H.I.E.L.D. out of the equation, though Skye is not excited about that prospect. As Skye goes to do some soul-searching, she happens upon Jiaying who has the still-warm body of Raina dead in her hands, and the façade is shattered. Jiaying doesn’t care about anyone, including Inhumans. She only wants revenge on S.H.I.E.L.D. for what they did to her. It seems Raina was correct about everything in her visions, and before Skye can react, she is knocked out.

The team confronts Cal as "Mr. Hyde"

The team confronts Cal as “Mr. Hyde”

Coulson and Weaver go back and forth about what to do with the Inhumans, with Weaver still gunning to take them out and Mac wanting to help them. Hunter and Fitz happen to discover that Bobbi actually left with Agent 33 in disguise as May, and that’s where she has been all this time. Coulson also tries to make some progress in interrogating Cal, who is hopped up on his “special formula” and not being very cooperative. He was trying to synthesize his own Inhuman abilities, but as we know, it never quite worked out and just made him unstable (Simmons finds ingredients such as Gorilla Testosterone, metabolic enhancers, methamphetamines, steroids, and even a drop of peppermint in the mix). In the middle of his ramblings, he passes out and his heart stops, before Simmons brings him back with an Adrenaline shot. It turns out this was the missing ingredient in his formula, and he finally goes through the “Mr. Hyde” transformation we have been waiting for (more rage, strength, and monster-like features than usual, but not quite the “hulk-like” form he has in the comics, more Universal Monster). He smashes the base, attacking everyone until Coulson pins him to a wall with an SUV to finally stop him. Coulson forces him to listen to his plan and gets him to calm down, assuring him that they have the common goal of Skye’s safety in mind, and he knows Jiaying was the one who pushed him to do the dark things he did. He finally admits that her torture and dismemberment by Whitehall changed her, and she was never the same after he put her back together. He agrees they must stop her together.

Just as he agrees, we see Gordon and Jiaying have come to the ship to end S.H.I.E.L.D.’s opposition, bringing Skye, Lincoln, and some other Inhuman friends along. They take the crew hostage and quickly take over the ship, and Mac finds that they locked Skye in a containment cell as soon as they arrived, so she comes to help as well. Jiaying has gotten to the Kree weapon and secured it, while it seems only mac and Skye are available to do anything about it. Things look grave indeed.

Bobbi isn't having a good time

Bobbi isn’t having a good time

As all this is happening, we get an update on the condition of Bobbi and her capture by Ward and Kara (Agent 33). Ward discovered  that Bobbi gave intel to HYDRA in exchange for some mission critical intel she needed to maintain her HYDRA cover, and that allowed Agent 33’s capture during HYDRA’s ensuing attack of that base. Essentially, Bobbi is the reason Kara went through so much  pain and torture, and Ward wants to help Kara make her pay for that. Bobbi though, has no intention of apologizing to end her current torture at their hands, because she did her duty as an agent, made a tough call that, though she regrets Kara got caught up in the aftermath, wasn’t wrong. They can’t accept that, and continue to injure her under the influence of anesthetics and paralytics, so she will feel the pain all at once when they wear off. Ward figures if he can’t break her directly, he will hurt the thing she cares for most, her love Hunter. He turns on her phone, knowing he and Fitz will use it to track her, and rigs the door to trigger a rifle on the person who opens the door looking for her. Mack, Hunter, May and other agents show up to rescue her and knowing Kara is there, orders her agents to not do anything without the sight of her face. Kara, taking advantage of May’s order, activates her May disguise to trick everyone else. Unfortunately, she picks the wrong time, since the first person she encounters is Ward who doesn’t hesitate in unloading some rounds into the person he thinks is the real May. She lets out a whimpering “baby…” as she realizes what just happened, and Ward has just killed the woman he spent so much time trying to protect. This gives the team enough distance to find Bobbi, who takes the bullet from the rigged rifle intended for Hunter, and they all escape to get her to medical attention.

Coulson is ready for Gordon

Coulson is ready for Gordon

They get back to HQ and leave Bobbi under Simmons’ care, gearing up and ready to take the fight to Jiaying on the carrier. Fitz has developed some quantum field disruptors to stop Gordon’s teleportation abilities and they all head out to the Iliad to finally end it. Back on the ship, Skye runs into Lincoln and convinces him of Jiaying’s real motives, but Mac knocks him out assuming him to be on their side before he can help. Coulson and the crew show up on the ship and they fan out to find Skye and the Kree weapon. Cal finds Jiaying in the bridge and tries to reason with her, but Gordon takes him away to a locked room, and runs into Mac, Coulson, and Fitz on his way out. It seems like Gordon’s teleportation is giving him a major upper hand until Fitz’s disruptors finally kick on, and stop his jumps from leaving the room (when he demands to know how, we get a  great “Science, biyatch” line from Fitz). The fight is much more fair now, as Mac attacks with an emergency ax, Coulson with a big wrench and Fitz with a pipe, which accidentally kills Gordon when he teleports into it, essentially stabbing himself with it. It seemed he was holding one of the artificial Terrigen Crystals Jiaying used on Gonzales last week, and after his death, it falls toward the ground. To try and save everyone from turning to stone, Coulson leaps to grab it, and his arm begins experiencing that very fate. As he realizes he is going to die, Mac thinks quick and CHOPS OFF THE ARM WITH HIS AXE!!! Whoa,… did not see that coming, but man I suppose it was effective, who knows where that will end up with, probably some awesome robot arm for him (if we don’t at least get a joke about replacing it with a hook hand, all is lost.. and this continues the Phase 2 thread of someone losing an arm in every property) Elsewhere, Skye fights a female Inhuman who can create multiples of herself, in another extended fight scene that was pretty cool, though there are too many for her alone until Lincoln and May help her out. They take her out and Skye goes to the deck of the ship to finally end things with her mother, and she more than willing to take her out of the equation permanently.

Their story didn't end well, but it makes sense

Their story didn’t end well, but it makes sense

Jiaying is saddened she they won’t end up being a family together, as she hoped they would be a part of each other’s lives from now on. But it cannot be, and she uses her life-stealing powers on her own daughter, and in desperation Skye uses her power to knock her away, and a Quinjet full of Jiaying’s manufactured Terrigen Crystals into the water as well. Cal shows up and decides enough is enough, the woman he loved died long ago and this person is too dangerous to let go, and kills her so Skye doesn’t have to. It seems everything is solved, with the Afterlife crew taken out and Bobbi safe, they can rest easy for now. Sometime later, Coulson gets a view of his team after the events, with Bobbi telling Hunter he “can’t do this anymore”, May finally taking a break and going on vacation with her ex-husband (though not forgetting her gun), and he recommends the team takes a break for a bit. We see Skye say goodbye to her father, promising to visit him wherever S.H.I.E.L.D. leaves him, and give him another “best day ever”, but he assures her it has already happened, July 2nd, the day she was born. (well, I guess we are going on a feels trip!) We meet back with Cal operating a veterinary clinic, happy as can be, when Skye meets up with him. He doesn’t recognize her and they have a pleasant conversation, and he mentions how Milwaukee is a “magical place” and they bid each other farewell. It seems Coulson put Cal through the T.A.H.I.T.I. protocol, and doesn’t remember a thing about his former life, which Skye sees as the best end for her father, since after all the terrible things he did, it was never because he was really a bad guy, just broken and desperate.

Simmons NO!!

Simmons NO!!

Coulson presents her with a folder labeled “Caterpillars” and mentions a team of super-powered individuals that would operate incognito f which she is the first member, as opposed to the Avengers, to deal with these kind of threats, and they are just getting started (I smell some Secret Warriors brewing, of which Daisy Johnson in the comics is a prominent member). Coulson expects things to change dramatically because of their actions and wants to be ready, and that is when we get a taste of just how much they might. The boxes of Jiaying’s Terrigen Crystals Skye knocked into the ocean earlier have dispersed into the water, affecting the fish around, which we are then shown turned into Fish Oil Capsules distributed to average supermarkets,.. so I would expect a lot of newly powered people to show up next season, probably good targets for a superhuman incognito team to take down before they make too much of a fuss. The final cliffhanger is a doozy, as we seemingly lose one of the best characters, for how long is unknown. You see, earlier Simmons finally confronted Fitz about the elephant in the room between them, how Fitz admitted his love for her when they thought death was imminent on the bottom of the ocean last season. She admits she has some feelings towards him as well, and they plan to talk about it after things calm down. Well, that time has come and Fitz meets her studying the Kree weapon, awkwardly bumbling through an invitation for a date, finally getting through it she agrees to it. Just as it seems these two are finally going to get together, the Kree stone turns to liquid ooze again and breaks from its containment box, swallowing Simmons up and returning to its previous state, seemingly unperturbed. Man… just when you think these two are finally going to get the date they deserve, they are Whedon-ed once again..

Well, this episode certainly was a doozy in terms of the body count, with at least4 people dying  and 2 getting critically injured, the stakes were certainly felt here. The arc for Cal and Jiaying especially was exceedingly dark, it really didn’t hit until they confronted each other at the end. They were a perfectly happy couple, with a beautiful daughter, until Whitehall killed her. Skye has sort of been acting as a “redeemer” character, the special/chosen one, and this story frames her mother as sort of like the Virgin Mary, the innocent person who got caught up in the bigger picture. But then, things turn south, as Cal spent every bit of his medical training and energy to bring her back, but the woman that emerged was definitely not the same as the one who he fell in love with. Though their plight was entirely not their fault, they let it affect them, turning them both into unimaginably dark monsters, one physically and the other psychologically. She is gone, irredeemable and she uses his unwavering love for her and their daughter to push him over the edge as well, and in the end there is no coming back, their scars are too deep to heal, they’ve done too much wrong to have a happy ending, and he has to take out one of the only two people he cares about to save the other from that guilt. It’s pretty masterful storytelling, and two of the darkest villains the MCU has produced so far, which to be honest it is often lacking outside of Loki.

Ward will have some beef next season

Ward will have some beef next season

Kyle Maclachlan is this season’s MVP, he figured out a way to freaking sell one of the most ridiculous characters in the MCU, giving him genuine Pathos and an exuberant spirit that let you see past his murderous tendencies and actually love him. And while his and Skye’s story didn’t get a fairy tale ending, it got the best one it could’ve hoped for considering the circumstances, and there is always hope they could be friends instead of a father/daughter.  I’m not too upset about Raina’s death, she was more of a plot device than a character, but it is notable that she never lied about any of her visions. She could’ve easily predicted anything to get what she wanted, but she only told the truth, kind of a interesting irony for a character known for lying incessantly. Kara’s death was pretty messed up, and gives him one hell of a bone to pick with the agents in season 3 now that he is the only real figure in HYDRA left, picking up the pieces after Whitehall, Bakshi, List, and Strucker are all dead. As for what implications Coulson’s “Secret Warriors”, the Terrigen Mists being infused in fish oil capsules, and Simmons being eaten up by the Kree Weapon will have in the greater MCU, its anyone’s guess but I am going to say it’s a big one. (Here’s speculation piece now that Age of Ultron has dropped about the state of the MCU post-Phase 2). Seeing as they are introducing a mechanism for tons of new super powered people to suddenly show up (arguably less cool than my speculated Terrigen Bomb) and introducing the wider concept of the Inhumans 4 years before their own film, I imagine that when their time finally does come, whatever shape AoS is in at the time will be directly related to it. Overall though, this episode really found a way to fully embrace its own mythology and tie up character stories in what felt like a genuine and meaningful way, it was fun, action packed and really couldn’t ask for much more, let’s get pumped for Season 3!

About the Author

Kenneth Rodriguez

Kenny has been completing his pokedex since Pokemon Yellow, ever ready for his next test, comics in hand. He thinks Mass Effect is the best game series ever,.. period and loves TV and Movies dearly. Follow him on Twitter @k_rod14