I must confess, this episode, more than the last two, truly validated my belief that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has evolved into an entirely new show. From a tangential freak-of-the-week show to a tense comic-book thriller, we can truly say this show has finally come into its own. I say this primarily because the show is capitalizing on the conflict and relationships to build some truly memorable moments. The story, too, is progressing without losing momentum, making for a stellar season.
The most impressive thread of this episode, unsurprisingly, was the exchange between Agent May and Andrew. Agent May has been the breakout hit character from the show, and Ming-Na Wen continues to deliver an amazing performance. Her character has really come a long way from the start of the series, and every time we think we know her mindset, we get an episode like this. We saw a great balance of vulnerability and strength from her, and it made the standoff all the more interesting. After all, she truly does have feelings for Andrew, and to see her struggle with her love for him amidst her duty to subdue him made for some excellent character drama.
There was just as much strength coming from the Fitz-Simmons story this week. While there wasn’t much progress made by Fitz (just a potential clue he spotted in a photograph), we got a fantastic emotional performance. With the restored SIM card, Fitz was finally able to recover the footage taken from Simmons when she was stranded on the other planet (Ego the Living Planet? I wonder…). The moment where Fitz responded to Simmons’ one-sided dialogue was particularly noteworthy, and it really speaks to what strong characters these two have become since initially being written as mere punch-lines in the pilot.
There were also some great moral dilemmas explored as Daisy confronted Coulson on the whole “Inhumans-in-Stasis” thing. As predicted, she wasn’t too keen on the idea of locking up super powered people, and the notion that they can be cured didn’t sit too well with her either (though it did have the familiar scent of old-school X-Men). However the episode deftly put the ball in her court when she was tossed into the middle of a confrontation between Andrew, Lincoln, and May. May subdued him, but it was ultimately Daisy’s decision whether or not to put him into stasis. She went with stasis, which was a big change for her character AND it validated Rosalind Price who has been grown on me faster than any other antagonist on the show ever has. And yes, we’re back to calling her an antagonist.
This was the only true disappointing part of the episode (besides the extra cheese we got when Andrew said the he “lashed out”). The show had done such a great job setting Rosalind up as an adversary of Coulson without actually being a villain. It was one the best creative decisions of the show, truly exploring the Machiavellian methods by which other organizations go about their business. If you share ends, how do you reconcile your means? It was some of the best drama on the show to date. But now…Rosalind is part of Hydra. Because it’s always Hydra.
It was a true let down because the show fell back on a familiar crutch. We’ve seen it before, in both the first and second season. It wasn’t necessary! But it seemed as if the show didn’t have confidence in its own characters that it had to add that extra element. It actually weakened Rosalind as a character because it means that none of the prior development matters…it was all a ruse meant to lure Coulson into Ward’s trap. I’ve said before that if S.H.I.E.L.D. truly wants to evolve, it’ll need to move past Hydra.
And we know it can. We just need to encourage it to actually do so.
Odds and Ends
- Lincoln did a Kamehameha and it was everything I could have hoped for.
- Not a whole lot by way of Lance and Bobbi this week, which is a bit disappointing. Bobbi was used well last week, and I’d like to see her story continue a bit more?
- Can we just say that that one guy is a Metalbender? I like that way more that just saying he has metal powers.
- The explanation of how Andrew got his powers, and how he tracked the Inhumans, was very natural. So natural, in fact, that we should have seen it coming. Shame on us.
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.