– Spoiler Review –
While the first half might drag a little, the two-part Agents of SHIELD season finale “S.O.S.,” where the fight between SHIELD and the Inhumans reaches a tipping point no-one can completely turn back from, pays-off the much improved sophomore season in many obvious and subtle ways, while setting up for a potentially even more rewarding third season.
First off, let me start this off by giving a big congratulations to the writing, directing, and especially acting in regards to Jaiying and Cal this season. I totally bought, hook, line, and sinker, that Jaiying was the benevolent perfect mother Skye deserved while Cal was the monster father with a slightly quirkey, but human side. Both Kyle MacLachlan, who could truly channel madness, and Dichen Lachman, who kept a refined fury in Jaiying’s eyes, played their parts wonderfully, were excellent additions to the cast, and the main proponents to help sell the long game twist with their characters. All season we have been made to think Cal is the true monster out of Skye’s parents, as he’s been known to kill people, is obviously deranged, and ready to hurt those who get in his way to being with his daughter. But when the last few weeks showed him spending more time with his family, a much different character appears, especially after Coulson has his one-on-one with Cal’s inner/outer madman in the finale. The same can be said for Jaiying, but in reverse. From her caring and loving nature helping out a young Gordon, her supportive nature towards Cal, to her seemingly benevolent leadership, she is everything one could possibly want in a mother-figure. But once SHIELD, at least to her, threatens her calm, peaceful way of life with the Inhumans, her true intentions and motives became clear.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that being cut up into pieces and then being sown back together might leave more than just scars on the surface, but they handled her character so well I don’t think anyone really saw her being the monster in the end. Despite being the true monster of the family, her desire to protect the Inhumans at least made for a relatable goal, but she is so blinded by her anger she can’t see what she’s doing is actually causing more harm than good. The final confrontation between her and Skye was fairly dramatic, pulling at a few heartstrings, and really put to good use all the emotional character building the second half of the season spent between the two family members. Cal showing up and taking out Jaiying felt a little cheap at first, but he fulfills his primary adjective as his actions keep Skye from harm both physically and psychologically.
And with Coulson giving Skye control of a possible enhanced-filled team on SHIELD’s behalf, not only did her character get some big emotional payoffs in the finale, but all the character work done on both Chloe Bennet and writer’s side made her promotion at the end seem completely feasible. Skye needed to be worked on as a character after the first season, as she was funny, but not wholly interesting or important member of the team, and the development they gave her all season long was well worth watching and is the primary reason I look forward to the third season. AoS might just end up being remembered for being her story, but I don’t see anything wrong with that, while her new promotion continues to give me hope she might be headlining, or at least heavily involved in, the Inhumans film in 2019.
On the other hand, the real lone weak point was the Ward and Kara story again. Not only am I not personally invested in either character, but they haven’t done a particularly great job giving viewers any reason to be. Ward was largely a blank slate in the first season and I began to enjoy his psychotic side while in SHIELD jail, but ever since he got loose he’s just not an interesting character. And while Kara’s beef with Bobbi is a nice touch, she ended up feeling like she was sadly only developed to become another “woman in the fridge” trope so Ward might finally do something drastic like trying to start his own Hydra. While a better plot line for him, I’m still with May and Hunter on this one: Can we just put a bullet in him?
Though sadly Ward didn’t die, some people did end up getting the chopping block, most notably Raina, Gordon, and (as I mentioned) Kara. Raina and Gordon had some of the best potential on the show with their unique abilities, so it was a shame they had to both bite the dust in the finale. Raina, after all her deceptions, lies, and manipulations, succumbs to a much better manipulator in Jaiying. Gordon perishes at Fitz’s hands in a mostly accidental way and I’m going to really miss having a teleporter around.
On the flip side, Bobbi at least survives her bullet wound, but the repercussions leave her wanting to exit SHIELD just after Hunter finally became a part of it. Her fight with Ward and Kara, especially as she faces off against both of them at the same time towards the end, was pretty impressive (though Daredevil still has the better fights). I’ve mostly enjoyed Bobbi and Hunter’s will-they-won’t-they relationship and it looks like her near sacrifice for him might just be enough to finally push the two together. While they could still get a spin-off series, despite it being passed up on for this upcoming season, keeping them on AoS would be a smart move for the time being.
Oh Fitz and Simmons, how I adore thee. Fitz gets some great moments in the finale, notably his “Science, biatch!” line and taking out Gordon. Their challenging and loaded relationship hasn’t always been handled well this season, but having Simmons start the process and Fitz bringing it home by awkwardly asking her to dinner was great fun for these two. And then BAM, the Kree stone reaches out, grabs Simmons, and swallows her whole. WHAT THE HELL! Way to play with our heartstrings about these two only to quite literally pull the rug out from underneath us. Sure, in this case the rug is a stone which can morph between solid and liquid, but you get the drift. Not the biggest or most shocking cliffhanger ever, but it’s a mystery I’m dying to see resolved, pronto. Heck, just thinking about it for this review makes me anxious all over again to find out what happened.
But of course I can’t end this review without discussing the terrigen crystal/diviner mix making it’s way into fish oil products anyone could buy. I believe much of next season will be dealing with the repercussions of the transformative mix being in such a widely consumed product, opening up the possibility for tons of Inhumans to make the change without realizing what they’re doing. With the rest of the Inhumans seemingly still out there (there’s not much explanation about what they’re all up to after the events of the finale) they could start rounding up more of their own, Skye could recruit some for her team, and Ward’s Hydra (ugh) could bend the rest to their will. And with so many enhanced people popping up, it would be another good argument for creating a registration act for enhanced people, no? Much like how AoS lead into Age of Ultron this season, it’ll be ending it’s third season right around Civil War‘s release and the trade-off their two storylines could have has me definitely intrigued.
Here are a few other things:
- Here’s hoping Cal’s new veterinary practice goes well…and that it’s in Wisconsin, as we spent enough time there this season.
- I’m really happy Lincoln didn’t stay an idiot all episode.
- May taking some time off would be a big change up for the show next season, or at least her being in a happier mood could definitely alter the team dynamics moving forward.
- Mack’s return wasn’t no big surprise, as he was sort of forced to do so, but he had several fun moments going solo against the Inhumans aboard the carrier. However, his cutting off part of Coulson’s arm was definitely quite the shock, leaving me shouting “shit!” at the TV. In the end, putting him in charge of the alien artifacts was a solid idea.
- It looks like on the blue folder Coulson gave to Skye the name Caterpillars can be seen, which is the code name for Daisy Johnson (Skye) and Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors, a team of lesser-known superheroes. Jeffrey Bell, executive producer, was interviewed by Amy Ratcliffe at IGN.com regarding the possibility of seeing that team, a look at the fish oil filled ending, and a tease about Simmons’ fate.
- In the PlayStation series Powers, based off the comic of the same name, there is a character named Simons who could make copies of himself much like the Inhuman gal Alisha. I really liked the effects for Simons over Alisha, but that’d be about the only thing Powers ever did better than AoS. And on a interesting little side-note: Alisha was played by Adrianne Palicki’s stunt double, Alicia Vela-Bailey.
- A glance at the cast for Part 2 of “S.O.S.” reveals the short, chubbier thug who speaks to Ward at the end is played by an actor who goes by the name Loki. How very Marvel.
The much improved second season of Agents of SHIELD might not have ended as strong as it started, but it’s more confident tone and assured direction leave me ready to return for another season.
+ The real monster revealed
+ Quite the cliffhanger with Simmons
+ Skye’s development
+ Big potential for third season
– Ward’s still kicking
– First half drags a little
MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD REVIEWS:
Season Two: 2.1 Shadows | 2.2 Heavy is the Head | 2.3 Making Friends and Influencing People | 2.4 Face My Enemy | 2.5 A Hen in the Wolf House | 2.6 A Fractured House | 2.7 The Writing on the Wall | 2.8 The Things We Bury | 2.9 …Ye Who Enter Here | 2.10 What They Become | 2.11 Aftershocks | 2.12 Who You Really Are | 2.13 One of Us | 2.14 Love in the Time of Hydra | 2.15 One Door Closes | 2.16 Afterlife | 2.17 Melinda | 2.18 The Frenemy of My Enemy | 2.19 The Dirty Half Dozen | 2.20 Scars
MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER REVIEWS:
Season One: 1.1 This is Not the End/1.2 Bridge and Tunnel | 1.3 Time and Tide | 1.4 The Blitzkrieg Button | 1.5 The Iron Ceiling | 1.6 A Sin to Err | 1.7 SNAFU | 1.8 Valediction