Saturday, December 13, 2014

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Episode 10: What They Become

It's the dreaded Fall Finale of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.! And what a finale it was, too! I can't believe how much this show's improved in its second season. I hope everyone who gave up on it last year is giving it a second look.

I also can't believe it's not coming back until March. They've built up a really good momentum in the past ten episodes, and now they're pissing it all away. I know these mid season breaks are the norm these days, but I think they're a bad idea

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Picking up where we left off last week, Evil Ward's just left with Skye and Raina, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Bus is surrounded by HYDRA quinjets, weapons loaded. May demonstrates some fancy flying maneuvers to escape.

Whitehall and his HYDRA goons have tracked down the location of the Inhumans City in San Juan. Yes, it's an Inhuman City. The show is still being coy about it, but that's obviously what it is. It lies underneath an old theater, so they set up a headquarters there and use a plasma drill to dig their own entrance into the city. 

Coulson wants to plant bombs inside the City to keep HYDRA from entering, but he's afraid anyone else who enters will be changed into a Sentry like Mac. FitzSimmons theorize that if they wear hazmat suits, they could safely enter without being transformed. Their plan works, and they begin planting the bombs.

Then at long last, Evil Ward presents Skye to her father. Her father tells her that his name is Cal, sending ripples throughout Marvel fandom. He also tells her about her apparently immortal mother, and how Whitehall butchered her to learn the secrets of her longevity. And he tells Skye that her real name is Daisy (more ripples) and that she's special and has a destiny to fulfill. 

Whitehall enters incapacitates Evil Ward and Cal. He then orders Skye to pick up the Obelisk/Diviner. She does so, and is unharmed by it. She tries to escape by jamming it in a guard's face, which turns him to ash and was pretty darned cool. Whitehall doesn't take kindly to this and tells Skye he's going to enjoy dissecting her as he did her mother. 

Just then Coulson and his rescue team enter, and he shoots Whitehall dead. This enrages Cal, who was looking forward to taking out his revenge on Whitehall. Evil Ward frees himself and promises to get Skye to safety. As his back is turned, she picks up a fallen guard's gun and shoots him several times, which I have to admit was pretty darned satisfying. 

Skye saves Coulson from her dad, who she tells to get lost. He says he will for now, but she'll need him after she transforms, because no one else will understand. Inhumans!

Skye then goes after Raina, who's taken the Diviner down into the City with the intent to use it. Meanwhile, FitzSimmons and Trip have finished planting the bombs in the City and have climbed back to the surface. When they find out Skye's still inside, Trip jumps back down the hole to diffuse the bombs.

Skye follows Raina to a small room with a pedestal in the center. She tries to talk Raina out of placing the Diviner on the pedestal. Before she can do so, the Dviner floats out of Raina's hand and lands gently in the middle of the pedestal. The room seals itself, but not before Trip squeezes in to try and rescue Skye. The Diviner releases a blast of energy, which covers Skye and Raina with a crunchy outer coating, and turns poor Trip to ash. 

Their rocky coatings begin to crumble, and we see a brief glimpse of Raina, who's been physically transformed. Skye bursts from her "cocoon" as the ground begins to shake. 

In the tag scene, a man takes a glowing Diviner out of a wooden box and calls a woman and says, "Are you seeing this?" We then pan up and see he has no eyes. Inhumans!

It's more than obvious at this point that we're talking about Inhumans here, but the show still just cannot bring itself to say it. THEY'RE INHUMANS, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.! JUST SAY THE DAMN WORD ALREADY!

Thoughts:

• I noticed that Fitz's aphasia or whatever he has didn't seem as bad this week. Maybe that's a sign that he's getting better. Or maybe they had a lot of story to get through, and didn't have time for Ian De Caestecker to stand around stammering for ten minutes.

• Looks like the show's getting its money's worth out of their field trip to Puerto Rico again this week. I know it's probably expensive to do so, but it's worth it. You can see the difference onscreen when they actually go to the place they say they're going, instead of filming on the back lot or in LA somewhere.

• After May's fancy flying saves the day, there's a shot of the Bus zooming past the camera while cloaked. Its glowing engines and wing contrails are clearly visible.

What good is a cloaking device if it doesn't hide the engine exhaust?

• Although they don't come right out and say it, it's pretty much a given that Cal is Calvin Zabo, aka Mister Hyde. In the comics Mister Hyde was a shady doctor who experimented on himself and became a massive, super strong rage monster similar to the Hulk.

Whether we end up seeing Kyle Maclachlan Hulk-out on TV will no doubt depend on the budget. I wouldn't hold my breath.

• It's also a given at this point that Skye is really Daisy Johnson, aka Quake. In the comics she's the first super powered S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, with the ability to generate earthquakes by vibrating her body. She's the daughter of Mister Hyde in the comics as well.

They've been hinting that Skye is special and had potential super powers way back in the first season. It'll be interesting to see where they go with this. If Coulson takes full advantage of Skye's powers, they'll no longer have to infiltrate a HYDRA base, she can just collapse the building with an earthquake.

A lot of fans correctly predicted that Skye and her dad would turn out to be these two characters. I have to confess I was not one of them, as I wasn't really familiar with either one.

• Cal tells Skye she comes from a line of people with gifts, and that there's a transformation that she has to go through. If that doesn't confirm that she's an Inhuman, I don't know what does.


In the comics the Inhumans start out looking like normal folk, but at a certain age each goes through a ceremony in which they're exposed to the Terrigen Mist, which transforms them and gives each a super power.

I'm puzzled as to why they're being so evasive about the fact that they're dealing with Inhumans, and always stop short of saying the word. Are they waiting until the Inhumans movie comes out to finally say it? I hope not, because it's not due in theaters until 2018!

• During his conversation with Skye, Cal hums Daisy Bell, which is not only her name, but the song playing in the background in the dream Skye had last week. 


So I guess she's not having psychic dreams, but probably just has dim memories of her parents singing the song to her when she was a baby.

• Why is Cal always so sweaty? Is it because he's trying so hard to contain his rage?

• As Mockingbird is going through Mac's things, she finds a thumb drive and palms it as Hunter walks in. Obviously she and Mac have some kind of secret, but what it could be I have no idea at this point.

• When Trip asks one of Sam Koenig where his brother Billy is, he says all the excitement overloaded his circuits and he had to go recharge or something. Then he tells Trip he's just kidding. 

Obviously the producers know most of us believe the Koenigs are Life Model Decoys, and they're just playing with us here.

• Welp, so much for Whitehall. I was surprised to see him die so soon. Maybe he'll show up on the Agent Carter show, since he was alive in WWII?

Actually I wouldn't count him out yet on this show. It's tough to keep a good villain down. Plus there's the whole immortality thing. I'm betting he'll get better.

• It was extremely gratifying to see Skye finally get the chance to put several bullets into Evil Ward. Unfortunately she shoots him in the side instead of the head like a normal human would have done.

This is TV though after all, so the bad guy has to live to fight another day.

• Last week Agent 33's voice was glitchy and robotic. This week it either got better or the sound guys forgot to distort it.


• Speaking of Agent 33, once Whitehall is dead she becomes confused and directionless. Evil Ward talks her into coming with him and they run out of the episode together.

Interesting. Last season Ward and May had a brief but intense fling. Agent 33 is still wearing May's face. Well, sort of. Looks like Evil Ward has found a way to have his own personal version of May again, one that can be easily bend to his will.

• All this season, Raina has been slinking around like a cat, purring about the Diviner and the Inhumans City and how Skye's special and there's going to be a transformation.

I'm at a loss to understand how she knows all that. Was this info part of the stories her grandmother used to tell her? Did the Diviner pass on this knowledge to her when she picked it up? Or did she just read the script?

• When Skye escapes, she sees the hole that Hydra drilled down into the City and assumes Raina went down it with the Obelisk. Later Coulson spots the same hole and somehow knows that both Skye and Raina went down it. How he knows this, I have no idea. I guess he read the script as well.

• FitzSimmons theorize that the Inhumans City turned Mac into a Sentry because it scanned him and determined he wasn't worthy. They feel they'll be able to avoid that fate if they wear hazmat suits inside the City, which will prevent it from scanning them.


Their plan works and the suits indeed protect them from becoming Sentries. Then Trip goes back into the city to diffuse the bombs without a suit and is just fine. Coulson also enters the City without a protective suit.

What the hell? Do they need to wear the suits or not?


• Coulson enters the City and encounters Sentry Mac. After Raina sets off the Diviner, Mac falls to the ground and appears to be back to normal.


So Mac recovers, but Trip ends up dying. I hate to see Trip go, but honestly he hasn't had much to do this season since they expanded the cast, spending most of every episode standing in the background and looking worried.

I've read a lot of online chatter from fans who are outraged that they had the gall to kill off one of the black characters on the show. Sigh... excuse me while I go lie down in the street.

• The limits of the show's budget become evident in the Transformation Chamber set. It's a plain circular room that can't be more than twenty feet across, not unlike the kind of cheap sets you'd see on Classic Doctor Who.

If this had been a Marvel film, the chamber would have been a vast expanse festooned with detailed wall carvings and swirling lightning. Apparently this is the economy Transformation Chamber.

• After the Diviner's pulse washes over them, Raina appears to have turned into some kind of porcupine woman, complete with quills. Is she now based on someone from the comics? I stopped reading them years ago, so I have no idea. 

• The show won't be back until March! Jesus, I HATE these stupid ass months-long breaks between episodes. But until I become the head of ABC, there's precious little I can do about it. On the bright side, we'll have the Agent Carter series to tide us over until the show resume.

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