Thursday, March 12, 2015

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Episode 12: Who You Really Are

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues it's winning streak this week, with the return of fan-favorite character Lady Sif, along with our first ever look (I think) of a real live Kree!

This is the show Marvel fans wanted from the get go; it's just too bad it took them so long to find the right mix. Why was it so hard to figure out? It's a Marvel show. Viewers want to see Marvel-y stuff going on. That means people fighting super powered baddies, not a bunch of normal humans standing around keeping secrets from one another. It's really not that difficult to understand.

Supposedly this episode set an all-time series ratings low. I think a lot of viewers tuned out during the less-than-stellar first season and never came back. That's a shame, as the show's much improved and is firing on all cylinders lately. Hopefully viewers will start coming back soon so we can have a third season.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Lady Sif of Asgard shows up in Portugal, minus her armor and her memory. The Team rushes there to intercept her, and Coulson convinces her he's a friend and they've worked together before. Skye finds an online video of Sif fighting an abnormally strong male warrior, who defeats her.

The mysterious warrior shows up at a Portuguese hospital, seeking "the one who changed." Mockingbird and Skye arrive and catch the warrior somehow using liquid nitrogen to disguise his blue skin. He effortlessly throws Mockingbird across the room, and when Skye raises her gun to shoot him, her earthquake powers inadvertently activate, allowing him to escape.

Sif recognizes the blue-skinned warrior as a Kree. Yep, the same alien race whose blood helped resurrect Coulson. The Team tracks down and captures the Kree, who says his name is Vin-Tak. He tells Coulson that he used his alien "truncheon" to wipe Sif's memory, and can restore it if they give it back to him. Coulson is hesitant to give the weapon back, so the warrior grabs it and restores Sif's memories.

Vin-Tak then infodumps the entire history of the Kree and the Inhumans to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Basically the Kree are a warrior race and they invented the Diviners and Terrigenesis to transform alien races into slave soldiers. The Terrigenesis didn't work on other planets, but worked too well on Earth, forcing the Kree to abandon the program. When Skye and Raina activated the Diviner in the underground city and were transformed into Inhumans, Vin-Tak was alerted and came here to eliminate the Inhuman threat.

Skye begins freaking out when she hears this, and once again inadvertently activates her power. Vin-Tak and Sif both realize Skye's an Inhuman and a threat that has to be neutralized. Sif wants to take her back to Asgard for safe keeping, while the Kree just wants to kill her.

As Skye's power threatens to destroy the headquarters, the Kree attacks. Mockingbird grabs his truncheon and wipes his memory with it. Skye shoots herself with an Icer to stop the quake.

Coulson talks Sif into letting him handle Skye. She agrees and returns to Asgard with the Kree.

In subplot happenings, Hunter tells Mockingbird that he plans to stay with S.H.I.E.L.D. permanently. She wants to tell Hunter about the sketchy secret mission she and Mack are involved in, but Mack talks her out of it, and urges her to talk Hunter out of staying. Hunter is suspicious of the two of them and confronts Mack, who puts him in a sleeper hold and knocks him out. Now what?

Thoughts:
• It was nice to see Lady Sif back. Part of me would like to see her join the Team on a regular basis, but that would probably be a mistake. Her appearances rely heavily on "Asgardian Fish Out Of Water" humor, and that joke would get old very quickly if we heard it every week. Best to limit her to the occasional guest spot.

• It's interesting that the series is working so hard to lay out the groundwork for the Inhumans, even though the movie isn't coming out for several more years. Hopefully the film will play by the rules that are being spelled out here.

• The writers have done an excellent job of improving the character of Skye this season. I couldn't stand her in Season 1, as she went from audience surrogate to The Chosen One, who didn't have to do anything to earn the bountiful rewards and praise heaped onto her.

Now that she's an Inhuman and the first ever super powered member of S.H.I.E.L.D., she's much more interesting than she was last season.

• I was very surprised that Skye revealed her powers in this episode. I fully expected her (and Fitz) to keep it a secret until the season finale. Kudos to the writers for speeding things along instead of dragging them out ad infinitum.

• Fun lines:

Police Officer: "Pick up her sword from booking before you go."

Sif (concerning Thor): "I do not know this word, yet when you say it I want to smile. Why?"

Sif again: "Answer his question, elderly man!"

Sif yet again (discovering that she knows Odin): "Shut up!"

• Even though I like Mockingbird, her relationship with Hunter gets a big yawn from me. The two of them are much more interesting when they're not getting along. When they're all lovey-dovey I suddenly get the urge to go do the dishes.

• We've seen the Kree before— we saw a dead one on the show last season, and several live ones (including Ronan the Accuser) in Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Vin-Tak doesn't look anything like the other Kree we've seen. OK, so he had a few weird ridges on his face, but other than that he looked like an average Joe. He even hid his blue skin for the bulk of the episode (Budget!).

Vin-Tak also seems awfully small for a Kree, considering the one we saw back in the episode T.A.H.I.T.I. looked a lot bigger than him. Giant, even. Is there more than one strain of Kree? Or did Vin-Tak use his truncheon to compress himself to human size?

• By the way, I'm not sure truncheon was the best name for Vin-Tak's weapon. It most definitely looked like a small hammer. A truncheon (at least here on Earth) is another word for billy club. I guess calling it a hammer would have been too similar to Thor?

• Sif says Heimdall detected a live Kree on Midgard (we call it Earth) and Odin sent her to retrieve him. Um... according to Thor: The Dark World, Loki is currently impersonating Odin, right? Why would Loki care if a Kree came to Earth and stirred up trouble? Is he just keeping up appearances, or does he have something sinister in mind for the Kree?

• There was a ton of Marvel namedropping in this episode. In addition to the Kree, we heard bits and pieces about Asgard, Odin and even Thor. Vin-Tak also mentioned the Celestials, the Galactus-like giants we first glimpsed in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Sif even brought up Hala, the home world of the Kree!

• Mockingbird and Mack confirm they're not secretly working with HYDRA. So who are they working with then? Hopefully they're not some kind of evil double agents, because I'd hate to lose the Fitz/Mack relationship.

• Cool to see the Destroyer Gun back in action.

• Skye begins quaking out and can't control herself. To put a stop to the damage, she shoots herself in the head with an Icer gun. At first I didn't realize it was an Icer. For a minute or two I thought she'd willingly shot herself in the head with a handgun!

• Hunter gets a little too nosy and confronts Mack, who puts him in a sleeper hold. So what the hell's Mack going to do with Hunter now? Keep knocking him out for the rest of the season? I'm guessing Mack didn't really think things through.

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