Saturday, April 4, 2015

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Episode 15: One Door Closes

There was a lot happening once again this week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. I guess the producers learned their lesson after dragging their feet last year, waiting for Captain America to premiere so they could get on with their HYDRA storyline.

I definitely expected the current "Real S.H.I.E.L.D." arc to play out over the rest of the season, so it was a surprise to see it explode this soon.

That said, I am not a fan of this S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. story line. It seems awfully similar to the S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. HYDRA one we just saw last year. How many more times are we going to have to watch Coulson's team be destroyed and rebuilt?

Skye's first ever full use of her power was pretty awesome! Looking forward to seeing her use it on a weekly basis as the first superpowered S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

I'm guessing that the mysterious Inhuman leader that Gordon's taking everyone to meet will turn out to be Skye's mother. Yeah, I know, she was sliced and diced a long time ago by Daniel Whitehall, but this is a comic book world after all, and I'm sure she probably got better. It's got to be someone we've already seen on the show, and someone relevant to Skye, otherwise there'd be no point in keeping their identity a secret. I honestly can't think of anyone else it could be,

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We start with a flashback to the Day S.H.I.E.L.D. Fell, aka Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We see Mack and several other agents are being held captive aboard their aircraft carrier (or is it a helicarrier? I'm still not sure) by HYDRA operatives. Suddenly Mockingbird and Izzy Hartley (remember her?) enter and rescue them. They also save Robert Gonzales, the commander of the carrier, and together the group takes it back from HYDRA.

In the present day, Coulson confronts Mack and tells him he found the snooping device in his scale model of Lola, and knows he's up to something. Just then Mockingbird sabotages S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and steals Nick Fury's "toolbox" from inside Coulson's fortified desk. May tries to stop her, but fails. Mockingbird and Mack both get away.

Meanwhile, Skye is chilling at the S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house. She finds the imprint of an enormous fist in a wall, and realizes that Coulson stashed her in a facility strong enough to contain the Hulk! Gordon, the eyeless teleporting Inhuman, appears and tells her she should learn to control and use her powers instead of containing them with Simmons' gauntlets. He offers to take her to a place inhabited by other Inhumans, where she can learn to use her gifts. She declines, but says she'll think about it.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Coulson and May discuss Mockingbird and Mack. May says that despite all the two have done, they've been careful to not kill anyone, so they're probably not working for HYDRA. Just then the headquarters is flooded with gas, knocking out everyone except May, who slips quietly away. Gonzales and his team enter. They find out Skye's being held in the Hulk safe house, and Mockingbird goes to retrieve her. May calls Skye and tells her to flee.

After Coulson awakens, Gonzales meets with him in his office. He tells him he wishes he could trust him, but fears he's been compromised by the alien blood that resurrected him. He says he's dismantling Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D., and won't let the real version of the organization fall again. He demands Coulson tell him how to open Fury's toolbox. Just then May arrives and ices Gonzales, giving herself up in order to cover Coulson's escape.

At the safe house, Mockingbird and Agent Calderon pursue Skye through the woods. She unleashes her power, creating a shockwave that deflects their bullets and flattens and entire forest, including Mockingbird and Calderon. She calls for Gordon, who appears and teleports her away.

Coulson sits at a bar somewhere on a beach. Hunter, who escaped from the real S.H.I.E.L.D. last week, walks up, calls Coulson "Boss," and asks what comes next.

Thoughts:
• Last week Gonzales said he wanted the real S.H.I.E.L.D. to be transparent, and not full of secrets as it was under Fury's watch. This week we find out that Coulson admired Gonzales so much he wanted him on his team, but could never locate him.

If the real S.H.I.E.L.D. is so darned transparent, why couldn't Coulson find Gonzales and send him an e-vite?

• Coulson's smooth but effective interrogation of Mack was masterfully done. He started out idly chatting with him about his car Lola, then slowly tightened the noose, as he told Mack he knew he'd been spying on him. Well, done!

• May tells Coulson that Mockingbird said she's working for “The Real S.H.I.E.L.D.” Coulson says, "What the hell does that mean?"

I know how you feel, Phil!

• The next Captain America movie will be subtitled Civil War, and if it follows the comic book, will pit superheroes against superheroes. I'm wondering if this whole S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline was cooked up as a prelude to that film?

By the way, Marvel's really getting its money's worth out of those Captain America special effects. We've seen those same clips of HYDRA attacking S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters at least twice now on the show.

• The Hulk made a cameo appearance in this episode! Well, sort of. Actually it was just the impression of his fist, embedded n the metal wall behind the paneling in Skye's safe house.

As awesome as that was, it didn't make much sense. Skye's being held inside a supposedly Hulk-proof cabin with vibranium walls. So why does it have a normal wooden door? How's that supposed to contain the Hulk?

• Fury's toolbox is made of vibranium, just like Captain America's shield! And the walls of Skye's safe house. And I'm pretty sure Ultron from the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie is coated with it as well. It's the all-purpose fictional super metal!

• I'm still wondering what could possibly be inside this so-called two inch square "toolbox" that would be of any use in rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. Maybe there's a note inside that says, "In case of HYDRA or real S.H.I.E.L.D. attack, rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D."

• The May vs. Mockingbird fight was good, but still not as good as the May vs. May/Agent 33 one earlier in the season. That's still the one to beat!

• Simmons is getting much better at lying. Last season it was a running joke that she was incapable of telling a convincing fib, but in this episode she successfully knocks out Mockingbird by pretending to clean out her purse and nonchalantly handing her some electrical device that shocks her.

Battlestar Galactica Reunion Alert! Both Lucy Lawless and Edward James Olmos appeared in this episode.

• I hate to say it, Gordon's prosthetic makeup leaves a lot to be desired. It makes him look like nothing more than a guy with a sheet of rubber glued to his face. Surely at this point in the 21st Century we're capable of better prosthetic effects than this? Couldn't they just erase his eyes with CGI? Or would that be too expensive?

Actually it looks like there is some CGI going on with Gordon. In certain scenes the space where his eyes should be looks kind of blurry or smeared. I wonder if there are small eye holes in his prosthetic so the actor doesn't kill himself falling over something, and they CGI them out in post?

• Is Kirk Acevedo (above center, playing Calderon) contractually obligated to play an asshole in everything he does? Granted I've not seen his entire body of work, but he was kind of an asshole in later seasons of Fringe, he played an asshole in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, he played an asshole in The Walking Dead last year, and he's playing an asshole here. 

Apparently if you need an asshole on your show, Kirk Acevedo's your go-to guy. I'm sure he's a perfectly lovely person in real life, but whenever I see him onscreen now, all I can think is "asshole."

• When Skye's skyping with Simmons, she asks, "Who do I have to thank for the Little Debbie Snack Cakes?"

What the hell is up with Little Debbie lately? I've heard their products mentioned more in the past couple of months than in the previous several decades. Will Ferrell even dressed as Little Debbie for a bit on The Tonight Show. Did Little Debbie get an aggressive new agent?

• I loved the scene of Skye finally unleashing her full powers, as visible shockwaves emitted from her hands and flattened an entire forest, Tunguska-style. Pure awesomeness!

That said, I'm wondering exactly how her powers work. She's based on a character in the comics who calls herself Quake. That implies she's able to somehow create earth tremors. Earthquakes don't travel through the air, as shown in this episode. Now a shockwave, that can definitely move through air. I could buy the fact that she's somehow able to generate powerful shockwaves. But then her name probably shouldn't be Quake.

I'm willing to give them this one though, just because that scene was so cool.

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