Friday, May 8, 2015

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Episode 20: Scars

Well, that escalated quickly! The minute S.H.I.E.L.D. looks up the Inhumans' address, Jaiying starts up a war with them!

This season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been a huge improvement over the first, but it's still not perfect. The show has a big problem with their patented "too easy" plot resolutions.

At the end of Season 1, S.H.I.E.L.D. was destroyed and Coulson and his fellow agents were scattered to the winds. Then when Season 2 started, S.H.I.E.L.D. was somehow back up and running, as the rebuilding process apparently took place over the summer break. That was easy!

Then a few months ago Gonzales arrived and once again Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. was dismantled, leaving just him and a handful of agents. Fans assumed this S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline would play out over the rest of the season. Nope! Coulson had a brief meeting with Gonzales, the two shook hands and BOOM! Conflict resolved! Again, that was awfully easy!

There's also a problem with pacing. With just two episode left, Jaiying and the Inhumans decide to declare war on S.H.I.E.L.D. Is this really the best time to start up a major story arc like this? It reminds me of the Harry Potter series, in which J.K. Rowling waited until the sixth book of a seven book series to start up the whole "Horcrux Quest" thing. Hopefully the series can iron out these major issues for Season 3.

They said it! They finally actually said it! After tiptoeing around the issue for months, Skye finally said the name of her people— Inhumans! Fitz did say the word a while back when referring to Skye and her new-found powers, but it felt like he was saying it with a lower case "i," rather than a capital.

Honestly I was expecting them to wait until the Inhumans movie came out before finally uttering the name, so I'm glad they've finally taken the leap.

Lastly, a couple weeks ago ABC announced they were planning an Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff series, starring Mockingbird and Hunter. Sadly it looks like those plans have changed. This week ABC announced they've changed their minds and the Mockingbird series is dead.

Poor Adrianne Palicki. She just can't catch a break. First her Wonder Woman pilot didn't get picked up, and now her second chance at her own series has been shot down. Always a bridesmaid...

I'm not too terribly torn up by this decision, as I didn't think the world really needed two S.H.I.E.L.D. series. One is more than enough, and it seemed to me that a second series would just cover the same ground. Hopefully this means Mockingbird, Hunter and even Mack will stick around on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The good news in all this is that the S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff was likely cancelled because ABC is renewing Agent Carter for a second season! Woohoo! Hopefully they'll manage to inject a bit more weirdness into that show and give us Peggy Carter vs. Giant Nazi Robots!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We open with a flashback to a year ago, as Agent Koenig goes about his morning routine, and then greets Coulson. They enter a huge underground space, where we finally see what the Theta Protocol is all about: it's a salvaged S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier.

Back in the present, Gonzales commends Coulson for his actions during the trouble with Ultron. Coulson proposes they combine the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s, leaving him as Director while Gonzales and his posse stay on to serve as his advisers. Gonzales agrees. Problem solved, I guess!

In Afterlife, Raina has a vision of S.H.I.E.L.D. Quinjets filling the sky, and warns Jaiying that war is coming. She also has a vision of some terrible S.H.I.E.L.D. weapon, and convinces Gordon to take her to it. They arrive on Gonzales' carrier, where we see the big secret he's got stashed in his hold— some sort of large ancient stone built by the Kree. Except this stone can sometimes morph into a viscous liquid. Hunter sees Gordon & Raina, who teleport away. Gonzales announces the Inhumans are now officially a threat to the world.

S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to detect some sort of technobabble particles left behind by Gordon, and discover the location of Afterlife. Gonzales wants to go there immediately and begin indexing the Inhumans.

Mack meets with Coulson and tells him he's leaving, saying he can't work for someone with alien blood. Given that Mack was possessed by a Kree sentry a few months ago, I guess I can't blame him. Coulson plans to visit Afterlife to talk things out with the Inhumans, but Gonzales says he's too close to the problem, and goes instead.

Meanwhile, Mockingbird and May fly to Afterlife. Suddenly May attacks, revealing she's really Agent 33 (who's still got the nano-mask stuck to her face). Mockingbird manages to get the upper hand, but just then Evil Ward appears and shoots her with an Icer.

In Afterlife, Raina continues to warn everyone about her visions. Cal convinces Jaiying that Raina can't be trusted and is manipulating them all for her own purposes. Jaiying orders Raina to be kept under lock & key. Cal persuades Jaiying to turn him over to S.H.I.E.L.D. as a goodwill gesture.

Gonzales arrives in Afterlife and meets with Jaiying. She gives them Cal, which impresses Gonzales. The meeting goes well until he starts talking about rounding up everyone and indexing them. Jaiying doesn't like the sound of that and smashes an Inhumans crystal on her desk. It releases a gas harmless to her, but fatal to Gonzales, turning him to stone. She then shoots herself with Gonzales' gun, saying he tried to kill her and declaring war on S.H.I.E.L.D.

Thoughts:
• Agent Koenig sleeps on Star Wars sheets and wears what appears to be Transformers socks, because of course he does.

• For those keeping track of such things, apparently Avengers: Age Of Ultron took place between last week's episode and this one.

• If you've seen Age Of Ultron and were wondering how the hell Nick Fury managed to come up with a spare helicarrier, this episode provides your answer. Coulson's mysterious Theta Protocol was really a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, salvaged from the HYDRA battle in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Apparently Coulson's been having it repaired in secret for the past year.

• Try as I might, I'm still not buying Gordon's eyeless prosthetic. Maybe it's the lack of eyebrows that's throwing me off.

• May tells Coulson that she misses the Bus. I'm with her! But I suppose a helicarrier isn't a bad replacement.

• Jaiying leaves a red-haired Inhuman woman to guard Raina. It would be awesome if she somehow turned out to be Medusa, one of the main Inhumans from the comics. I doubt it though. Marvel won't want to "waste" one of the Inhuman's Royal Family on the TV show.

• So Mack's leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. because he can't work for Coulson anymore. Cue angry "They're getting rid of all the black characters!" posts in 3, 2, 1...

I figured he'd follow Mockingbird over to her spinoff series, but I guess that's not going to happen. Don't be surprised if he ends up sticking around somehow.

• During Gonzales' meeting with Jaiying, she mentions how Whitehall dissected her and place her organs in jars. Gonzales says he knows how she feels, indicating his leg.

Jaiying says, “How DARE you compare your scars to mine??”

Gotta side with her on this one. A bum leg is a lot different than being sliced into multiple pieces and sewn back together.

• Jaiying kills Gonzales with some sort of Inhumans crystal, then takes his gun and shoots herself twice in the shoulder to make it look like he did it. Oddly enough she puts the barrel of the gun right on her shoulder as she pulls the trigger.

They must not get any of the myriad CSI shows in Afterlife, else Jaiying would know about powder burns and bullet angles and such things. It shouldn't be too hard for Fitz or Simmons to figure out that she shot herself.

• When Cal's turned over to S.H.I.E.L.D., a guard searches him and finds several vials of drugs in his jacket.

I'm really hoping we're finally going to get to see him Hulk-out next week. Like really transform, with the help of CGI effects.

• Evil Ward and Agent 33 abduct Mockingbird. As she begins to wake up, Evil Ward shoots her several times with an Icer to knock her out again.

So I guess the Icer blasts are cumulative, and if one shot knocks you out for an hour, four shots will put you away for four hours? Evil Ward must definitely think so, else he wouldn't have shot her more than once.

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