Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s latest episode began with “Cal” recruiting a woman named Karla, with razors on her finger tips. Mr. Hyde is putting together a team of some of the super powered folks that S.H.I.E.L.D. had either been keeping tabs on, or keeping locked away from the world. You may be wondering who these villains are in relation to the comics, and I can tell you, good luck with that one. Aangar the Screamer is about the most famous of the bunch aside from Zabo, as somewhat of a “Z-list” villain who the Avengers tangled with a handful of times, usually when he was in a group with other villains. Karla Gideon, played by Drea de Matteo (Sons of Anarchy) appeared in a Daredevil comic without any powers to be speak of, let alone metal claws. Francis Noche might be the small-time Deadpool villain Ajax, but this is mostly just a guess as Ajax is never given a last name in the funny books. Wendall Levi, the team’s techie, is a ghost in so much as I couldn’t find any information on him to speak of.
I love the idea of Zabo putting together a team of ragtag super villains who are teetering on the edge of sanity, thanks in part to the way S.H.I.E.L.D. fumbled with their individual predicaments. However, I do wish the episode had done more with them in terms of relating to one another. It would have been nice to see them as something more like the “Anti-Avengers,” even though their collective powers weren’t necessarily much to speak of. The diner scene was a nice step in the right direction, though, and I hope we can see them like that more in the future, to help flesh them out. It was also a nice change of pace to see the villain team descend upon the sleepy town of Mantiuk. Sometimes with the world of espionage and Inhumans, we forget about the little guy, you know? Also, the scene of Aangar screaming for the first time was both horrific and had fantastic build-up (especially with all the birds crashing to the ground. Nice touch).
This latest installment also introduces us to the psychiatrist Andrew, who happens to be Agent May’s ex-husband. Blair Underwood does an absolutely stellar job here, not only as a rock for Skye, but as a foil for May. The chemistry of the two cannot be overstated enough, as they play off each other like both old friends and ex-lovers. When May first walks into Andrew’s office and looks at the frame on his desk, it’s a great understated moment where you can practically put together all of the pieces of the pair’s relationship. I know I’ve said in the past that I felt the show was racking up a few too many characters, but I hope Underwood becomes something of a fixture within the team, as he’s too good not to be — if only for the banter between him and Agent May.
On the less than stellar front, the “resolution” of the trust issues between Fitz and Simmons, following Fitz keeping Skye’s powers from her, was the very definition of a wet noodle. Simmons is angry at Fitz, vents to Bobbi about how things will never be the same between the two, and … things become exactly the same between the two again! This is the unfortunate drawback of dropping so many “drama bombs” at once, in that you have to move on to new threats and issues, so sometimes, potential story beats get lost in the shuffle. I’m honestly shocked at how quickly they sprinted away from this, since in prior episodes, we had dedicated some time to Fitz withholding information from Simmons as she rattled on about “genocide” and “killing the virus” in relation to Skye’s powers.
On the topic of the secrets, I found it quite ridiculous that Coulson asked Simmons to keep a lid on the details of Skye’s powers. We just had a scene with Simmons talking about the betrayal of this happening to her and I guess she’s going to do it as well because reasons. One of the big shockers of this episode was the revelation of Bobbi and Mack’s allegiance, which is how you do a reveal in my opinion. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of yet another subplot added into the ranks of subplots, revealing that Bobbi and Mack are working for the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” certainly threw me for a loop. I had assumed they were working for Tony Stark or Hawkeye, but this was a curveball to be sure. I’m actually pretty interested to see how this S.H.I.E.L.D. “Civil War” goes moving forward.
Our episode wraps up with an all out brawl between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the “Screaming Talons,” as Cal so humorously called them, though he was absent in another surprise of the night. The Inhuman, Reader, teleported in and beamed him away to parts unknown. This fight had some good action, as May fought the muscle of the group, and Bobbi took on Karla. The May staredown as she slowly walked right up to Frances was a great scene. I wish Cal had been there to really lead the team a bit more in the fight, but that’s a minor quibble.
A very strong showing from S.H.I.E.L.D. this week, and another strong entry into the overall solid second season. Adding elements like the Inhumans and Mr. Hyde was the shot in the arm the show needed. Hopefully they can keep riding the wave and steer clear of some of the unnecessary inter-personal dramas between the agents.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
– Cal: “We want to free you from these shackles.”
– Cal: “I know. I sound bat guano crazy!”
– Coulson: “Secret ingredient. Don’t ask, I will not disclose.”
– Andrew: “My consultation fees have gone up.”
– Andrew: “Congrats on the promotion, or should I say condolences?”
– Bobbi: “Who’s he waving to?”
– May: “I taught her how to use an automatic, of course she likes me.”
– Frances: “I don’t like food.”
Cal: “You’re an interesting fellow.”
– Cal: “Tell me, what’s your thing? I was hoping it was wings.”