Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “Scars” begins with the greatest cold opening of the show’s history. Patton Oswalt’s Agent Koenig waking up from a good night’s sleep, draped in Star Wars blankets of course, talking with his twin brother about S.H.I.E.L.D. affairs and cheating in the latest Call of Duty game. After picking his lanyard for the day (from a wide variety), Koenig goes to greet Coulson, revealing that this scene had taken place a year ago, with Theta Protocol just being created. Coulson and Koenig wander into a large warehouse where an additional S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier sits, revealing that Phil had a larger role in Avengers: Age of Ultron than we had thought. Having a television show that interacts with the Marvel movies is always walking a dangerous tightrope in that the movies are always going to come first and events from the show can’t deeply impact the movies to a large extent. Having Phil and his branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. be the answer to questions that no one was really asking (How did the Avengers find Hydra’s base in the sequel? How did Nick Fury get a helicarrier?) is an ingenious way of having the show matter, and at the same time not matter, in the larger scheme.
Meanwhile, back to the present, the events of Age of Ultron have already taken place apparently, and the remainder of S.H.I.E.L.D. is watching news reports detailing the chaos. While I won’t go too heavily into spoilers here for those who haven’t seen the movies, it’s interesting to see how things are playing out in the world at large with the agents mentioning Ultron and Tony Stark frequently. Gonzalez and company, seeing what Phil did in saving people from Ultron, agree to allow him to remain director while they act as a committee to oversee his decisions and bring things to a vote. This I wasn’t so pleased with. Gonzalez and his faction of the organization had been so against Coulson as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. that they literally went in guns blazing, trying to take him down and integrate the remainder into themselves. I couldn’t buy that Gonzalez and everyone else was willing to simply let Phil get the reins once again after having taken such drastic lengths to oust him from power. Mack, though, using this reasoning to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. made perfect sense, especially considering his background with alien influence.
In the Afterlife, Xiaying and the rest of the Inhumans try to decide what to do about the impending S.H.I.E.L.D. agents bearing down upon them. Raina, with her usual conniving self, begins gaining more trust from everyone with her visions, and offers to go with Gordon to find a missing artifact on Gonzalez’s boat that turns out to be an ancient stone made by the Kree (the alien race responsible for the Inhumans). With Gordon in tow, Raina arrives on the ship, is encountered by Hunter, and escapes, causing S.H.I.E.L.D. to consider their new Inhuman problem as a now united front. The higher-ups talk with one another and agree that Gonzalez would be best one to have a chat with the head of the Inhumans. Now while I can certainly see S.H.I.E.L.D. believing their methods to be altruistic in “categorizing all the Inhumans into an index of superpowered people,” it did seem like a very “Hydra” move. It’s an interesting dilemma in terms of security versus personal freedom, which sounds quite similar to a certain upcoming Civil War that Marvel has up its sleeve for next year.
During these events, May and Coulson finally have a heart to heart, with the two seemingly as far apart as ever proceeding their chat. Coulson apologizing for lying for the umpteenth time understandably falls on deaf ears with May, as Melinda informs Phil that the story she told him about what happened to the young Inhuman girl was a lie. She had made the call to eliminate the girl in order to save the lives of everyone in the room, and still stands by that decision. Of all the relationships we’ve see on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., one of the strongest is that between Coulson and May, so seeing a wedge driven into it is not only interesting, it’s entirely believable considering what’s taken place in this season. We may never reach a time where May and Coulson are able to trust one another again, and it would make for some interesting stories moving forward.
As Gonzalez gets ready to go to Afterlife, Bobbi and May travel in a plane themselves, talking about Mack’s decision, and wondering whether or not being an agent is worth it. However, it’s revealed that May is in fact Agent 33 (!) who is still in love with Ward, and delivers Bobbi to him, only for Mockingbird to be shot in the head! Of course, this is with an icer only knocking her out, but for a split second, you really think she’s kicked the bucket. Would have made it a tad difficult for the spinoff show to get off the ground with a dead Mockingbird, eh? Raina attempts to warn Gordon that Xiaying meeting with Gonzalez will lead to bloodshed, but no one believes her and she’s kept under lock and key.
The meeting between the heads of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans starts well enough. Gonzalez offers Xiaying a necklace she had long thought gone that she was originally planning to give to Skye, while Xiaying offers Cal as a peace offering for him to pay for his crimes. However, all is not as it seems as Xiaying kills Gonzalez, and Cal is revealed to have taken numerous vials of his serum that grants him super strength. The final image is of Xiaying collapsing after shooting herself for added effect, and stating that war is coming between the Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D.
Overall, this was a great episode, and built nicely to what will be an action-packed season finale. There were also plenty of interesting twists and turns along the way, which did a nice job of juggling all of the characters and their subplots. See you next week for the two hour season finale, true believers!
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– An Inhuman woman with red hair is left to guard Raina. For a second, I believed it was Medusa, one of the original group from the comics, but I doubt Marvel would reveal her so soon with the movie years away and she would hardly take orders from Xiaying.
– The relationship between Cal and Skye is always a treat to watch as you have to feel genuinely sorry for these two characters who were both stripped of their lives together.
– I couldn’t imagine the Avengers not figuring out Coulson was real at some point. S.H.I.E.L.D. is hardly a secret any longer.
– You kind of forget how big Mack is thanks to his soft spokenness but man, he just towered over Coulson in that one scene.
– Coulson: “What can I say? I’m a company man.”
– Coulson: “That way we get a cool underground base and a boat!”
– Gordon: “What’s in those anyway? Muscle Milk?”
– Xiaying: “How DARE you compare your scars to mine??”