The Return of Marvel’s Agents of Shield

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoSpoiler Alert!

Like… MAJOR Spoiler Alert!

So, normally I’d be posting this on this week’s “This Week on TV,” but I found there was just too much to say! When I read it back, it was like I was giving a meandering lecture! Way out of proportion with the rest of the shows, so I’m giving this its own post!

They’re back! At last! Yay!

Agent Carter did very well filling out the time while we waited for the return of Agents of Shield, but, all the same, I am happy we’re back with Coulson, Skye, and the others! 😀

And there was so much going on in this episode, entitled “Aftershocks,” that I hardly knew where to begin! But I suppose the enunciation of truth is a good place to start!

First truth: evil, no matter how terrifying it may seem, will devour itself in due time.

Evil does not know love, or trust, or hope. Without those, there is only weakness, which gives birth to fear, which gives power to one’s enemies.

With those things, a man may be weak, but accomplish great things as he receives strength from his friends. He may even give his life for those friends, and leave them the stronger for it.

Coulson just lost one of the best agents Shield has ever known, and Trip’s death is devastating, but it’s also something they can endure, because they still love each other, and they still love him.

Hydra has no such compassion, no heart, and they are well-practiced in being false friends. Their poison is deception, betrayal, and mistrust. This, the first and last difference between them and Shield, is their great weakness. Trip’s death reminds Coulson of this, and he uses it. He turns the monster’s poison back on itself, which is the perfect poetry.

48-smiling-face-with-hornsIt occurred to me while watching this episode: how do two heads grow in place of one, having been cut off, without there being a plurality of heads now? Answer: it doesn’t. Though we’ve seen, in the movies and on this show, the demises of several Hydra heads, including the Red Skull, Alexander Pierce, John Garrett, and Whitehall – heck, we even saw the final destruction of Zola’s large, artificial brain – there remain several heads alive. In a dark imitation of the World Security Council that oversaw Shield before it’s fall, we see the council of Hydra’s surviving heads, excluding Strucker. These are the Baroness, the Banker, the Sheikh, Dr. List, and Mr. Bloom.

Unlike Shield as they mourn Trip, Hydra does not truly mourn the death of Whitehall. They merely see his death as an inconvenience, especially since his heir-apparent, Mr. Bakshi, is nowhere to be found. They assume Shield will be emboldened by Whitehall’s death to come above-ground, which makes me glad they went underground in the first place. To fill the vacant seat at the table, they decide to offer it up to whoever wipes Shield from the map first.

Fortunately, Coulson was too clever for that. He didn’t even have to come up for proverbial air to take the lot of them down.

"Way too easy..."

“Way too easy…”

See, Shield’s compassion and loyalty made them reluctant to believe their friends were false, but when it was proven that they were, they faced the danger head-on. By contrast, Hydra’s heads expect betrayal, and have measures in place to kill their own associates, striking from the side or stabbing in the back. Coulson just fabricated a mild ruse to convince Bakshi that there was a power play occurring in the wake of Whitehall’s death, and Hydra took care of the rest itself.

One order goes out, and the Baroness is poisoned by her lover, the Sheikh is gassed in his car, and the Banker’s associate kills him in the elevator. I believe we’ve seen those more exotic methods elsewhere in the show, but Hunter and Morse simply put a bullet in Bloom, and take the “escaped” Bakshi back into custody, so Coulson can hand him over to Talbot in exchange for the military’s assistance in mopping up the rest of Hydra’s members.

Did you know? The original hydra of Greek mythology was so dangerous that it nearly overpowered even Heracles, the greatest and strongest of all their heroes. He triumphed, and survived, by using his wits and calling on the assistance of a friend to cauterize the stumps left behind as he cut off the heads, preventing them from growing back and multiplying. Coulson did one better than that, tricking the heads into biting and killing each other.

"We've been duped!"

“We’ve been duped!”

It took Hydra’s poison seven decades to bring Shield down. They fell to it themselves within moments.

As I said: weak.

That still leaves List and Strucker, and you know they won’t get all of Hydra’s members, but taking out four Hydra heads in one day is no small thing. And securing the military’s help in cleaning up the remnants. Well done, Coulson.

Even while mourning Trip’s death, he avenged him in spades.

And all of that was one network of threads in this episode alone.

BUT-WAITSecond truth: losing someone you care about hurts. Sometimes more than you think you can bear. That’s when you most need your loved ones.

Even while avenging him, Coulson has to inform Trip’s mother of his death, and the team is in mourning. Mac, Simmons, and Skye feel the worst of it for obvious reasons. Mac was a prisoner in his own body, watching his own hands try to kill the people he loves, and he lashes out at his friends more than once in his pain. Simmons was clearly close to Trip, and she blames herself for meddling with things she does not understand, but she’s shifting that blame onto everything to do with super powers, calling it a plague and a pestilence, seeing no good in any of it, even suggesting that such people should be put down. And Skye, of course, was the one Trip gave his life to save, not knowing there was no need.

Truth: people change. It can be slow, or it can be very quick. The latter of those can be very unhealthy from what I understand, but either way, no one stays the same forever. It’s not always a bad thing, a bad change. It just means they’re different from how they were before.

But it’s always interesting to found out “what they become.” That was the title of the last episode, but it could certainly fit this one as well.

Not every caterpillar becomes a butterfly, but every butterfly was once a caterpillar.

Not every caterpillar becomes a butterfly, but every butterfly was once a caterpillar.

Marvel has already given us some surprises in how they transform their characters from one person into another. We’ve seen friends become enemies and Mike Peterson became Deathlock last season. This episode, we see Simmons change dramatically from her fascination with otherworldly things to outright fearing and hating them. We’ve discovered Skye’s real name is Daisy Johnson, aka Quake, a figure who, in the comics, is a super-powered agent of Shield and even takes a turn in the Director’s seat, and she’s the daughter of the villain Mister Hyde, which all fits with what they’ve shown us.

As Marvel has apparently been planning this for a good long while, it makes me wonder what else they’re plotting for our beloved heroes.

Fortunately, people don’t always become something worse. They can also become something better than they were before. Fitz has barely been able to interact with others, but now he becomes their strong support, both for Mac, whom he can relate to, and for Skye, whom he protects and covers for. He seemed to be as agitated and fearful as Simmons, but that was just because the “data in his head is wrong.” Seeing Skye’s power, he immediately covers her tracks, bandages the cuts in her palm incurred from some broken glass, and tells her they should keep it secret for now, until the others calm down, particularly Simmons.

Fourth truth: there’s nothing wrong with being different.

...nothing at all...

…nothing at all…

Oh, and the data in Fitz’s head may be wrong, but he was very clever and quick in his actions. Between that and just being there to give Skye a much-needed hug, he’s easily one of the strongest characters in this episode. Skye got some support in her quarantine from Morse earlier, but that physical gesture, and the reassuring words of a true friend, are precisely what Skye needs.

That’s two of the most traumatized people on the team whom Fitz is helping survive. And you just know that he’s able to do so because of what Ward did to him.

Truth: enduring our own hardships can give us the strength, and the perspective, to support others through theirs.

I fear for Simmons, though. If she doesn’t manage to move past her own trauma, she could turn into a most dangerous threat. Some of what she says is perfectly true, but other things are completely false. If I could talk to her, I’d mention how the greatest scientific minds in the history of the human race have observed true things, and made true statements, but have also reached false conclusions, which subsequent generations of scientists cast aside when this was proven. In similar manner, Simmons is observing true things, saying true things, but reaching false and dangerous conclusions.

And some of what she says, I can see relating to the upcoming Age of Ultron (squeeeeal! So excited!! Less than two months!!!) and next year’s Civil War.

Back on the subject of Skye, I didn’t notice until Fitz pointed it out: the earthquake which ended last episode began only after Skye’s metamorphosis. She is Quake now, that is her superpower, and seeing Trip’s fossilized corpse looking directly at her when she came out of it was every bit as traumatic as her transformation. Skye is well-known for almost never being fazed by anything, but that was a terrible blow to her heart, so no wonder she caused an earthquake that nearly buried them all and sank the island. No Inhuman has perfect control of their powers after terrigenesis, I’d wager.

Certainly Raina doesn’t, now transformed into what most of us believe to be Naja, another villain from the comics. Raina apparently expected to become something “divine” and “transcendent,” an “angel,” and the results fall far short of that expectation. She’s in pain, disfigured, and can’t move without cutting herself on her new thorns. She wants it undone, and confronts Hyde about doing so. He coldly tells her that such is impossible, and if she can’t live like that, as she claims, “then don’t.”

I repeat: Not every caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

I repeat: Not every caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Raina walks into traffic, and no one hits her. When Shield comes for her, though she’s killed several of their friends, they don’t mean to harm her, only take her in. She refuses, wanting to die so badly. Her life is only saved by the man without eyes, a teleporter who tells her, “Don’t worry, Beautiful, I’ll show you the way,” and takes her away.

Those are the same words we see Skye’s mother tell him at the beginning of this episode, after his transformation left him blind and teleporting into walls. She did that a lot, we see, and was revered for it. When eyeless-man learns about Skye, I have no idea what he’ll do, but were I in his place, I’d practically worship the ground Skye walks on.

Truth: as long as we’re alive, we will always feel pain. Giving up can be very tempting. Especially when our suffering is simply from a plan, a hope, a dream which goes awry because of something we misunderstand, something we cannot control. But if we can just hold on, then maybe someone will come along who can save us. Or maybe we’re the ones who do the saving. Most often, we all save each other.

Hyde, meanwhile, believes Skye will be utterly outcast by her friends and treated like an animal. Though Fitz proves him wrong, he doesn’t know that, and has plans for Skye coming to him for help. He is certain Skye will love him. The man is so crazy he doesn’t even hear when Raina tells him it’ll never happen.

In the meantime, he intends to gather some friends from the Index, putting together his own little freakshow to take revenge on Coulson for “taking his daughter” and “taking his revenge.” As he himself still overpowered Raina with ease even after her metamorphosis, and as he is clearly not all there, I can’t help but shudder when I contemplate what sort of minions he’ll be recruiting. I doubt they’re Inhumans, as that community is obviously very secretive.

Speaking of terrigenesis and the Inhumans in general, I admit, I saw the indicators, but I was hesitant to believe. It was one of those times where I was like, “Nooo! No way! This is so freaking COOL!” We’ve seen the films affecting what happens in the shows, but now that we know there’s an Inhumans movie coming our way, perhaps we’ll see the reverse happen a bit?

To finish off the episode (and this meandering lecture), we have the team talking, mourning Trip while celebrating his life and their time with him, telling his stories to each other. Skye says simply, “We’re gonna laugh a lot less.”

Which is both sobering and foreboding.

Unfortunately, there’s one more piece of foreboding. If Skye’s secret transformation, and Raina being seized by the Inhumans, and Simmons turning against super-powered people in front of Skye, and the Doctor looking to put together a super-powered band of villains, and the last couple heads of Hydra escaping unnoticed were not enough… Morse and Mac are plotting something together, and it seems to involve taking Fury’s toolbox from Coulson, and making contact with an unknown outside party. Who could it be? Are Morse and Mac false friends too, like Hydra?

Or perhaps they work with Captain America?

"Please, please, please let that be the case!"

“Please, please, please let that be the case!”

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One Response to The Return of Marvel’s Agents of Shield

  1. Pingback: My Anti-Ant-Man Rant | Merlin's Musings

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