Saturday, March 14, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.11: "Aftershocks"

“We did not fail. Trip prevented a disaster, and Whitehall’s dead. We cut off the head, and while Hydra scrambles for a new one, I will crush them. I’m gonna make somebody pay, whoever the Hell it is.”

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” got off to a very intense start to the second half of the season. We really delve into the aftermath of the events we saw in the fall finale. There are plenty of the typical Marvel explosions and action set pieces, but this episode feels somehow smaller in scale than the typical episode of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” The focus is really on the emotions and the characters and how everyone is going to cope with the trauma they have been through. The big focus of the episode (and presumably the spring season) is Skye, as she tries to come to terms with how she has changed since her experience in the underground city. She’s not ready to let anybody know she has powers yet, and for good reason, as several of her closest friends are now spouting gross anti-alien rhetoric. It makes me sad to see that the team will probably be torn apart over this, but I guess that’s what makes for good drama.

While much of this episode deals with consequences in the present, the episode opens with a flashback. We see that Skye’s mother (played by the always talented Dichen Lachman) once helped other people with powers get used to the changes. We see her help a young man who can turn into gas and teleport and also has physically lost his eyes. There is something about her personality that allows her to reach people who are, essentially, freaking out because so much about their body has changed. As we flash forward and see Skye in S.H.I.E.L.D. quarantine, we are left to feel sorry that Jiaying couldn’t help her own daughter through the trauma like she helped so many others. At least, though, Skye does have Coulson. They share a heart wrenching scene where Coulson brings her up to speed on everything that has happened. Coulson vows that he is going to bring Hydra down once and for all.

This episode also introduced us to the true (I think) leadership of Hydra. It turns out that killing Whitehall didn’t solve the problem. Not by a long shot. There’s a whole board of Hydra leaders with aliases like “The Banker,” and they’re all meeting to try and figure out who should replace Whitehall. Bakshi seemed like the obvious choice, but he’s missing, so clearly that’s not going to work. Meanwhile, down in the tunnels under San Juan, Simmons is leaving a survey team. They are supposed to record everything every carefully before completely flooding the whole place. Something is watching them, though. It’s a re-born Raina, now covered in poisonous thorns. Raina attacks the survey crew, and Simmons is one of the only survivors. Raina manages to escape.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. team are all having very different reactions to the harrowing events of the previous episode and Raina’s subsequent attack. Bobbi is trying to be nice and supportive. She visits Skye in quarantine, gives her a care package of snacks and trashy reading material, and calls her a “rockstar.” Mack and Simmons are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Mack is not taking his experience with possession by the underground city well at all. I kind of don’t blame him for that, but it’s making him very anti-alien, and he says some pretty hateful things about anybody or thing that is different. Simmons worries that whatever happened down in the city is an infection and could become some sort of horrible epidemic. She’s starting to wonder if it would be that horrible if people with powers were killed. Naturally, when she has this sort of conversation with Skye, Skye gets very, very nervous. She really doesn’t want to tell anybody on the team what is happening to her because she knows they would suddenly become very, very afraid of her. Mack eventually apologizes for his behavior, but Simmons continues to talk about the need to “eradicate” the disease of alien powers. I’ll just say I was very disappointed in Simmons for this turn of events.

Coulson calls a big team meeting (near the quarantine area so Skye can hear too), and he says he wants to use this opportunity to strike at Hydra. Mac gets really pissed off at the idea of getting more involved with Hydra, and it leads to a very loud argument. Skye starts quaking from the stress, and she can barely stop herself before others notice. Coulson puts his plan in motion by offering to hand Bakshi (Whitehall’s number two) to Talbot in exchange for military assistance with Hydra. Coulson and May take Bakshi, presumably for a rendezvous with Talbot, but a car accident cuts that short. There’s a big shootout where Coulson seems to be killed, but the whole thing is an act for Bakshi’s sake. Hunter takes Bakshi away from the chaos and acts like he’s working for Hydra. He gets Bakshi to call the real heads of Hydra, and Bakshi also offers Hunter money and access to the organization.

Meanwhile, Raina finds Skye’s dad and confronts him about what she has become. Becoming a gross, thorned creature who is always in pain was not the bargain she thought she signed up for. She is really pissed at Skye, because she thinks Skye stole the gift (quake powers and retaining her former appearance) that was meant for her. After leaving Skye’s dad, Raina wanders around the city, seemingly contemplating suicide. She is stopped by S.H.I.E.L.D., and she pretty much begs them to kill her and end her suffering. Just as they are about to oblige, the guy from the opening scene who was adjusting to his powers flies in. He snatches Raina and says he’ll “show her the way.” I thought it was nice that the kindness shown by Skye’s mother when she was alive is being paid forward.

There seems to be some infighting among the heads of Hydra. None of them really trust each other at all. The time is really ripe for Coulson to go in for the kill. While staking out some of the Hydra heads, Hunter presses Bobbi on what she has been hiding from him. She says that she and Mack have been going to a support group to help them with a traumatic incident that happened to them a few years back. Hunter is thrilled about this, although I doubt Bobbi was telling the truth. Meanwhile, back at HQ, Fitz confronts Skye. He thought his test results on her were wrong, but he doesn’t thing that anymore. He thinks she must have changed too, and that she caused the earthquake. Because of the stress of the confrontation, Skye starts quaking again and Fitz runs off.

May comes in to talk to Skye next, and she apparently doesn’t notice the new quake damage. While this conversation is happening, all the Hydra heads start killing each other because they don’t trust each other anymore. Bobbi and Hunter move in when the chaos has subsided to procure Bakshi. They say they are going to take him to Talbot now like they promised. Back at HQ, May and Simmons notice Skye is bleeding (from quake damage). Skye doesn’t have a good explanation, but Fitz comes back in at the last minute with a save. He blames his own carelessness for the injury, because he’s just adorable and the best. When May and Simmons leave, he tells Skye that he covered for her because he doesn’t think the rest of the group will take the news of Skye’s transformation well. He sympathizes with her and wants to give her time to adjust to her new situation. He has also switched Skye’s lab results so that it doesn’t look like she has transformed. Skye is eventually let out of quarantine, and the episode ends with the gang sitting around telling stories about Trip. Mack and Bobbi separate from the group and talk about Fury’s toolbox located in Coulson’s office. They seem to be up to something nefarious, which is disappointing.

No comments:

Post a Comment