Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.17: "Melinda"

"You’re worried that I don’t understand your choice. Well, sometimes that’s the price of doing the right thing. No one will understand. And it hurts like hell.”

I think “Melinda” was one of my favorite episodes of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” this season thus far. I liked that we learned a lot about May’s background. Knowing why she has become known as “The Calvary” and why she has shirked away from relationships is important. It was clear that something traumatic had happened to her, but until now, we didn’t know exactly what that traumatic event was. We had heard references to something bad going down in Bahrain, but no details. I also liked that we got to see Skye interact with her mother, Jiaying. As regular readers (if you’re out there) of MTVP know, I am not at all a Skye fan, but it was pretty cool to watch her react to meeting and getting to know her mother. The Johnson family reunion that featured in “Melinda” is sure to be short-lived (television rules), but it was kind of sweet while it lasted. I’m definitely glad to have the great Dichen Lachman on my television screen.

We get flashbacks to the Bahrain incident throughout this episode, which is only appropriate considering the episode’s name is “Melinda,” and this event changed Melinda May’s life forever. The first flashback gives us a brief glimpse into what the now stoic May was like pre-Bahrain. She and Andrew (who was still her husband) were very affectionate with each other and were planning to start a family. In a bit that’s very prophetic, Coulson shows up early one morning and ruins a tender moment between May and Andrew. They need to leave for a briefing about their next S.H.I.E.L.D. mission. At the briefing, they learn that they are supposed to find a woman named Eva who has super strength and escaped from Russia. She is now believed to be in Bahrain.

Meanwhile, in the present day, Agent Weaver and Bobbi are trying to hard sell May on the idea that Coulson was up to something nefarious. They really want May to give them more information on what Coulson is up to, especially “Theta Protocol,” which they are convinced was something big. May says if they give her back control of the base, she’ll think about it. Also, “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. is tracking Fitz, even though they claimed to have released him. Later, while flying together, Bobbi continues to try to sell May on Coulson being up to something. She plays up how May must be feeling betrayed at not knowing about Theta Protocol. May does indeed to be upset by what she has learned. When she returns to the base, May and Simmons talk about the revelations. Simmons didn’t realize she had been working on Deathlok tech, and she also hasn’t heard of Theta Protocol. May wants to do more research before condemning Coulson, though, because when he goes off the reservation, it’s usually for good reason.

In Afterlife, Skye is working with Jiaying for the first time, and they have gone out to the mountains to test out Skye’s powers. Jiaying thinks Skye has the ability to tune into any object’s frequency and cause only that object to move. Skye is eventually able to cause an avalanche on a nearby mountain, and she starts to think her power is actually pretty cool. Later, Skye talks with Lincoln about what it’s like to have Jiaying as a guide. Lincoln explains to Skye that Jiaying is in charge of the Afterlife community, and as far as he can remember, she has never directly trained anyone before. In a more refined second training session, Jiaying has Skye work with glasses with varying levels of water. Skye is able to briefly make some music before the glasses shatter. She gets discouraged and tells Jiaying that whenever she feels at home somewhere, she is betrayed and/or sent elsewhere. Jiaying assures Skye that she’s not going to be abandoned this time, and Skye eventually realizes that Jiaying is her mother. Jiaying says she looked for Skye for a long time, but eventually, after she had no success, she decided she should devote her time to helping other Inhumans. She warns Skye that they need to keep their relationship a secret for now because the other Inhumans could perceive it as a threat. I guess Skye isn’t as safe as Jiaying said she would be.

In other flashbacks to the Bahrain incident, we see Coulson try to talk to Eva in a marketplace. It doesn’t go well, and some bad guys Eva seems to be working with close in. One of them takes a little girl and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent hostage. Eva goes with them after telling Coulson she wants “pain,” which is really plain odd, although I promise it all makes sense eventually. A S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team goes into a nearby building to recover Eva and the little girl, but May and Coulson quickly lose contact with them. They realize that they are completely alone now. S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ doesn’t like the idea, but Coulson lets May go in by herself to try and fix the situation. He even stops Bahraini military interference by cheekily telling the soldiers that a biological weapon went off in the building. May makes a quick “I love you” phone call to Andrew, then she sneaks in, quickly taking out several guards. Eventually she sees a familiar S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but he just says he needs her pain. All the other hostages and agents also start shuffling towards May saying they need her pain. May realizes they are all being controlled by Eva, so she runs away and barricades a door before beginning her search for Eva herself.

We also spend a little time with Raina in this episode. She’s very ornery and bitter about what the mist has done to her. Gordon is really the only one who can get through to her at all. They bond because the mist changed both their physical appearances. She’s willing to stay in Afterlife as long as she can work with him. Gordon implies that Raina wouldn’t be allowed to leave Afterlife whether she wanted to or not. Meanwhile, Skye and Jaiying talk about why their relationship can’t be revealed. Jaiying must decide Skye’s fate because skipping the rigorous selection and training process usually has bad consequences, and she wants to appear impartial to the rest of the Inhumans. The last time somebody bypassed the process, it involved Eva, and as we soon learn, that didn’t end well.

Back in flashback land, May and Eva start squaring off for a fight. May tells the little girl, Katya, to stay out of the way, and Eva continues to say she wants May’s pain. May fights off some of the possessed guys, and she eventually kills Eva by impaling her rather brutally on a pole. The guys keep coming even though Eva is dead, so May knows something else is up. This is interspersed with Jaiying tells Skye that Eva actually wanted to transform Katya, her daughter, even though Jaiying thought that was a bad idea. Katya is the one who wants everyone’s pain, and to save everyone who is still alive in the building, May ends up shooting Katya. May is absolutely traumatized by having to kill a little girl, even if the little girl in question was evil. Jaiying explains to Skye that because of the Katya incident, the Inhumans are wary of mothers breaking transformation protocol for their daughters.

At the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, May and Simmons cross reference Bobbi’s intelligence on Coulson with Coulson’s official travel records. Coulson is basically never where he says he’s going to be, and he’s also been having secret meetings with Andrew. Mack interrupts the conversation to say that he thinks Coulson is trying to start an army of people with superpowers. How else can buying property with a lot of bunks and consulting with a psychiatrist be explained? Later in the episode, we see a flashback of how May transitioned to a desk job following the Bahrain incident, and that scene phases into May scouring paperwork about Coulson in the present day. She sees something (I think related to the photo of Coulson and Andrew) that causes a bit of a lightbulb moment.

Jaiying takes Skye for a family dinner with Cal. Jaiying tells Skye that she owes Cal that much, and mother and daughter agree that after the dinner, Cal will be shipped far, far away. They’re going to try to have just one nice night as a family. Cal is transformed when he gets to be in the presence of his daughter. He tells Skye her birth story from his point of view, and Skye learns that she is actually 26-years-old, not 25 like she thought. Lincoln looks in on the happy scene, and he is shocked that it exactly imagines something that Raina told him she saw in a dream earlier. It’s very weird. I guess Raina’s superpower is fortunetelling with a side of poison thorns?

In the episode’s tag, we see some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents watching the door of a restaurant bathroom. They are getting impatient and knock on the door. Inside the bathroom is Fitz. He has managed to open Fury’s toolbox, and he uses it to talk to Hunter (who is presumably in Mexico) on a tablet. Coulson is there, too. Fitz wants to meet up with Coulson and Hunter, but he needs to shake his S.H.I.E.L.D. tail first. Hunter says that if there’s an electric hand drying in the bathroom, Fitz should be good to go. I don’t even really want to know what craziness that man has planned! Or maybe I do.

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