Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Episode 13, "One of Us" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

Image Courtesy
This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “One of Us” (2x13) managed to both exceed my wildest dreams and leave me slightly disappointed.  It continued a number of important subplots, gave us an exciting and entertaining fight scene involving the "super villain team," and even left us with some hints and teases for future developments, particularly with the Inhumans and Bobbi-and-Mack subplots.

Image Courtesy
The primary plotline for this episode revolves around Cal’s ragtag band of “Gifted” individuals from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “Gifted Index.”  We begin with Cal’s appearance at the apartment of Karla Faye Gideon, a Coney Island woman who has been forced to wear protective metal gloves over her hands.  We learn later that she surgically attached razors to her fingertips—replacing her natural fingernails—as a defense mechanism to protect her from an abusive boyfriend.  She is one of two additional comic book characters to join Cal’s team, coming from the Daredevil comics in which she is a woman with an abusive husband, though not with razor fingers inspired by Edward Scissor-Hands.  Cal shows up at her door with a pair of new characters in tow:  Wendell Levi, a man with some form of unexplored technological abilities, and Francis Noche, a mob muscle man who took an experimental steroid that gave him super-strength.  Together, the four of them travel to Brynmore Psychiatric Facility to break a prisoner out of a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. ward beneath the main hospital.  This turns out to be none other than David A. Angar, known in the Daredevil comics as “Angar the Screamer,” a man whose vocal cords were exposed to “experimental energy blasts,” giving his voice the ability to induce an immediate catatonic state with a single whisper.  These five then went to Coulson’s hometown of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to lure Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. into a trap where Cal could take his revenge on Coulson.  (As an aside, the S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 comic book establishes Coulson as an “Ohio Urchin” at age 9.  That could mean 2 completely different origin stories, or it could mean that after his father died his mother moved him to Ohio (which is when the comic book picks up).  The Earth-616 origin and MCU origin don’t have to be the same, but considering how new the comic is and that it was started specifically to bring Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. characters into the Earth-616 universe, it would be a little odd to make the origins different so soon and on such a simple point.)

Image Courtesy
While they are in Wisconsin we get a little more background on Cal:  He felt helpless, so he tried to enhance himself through chemistry to be able to protect those he loved (Jiaying and Skye).  The formula he used proved to be inconsistent and had “some volatility issues” (science-speak for “he’s got major anger issues and he’s bat-guano crazy!”).  Nevertheless, he’s been improving the formula over the years.  To me this sounds like they are going to use his origin from the comics where he has a “Jekyll and Hyde” thing going, but that he isn’t at full-blown-Hyde quite yet.  Perhaps by the end of the season we will see him transform into a slightly-smaller-than-the-Hulk rage monster and rip a dude’s arms off.  Or at the very least he might display something closer to the Hyde we know from the comics.

Coulson and Morse follow Cal to the Psychiatric Facility and then to Wisconsin, where they confront Cal and his team of super villains with help from May.  Before the fight could begin in earnest, however, Gordon showed up and whisked Cal away, which was totally unexpected, but set up a fun scene at the end of the episode.  I really enjoyed the fight with “Coulson’s Angels” (Mockingbird and the Cavalry) taking on Cal’s “Masters of Evil Lite”/“Slicing Talons.”  Bobbi’s fight scenes in particular were well executed and showed off more of her abilities.  May did pretty well against “Brawn No Brains” (Francis), though he was really handing it to her for most of the fight.  Though they may not return, it is still possible for this particular villain team to make a reappearance (hopefully with a couple more heavy hitters, such as Absorbing Man (if he’s not actually dead), Blizzard (if he’s not actually dead), and a couple others). The way the fight ended, I think it’s possible that some or all of the villains escaped, since May and Coulson ran over to take care of Skye.

Speaking of Skye, I think my only two disappointments with the episode were how well the three S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents handled the “Masters of Evil Lite” and that consequently we didn’t see Skye involved at all.  Of course the only reason I’m disappointed about that is because I really wanted to see Skye “Quake it up” against them!  But considering where her character is right now, I suppose it might not be the right time for her to start using her powers for good just yet.  If the “Masters of Evil Lite” do make a reappearance with some powerful friends, then Coulson will need Skye’s earthquake abilities, along with perhaps some backup from Mike Peterson, aka Deathlok.

Image Courtesy
To continue the train of thought with Skye, the second important subplot for the episode follows Skye’s attempts to control her powers.  May calls in her ex-husband, Dr. Andrew Garner, a psychiatrist and professor at Culver University in West Virginia, to consult with them and give recommendations for how they should proceed with Skye.  We see Skye using the techniques that May taught her to focus her breathing and suppress her emotions, but then when she’s asleep and having a nightmare reminiscent of the mission when he shot Donnie Gill, her powers begin to manifest themselves.  Garner observes that she isn’t really controlling her emotions so much as burying them, something that does not work when your emotions trigger seismic activity.  While she was watching May fight Victor, Skye started shaking the stadium; when she suppressed those emotions, all the seismic activity was directed inwards, causing ruptured capillaries in her fingers and hairline fractures all along her shoulders and arms.  Garner’s verdict:  Skye needs to see a psychiatrist/counselor (other than him), and she needs to be away from S.H.I.E.L.D. because the stress of the organization is not good for her emotional state.

Image Courtesy
I’m really enjoying Chloe Bennett’s portrayal of Skye through these first three episodes of Season 2.5.  We see all of the angst, fear, frustration, and even some hints of the raw power she contains.  There was a single shot in this episode during the big fight scene while she was making the stadium shake when you could almost see a grin forming on her face.  Getting to see her development from being scared of her powers to (eventually) learning to control them will probably be one of the most fun parts of this half-season.  But I still want to see her using her powers sooner rather than later!

The third major plot in the episode was the culmination of the slow reveal of Bobbi and Mack’s true allegiances.  Mack took Hunter to a nearby safe house after knocking him out.  We see Mack trying to talk to Hunter, who is having none of it.  Bobbi calls for an extraction for Mack and Hunter, which is carried out at the end of the episode.  Then we get the big reveal from Mack that they are working for “S.H.I.E.L.D.… the real S.H.I.E.L.D.”  The last shot is of a different S.H.I.E.L.D. eagle, this one with three stars on the chest.  I will save my thoughts on this new “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” for Sunday, but I was a little surprised that they revealed as much as they did in this episode.  It’s definitely an unexpected twist—which it really had to be after all the build-up through the first half of the season.

The final scene of the episode was the fallout from Gordon teleporting Cal away.  We see Cal in the same “safe room” where Gordon learned to understand his powers in “Aftershocks” (2x11), kneeling on the floor, disheveled, surrounded by broken furniture.  Gordon walks in and asks if he’s done yet, at which point Cal turns on him, upset that he’d taken Cal away instead of Daisy/Skye.  Gordon replies that Cal was making too much of a spectacle, threatening to reveal the secret Inhumans, and that he’d been sent to take him away to silence him.  Cal responded that he was sounding a battle cry, that S.H.I.E.L.D. would no longer oppress “people like us.”  Gordon’s response, “There is no us,” may have made Inhumans fans all over the world cry—“Of course there’ an ‘us’; the Inhumans are supposed to have a highly-advanced and organized civilization!”  However, he followed it up with: “You’re not one of us.  You’re a science experiment.”  I was immediately reminded of Tony Stark’s line to Captain America in The Avengers:  “You’re a laboratory experiment, Rogers.  Everything ‘special’ about you came out of a bottle.”  Can you say “conflict?”

Image Courtesy
Rewatching those scenes, I was struck that Cal didn’t seem overly surprised to have a dude show up and teleport him away.  Then at the end, Cal seemed to know who Gordon was.  When Gordon said it “wasn’t up to him” to decide what would happen to Cal, Cal seemed to have some idea of who would be judging him—and he immediately started straightening his tie and coat.  I think this is building up to a massive reveal regarding this Inhuman civilization.  Could we be seeing a Black Bolt introduction soon?  If we do, I don’t think it will be before Avengers: Age of Ultron, since that might take some attention off the movie.  But we could certainly see one of the lesser members of the Royal Family make an appearance before Age of Ultron, followed by a Black Bolt cameo in May after Age of Ultron.  You may remember that I suggested that in my Sunday post.

Looking forward, I really want to see some or all of the “Masters of Evil Lite” make a return at some point with a few more heavy hitters, and for Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. to go up against them with a couple heavy-hitting heroes of their own, specifically Quake and Deathlok (though adding in Hawkeye to the mix would be pretty awesome, too).

Overall I really enjoyed this episode and can’t wait for next week!  What did you think of this episode?  Come back Friday for a post talking about the possibility of the Hulk appearing on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

No comments:

Post a Comment