Thursday, June 4, 2015

Origin Stories in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Part 2

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Origin stories.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been full of them.  Most of them took a single episode or a multi-episode arc (perhaps over the course of both seasons).  There have been a few characters who we given season-long origin stories setting them up as heroes and villains.  And then there are the characters whose origin stories have been essential to the plot for the entire series through its first two seasons.  Both were original members of the cast, and both have gone through dramatic changes at virtually every turn.

Skye/Daisy/Quake/“Tremors” (according to Mack)

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The first place to start is naturally with everyone’s favorite (AoS) superhero:  Daisy Johnson, aka Skye, aka Quake (though the closest anyone’s come to calling her that is Mack calling her “Tremors” in “S.O.S.” (2x21-22).  Skye was not a member of Coulson’s team at the beginning of the series; she was a “hacktivist” and member of the “Rising Tide,” a group dedicated to exposing all the secrets of the world by placing them on the internet where anyone can access them.  This led Skye into conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D., after she witnessed Mike Peterson’s first act of heroism and put the video footage on the internet (“Pilot,” 1x01).  She told Mike to stay away from S.H.I.E.L.D.—and then S.H.I.E.L.D. captured her and forced her to lead them to Mike.  After her initial run-in with Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye went to work for Coulson as a consultant whose computer skills were exceptionally helpful on several occasions.  She had several slip-ups along the way, particularly when she tried to help a fellow Rising Tide hacker to escape from S.H.I.E.L.D. (“Girl in the Flower Dress,” 1x05).  Skye explained to Coulson that S.H.I.E.L.D. classified documents relating to her adoption, and she had been trying to find those answers for years.  In exchange for her cooperation, Coulson agreed to locate the information she needed.

After this incident Skye decided to remain with S.H.I.E.L.D., and dedicated herself to proving her loyalty to Coulson.  Coulson assigned Ward to be her Supervisory Officer (S.O.), and he began training her in hand-to-hand combat and weapons skills.  After Coulson’s capture by the Centipede faction of Hydra in “The Bridge” (1x10), Skye went rogue to track them down in “The Magical Place” (1x11), demonstrating her solo abilities.  In “Seeds” (1x12), Coulson discovered the truth of Skye’s background:  she was discovered by a S.H.I.E.L.D. team after her parents (“monsters”) destroyed a Chinese village.  The team labeled her an “0-8-4”—an object of unknown origin—and placed her in foster care with instructions to move her every few months for her own protection.

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In the following episode, “T.R.A.C.K.S.” (1x13), Skye again went on her own to track down a lead, and took a bullet in the gut which nearly killed her.  Coulson risked everything to save her life by locating the same facility that brought him back to life and giving her the same substance that revived him.  Though the substance eventually caused Coulson to start losing his mind, it had no negative side effects on Skye—the second indicator that there was something special about her.

By the end of season 1, Skye had become a capable S.H.I.E.L.D. agent—abilities which were augmented between the seasons when May became her new S.O. to replace the imprisoned Ward.  She also became more hardened by Ward’s deception and his subsequent insistence on meeting her to pass information to S.H.I.E.L.D.  She showed herself to be a capable sniper on a couple of early missions against Hydra.

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When Skye was captured by Ward in “… Ye Who Enter Here” (2x09) and brought to meet her father in “What They Become” (2x10), it set in motion a chain of events that changed Skye in profound ways.  Meeting the “monster” who committed countless crimes to find her—and then seeing him nearly kill Coulson in his rage—left her confused in her feelings toward him.  That meeting also revealed her first name to be “Daisy.”  Following Raina into the temple to prevent her from setting off whatever extinction-level event the Diviner would cause led to her exposure to the Terrigen Mist and transformation—and the revelation that she is an Inhuman.

The whole second half of the season focused on how she was torn between her old family of S.H.I.E.L.D. and her new family of the Inhumans.  She learned from the Kree warrior Vin-Tak that the Inhumans were the results of ancient Kree bio-weapons testing—the Inhumans are alien weapons!  However, from Lincoln and Jiaying she learned that whatever they were originally designed to be, the Inhumans are actually given beautiful and extraordinary gifts which do not necessarily need to be destructive (“Afterlife” (1x16) and “Melinda” (1x17)).  Skye appeared set to take her place among the Inhumans alongside her mother (Jiaying), until events forced her back into contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. in “The Dirty Half Dozen” (2x19), and brought S.H.I.E.L.D. knocking on the Inhumans’ front door in “Scars” (2x20).  When S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans looked ready to go to war, Skye was about to choose the Inhumans’ side, until Raina allowed Jiaying to kill her, revealing to Skye the evil of Jiaying’s plan.  Skye then teamed up with S.H.I.E.L.D. to repel the Inhuman attack and prevent the destruction of both groups.

After the war ended, Skye retook her place within S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of Coulson’s most trusted lieutenants.  In fact, her last scene in season 2 teased that Coulson is going to have Skye assemble a team of super humans (and perhaps some Inhumans?) to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. as an enhanced strike team.  Simultaneously, Raina teased (before her death) that Skye would be the next leader of the Inhumans and bring them back to the right path after having been misled by Jiaying in recent years.


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The other character is an interesting parallel for Skye’s journey from outsider to S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to Inhuman superhero.  Ward began the series as a secret agent with a knack to pulling off impossible missions.  At first he refused to join Coulson’s team because he preferred to work solo; however, he began to bond with all of the team members in one way or another.  He became Skye’s S.O. in “The Asset (1x03).  He saved Simmons’ life in “FZZT” (1x06).  He went on a mission with Fitz in “The Hub” (1x07).  He began a relationship with May in “The Well” (1x08).

However, after the events of Captain America: the Winter Soldier, it was revealed that all along Ward had been a mole tasked with infiltrating Coulson’s team by John Garrett.  He was a Hydra agent all along.  In “Turn, Turn, Turn,” (1x17), Ward revealed his true allegiances by killing Senior S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Victoria Hand.  He continued to fight with Garrett, until Garrett was eventually defeated by Coulson’s ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. team in “Beginning of the End” (1x22), at which point he was captured and placed in a holding cell.

Ward spent the first quarter of season 2 as a S.H.I.E.L.D. prisoner, feeding information on Hydra to Skye in a bid to regain her trust.  However, in “A Fractured House” (2x06), Ward escaped and went on the run, capturing Bakshi and leaving him for Coulson as a present (“The Writing on the Wall,” 2x07) before torturing his brother and killing his family (“The Things We Bury” 2x08).  Ward joined up with Hydra in order to bring Skye to her father; however, Skye betrayed him by shooting him before following Raina to the temple in “What They Become” (2x10).  Ward eventually escaped from Hydra with the assistance of the brainwashed Agent 33/Kara.

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Ward spent most of the second half of the season helping Kara to regain herself by breaking the brainwashing, repairing her mask, and recovering her memories.  When Coulson came looking for his assistance in infiltrating Hydra, Ward joined his mission and worked with Coulson and his team to rescue the captured Lincoln and Deathlok; however, we learned afterward that his ulterior motive for assisting Coulson was to give Kara an opportunity to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and get information regarding her capture by Hydra.  When Kara discovered that Bobbi gave the location of her safe house (which she did not know to be occupied) to Hydra, she arranged to take Bobbi to Ward.  Ward and Kara interrogated Bobbi to force a confession and apology out of her; when that failed, they arranged for her to watch Hunter die.  However, Hunter survived, and May tricked Kara into wearing her face and walking near Ward, who shot her by mistake.  Ward held Kara while she died, and then escaped to a Hydra hideout.  Shockingly, it is clear that Ward cared for Kara very much; he was devastated by her death.

Following these events, Ward decided that he “needs a team again.”  He collected a trio of Hydra thugs, and is planning to use these guys to rebuild Hydra after S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers completely dismantled it between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2.5 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Season 3 and Beyond

After examining all of these heroes and villains, a couple of things become clear regarding season 3.  First, of the characters discussed in the first part, only Deathlok is in a position to easily return for season 3, though Cal is also a possibility.  Second, both Skye and Ward are just now coming into their own.  Skye is going to be leading the Inhumans (established Inhumans and Fish Oil Inhumans) while recruiting members for her Caterpillar “Secret Warriors” team.  Meanwhile, Ward will be rebuilding Hydra to take on Coulson, Skye, and S.H.I.E.L.D.  I think we can say that both of their “origin stories” are completed, though their stories are far from over.

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We can also safely assume that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 will feature a couple more characters undergoing “origin stories” and becoming superheroes or supervillains.  There are a couple of possibilities among the established characters, but nothing definite.  Based on the season 2 finale, Coulson will be looking to replace his left arm, and may do so with a cybernetic implant.  Simmons was swallowed up by a Kree device.  Either of those events could be the beginning of an origin story.  Another likely beginning for an origin story is the Terrigen Mist-infused fish oil tablets.  Could Kamala Khan be one of those who takes a tablet and undergoes Terrigenesis?  Rumor has it that the third MCU ABC TV series in development (possibly for this TV season) will focus on Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, so what better way to introduce her than as an Inhuman who was given superpowers by the MCU’s version of the Terrigen Bomb?  They can introduce her in an episode or two of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., produce an 8-episode miniseries starring her, and then bring her back for the second half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 in time to join Skye’s Secret Warriors for a final showdown with Ward and Hydra.  That would be pretty cool, especially if that battle is one of the provocations for the Superhuman Registration Act in Captain America: Civil War.

So which origin story has been our favorite so far?  What superhero/supervillain’s origin story do you want to see next season?

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  1. Nicely written. Enjoyed reading this and part one quite a bit. I'm pretty sure Raina just said Skye would become a leader but didn't specifically say leader of the Inhumans. I know it's nitpicking on my part but AoS is tricky like that. lol. It's something that seemed to stand out to me in moment, but I could be wrong.

    I'm excited for Season 3 and hope we get more of Deathlok. One character I'd like to see enter AoS on Skye's super team is Stonewall but I doubt that will happen.

    1. I had to look up who Stonewall is, though the name sounded vaguely familiar. I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility for him to appear; after all, his father has already appeared in AoS season 2 (assuming you mean the second character by that name).

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