After an eight week break and a frequently fun “Agent Carter” mini-series, the big question of the night was could “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” come roaring back in its spring premiere to get us excited once again about Marvel’s TV band of secret agents? Short answer? Mostly yes.
As the title implies, this episode was more of the fallout from the winter finale where Skye/Daisy and Raina were exposed to the Terrigan mists and revealed to be Inhumans. Oh, and Trip died trying to help Skye. Thankfully more of the time was devoted to the team coping with Trip’s death than endless scenes of Skye trying to figure out what’s happened to her. Besides, as Raina reveals later in the episode, Skye’s ability to cause earthquakes isn’t exactly drawing the short straw when it comes to powers and potential form changes.
First off though we start in 1983 where a teenager whose eyes are gone — the younger version of the man who received the call about Skye and Raina in the last episode — is struggling to adjust to his recently discovered teleportation powers. Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) aka Skye’s mother is observing and is able to calm him down. She’s the Inhumans’ go-to-expert in helping teens adjust to their Terrigenesis exposure and new powers and appearances.
Pity then that mom is no longer around to help her daughter as Skye sure could use some assistance or at least a hug. While no one suspects Skye directly caused Trip’s death, she’s under quarantine to assure she’s free of alien influence. Coulson tries to help Skye not blame herself for the tragedy (Speak for yourself Coulson! It WAS all her fault!!) as it was a freak earthquake, but Skye is nearly inconsolable saying they lost in that battle against Hydra because of her. Not gonna argue with you Skye. Coulson assures her they will figure out who’s holding the strings now for Hydra and they will be taken down. We don’t often get to see an emotional Coulson and Clark Gregg makes good on his opportunity to convey Coulson’s struggle in being strong for his troops while dealing with his own grief.
Meanwhile at an undisclosed location, heads of the regional Hydra five families are plotting their next move after Whitehall’s death. They agree whoever can take out S.H.I.E.L.D, will gain Whitehall’s position.
Simmons is still down in the tunnels collecting evidence and stiffening up as S.H.I.E.L.D. lab techs wheel Trip fragments by her. Unfortunately for Simmons, the transformed Raina is also still in the tunnel and she goes all Wolverine on the S.H.I.E.L.D. redshirts before fleeing after Simmons shoots her. On the bright side, Simmons gets a skin sample, but probably not so great for Skye, this latest encounter has convinced Simmons the world would be a better place without the endemic of these alien races. Elizabeth Henstridge delivers the best performance of the night as she takes Simmons to a different level. Simmons isn’t just the peppy cheerleader of the group, she’s hurt, possibly regretting not advancing beyond the flirting stage with Trip and thinks destroying the alien DNA and samples is the first step to protecting society. Could this be paving the way for a Simmons’ heel turn down the road?
Mack is also ticked off, but he has a more focused outlet for his anger – Coulson and Skye’s obsession with the alien artifacts — which triggers a massive argument between the team members. Still tucked away in her cell, Skye is starting to get rattled and as her emotions unravel, her cell starts vibrating as well, but everyone is too fired up to notice. May pulls the rank card and tensions finally settle down, but again it was good to see the team dealing with their emotions.
Borrowing a page out of the Michael Corleone playbook, Coulson sets up Bakshi, Whitehall’s right-hand still in SHIELD custody. Coulson and May are “killed” by a Hydra ambush and Bakshi is “rescued” by Hunter, who then takes him to a Hydra leader played by Fred Dryer (who starred in “Hunter.”) Bobbi shadows Hunter, who has figured she has something in the works with Mack. Bobbi reveals they’re in a support group, which seemed a bit shady since there wasn’t a whole lot of time for Bobbi to find Mack in the Hydra aftermath, let alone enroll them in a support group to talk through their feelings after their friends’ betrayal. Bakshi is so sure of the information he overheard from Coulson and May that he signs off on a plan to kill the other Hydra leaders in a nice “Godfather” nod. It ends with Hunter busting in and killing “Hunter.” Coulson knew Hydra would do the job for them and now Bakshi was being handed over to Gen. Talbot. That was a big time aggressive move from Coulson and actually felt like the kind of decision he’d make to get some payback for Trip.
Fitz has finished his analysis of Skye and tells her the readings are off the chart. “That’s inhuman” he says, to help anyone who had missed the connection by this point. After he pieces together that Skye survived the quake because she started it, she freaks out and damages most of her cell. Fitz returns though in a bit of an abrupt switch and decides to keep her secret even going so far as to switch the samples to avoid Simmons’ alien witch hunt movement. Interesting that this decision pits Fitz against Simmons.
In other inhuman sightings, Raina has found Dr. Zabo (Kyle McLaughlin) and is fuming as Skye stole the powers meant for her. Solid groundwork for our first inhuman rivalry. She’s covered in painful thorns while Skye remains as beautiful as ever. Raina’s makeup was very well done and at movie level of solid execution. McLaughlin gets to dial up the crazy as Zabo considers how long it will take before Skye comes seeking his aid. He’s not too helpful to Raina saying if she can’t live like this repulsive creature to stop living. Raina’s about to take the advice when she’s cornered by SHIELD agents. Before they can bring her in, Gordon teleports in and takes her away.
This was a great scene, but my only problem is what will be the end result of devoting so much S.H.I.E.L.D. time on “The Inhumans.” Marvel Studios has “Inhumans” scheduled for July 12, 2019 so either they’re extremely confident “S.H.I.E.L.D.” has four more seasons in it before the big movie payoff or the show is going to be tied to a long-term subplot with little chance of seeing through to fruition. While the Inhuman appearances are fun and bring a taste of the more alien and superpowered realm of the Marvel universe to “S.H.I.E.L.D.” it’d serve the show better if the Inhumans only make a few sporadic cameos from here until the film otherwise it will just be an extended tease.
In Coulson’s office, the little toy car version of Lola that Mack designed scans the room and Mack tells Bobbi that Nick Fury’s toolbox is there. Bobbi says she’ll report back in soon. To Fury? Tony Stark? Ultron? The team reminisces and shares Trip stories while Coulson gives his effects to his mother. Too often in the more action-oriented shows, a character’s death gets skirted by for the sake of getting to the next big action moment, but this episode did an excellent job of showing the team’s grieving process.
This was a needed strong return for the show and it delivered. Now let’s start hearing some of your conspiracy theories of who Bobbi and Mack are working with and how soon Skye will reveal her powers to Coulson.