Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2x21 & 2x22 "S.O.S" (Parts 1 and 2) [Contributor: Alice Walker]

"S.O.S" (Parts 1 and 2)
Original Airdate: May 12, 2015

What's the difference between having a goal and having a purpose? A goal is something you'd like to achieve, a box you'd like to check off. It's wanted, desired, but it's not urgent. It doesn't drive you or feed you. That's a purpose. It's the voice inside you that urges you on, propels you forward even when you'd rather sit down. Everyone in this episode had a purpose and it could all be boiled down to one simple statement:

Finish this thing.

This was a super-sized two hour episode and not breaking this up into two weeks really worked on all levels. It kept the stakes high, and it let us gloss over some of the fuzzier logic, not giving us a week to think-piece it out. I'd love for this to become a theme in TV shows now (cough:Arrow:cough) but for now I'm happy we got this with S.H.I.E.L.D. We had tons of pairings and teams-ups this week, so let's start with the star of the show, the woman everyone wanted to protect:


Skye's purpose has always been finding her family. That's what brought her here, that's what triggered all of this. Now she's found them and it's not all roses, just thorns (but we'll get to Raina in a second) and her purpose changes quickly to stopping her mother, protecting everyone. Her S.H.I.E.L.D. is showing.

The premise of Skye trusting her double-crossing mother is one that could have played out for awhile, and I was glad that they ended it quickly. Once Skye saw Jiaying's true colors, she was quickly locked up, both physically and powers-wise.

Jiaying's manipulations were solid, first playing on Skye's inflated sense of responsibility and convincing the rest of the Inhumans to go along with her. Mack (who batted 1000 this episode and is rapidly becoming my favorite character) took her to the next step in this journey by busting her out and calling her "Tremors." It was a cute moment.

After all this focus on Skye's new abilities and her showcasing her amazing fighting skills, it felt like #throwbackthursday when Mack handed her a laptop for her to hack her way to saving the day. Girl's got skills to pay many sets of bills, and she needed all of them this week. After warning away the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. and making up with May (thank god) Skye went to stop her mother, only to have Jiaying try to literally suck the life right out of her.

And this, right here was my favorite part of the whole episode, maybe the whole season. Skye is beaten, held down by her much stronger mother, who is killing her. All hope seems lost. This is the point, in so many other shows, in nearly all action movies where the Big Strong Man would down the door and save her. Mack with his axe would come in swinging. Coulson would charge through. Ward would track her down and shoot Jiaying. But that did not happen. Skye dug deep and saved herself. Yeah. Sit with that for a moment. She pulled free just long enough to get her powers going and knock that aircraft into the ocean, saving everyone on the ship, completing her mission. Jiaying went back in for the kill and you could see it in Skye's face -- she was going to kill her mother. Cal comes in and saves her, but not from death not from danger or weakness but from the guilt that would always follow her. It's support, not rescuing and yeah, it's a big deal.

Next up for Skye seems to be a mini-Avengers covert ops, and what do you want to bet Lincoln will be the next person she recruits?


... It certainly won't be Raina, whose absence will be felt more than any other death on the show (even you, Tripp). Ruth Negga was stunning as Raina and her final, tragic realization that she was the thorn meant to protect the flower was an impressive mix of pride, heartbreak, and acceptance. Her purpose was to be a herald, an angel and at least in death she realized what she became. I could have watched her for years and if there is any way to get a Raina clone or twin in here, I'm ready.

Coulson & Cal 

At one point in "S.O.S.," Cal is on the Quinjet with the team headed to save the ship and Skye. Everyone is skeptical of his presence and Coulson tells them that he's a little unpredictable but he's constant in his need to protect Skye. It's true, and taken out of context could directly be applied to him as well.

Cal's purpose is clear: protect Daisy and reunite his family. He's so close that he just needs to finish this thing. Coulson's purpose is no less urgent: defend S.H.I.E.L.D. and keep it intact. The point is made many times in this episode that the S.H.I.E.L.D. motto is: "The lives of the many outweigh the life of one." It's fine in concept, harder when it might be one of his own to sacrifice. But Coulson is calmer now and acting like a true director assessing the situation, making tough calls and generally keeping a cool head. I thought this episode did a great job proving that yes, this is the man you want running S.H.I.E.L.D. (Sorry Gonzalez).

After a session of car-therapy with Coulson, we finally see the true balance of power with Cal and Jiaying. She had been playing him the same way she was manipulating Skye, and Cal finally calms down enough to realize that he is going to have to protect his daughter from his wife. It's a touching moment, not given much time, but in that instant you can see all of Cal's hopes and dreams washed down the gutter.

When he comes upon Skye and Jiaying fighting, there is a moment when we think maybe, maybe he's coming for Daisy, but he would never. He killed his wife, he's going to jail, his sunshine is gone. The TAHITI twist felt right. Seeing him blank and happy felt like a nice redemption arc for someone who was really trying his best. He gets to forget, and that  is the greatest gift they could have given him.
Coulson isn't so lucky. He made it out without losing his company or team, but he lost an arm in the process. A reminder that things are hard. I don't image that will change next season, though I am interested to see the super-team creation they're working on.

Ward & Agent 33 

Ugh, this episode is where my long cherished Skyeward dreams went to die. I held out as long as I could, but the torture and the murder finally took it too far for even the most forgiving fan. Maybe that was the point? It seemed a very intentional, winking nod to Brett Dalton's vocal group of supporters when Kara said she would always "stand with Ward." Was the whole point of this to drive him past the point of redemption?

Possibly. I'm certainly turned off (but the writers are forgiven because they gave me Mack) but there were still flashes of mystery, like Ward's face when Kara says that she loves him. It's sad and hesitant, not at all like the smug high-schooler whose been in a relationship for two months and thinks he expert on love he's been acting like. Does he know that this version of himself is also false? Am I just seeing what I want to see?  We'll find out, because we are not done with him yet. After the old fake-May bait and switch, he kills Kara (high death toll this episode) and is pissed. Seeing a power vacuum, he is ready to take over HYDRA and, ladies and gentleman, we just witnessed the genesis of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first super villain.


One of my main issues with the show this season has been the Bobbi/Hunter dynamic. Individually, I liked them just fine. Hunter's got jokes; Bobbi kicks butt. Great. But right away, there was so much emphasis put on them and their love/hate/bicker routine. And frankly, I didn't know either one of them well enough to care. It felt forced and not genuine but I finally feel like "S.O.S." earned the relationship. We had real emotional moments from both of them and when Bobbi took the bullet for Hunter, it actually meant something.

I think that their last scene was the hint of their spin-off that will never see the light of day and honestly I am relieved. This universe is already huge and they are starting to click as supporting characters. Let's stick with what works.

You know what else I love? Bobbi ripping off those needles and beating the hell out of Ward. This show is amazing in portraying women who can fight for themselves.

Assorted Thoughts: 
  • Loved that Fish Oil is the big bad looming threat. 
  • What is it about the season finale that makes everyone so quippy? The humor was on point in this episode.
  • It sounds like Jiaying saved Lincoln the same way that Garret saved Ward. Why are the rescuers the ones who hurt?
  • I'll miss Cal. His singing and jokes were a breath of delightfully crazy fresh air. 
  • Is May going off with Andrew, who maybe sort of has a girlfriend? Or is this a solo trip to get her groove back? 
  • Oh, Fitz you should have kissed Simmons. We came so close to some real, live FitzSimmons action! Will the goo turn Simmons darker then she's already gone? Will we have to wait another full season before they hold hands? Tune in next time...
  • We now have (by my count) two characters trapped in alien goo. Jemma in the Kree rock and Dr. Franklin Hall in the Gravitonium
  • Fitz: Science, biotch! 
  • Lance: Forget about the plane. Can you pull up the...? Fitz: Footage from Bobbi, of the base before she left -- good idea. Lance: You know, I am capable of finishing my own... Fitz: Sentences. Yes, you are. I'm sorry.
  • Coulson: You want to tell me what you're really doing here? Cal: Sure. I'm a present, a gift horse... a peace offering from my family. I'm also an excellent shanghai rummy partner.
  • Coulson: My understanding is you single-handedly killed a whole lot of people. Cal: Oh... I suppose that's true. Coulson: I'm curious how you did it. Cal: With style.


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