Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2E12 Review: Who You Really Are
When bringing in a guest star from the movies, there’s always a risk that they’ll steal the show, and then we end up losing focus on what matters and basically wasting an episode. Since Sif isn’t a huge character in the movies the way that, say, Nick Fury is, there’s less risk of that happening, but it’s still a potential problem, especially when we have a complicated plot like this going on. And one of the other big worries is that Sif shows up and just infodumps all over the cast, which makes for a fairly boring episode. This week’s episode managed to strike a balance between the two, although in a rather clumsy way: just give Sif amnesia so she has an excuse not to infodump! Fortunately, they managed to work that into the plot, but that’s still a far from ideal solution from a writing perspective. Exposition is important, after all, as is controlling it. If the only way you can stop it from taking over is by temporarily removing the information from play for most of the episode, then that’s not good. There’s enough going on already.
Let’s touch on some of those other plots, then. Skye’s secret didn’t last long, which is probably for the best. What’s more interesting is how it’s taken the once-inseparable team of FitzSimmons and placed them on opposing sides. And it’s not like this was a sudden thing; they’ve been drifting apart for a while now, but we’re starting to see exactly the ramifications of that. As I said last week, Fitz is the ideal character to be standing up for Skye, as the heart of the team and someone dealing with his own changes from normalcy. Superpowered characters have often been used in a metaphorical sense like this (see the X-Men’s racial allegories in the comics, and homosexual allegories in the movies, or Spiderman’s powers-as-adolescence). Trying to draw parallels with disability is… unusual, but not inherently doomed to fail. At its heart, superpowers, especially in Marvel, often mean one thing: you’re different, and that’s bad, as far as the world is concerned. How that develops between Raina, Skye, and Fitz and their respective character arcs should be interesting.
We also got the reminder of Papa Coulson, as he doesn’t hesitate for a second as to whether to defend Skye, even when facing off with Asgardians and Kree. The same goes for May, of course, whose mentor role seems to be taking a step forward as Skye struggles with her new powers. That heartrate monitor thing earlier in the season (that same episode, actually) suddenly makes a lot more sense now. Less so for the other characters, who all seemed to fail to understand how their “destroy the freaks”-style rhetoric last week might have given Fitz and Skye pause about telling them what happened to her. Although it seems like some of them, like Mack, don’t really care if she heard.
Which brings us to this Mack and Morse scheme that’s going on. I’m getting a little tired of hiding their secrets, honestly; we know now they’re not HYDRA, but they are trying to take down Coulson’s SHIELD from within, and they seem to be set on stealing Fury’s toolbox. I’ve heard people suggest they’re Leviathan, I guess hoping for an Agent Carter tie-in, but that just sounds ridiculous to me. It’s clear that they’re not bad guys, exactly. They’re just pursuing goals that will put them in conflict with Coulson. If you want my guess, it’s that they’re working for Stark or possibly Maria Hill, who we know is working for Stark and likely would be aware of Fury’s toolbox. She also has reason not to trust Coulson (the GH serum-induced madness, which she may not know has been dealt with) and may see that as justification for taking the toolbox and using it to establish her own SHIELD-like organization. If true, she might find she’s thrown her lot in with the wrong guy after Avengers 2. Cobie Smulders for Season 3 cast?
Thor 2 spoilers ahead, if you somehow watch this show and haven’t seen that film yet.
The other elephant in the room, as far as the greater MCU goes, is the revelation at the end of Thor 2 that Loki has somehow usurped Odin and is now impersonating him. Since Lady Sif says she was sent here by Odin to stop the Kree agent (which, by the way, I’m really glad they made it clear the Kree aren’t all totally evil. A gray portrayal is far better than yet another evil empire), we have to assume that anything Odin says to do is something that Loki actually wants. So what does Loki want to do with the Kree? Could he be looking for a new army, seeing how he failed with the Chitauri already? But then, what more does he actually want? He’s technically in charge of Asgard already, what would he need them for? Is this reading too far into it and he’s really just behaving as Odin would so as not to blow his cover? That’s a lot of questions, I know, but there’s not enough in the episode to guess and it’s a long time before we get back to Asgard in a Thor movie. This also ought to settle the “are the nine realms out in space?” debate once and for all, as it’s clear in this episode that Asgard is a world in the same plane of reality as Earth and the Kree homeworld.
All in all, this was an entertaining episode with just a few slip-ups that, really, weren’t that bad. Next week sees that supervillain team-up materialize in “One of Us.”