In an annoying over-all trend on comic book shows of late, a good bit of this week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD is told in flashback. “Melinda” tells about how May earned her nickname of “the Cavalry.” The flashback is set seven years ago.
In that past, Melinda was happy, and her relationship with Andrew, who we saw a few episodes ago, was going great. Melinda and Coulson go out on a field mission. As they are traveling, Coulson makes a comment about Fury’s new project, getting together “Earth’s Mightiest,” which is the tagline for the Avengers comic. They are going after Eva Belykov, a Russian woman with superhuman strength.
In the present, May is annoyed to learn that Gonzales’ SHIELD team is following Fitz. Morse starts asking May questions about Coulson’s work with powered people, and particularly Deathlok, who they footage of helping Coulson and Hunter. May clearly didn’t know all of what Coulson was up to, and Morse tries to press her on this. Morse also asks about the Theta Protocol, some mysterious program they are trying to get information on.
In the mysterious retreat, Jai is coaching Skye about her powers. Jai tells Skye that her ability is all about sensing frequencies, and that when Skye can do that, she’ll be able to control her powers. Skye manages to cause a controlled small avalanche.
In the past, SHIELD traces Eva to a black market area, and Coulson tries to talk her into coming with him. This goes badly, and Eva ends up retreating into a warehouse with several armed men and a kid. It was creepy seeing Melinda smiling at children playing before things went south. I guess I’m too used to her as the grim kick-ass agent we’ve seen so far on the show.
At Afterlife, Jai is telling Skye she needs to prepare, that she will have to deal with more things in the future. Lincoln is impressed that Jai is taking Skye under her wing. Lincoln says that Jai is in charge, and he’s never seen her take this kind of interest in someone.
Morse and May are going back to Coulson’s base. Morse keeps trying to drive a wedge between May and Coulson. She equates Coulson keeping secrets with what Gonzales’ “real” SHIELD felt when they learned Fury had been keeping things back. Morse and company are incredibly naive here. They signed on to work at a high level covert agency, and are surprised they weren’t told everything? To quote a series of commercials, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.”
Things get interesting in Afterlife. Gordon is trying to work with Raina on her own gifts. When Lincoln offers to help, Gordon is very rude and dismissive. I’m not positive, but I think Gordon has an issue with Lincoln because Lincoln got powers but also looks normal. Of course, Gordon seems ok with Skye, so I may be wrong.
Things go badly in the flashback setting. No one is interested in talking except Coulson, so the strike team ends up going in, with references to sending in the cavalry. May and Coulson listen over coms as the team is apparently not only beaten, but turned against itself.
Jai is trying to get Skye to focus her powers, and uses wineglasses this time. Jai makes them ring and wants Skye to use her powers to sustain the note. Skye manages this for a bit, and then the glasses all shatter. That must be a hit at parties. Skye says every time she has felt settled in her life, something has happened. SHIELD was the closest she had to a family, and now she’s here. Jai finally breaks down and tells Skye that she is Skye’s mother. Skye is, to say the least, shocked. Jai also presses Skye to keep this a secret. That always bodes well, doesn’t it? “We have nothing to hide here, but don’t tell anyone this part…”
May gets back to Coulson’s base, and starts working with Simmons. May asks Simmons about the Theta Protocol, and Simmons claims ignorance. It seems like May is having doubts about Coulson, and it makes me wonder. Is Morse persuading her, or is May playing Morse?
Seven years ago, May goes in to the warehouse on her own. She gets a really nasty surprise when she finds out that Eva isn’t the only superhuman May has to deal with, and that the other one has a really nasty power. This ends up leaving May with a lot of emotional scars, and makes her the colder person we’ve seen on the series. There’s a swath of destruction from the fight, and the surviving agents, who can’t remember anything, assume May did it all and that she’s amazingly dangerous, dubbing her “the Cavalry.”
In the present, May and Simmons find a lot of proof that Coulson is hiding things. May thinks he’s building a new base, maybe a new organization, for people with powers. Simmons even learns that one of her projects was for improving Deathlok, which wasn’t what she thought she was working on at all.
Jai tells Skye she’s going to have to have at least one dinner with Cal. They go to see him, and he manages to behave himself, keeping control. The dinner goes well. Lincoln, who is playing waiter, suddenly realizes that he’s seeing something Raina described seeing earlier.
This leads me to two possible theories. The first is that everyone who gets their abilities this way develops a secondary power (Gordon can teleport and do force fields, as well as having apparent superstrength and whatever version of vision he has, Raina has her thorns but now is a precog). The second is that only the ones who can’t pass for normal anymore get the extra power, maybe as some kind of consolation prize. If it’s the first one, I wonder what Skye’s extra power will turn out to be.
The show ends with Fitz. He’s on the run, and somehow decides that the restroom in a cheap dive of a restaurant is the ideal place to open Fury’s toolbox. He manages it, and gets in touch with Coulson and Hunter. They are going to help him shake the SHIELD agents on his tail, and hopefully next episode we finally see what’s in the toolbox.
What I liked: The story behind May was sad, but made sense and was well done. Skye’s training is progressing well. Fitz got to do something useful.
What I didn’t: I’m still not liking the two SHIELDs. Gonzales’ crew, for all their claims of being open and transparent, are lying and spying. Coulson’s team has been taking out bad guys. Which is more useful? I also don’t like everyone being so spread out.
I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. Now that the toolbox is open, I’m hoping the second SHIELD will go away, or agree to Coulson being in charge. I guess we’ll see.