Agents of SHIELD ends its second season with a two hour special. They clear the decks for next season pretty thoroughly. I’ve commented about Avengers: Age of Ultron being a clash of idealism, Tony Stark’s and Steve Rogers’. There’s a lesser version of that here, with Gonzales’ mistrust of supers running smack into Jai’s paranoia about SHIELD. A lot of what happens here comes from echoes or ripples from those two opposing mindsets. Too bad more of them weren’t listening to Coulson.
In the aftermath of last week’s chaos, Jai tells her lies to everyone, and the Inhumans start evacuating Afterlife. After all, who can say Gonzales didn’t attack her, since it was just them and she killed him? The Inhumans make it worse when they capture a SHIELD jet and use it to attack Afterlife, making it look like SHIELD has gone to war. I don’t like it, but it’s a good plan on Jai’s part.
Skye is caught in the middle of all this. Her mother, of course, leads the Inhumans, but SHIELD has been her family and friends for a while now. Jai’s been very good at manipulating Skye, so she feels very torn. This ends in a nasty, but nicely choreographed, fight between May and Skye.
The SHIELD agents start debating what’s going on. Coulson, while no huge fan of Gonzales, agrees that it’s unlikely the man would attack Jai in the middle of what was supposed to be the start of peace talks. Cal, meanwhile, sits on the SHIELD transport, singing creepily. Mac, back on the Iliad, was in the middle of planning what he’d do after quitting when the alarms all starting ringing. That’s almost as bad as the soldier about to go home or the police officer one day from retirement.
In the midst of the chaos, Hunter is getting more and more worried about the missing Bobbi Morse. Eventually, he and Fitz work out she was taken by Agent 33, impersonating May. As Loki said in the Avengers, “Will you ever not fall for that?”
Jai is continuing her plans and plots, lying to Skye and Lincoln about what’s been happening. Lincoln is pissed off about SHIELD’s “attack,” just as he was meant to be. Skye, not one to blindly follow, says they don’t know enough about what happened yet. After Skye and Lincoln clear out, we see another, really nasty, aspect of Jai’s powers. Gordon is part of her inner circle, aware of the plans, and apparently fine with both lying to the other Inhumans and attacking SHIELD under false pretenses.
Jai’s plans are far reaching and she’s utterly ruthless. She and Raina have a discussion about what’s really gong on, and Raina calls her on her lies. Let’s just say things don’t always go well for prophets or the one who points out the truth about the Emperor’s new clothes. Skye sees the end of this, which leads to complications for Jai.
Bobbi has been captured by Ward and Cara/Agent 33, as part of Ward’s twisted plan to give Cara “closure,” which they mention every few minutes. I wonder if it’s some kind of mantra that Ward is using to influence Cara, who’s already been under Hydra mind control recently. Their beef with Bobbi is that, while undercover at Hydra, she handed Cara over to Whitehall. Of course, Bobbi didn’t know the SHIELD safehouse was occupied, but Ward doesn’t want to hear inconvenient facts. As Coulson observes, “Ward’s logic is rarely logical.” May and Hunter find common ground in a mutual desire to kill Ward.
In a bit of odd writing, we learn that the Inhumans destroyed the device that SHIELD was using to track Gordon’s teleporting. I’m not quite sure how, or when, that happened. SHIELD remains divided, with Weaver wanting to attack and avenge Gonzales. She gets swayed by someone else surprising everyone and agreeing with Coulson that Skye is the best person to resolve this.
Coulson has several talks with Cal, working on the man’s humanity, no matter how deeply it’s buried. Cal remarks he’s killed many people, and when Coulson asks how, Cal answers, “With style.” Couslon refuses to be put off, and keeps trying to reach Cal. I think that right there shows the big difference between Coulson and Gonzales, who is pretty much ready to write off pretty much anyone with powers.
Ward and Cara are torturing Bobbi to get her to “confess” to betraying Cara. There are some brutal scenes there, and Bobbi is very impressive in her resolve, and her ability to argue with Ward as he does some nasty things to her. Bobbi manages to break free, and show how good she is, but Ward is about on the same level, and Cara gets involved, so the already wounded Bobbi is recaptured. It was another good fight sequence, and Ward and Cara both look the worse for it. Go, Bobbi!
Several different scenes are woven together nicely for the next few bits. Mac is trying to get the Iliad ready for battle as the Inhumans arrive with a host of weird powers. Coulson is trying to make Cal see that what he’s doing is going to drive Skye/Daisy further away from him. And May and Hunter lead a tac team to rescue Bobbi from Ward and Cara.
Some of this works well. Coulson is a beacon of hope and optimism, in spite of everything he’s seen and been through. He’s a good man who sees the good in others, and won’t quit on that. Cal’s “missing ingredient” in his formula for super strength is something fairly basic I can’t believe he didn’t try before. And Ward has just plain gone into full villain mode, even rigging an elaborate death trap.
The Inhumans have a really nasty plan, involving Jai’s Terrigen crystals. They are trying to take over the Iliad in part to further that plan, and also recover the strange artefact that keeps shifting from rock-like to weird liquid. When Mac ends up dealing with a redheaded woman who makes copies of herself, he just shakes his head and says, “I can’t wait to get off this boat.” Later, he dubs the redheads “Ginger Ninjas,” which I really liked. Mac gets a few bad-ass scenes during the fighting for the Iliad. In fact, Mac is the one who frees Skye from the cell the Inhumans tossed her in, calling Skye “Tremors.”
The fight gets nasty on the ship, and Jai’s true evil starts shining through. In fact, one of her allies deserts after seeing what she’s really like, switching sides to help SHIELD. Coulson scrambles a team to go to the Iliad to help, and Simmons and Fitz get a surprisingly emotional parting scene. Coulson doesn’t get a new love interest, but he does get a new ally to fight the Inhumans.
The quest to free Bobbi has some unexpected twists. The deathtrap goes off, but not how Ward planed. May also got in a few clever moves, aside from her fighting skills, and Ward gets a really nasty surprise. Bobbi does get saved. Her scenes with Hunter seem like they were geared toward the rumored SHIELD spin-off, although I’ve also heard that project has been scrapped.
There’s another great line connected to some spoilers. Instead of identifying who said it, I’ll say someone gets called a loose cannon, and the response is that if things go bad, they’ll let the cannon loose. Desperate times, and all that.
The fight for the Iliad goes off in various directions that surprised me. Not so much the people who changed sides, I saw that coming. But the final body count was unexpected. Also, after being exposed to the crystals, one of SHIELD’s agents won’t be the same but not how you’d expect. Even Fitz got in some good lines and a few shots in the fight. The battle gets resolved well, and we see several heroic scenes.
The last few scenes are loaded with twists, hints of what’s to come, cliffhangers, and even some resolution. Coulson’s plan for Cal I didn’t see coming at all, and it’s so perfect. Skye has a new assignment that I expect will be a big part of season three, and she even got to drive Lola! Simmons and Fitz are slowly creeping towards a romance, but let’s just say that’s not going to go well in the immediate future. It also looks like we haven’t seen the last of those Terrigen Crystals, or at least their effects.
What I liked: There were some great fight scenes here. Everyone got a chance to shine, almost (see below). There were some great quips along the way. Coulson’s goodness is not only not naive, it made a big difference in the fight. And several characters I was finding kind of annoying were dealt with.
What I didn’t: I don’t think they know what to do with Simmons, and I think the final scene with her showed that. She doesn’t get a lot to do here. There are a few things I find questionable, like what I mentioned before with Cal’s missing bit of his formula. There’s also a tense scene when Simmons is getting ready to operate on an ally, and they give her some medical jargon about “type and match.” You’d think that SHIELD in general, and Simmons in particular, would know what their agents’ blood types are.
Overall, I’m giving this a 4 out of 5. I’m looking forward to Skye’s new mission, and already wondering and puzzling over who will be part of it with her. I have a few guesses. We’ll see come fall. I’m not quite sure what to hope for as far as the alleged spinoff goes, but I am happy that Agent Carter is returning.