TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENTS Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2, Episode 11: Aftershocks [ABC]

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ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Aftershocks TV Show ReviewAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 11, ‘Aftershocks,’ focused (appropriately enough) on picking up the pieces of Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) re-emergence, as a character (after some brief consideration, about owning Daisy Johnson). That left the team dealing with the Secret City ruins, the loss of a team member, and each other. Skye was keeping her powers to herself (as best she could), while Simmons & Mack (Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons) inadvertently gave her increasing cause to do so. Simmons had the greater good in mind, but Mack had a more personal ax to grind, regarding the forces that have reshaped Skye’s destiny.

Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), in the meantime, had been circling the drain of a quiet panic, eventually syncing with Skye’s own destructive anxiety to make for a bad end. At least, it would have been, had Fitz not had the singular ability to panic-collapse on his feet. I found it hard to believe that there were no sensors/ surveillance assets, that would have picked up on Skye’s tremors (let alone, her momentary break-down); but maybe Fitz panicked away those loose ends, as well. Whatever the case, with Coulson (Clark Gregg) being the universal load-bearing pillar, the themes of self-control, and self-doubt, made for a bonding moment for Fitz and Skye.

There was a red herring, regarding Mack & Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki), but the rumblings of their ‘secret’ roll on.

Further tremors came in the aftermath to Raina’s (Ruth Negga) great quest. Apparently, she had something a little more… aesthetically beautiful in mind, in terms of what she was to become. If her obsession, with becoming a flower of power, had been her driving force, till now, then turning out as she did will likely make her a very virulent weed indeed. Her fatal introduction (by way of some unfortunate S.H.I.E.L.D. techs), and brutally disappointing reunion, with the Doctor (Kyle MacLachlan), left us with a character likely to be a serious threat to Team Coulson – once she ceased being a threat to herself. Agents, however, seems to have a higher playing field in mind for her, as she was instantly removed from the show’s current setting.

The biggest shake-up, however, came from the show demonstrating a shift in priorities, from carrying the baggage, left by Winter Soldier, to ushering in metahumans to the MJU. There could only be so much wallowing, and there was still work to be done. Until Skye officially comes out (of the quarantine unit) to her team mates, and Raina comes back  more… becomed, Coulson had better things for his battered crew to do – namely, keep the momentum of the mid-season finale.

That meant delivering Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) to witch-hunter-turned-rival-colleague, Talbot (Adrian Pasdar). That meant a careless transporting, allowing May (Ming-Na Wen) some exercise, but losing them Bakshi. That meant more carelessness, by way of an attempted sting, which could only end one way, if all that carelessness was to be warranted. What all that added up to, however, was a subtle nod to The Godfather – even if viewers were collectively left in the role of Kay Adams, watching a smirking Coulson close the door on HYDRA.

To be fair, I was going to make a reference to Order 66, but thought better of it. I was also going to say something about Fred Dryer, and how his most famous role had made for an ironic twist, this episode; but the internets beat me to it….

So, about the whole shelving of HYDRA thing. It could be argued that this particular circle of fiends were too easily manipulated, too disjointed, and too eager to turn on each other. Granted, the momentary wrap up, to this particular thread, was very neat & convenient; but consider the nature of the beast. From its inception, HYDRA was a Darwinist nightmare to be a part of. Dictatorships tend to thrive on fostering internal rivalry, and the fascists made an art form of it.  As the SS set itself apart from the German military establishment, HYDRA set itself apart from the SS. The whole spiel, about the replacing of lost heads, has not only served as a warning to those outside the organization, but to those within it. To be HYDRA is to be expendable; and once that is understood, members are likely to spend as much time watching their backs, as their fronts. Given that the Red Skull was gunning for the Nazi leadership, he & Baron Zemo were gunning for each other, and Baron Von Strucker was gunning for them both, I’d hardly expect close-knit comradery, from a lower circle of  Head cases.

If it seemed like things went too easily for Coulson, I submit that Coulson simply understood the nature of the beast, and merely allowed for a thing, poised to happen, to happen. That would be Coulson being Coulson. If Bakshi’s role seemed like too much of a break in character, I submit that his psyche profile (as finely picked through, by Bobbi, as it was) had been completely tied to Whitehall. No Whitehall, no resolve; and if the unflappable Whitehall Man Friday says it’s time to panic, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to find Whitehall wannabes heeding the call.

No, my only real complaint, about ‘Aftershocks,’ was that Jaiying (too good for nameless, one-shot appearance, Dichen Lachman) rescue, Gordon (Jamie Harris), likely denies us Lockjaw. I’d go into detail, about the character, and epic coolness factor of a live-action Lockjaw; but that would just make me more pissy about what we got. Instead, I submit that Agents just couldn’t get it done right, and justifiably made up a substitute – leave it at that.

As quickly as they set aside the rival agencies story line, I hope they don’t spend too much time on Skye’s team mates making her uncomfortable in her new skin. I’m also hoping that a more useful outlet is found for Mack & Simmon’s brand of xenophobia. I mean, sure, Fox still has its arms & legs tightly wrapped around Marvel’s mutants; but using Inhumans to find a loop-hole, for Agents, doesn’t mean the series should pull full blown mutant hysteria through it.

Plenty of ways to maintain in-house friction without turning fan faves into raving militants.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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