TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2, Episode 17: Melinda [ABC]

ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Melinda TV Show ReviewAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 17, ‘Melinda,’ was more about the why, behind Agent May’s (Ming-Na Wen) title of ‘The Cavalry,’ than it was about how she got it. While the balance of the episode flashed back to the infamous Bahrain mission, where May received the title she has held in such disdain, the outcome was tied to Jaiying’s (Dichen Lachman) present day mentoring of daughter, Skye (Chloe Bennet).

If Gordon’s (Jamie Harris) breakdown of Skye’s power didn’t answer questions, regarding Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) & Calderon surviving their run-in with her, then Jaiying’s should have done the trick. I assumed Jaiying reassuring Skye, that her power couldn’t hurt a mountain, was to get her to cut loose, without thinking of all the critters she just killed. Be hard to get anywhere, if we dwelt on all the living things we step on; so: yay, power play!

The Afterlife subplot made Skye’s reunion with her mother official – some part of Skye already knowing adding to the catharsis of the moment – and promises to bring a new dynamic to the her relationship with Cal (Kyle MacLachlan); but Afterlife’s other lock-down resident was at the center of an emerging Mutant vs Morlock dynamic. Raina’s (Ruth Negga) ongoing malcontent drew sympathy from Gordon, who questioned the capacity of ‘normals,’ like Lincoln (Luke Mitchell), to understand what she was going through. If Raina ever gets past her funk, this might be something well within her willingness/ ability to exploit. With what had to be an ironic nod, to her time working for a false clairvoyant, the episode provided a pretty good reason for her doing just that.

There was also some Inhuman, named Ethan (Kris Lemche), announcing a sabbatical – the kind of out of the blue detail that should mean something. Not this time around, though.

After Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) had pulled a Lucy, passing Coulson’s ‘football’ to Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), from out of Team Gonzales’ running kick, Fitz was finally able to contact Coulson & Hunter (Nick Blood) – one bit of MacGyvery, from Fitz, locked in a restroom (it’s not a tail if it’s on top of you), leading to the promise of another, by Hunter. By finally, I meant that the scene was the rear bumper of the episode; but subplots are subs, after all. This was a May episode.

After seemingly missing the Fitz-Simmons bait-and-switch gambit, Bobbi’s interrogator’s perceptiveness kicked in, again, to note May’s reaction to the Theta Protocol reveal. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was done more for our benefit, than May’s; prepping viewers more for the next MCU tie-in, than any likely May-Coulson confrontation. I will admit, however, juxtaposing May’s current moment of Coulson doubt, with her formative flashback experience, alongside him, made for good red herring material.

Flashback Coulson made two fundamental, and fatal, mistakes, regarding their mission, that supposedly had some bearing on current May’s willingness to entertain Team Gonzales’ suspicions of him. The first, was assuming that ‘gifteds’ actually wanted to be helped; the second was not picking up on what “leave us alone” (and the subsequent friendly fire calls) immediately implied. It would be the fallout from those misreads that would leave May with both her reputation, and a lasting trauma – the latter now being used to validate the very notion that May could turn on Coulson.

Flashback May wasn’t all that quick to pick up on what they were up against, either; but keeping up, as she did, in what was essentially the worst kill-room hostage scenario imaginable, certainly made a case for her earning her title. Considering just how dirty her hands had to get, however, to both survive the experience, and get her people out, the case was made for why she has always hated the title.

I probably would have caught on to that dirt a lot sooner, had it not been for one off detail – with gunmen drawing their weapons before ‘contact’ was made – but it was still nice to know that some characters weren’t actually gratuitous, and there was an extra layer to the Jaiying tie-in.

Melinda May became ‘The Cavalry’ because Human rationalization works on our natural ability to fill in the blanks. For the Agents/ operators that walked away the Bahrain mission, Ockham’s Razor was responsible for May’s fabled reputation. For viewers, the events of Bahrain didn’t just frame the emotionally distant, all-business character we were introduced to, but gave us an idea of what she had lost, along the way. For the sake of the Spy-vs-Spy arc, ‘Melinda’ was to be the why behind a possible reset, to the May-Coulson relationship, for any kind of civil war that Agents might get involved with.

‘Melinda’ was why the Melinda May we never knew has become the Melinda May we think we know. Expect Agents to test us on that knowledge.

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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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