ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What They Become TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 10, ‘What They Become,’ had to have been a long awaited justification, to those left needing one for the show’s continuation, and a vindication, to those who stuck it out, since episode one.
Rogue Ward (Brett Dalton) had made some pretty steadfast promises, where Skye (Chloe Bennet) had been concerned, and his latest guaranteed the safety of the Bus’ passengers, in exchange for Skye returning with him. The fact that his actual mission was to only retrieve Raina (Ruth Negga), and no quarter was ever intended for the rest, Whitehall (Reed Diamond) countermanded the no-shoot down order, on the Bus, while reconsidering Ward’s role.
May (Ming-Na Wen) had to resort to an old submariner’s trick, to escape the HYDRA agents; but the HYDRAnts really should have known better. Detonation plus loss of contact – with a vehicle that cloaks – does not equal confirmed kill; detonation plus recognizable wreckage does.
The new lease on life gave the team a second crack at the Secret City, and provided Tripp (B.J. Britt) with an opportunity to break out the Howling Commando analog gear. That, in turn, drew a Dum Dum Duggan reference, from Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt); but despite that, and the Koenig Bros. shtick still getting some mileage, Agent Koenig was sent back to his administrative post. Given the gravity of the episode’s events, a little more levity would not have been completely out of place; but there was plenty of satisfaction, to make up for it.
After sizing up the state of Skye’s Jedi training, Ward handed her off to the Doctor (Kyle MacLachlan), for the reunion that neither had in mind. The opportunity for Doc Calvin(!) to clear the air, regarding Skye’s(?) mother, and what her death meant for the true nature of his relationship with Whitehall, did temper Skye’s(?) attitude towards him, to some degree.
Kyle MacLachlan has been every bit as much a get, for season two, as Bill Paxton was, for season one; and a lot of credit has to go to his ability to sell the inherent heartache of his character. Not undersold, however, was the considerable restraint that this particular character required, as both a hopeful father, and as an avenging widow. If the former quality was made clear, for the reunion, then the latter certainly came into its own, when Whitehall finally called their collective hands.
Whitehall just wouldn’t be deserving of his reputation, had he not caught wind of the gambit Ward had been setting up. If anything, Ward overplayed his hand, by bringing Sky(?) to her father, in defiance of a Whitehall order. The family tie provided Whitehall with one more opportunity to replay his most monstrous moment (shown for the series, anyway)
Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) was already planning around their last set-back, at the Secret City, and was not about to let surrogate daughter, Skye(?), being delivered to Calvin(!), go unanswered. He led one contingent, to rescue Skye(?), and head off Whitehall accessing the Secret City, but fears, concerning that access leading to a genocidal event, forced Coulson’s own access team to rig for a zero sum outcome. Thanks to Tripp’s analog measures, Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge) was meant to get in one last hurrah, before Fitz broke up the band.
It might just be me, but there seemed to be a lot of referencing to ant zombie fungus, recently. In the context of ‘What They Become,’ however, the reference was definitely meant to raise some hopes, regarding Mack (Henry Simmons) having been turned into a stand-in for the classic Kree Sentry (the original wouldn’t fit in those passages – or the budget, which I suppose went elsewhere). While it was never made clear exactly what was done to Mack, the guy took a beating. In the event he were to ‘snap out of it,’ I’d expect him to collapse into a puddle of de-boned man-parts. Turns out, the great tragedy of the Secret City arc wasn’t in the tea leaves for SkyeWard; but actually revolved around Fitz-Simmons.
If Fitz’s resignation from the pairing, for a formal working relationship with Mack, in any way telegraphed Mack’s fate (in the previous episode), then a scene, where Fitz pretty much left Simmons in another team member’s company, should have declared Mack a red herring. Call it a reach, but the Fitz-Simmons dynamic seemed destined to spell doom for at least one of their peripheral relations. In the case of the chosen sacrifice, it was a case of two women enter, one man never leaves. One less distraction, for all you Fitz-Simmons shippers (dammit).
The storming of Whitehall’s headquarters, set up above the Secret City, was the usual argument against outfitting gun fodder with body armor. They just get mowed down, anyway. Credit to Agents, however, for actually making the case for body armor, this episode. When Ward’s talents, for getting out of jams, and his attachment to Skye(?), converged in a way that left him… well, floored (to many a viewer’s delight, I assume), a real corner had been turned; but Ward gets to stick around & savor her progress. He’ll be having more to work with, after she progressed further, still.
I imagine that, in his own twisted way, Ward had to have been beaming with pride that Skye(?) had progressed to the point where she even get one over on him (or… several – into him). No hesitation, no sentiment – not even taking the time to rage a little, with a short victory grave dance – just the way he likes ’em.
Well, the third proud papa of the season didn’t go away empty handed. The cracks in Whitehall’s method left Agent 33 at a loss for being; so it looks like Ward may have found a Ward of his own, upgrading him to a rank of Garrett.
There was no May vs Mock-May rematch; but that would’ve been too obvious a set up, I guess. The one boss fight we did get was something of a last minute ringer, as Coulson jumped the rope, on Doc Calvin’s long awaited square off with Whitehall. One went far too easy – kind of a let down, actually – but the Sky(?) custody battle was a pretty down & dirty affair. Don’t make Calvin deeply disappointed. You wouldn’t like him when he’s disappointed.
Disheartened may be another story. Understandably mortified at her two dads (surrogate & actual) in a death struggle, orphan Skye(?) forced a parting of ways. Daughter Daisy(!), by sending him off with a mortal warning, may have done more damage than we know; but for the time being, the good Doctor had to take his leave. Daisy(!) made her choice. It was the obvious one, but still sensible. It also turned out to be a pit-stop, for what would be a very momentous day, for the newly re-christened Daisy.
Raina has always made good on other people’s mayhem, and the clash of agencies left her open to go for the goal. All that faith paid off, when she encountered the Mack-Sentry; the rest took care of itself. I assume Daisy followed suit in part because she kept the Diviner connection, she had with Raina, in mind. Why Coulson followed her, I don’t know. I do know that Tripp had a reasonable plan, regarding his initial journey to the lower chambers; but Daisy tripping into his demolition zone left him improvising a last minute rescue. Coulson running into the Mack-Sentry might have done them both a favor; but for Tripp, it was a case of no good deed going unpunished (dammit).
Ironically, that punishment came in the form of the big pay-off – not just for the episode, but the entire series, until now. In answer to Raina’s titular question/ promise, some typically TV SFX set up an origin action shot that was easily the highlight of the mid-season. Considering that multiple shows have been going into Winter break with major character deaths (Agents, not an exception), the “becoming” of Skye/ Daisy made for one image I will happily not un-see.
Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the very first sight that greeted her, on the other side of her becoming.
There may actually be enough non-source fan viewers (not up on their Google-fu) to warrant the question; so I’ll take a quick stab at answering: “exactly what the hell did I just watch, anyway?”
(SPOILERS COMMENCE) In a nutshell: The Kree came to Earth, saw an opportunity to weaponize early Humans, but walked out on the project (Empire stuff). One descendant of those ‘gifted’ humans (the Inhumans) hooked up with the Doctor, long after a run-in with WW2 era Whitehall, and Daisy was the result. Her failing to survive a second run-in, with Winter Soldier run-up Whitehall, left the good Doctor a widow – and something of a rage-aholic. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, investigating the ensuing carnage, made off with Daisy. Daisy grew up as Skye, while the Doctor plotted revenge on Whitehall, and a reunion with Daisy. Along the way, he took another Inhuman orphan under his wing: Raina (probably giving her that fixation on floral dresses).
Part of the Inhuman making process, involves Terrigen Mist; a chemical that triggers innate Inhuman abilities. The Kree were very security conscious about their work, so DNA key coding was part of the deal. Inhuman exposure: powers unlock; Human exposure: death. This was the deal with the whole Diviner thing. Every Inhuman gets unique abilities. Daisy’s mother was immortal, I have no idea what Raina became (my initial thought geek-blocked by a Fox copyright arrangement), but Daisy….
The names Calvin & Daisy, as father & daughter, makes the Doctor one Calvin Zabo, aka Marvel’s Mr. Hyde, and Skye Daisy Johnson, aka Quake. That, right there, is Agents in a bottle (up to this point). Skye’s bratty orphan phase (season 1.1), put up with by May & Coulson – who knew she had ‘potential.’ The events leading to Winter Soldier serving as the backdrop for the origin of Hyde; the fallout from the film setting the stage for the convergence of Whitehall, Calvin, Raina, and Skye (with special mention going to Ward). Season 2.1 put them all in one place, brought in the Diviner, and boom – Inhuman descendants Daisy & Raina get powers; Human team member gets written off the show (dammit).
Full disclosure: While the source character was not an Inhuman, Quake played a role in the source material to Civil War (the next Captain America film), and eventually became Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (SPOILERS CONCLUDE)
All in all, not a bad take away, after one & a half seasons of character build. Some viewers never made it past the bratty orphan phase, which was bad for the show’s ratings. Somehow, that just makes me feel like part of a precious few, that stuck it out long enough to not just see the series pick up, but make up for those early episodes (even if only in hindsight). Admittedly, quite a few source fans were able to piece it all together, from the start of the season (some going as far back as the first sighting of the Kree donor). More caught on with the musical cue to Skye’s dream, last episode. I just found it heartening that source fans were still willing to give the show that much credit (resistance to the Quake scenario, due to the possible need for a haircut, notwithstanding).
Some commentators will likely be inclined to use the phrase “game changer,” but here, at last, is where I finally take the showrunners at their word. The Inhuman/ gifted angle was the game plan, all along (possible back-handed thanks going to Fox). Yes, it got off to a slow – even clunky – start, with the whole Centipede/ Deathlok thing amounting to filler (in hindsight), while all the pieces were being placed on the board. Sure, the Winter Soldier bump was such a departure, that it seemed like a series reboot; but even that tie-in was in service to the original underlying plot. I’ll admit, I thought Whitehall was under served, given his source character; but I can consider him a sacrifice, made for the sake of the new pace of events.
If any kind of change has been forced upon the series, I’d say it was just such a lesson, in pacing, learned by the end of the first season. The “becoming” of Skye/ rise of Daisy could have been intended to run over at least another whole season, guessing by season 1.1 standards. Instead, we’ve been taken well past the show’s original premise (no more above board S.H.I.E.L.D.), its original sub-plots (the why of Skye, and the Coulson comeback), and its initial characterizations (Ward, Fitz-Simmons, and an influx of newbies).
Skye’s no longer the limit (he says, kicking adrift that floating funeral pyre of a pun). Not only do we now have breathing room for other key characters (May’s still a mystery), but the stage has been set for potential tie-ins to future films for the Avengers, Captain America, and (of course) the Inhumans. Basically, the single greatest service, to come about from Agents‘ trajectory, is the restoration of series potential.
No more place holding, no more biding for time; the series finally seems set to keep pace with the MCU, rather than just ride its coat tails.
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