"SHIELD Hasn't Changed": The Most Depressing Agents of SHIELD Yet?

Illustration for article titled SHIELD Hasnt Changed: The Most Depressing emAgents of SHIELD /emYet?

Since the very first episode involving Mike Peterson, the big question on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD has been, "How do you handle people with potentially destructive powers?" And last night's episode, "One Of Us," suggests that SHIELD's answer to that question was... not great.

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Spoilers ahead...

In "One of Us," Cal is trying to rescue Skye from SHIELD — by proving that SHIELD mistreats people like Skye, with the help of a band of supervillains. And meanwhile, Melinda May's ex-husband Andrew is trying to give Skye an evaluation to see what, if anything, SHIELD should do with her.

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In the end of the episode, Cal is defeated — but he also kind of proves his point, that SHIELD doesn't always have the best approach to people with unusual abilities.

Melinda May spends a lot of the episode trying to convince her ex that this is a whole new SHIELD, now that Coulson is in charge. But after seeing how SHIELD deals with Cal's group, and what it costs Skye to try and keep her powers in check, Andrew concludes that "SHIELD hasn't changed." And he decides that Skye would be better off away from SHIELD, for her own safety.

Illustration for article titled SHIELD Hasnt Changed: The Most Depressing emAgents of SHIELD /emYet?

A lot of the episode involves Cal's little army, whose horrible enhancements have been suppressed with a fair amount of brutality. There's Karla Faye, whose fingers have razors implanted in them and has weird metal gloves keeping them from hurting anyone. Plus Wendell, an amoral tech genius who's given the same tech-suppressing implant that Skye had last season; Francis Noche, a mob enforcer on experimental steroids; and David Angar (aka Angar the Screamer) who has superpowered vocal cords and wears a Hannibal Lector mask to suppress his voice.

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Once they've all broken free from SHIELD, Karla Faye keeps bringing up the possibility that they could just go on with their lives and not try to get revenge. But Cal insists that they need to expose SHIELD to the world. This somehow leads to them going to Coulson's old hometown in Wisconsin and killing a ton of high-school cheerleaders and jocks using Angar's sonic scream.

Illustration for article titled SHIELD Hasnt Changed: The Most Depressing emAgents of SHIELD /emYet?
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Meanwhile, Dr. Andrew Garner evaluates Skye and tries to get past her defenses, while reconnecting with Melinda May. Skye knows how SHIELD handles "Gifted" individuals like herself, because she helped to execute that policy as a SHIELD agent. But she wants to stay a SHIELD agent, and believes she can accomplish that goal if she just keeps repressing her emotions enough to keep her powers in check — basically, taking everything the ultra-repressed Melinda May taught her about focus and putting it into practice. And for sure, Skye seems to be holding it all together.

This all comes to a head when Melinda May pretends to hold Skye hostage to distract Cal, while Coulson's agents take out Cal's followers. Unfortunately, SHIELD's containment measures weren't all that effective at preventing a mass slaughter on the football field. And when Skye's powers start to activate, she gets weird contusions and bruises on her arms. And then Cal disappears.

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It turns out that all this time, Skye wasn't really controlling her powers — she was just directing them inwards. And this effort to repress her abilities led to fractures from her collarbone down to her hands. She has to wear a special cast to try and help her heal and contain the effects of her powers — but that's not a long-term solution. So maybe not everything can be dealt with through repression?

All in all, it's not an episode that makes SHIELD's approach to superpowers look that enlightened — even as it also doesn't really bear out Cal's argument, either.

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In the end, Simmons has a suggestion. Maybe they need to make a distinction between human-made powers, like the ones Mike Peterson and Cal's people have, and genetically inherent ones. (You know, the "M" word that we're not allowed to say because of legal reasons.) People like Skye and Raina were born with a latent ability, that the Terrigen mists simply brought out. Coulson orders Simmons to research this and look into ways to fight back if these Inhumans become a threat.

Speaking of which, Simmons is still pissed at Fitz for lying to her about Skye's powers — but later on in the episode, they seem to have a moment together, gossipping about Melinda and her ex-husband. They seem to be almost like their old selves again, until they get interrupted.

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Illustration for article titled SHIELD Hasnt Changed: The Most Depressing emAgents of SHIELD /emYet?

And with Andrew in the picture, we see a new side to Melinda — she shows a bit more of her sense of humor with her ex, and is even willing to laugh about her terrible cooking. Even though he called her after SHIELD fell apart, and she didn't call back. (So instead he hung out with Melinda's mom, who still hasn't forgiven her for divorcing him.) Andrew has apparently moved on, or at least he has some kind of framed picture of a new girl on his desk.

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So the biggest surprise of "One of Us" is the fact that Gordon, the eyeless Inhuman, pops in at the football field and grabs Cal, instead of Skye. Cal's as surprised by this as anybody, because Skye needs the help of her fellow Inhumans. But Gordon says that Cal was making too much noise, and possibly drawing attention to the Inhumans. And Cal isn't one of the Inhumans, he's just a "science experiment." In the end, Gordon says it's not up to him what happens to Cal, and apparently he's taking Cal to meet their leader — who I'm guessing is Yat-Sen, the older Inhuman whom we met a while back.

And in the episode's main subplot, Lance Hunter is held prisoner by Mac for most of the episode. Mac doesn't want to hurt Lance, and even brings him Hawaiian pizza (his favorite) and beer. But Lance blows off all Mac's attempts at bonding — until Mac finally takes Lance to his leaders. Who, apparently, are the "real SHIELD," trying to clean up the organization after the mess that Nick Fury left.

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I'm just guessing that the "real SHIELD" is not nearly as humane towards people with superpowers as Coulson's version is trying to be.

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DISCUSSION

Cool_Breeze
Cool_Breeze

We'll make our OWN SHIELD, except with blackjack and hookers!

A new, POINTIER Shield.

This show is so much fun. GOD.

1. PLEASE make a web series or a summer break mini series or a Marvel One Shot about Hyde and his Fightin' Outlaws. PLEASE. This is GOLD. They drive around in a WINNEBAGO, causing mayhem and hijinks. Maybe call it the Redeemers? Seems like there could be some potential there...

2. What is this "real" SHIELD, and where does it come from? At first I was thinking Mackingbird worked for Hill and Stark, but they wouldn't usurp the SHIELD name so blatantly. They would call it something cool, like SWORD (especially given Stark's experience with E.T.) and the S would stand for Stark.

This isn't the US military, because everyone was in suits, and General Talbot hates SHIELD, so he wouldn't call his unit that. It would be something like the 303 Logistical Studies Group or something discreet like that. Plus, he would just arrest Coulson and get another Star. Not so much sneaky sneaky.

This isn't a new rebranded STRIKE, because that unit was completely compromised and taken over by HYDRA. Any surviving SHIELD-loyal agents would jump to the CIA (like Agent Sharon Carter) or go into the private sector somewhere.

After watching this episode (and next week's teaser), here's my new theory: As Andrew told May, it was crazy after SHIELD fell. HYDRA executed all of the Level 8s and above, but couldn't get Coulson. A bunch of Level 7s survived and inherited most of SHIELD infrastructure, and think THEY are the real SHIELD. Maybe some of them thought Fury was in too deep with HYDRA, and don't trust Coulson, and want Fury's box (WHAT'S IN THE BOX???) to help run their own SHIELD, with blackjack and hookers or something.

Here's the rub: This show has a few episodes airing AFTER Age of Ultron. Coulson's team is chasing smaller time threats that can get worse EASY, on the down low. Maybe after/during Ultron, Stark (with Hill's help) takes over newer, pointy SHIELD and begins SWORD or something.

Fury already said Coulson was an Avenger (The BEST Avenger, IMHO). Coulson's team has May, Mockingbird, Mack, Hunter, Skye (Daisy Johnson), and FitzSimmons. They face problems and keep them on the down low. THEY GO TO MANITOWOC FUCKING WISCONSIN.

This is the beginning of the creation of the Secret Avengers. Mockingbird will be the connection to current member Hawkeye. Skye will master her powers and become Quake. FITZSIMMONS. May is practically Black Widow. Etc. Pointy SHIELD will be combined into the Avenger in some way, and Coulson's SHIELD will become the Secret Avengers. You watch. I love this

3. We need to see more of May's softer side. So they eloped (of COURSE she did). May loves Vegas? Nice.

The look on Fitz's face when Andrew made fun of May's cooking and he didn't immediately die a painful death was priceless. Please. More of this.

4. Since the beginning of this show, Skye has seemed like one of us thrown into a Marvel production, and it's awesome. She makes jokes about people's powers (Absorbing man can make ANY part of his body a different structure?) and is completely nerds about everything, just like us. I nearly DIED when she asked Andrew if he and May had "pillow talks" or "pillow stern looks." OH MY GOD.

5. Speaking of pillow stern looks, this episode was hilarious, per the norm. Hunter's anger (I take back all the "don't dies!"), "I dont like food," "I was hoping it was wings," FitzSimmons nerding out about May's personal life, Hyde and his freaking WINNEBAGO. Come on. My sides. Help.

6. Cal is Hyde. It is official. He tried to use chemistry to change himself, and still tinkers. That poor coffee cup. He is Hyde and I shall calm him as such. I'm just waiting for a proper scene of his destruction, not just the aftermath.

7. I love the little details of this show, like the fact that Agent Broyls is a SHIELD mole for Coulson in a Sheriff's Department near a secret SHIELD holding cell. He reminded me of the SHIELD truck driver from Season 1. Nice call back.

8. Speaking of details: Andrew was a psychologist at Culver University. That is where Betty Ross worked in Incredible Hulk, where Bruce first faced Blonsky. Little details. YES.

9. Did you notice that none of Hyde's Fightin' Outlaws were Inhumans? Each had been experimented on or made themselves extraordinary. Simmons even noticed that the index's labeling was lacking: There are man made powers, and natural ones.

10. Angar the fucking screamer. This show is really digging deep for some of these characters. It shows how confident Marvel is, and how deep their reserves are. Squirrel Girl CANNOT be far behind.

Angar's power was cool to see (that jaw tho) and it's after effects pretty funny. Those poor birds. Even though he wasn't an Inhuman, it was a subtle hint at Black Bolt ;)

11. Who does The Reader work for? If it's any of the Inhuman royalty, I will procure a brick, eat it, and subsequently shit that brick.

12. Mockingbird's takedown of Edwina Scissor Hands with the table bump was the second best use of a table in this show. You know what I'm talking about. It was freaking amazing tonight, though.

a close second.

13. Simmons' gloves are the first hint that Skye will become Quake. Look at this picture.LOOK AT IT. They are containment gloves. Skye will need them. Maybe they have a built in fit bit to help monitor her heart rate, too.