We’ve only got ONE episode left until what’s sure to be a thrilling mid-season finale to the second season of Agents of SHIELD! This week’s episode was a “part one,” of sorts, with an epic build-up to the much-foreshadowed alien city, increased stakes, and “End of the Beginning”-level cliffhangers. So, yeah, you could say there’s some intense stuff to talk about!
As we’re reaching the end of the Skye-heavy central arc of this half-season, we begin this episode with Skye in dreamland. She’s running through the halls, wearing a flower dress, when she enters a lab and witnesses Coulson and May setting an infant (presumably Skye) on a table, before turning and walking away. Skye protests but they don’t hear her, and after picking up a music box that starts turning her skin to ash, jolts awake. The team resumes business as usual…
Coulson announces SHIELD’s mission of the week at the top of the hour: locating the mysterious alien city located on Earth and the temple inside before blowing them up. This mysterious city, of course, is what this entire half-season has been building towards. Me, I think that the more reasonable course of action would be to figure out what the purposes of the temple and the obelisk are before destroying the city, but I’m not the head of SHIELD. So Coulson and Bobbi (along with Mack and FitzSimmons) decide to check out the one above-ground entrance to the city and begin assessing how best to destroy it. Unfortunately, while in the process of beginning the exploration, Mack becomes possessed by a spirit (alien?), putting the entire team in danger. Though the threat is neutralized (with Mack’s supposed death), the team is still forced to halt their investigations.
Meanwhile, May and Skye are preoccupied with capturing Raina and protecting her from Hydra. Everything goes according to plan at first, which gives Skye and Raina plenty of time to talk. Raina finally reveals that the blue aliens who visited Earth were Kree (as many fans suspected) and that they wanted to bring about a new world order. She did not use the term Inhuman, but did say that there were humans who had the potential to be something more. So while Skye is human now, we have confirmation that there is some naturally occurring Inhuman DNA living in her. Agents of SHIELD manages to convey all of this information without the reveal seeming forced, which is quite a feat. And, of course, just as we’re on the brink of perhaps learning even more about the temple, a Hydra team (led by Ward) takes over the Bus, successfully kidnapping both Raina and Skye.
For me, the major accomplishment of this episode plot-wise was in the FitzSimmons department. Bobbi FINALLY got Simmons to open up about what happened between her and Fitz in the med pod at the bottom of the ocean. After a few moments of Simmons attempting to lie about the nature of her and Fitz’s relationship, Bobbi rightly guessed that Fitz had told her he loved her. I loved that in this scene we finally got Simmons’s perspective on the first season finale and her response, rather than Fitz’s interpretation of her actions. Now that she’s had time to think about whether or not she has feelings for Fitz, she still seems to land on the side of “I don’t know.” So instead Simmons asks Bobbi if starting a risky relationship is worth the emotional rollercoaster, to which Bobbi also has to say that she’s not sure. And despite a (truly upsetting and tear-jerking) argument between Fitz and Simmons ending in Fitz saying he’d decided to leave their lab, the two finally worked together in the field. Simmons finished one of Fitz’s sentences. THERE IS HOPE.
Final Verdict: I really liked this episode, even though most of its time was devoted to setting up the mid-season finale. That said, this was the first time this season that I felt like SHIELD managed to balance all of its characters and relationships. The alien-centric arc moved forward (we can finally say the word “Kree” beyond speculation!), but we also had significant character moments. New recruits Mack and Bobbi proved their worth, Mack in his capabilities in the field and Bobbi in providing a fresh perspective on different team dynamics. Of course, I’m having trouble getting excited about the former because while we’ve yet to see Mack’s corpse, the prospects look grim. So he’ll be the POC who existed to provide character development for Fitz. Splendid. So aside from SHIELD’s continued (abysmal) track record as far as representation is concerned, and the frustration of being forced to wait until next week for some answers, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and can’t wait for the fall finale! Final Grade: A-