The truth about Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) new powers come to light as an Asgardian character returns.
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Who You Really Are’ is a bit of a ho-hum perfunctory episode that is augmented by the presence of a fun character. This is Jaimie Alexander’s second go on Agents of SHIELD and it’s the closest that the series has to legitimate star power from the larger Marvel universe outside of a Nick Fury / Maria Hill cameo (neither of whom have been seen this entire second season). But let’s be honest, Lady Sif’s appearance is basically just a way to make the inevitable discovery of Skye’s powers less rote and uninteresting.
There are a couple of positives to accentuate here. The first is that this discovery didn’t taken ages to come to light, which is how it would have gone down in the molasses-paced first season. Instead it only takes an episode for Skye and Fitz’s (Iain De Caestecker) secret to come out and for the fall-out from the other team members – both positive and negative – to emerge. The second positive that should be praised is the use of a somewhat interesting framing device to make this discovery more interesting. The use of otherworldly aliens – Asgardian and Kree alike – makes the exposition bits a little easier to swallow. Plus super powers enables the series to inject some fire wire-fu fights every time someone gets punched or thrown around a room. So cheers to you, Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki)!
The exposition about the nature of Skye’s powers isn’t far off from what we already knew. We’ve known about the transformative powers of the Diviner for a while, so that’s old hat. What we didn’t know was why such a power object was left on Earth; tonight we learn that it is part of a recruitment process initiated by a militant splinter group of ancient Kree (for lack of a better description) seeking to breed warrior fodder to fight in their wars. The city that Coulson (Clark Gregg) and co. flooded last week was used for the terragenesis process and when Skye and Raina (an unseen Ruth Negga) were transformed, it set off the silent alarm. This prompted Vin-Tak (Eddie McClintock) and his magical amnesia-inducing meat pounder to investigate.
The investigation – and Lady Sif’s mangled memories – carry the early parts of the episode. The moment that the hammer falls on Skye’s transformation, however, the episode becomes a bit of a slog. Last week many viewers were complaining on forums about Bennet being unable to convincingly depict the extent of Skye’s isolation, grief and fear. Unfortunately I don’t think she fares much better this week. Being called an “abomination” and told that aliens are going to eliminate you should be terrifying, but all it does is provide an excuse for fancy slow-motion glass shattering pyrotechnics. I’m not sure how else this reveal and subsequent reaction could have more convincingly revealed, but it feels overly dramatic and a bit limp to me.
Part of this is because of the heavy handed way that both Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Mack (Henry Simmons) respond, especially in the final scene when they argue that Skye should have confessed that she’s dangerous…right in front of her (whoopsie!). It’s such an obvious moment and one that feels disingenuous coming from both of them; it simply doesn’t ring true to me. I understand that Simmons is grieving the loss of Tripp and she’s lashing out, but that’s my assumption since she’s been given no screen time outside of these brief, accusatory scenes. As for Mack, he’s been given more prominence in the wake of Tripp’s death, but he’s also become a surprisingly unlikable character in just two short episodes. Yelling at Coulson last week and running his mouth this week? It’s as though the writers decided that Simmons (the actor, not the character) should be made responsible for bearing the brunt of all of the ugly, dumb things the team has to say. It’s unfortunate because it feels like a strange shift in the character and makes his increased screen time far less enjoyable.
- The reveal that all of the Diviners in the crate are missing – each one a potential doomsday warrior – feels like an afterthought. This is no doubt in part due to the characters’ misinformed belief there is no danger since the city has been destroyed, but it’s surprising that it is nonchalantly introduced and then immediately dismissed. Unless perhaps I’ve misunderstood and the destruction of the city has, in fact, ensured that no other “abominations” can be made?
- More Bobbi/Mack secret drama, though it remains unclear exactly what they’re doing. Mack suggests Bobbi send Hunter (Nick Blood) packing before they put into action whatever team-destroying plan they’re preparing and when Hunter confronts Mack after Bobbi pushes him away, the larger man subdues him. After knocking Hunter out, I imagine that the plan will have to go into motion immediately, so we should have answers soon.
- I like how on top of things May (Ming-Na Wen) is. She knows something is wrong with Skye the moment she begs out of the mission, and when the shit hits the fan, the Calvary grabs her ward and runs for the hills. All of this simply to say that May is awesome.
- Mack (after Hunter knocks over a lamppost): “Trust me, there is no universe in which I think you did that on your own.”
- Lady Sif (attempting to convey authority): “Answer his question, elderly man!”
Your turn: did you enjoy the Asgard / Kree appearances? Is Bennet up to the challenge of doing this emotional arc justice? Have Mack and Simmons begin disagreeable lately? What are Bobbi and Mack up to? And how long will Skye keep herself (wah-wah) locked up in the brig on the Bus? Sound off below.
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9pm EST on ABC. Next week: daddy’s back and he’s got a rag-tag posse of supervillains.