Catching Up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Second Season

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoAgent Carter may be over, but that means that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back on. Unfortunately, I liked Agent Carter a hell of a lot more than I have Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I wasn’t sure what to think of the show when it returned. However, S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s first episode back gave me plenty of food for thought.

Spoilers up to the current episode (2.11) of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the jump!

In “Aftershocks”, Skye and Raina emerge from the Terrigen Mist started by the obelisk—Skye is physically unchanged, but Raina now has thorny protrusions all over her face and head and seems to have claws growing from her fingertips. As confirmed by the writers, Skye has been revealed to be Daisy Johnson, otherwise known as Quake, an Inhuman with the power to cause earthquakes. I don’t know who Raina is from the comics, if she is from the comics at all, and I’m excited to find out.

We also learn more about Skye’s mom, finally. Like her daughter, Jiaying is an Inhuman: she has the ability to live for a long, long time, and has guided many other Inhumans through their own transformations. Skye’s dad, Calvin, has said in the past that he and Skye’s mom worked together in a clinic in China—maybe this is the “clinic ” to which he was referring.

agents of shield jiayingJiaying is a character I’m looking forward to seeing more of. Knowing more about Jiaying, for one, would go a long way towards not seeing her death as a fridging. Before this episode, all we knew about her was that she had mysterious powers and that Whitehall killed her to gain said powers. We didn’t know her name, her interests, her skills, or anything about her life at all other than the fact that she apparently had a daughter and a crazy husband. But now we know Jiaying’s name and profession, and we got a small snippet of her life. Learning more about her can only be good for the plot—she seemed to know the most about the Inhuman transformation—and for her character. Sometimes a fridging is not a fridging, and if S.H.I.E.L.D. clearly shows us the woman that Jiaying was, rather than keeping Jiaying as Calvin’s poor murdered wife, they’ll have gone some way towards improving the mess they made of the previous episodes.

A word of caution about Jiaying, though—if the Inhumans are found all over the world, as I assume by seeing the names and faces of the ones we learned about this episode, why does it seem like they all have to go to China for training? Is it just because Jiaying is there and knows the most about the process? Or is it because China is where people go for all their ~mystic training~? One would obviously be better than the other, and I hope this is something that S.H.I.E.L.D. discusses in greater detail.

fitz-talks-to-simmons-on-agents-of-shield-season-2-episode-2The next twelve episodes look to set up a conflict in the S.H.I.E.L.D. team itself. Fitz and Jemma, our scientists, are on opposite sides of the Inhuman problem. Jemma, who’s worked with and investigated alien technology, is scared off all of this weird alien stuff after the underground city takes Mack over and the obelisk crushes Trip into pieces. She decides that all the alien tech is dangerous and that Raina needs to be put down. Fitz, on the other hand, has always been the more empathetic of the two, and reassures Skye that there’s nothing wrong with her.

For Fitz, at least, this makes sense. As a result of last season’s finale, Fitz has been struggling with hypoxia and significantly reduced dexterity in his hands. His teammates don’t know how to act around him, and though it’s unfortunately been largely off-screen, Fitz has had to come to terms with his new self on his own. I’m so glad he’s come to realize that he is not what happened to him, and that being different is fine. In this episode, he shares this new mindset with Mack and with Skye, telling Mack that he understands what happened to him, and telling Skye “You’re just different now, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

But Jemma, though, I just don’t understand how the writers are seeing this. In Season 1, Jemma is the one who is super invested in the serum that cured Coulson and Skye, even saying that they should study the blood further to see if they can isolate the healing properties inherent in the serum and use it to help other people. For Jemma to go from that to a person who wants to destroy all alien technology and people with alien DNA! I’m not saying it’s not possible—indeed, it would have been a really meaty character arc!—but Jemma’s role on the show for these past ten eps has been mostly reduced to being a Fitz hallucination and a really bad Hydra spy, and it wasn’t helped by us getting so many new characters that Jemma had no time to develop. In the end Jemma’s new feelings seemed to come out of nowhere, and, rather than being organic, made it seem like the writers were really pushing a contrived conflict to get Skye scared enough to leave S.H.I.E.L.D., or to further separate Fitz and Jemma, or both.

Why this.

Why this.

S.H.I.E.L.D. may be less entertaining than Agent Carter as a whole, but I think it’s getting into some really interesting issues, and I’m excited to see where it’ll go from here. What are you interested in seeing from this second half of the season, if anything? Let us know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Catching Up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Second Season

  1. I am interested in seeing LESS STEREOTYPICAL VILLAINS. Show of hands: who knows what Hydra’s motivations are? Apart from “world domination, hurr durr.” Technically, SHIELD is also about world domination – they want the whole world to conform to their principles. World domination is not inherently a bad thing. CA:TWS showed us that Hydra is bad because they believe human lives to be expendable when it’s about the greater good; eugenics and all that. Fine.

    Now tell me where the hell Sitwell’s and Bakshi’s characters fit in.

    They’re goddamn POCs. In what started as a white supremacist cult. Absolutely no one is adressing this in the show. I feel like AoS is being all “wow! look at our diverse casting!” but if they don’t adress people’s diverse backgrounds, if they don’t take the opportunity to weave those backgrounds into the plot when it could be relevant and interesting, then what’s the point? Hydra’s standards have obviously changed since WWII. They claim to have dissociated from the Nazis. They’re typically the type of villains who are convinced that they’re the good guys (as opposed to villains who don’t know they’re villains, villains who refuse to acknowledge they’re villains, villains who don’t care that they’re villains) And yet, Whitehall, Bakshi and Garrett are all the cliché twirling-moustache type, evil guys who do evil things with evil catchphrases like “discovery requires experimentatiooooon” and are sooo evil, hohoho evil evil!

    Let’s take Bakshi for instance. What are his motivations? We just don’t know, because he’s obviously been written by someone who was falling down some stairs. When Bobbi interrogates him, we have 1) he says “my time will come”, implying that he just can’t wait to be king; then 2) he tries to KILL HIMSELF after claiming his loyalty to Whitehall. What the fu? And in episode 11, he obviously couldn’t give a shit that Whitehall is dead, so we’re right back to 1).

    Also, all the Hydra leaders (‘the Baroness’? ‘The Sheik’? Seeeeriously?) murder each other after 5.3 minutes of suspecting there might be an inside threat. HOW IS HYDRA EVEN A CONCERN. Bakshi fell for Hunter’s ridiculous bait, so he’s obviously an idiot – at least that’s his characterization settled. But seriously, Hydra – are they fanatics united towards a common goal? Are they a bunch of power-hungry guys falling over themselves to betray each other? They can’t be both at the same time! And yet they are, because who cares as long as they’re eviiiiiil.

    It’s the same kind of botched writing you so justly underlined in Simmons’ characterization. This show has so many problems, but badly characterized villains is their greatest issue at the moment, I think. Without a compelling and believable antagonist, how can the plot hope to go anywhere?

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